How Catholic Is the CTSA?

Did the most recent convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America reveal a "wasteland"? Did the major addresses constitute a challenge to well-established Catholic beliefs regarding the priesthood and Eucharist? Must Catholic theologians and church authorities make a "drastic choice" between upholding the society as a legitimate venue for Catholic theology or condemning and possibly replacing it as no longer true to authentic Catholic tradition?

My answers to those questions are no, yes, and no.

I attended the CTSA’s convention last June. I went as a reporter for the New York Times, as a friend of CTSA members of widely differing views, as a nontheologian who depends on theologians, not the least of them Avery Dulles, for intellectual insight and spiritual nourishment. I also went as an American Catholic more than a little worried about the future of the church.

In no way did the gathering suggest a theological "wasteland." In carefully arguing that a responsum from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not establish the teaching of Ordinatio sacerdatolis as infallible, the society’s Task Force was, I would maintain, not only respectful and responsible but actually conservative.

I encountered very...

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About the Author

Peter Steinfels, co-founder of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and a former editor of Commonweal, is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America.