Public statements by the Catholic Theological Society of America criticizing the Vatican and the bishops “have done us damage,” the body’s outgoing president said today, concluding that the prerequisite to fostering dialogue is “making fewer public statements defending ourselves against ecclesiastical power.”
“The price has been too high compared to what we have gained,” said Daniel Finn of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. “I wish we were not facing this trade-off, but I believe we are.”
Finn made clear that he was not trying to stifle criticism, but said that in the future, such statements should come from individual theologians, perhaps with others signing on, but not in the name of the CTSA.
The comments by Finn came in his “Presidential Address” at the conclusion of the annual conference of the Catholic Theological Society of America in Los Angeles, California.
Yes it public statements and being neither humble or in conformance with Church teaching that is the problem. Public statements, yeah that’s the ticket.
“Many bishops form their view of us on the basis of our public statements, often influenced by advisors who are conservative theologians who don’t attend our meetings,” Finn said.
Second, Finn argued, the public statements have exacted a steep internal cost in the CTSA by driving conservative theologians away.
“They felt no longer welcome, out of a sense that they’re on the margins of a group that pokes funs at Vatican shortcomings and puts the CTSA name on statements they do not endorse. They feel it’s not their group,” he said.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever get those folks back, but there is a long future of others to come,” Finn said.
John Allen Jr. ends by saying:
…To what extent Finn’s sentiments represent a majority in the CTSA is difficult to gauge, but his address drew a standing ovation Sunday morning. It’s also revealing that the CTSA did not put out a public statement on the Vatican’s recent critical notification on two books by Jesuit Fr. Jon Sobrino of El Salvador, a famed liberation theologian, but rather decided to organize a discussion of his theology at their next meeting.
Too bad it appears that this turn is one of public relation and not a change of heart to be with the heart of the Church.