Lisa Cahill on Margaret Farley and the CDF

Among the initial round-up of "react quotes" from academic theologians about the CDF's notification for Margaret Farley's Just Love, the response of Lisa Sowle Cahill (Boston College) was the most detailed and incisive. She has now expanded that into an op-ed at the Guardian. Concluding paragraphs here:

[T]he Vatican's selection of moral issues to criticize does not reflect the priorities ofJust Love. A huge concern of the book is gender-based violence and sexual oppression of women worldwide. These issueshave actually received significant attention in recent papal teaching. They receive nary a mention inthe notification, which seems to find masturbation more important.

A final point is the nature and role of theology which is not the same as official doctrinal teaching. Medieval thinkers defined theology as fides quaerens intellectum "faith seeking understanding".Theology is rooted in faith and practical concerns. But the main purpose of theology, unlike pastoral teaching or the definition of doctrines, is theunderstandingof God and of humans in relation to God. Understanding involves intellectual justification and cogency.Finally, theology is a process ofseeking, inquiry and exploration in a dynamic and critical relation to other theological positions. Theologians do not see or present their work as "official Catholic teaching" and few of the faithful are confused about this fact. Readers ofJust Lovewill feel free to question, disagree and improve the points of the author as is, no doubt, her intention.

Michael Peppard is associate professor of theology at Fordham University and on the staff of its Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. He is the author of The World's Oldest Church and The Son of God in the Roman World, and on Twitter @MichaelPeppard. He is a contributing editor to Commonweal.

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