Throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century, there was a noticeable decline in the influence of two major players in twentieth-century American life: Roman Catholicism and the mass-market newsweekly. Beginning with the clergy sexual abuse crisis in 2001, the Roman Catholic Church suffered a blow to its credibility as never before experienced. For a third of the nation's history (from the founding of the first newsweekly in the 1920s through the alleged end of the era of the newsweekly in 2010), the covers of the most influential magazines—Time, Life, and Newsweek—acted not only as windows into the soul of the nation but also as the stained glass of the newsstand. The place of religion in these peculiar products of American media is noteworthy in general. Despite the newsweeklies' eagerness to exploit the church's fall from grace, they have been slow to recognize that the mass-market media has suffered potentially fatal wounds from the same slings and arrows endured by the church.
This chapter treats Catholic biblical interpretation since Pius XII’s encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu (1943). At the heart of the chapter is Vatican II’s teaching in its constitution Dei verbum. This text promoted an account of revelation as a multifaceted reality, and outlined a rounded account of biblical interpretation that endorsed some styles of modern historical critical analysis while insisting that Scripture should be interpreted in the light of a knowledge of what God intended to convey through Scripture. The chapter then considers how two key documents of the Pontifical Biblical Commission develop this teaching, and ways in which post-conciliar debates have continued to explore persistent challenges and tensions. Significant space is given to Pope Benedict XVI’s reflections on these debates. A final section suggests an agenda for the future development of Catholic exegesis.
This chapter considers the thirteenth-century Franciscan and theologian St Bonaventure. After outlining his life, the chapter explores Bonaventure’s theology through an exploration of his Breviloquium. Placing all in the context of Bonaventure’s Trinitarianism, the heart of the chapter explores Bonaventure’s conception of salvation history and the role of Christ at the centre of that history. A detailed account of Bonaventure’s account of the graceful and sacramental elevation of humanity follows. Particular attention is paid to the interrelated roles of Christ and the Spirit in this process. The final section of the chapter comments briefly on Bonaventure’s influence, referring especially to those figures who have found his work an important resource in the modern context.
In the early modern age, for the first time in history, moral theology became a ground of bitter strife within the Roman Catholic Church. After the Council of Trent, it evolved as a specialized discipline with its own methodology, which became increasingly identified with casuistry. The theoretical underpinning of this development was probabilism, the system according to which, when there are two opposite opinions as to the morality of a course of action, one is allowed to follow the less probable one. From about 1650, first of all in Belgium and France, both probabilism and casuistry came under attack as favoring laxity. Rigorism, which was linked to but by no means synonymous with doctrinal Jansenism, progressively spread to the entire Church. The papacy, whose pronouncements on moral matters became increasingly important, shared in this reaction but was careful to preserve theological pluralism.
This essay provides an account of the historical and thematic features of Catholic sacramental theology during the Baroque age. Its intent is primarily bibliographic, and hopes to introduce readers to the wide range of sources by which theologians of this time period constructed their grand syntheses, including the renewed traditions of scholasticism, polemical theology, mystical and devotional literature, liturgical studies, and the newly emergent Tridentine curia. Some of these developments will be outlined in three sections: (1) a brief bibliographic survey of the sources for early modern Roman Catholic sacramental theology; (2) an outline of some of its main scholastic controversies; and (3) a corresponding outline of the various attempts of the Holy Office to answer questions that arose in sacramental theology between the years 1500 and 1800.
David Matzko McCarthy
This essay considers the modern tradition of Catholic social teaching (CST). CST finds its roots in the biblical, patristic, and medieval periods, but was inaugurated in particular by Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) and has been sustained by a range of papal encyclicals and conciliar documents since. The documents of CST emphasize that human beings are created for mutual cooperation and a pursuit of common good in social, economic, and political life. The essay considers first CST’s developing account of how social relations may be governed by Christian charity. It then considers the nature of property within economic relations as conceived within CST. The final section considers CST’s reflections on political life, which is understood as primarily personal and dependent on relations of mutual rights and responsibilities that are directed to the common good.
Peter Joseph Fritz
This essay considers Catholic responses to Heidegger under three headings: rejection, warm acceptance, and critical appropriation. Erich Przywara and Alasdair MacIntyre reject Heidegger; Bernhard Welte and Jean-Luc Marion accept; Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner take Heidegger to be a worthy, if flawed, conversation partner. The extent to which a given theologian reads Heidegger as possibly in conversation with or as simply opposed to Thomist metaphysics functions as a guide to different attitudes of engagement with Heidegger. The more a Catholic warms to Thomas the cooler they become towards Heidegger. The essay ends by suggesting a continued engagement with Heidegger because doing so has stimulated Catholic consideration of the nature of revelation and the openness of the finite toward the infinite.
Anthony Akinwale O.P.
This chapter introduces Catholic theology in Africa. The encounter between Africa and Christianity is divided into three periods. The first of these runs from the beginning of Christianity to AD 1500. During this period Christianity flourished and produced some of the major theologians of the patristic period, and then survived with difficulty after the rise of Islam. The second period runs from AD 1500 to 1800. During this period there were certainly African priests and African seminaries, but little theological writing. The third period covers AD 1800 to the present day. This chapter considers the many theological voices and movements of this period beginning with inculturation theology and liberation theology, and ending with critiques of these movements and the emergence of a more firmly doctrinal theology in recent decades.
Catholicism and other branches of Christianity rarely reflected on earth in se for almost two millennia. Earth was viewed ordinarily as the setting for human existence, the stage on which human protagonists worked toward their salvation in a better world to come. Periodically, some individuals within Christianity (such as Francis of Assisi) became known for their appreciation of pristine nature and their attitude toward nonhuman species. This article examines the development of Catholic thought in three stages: caring for the common good, concern for creation in crisis, and creation concern and community commitment. It discusses issues of water ownership, water use, and water purity as a summary focal point for analyzing church teachings on environment, ecology, and economics. Elements of the teachings of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas have been particularly influential in Catholic doctrines regarding creation and the goods of creation. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued the first papal social encyclical, Rerum novarum (“On the Condition of Labor”). The major catalyst for the encyclical's development was probably the work of a New York City priest, Edward McGlynn.