Young Theologians

Between a Rock & a Hard Place

The fate of young theologians has been a recurring theme in the controversy surrounding Ex corde ecclesiae. Margaret Farley, president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, has voiced concern (New York Times, November 18, 1999) that the implementation of Ex corde might lead many young Catholic theologians to seek employment at non-Catholic universities, thereby escaping the canonical requirement to seek a mandatum to teach theology. Taking the opposite tack, Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of First Things, has written that young theologians who would be scared away by the mandatum probably shouldn’t be teaching at a Catholic university in the first place.

As a young theologian, I share Farley’s concern for the integrity and freedom of theological research and teaching, but suspect that it is misdirected. At the most practical level, young theologians need jobs and—as Catholic colleges and universities represent a large market—will do what is necessary to obtain them, for reasons both good and bad. More fundamentally, I think that the mandatum will not scare young theologians away from—or keep (or bring) older ones into—the theological fold. Its more serious failure is that it does not...

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About the Author

Christopher Ruddy is associate professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America.