Skip to content
Giving Tuesday


Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Finn's talk, given in Los Angeles at the CTSA's annual convention, was titled "Power and Public Presence in Catholic Social Thought, the Church, and the CTSA," and was for the most part a sophisticated analysis of the nature and uses of power in any social or political context. He urged Catholic theologians, who are often deeply suspicious of the exercise of power, to recognize that it is an inescapable dimension of human relations and thus of great theological and spiritual interest. In short, if Christians are called to change the world, they are also called to understand and to use power.

What garnered headlines, however, was Finn's call for the CTSA, often accused of being merely an advocacy group for liberal causes within the church, to take a less adversarial approach to Vatican actions and pronouncements. Over the past few decades the CTSA, which is a professional guild for academic theologians, or its board has raised questions about the Vatican's condemnations of theologians. Vatican pronouncements reiterating church teaching on homosexuality and the prohibition against ordaining women have also met with critiques of various kinds from CTSA ad hoc committees.

"The problem," Finn argued, "is that these statements become the public face of the CTSA for nearly everyone who doesn't attend our conventions. Taken together, they present us as individuals who come together as a group primarily to defend ourselves against hierarchical authority."

FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything

Finn was careful to defend the justice of protests against arbitrary or ill-considered Vatican actions. Indeed, he applied his critique regarding the nature of power not only to his fellow theologians but to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), arguing persuasively that the CDF is mistaken in its assumption that "issues of doctrine are so important that the complexities of transparency and due process pose risks to the true faith."

Finn's immediate concern, however, was what he considers to be the distorted public perception of the CTSA, and especially the spin given by the media and more conservative voices to the society's efforts at theological engagement with the bishops and the church as a whole. Conservative, and especially younger theologians, Finn warned, have been alienated by what is assumed to be the society's liberal agenda. Some of that suspicion, Finn suggested, was justified.

"Our church is wracked by divisions caused in part by ideological simplicities - on all sides - that a professional society like ours can challenge and improve," he said. "Our church and our world need a broader dialogue within the church than is occurring today. I judge that part of the price of achieving that dialogue is making fewer public statements that defend theologians against ecclesiastical power."

Finn's speech received a standing ovation from his fellow theologians, some of whom undoubtedly have been the object of Vatican scrutiny and the target of conservative criticism. In his weekly column "All Things Catholic" (June 14) in the National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen, Jr., praised Finn. He suggested that "Finn's vision is itself remarkably prophetic, pointing beyond the cul-de-sac of interest-group struggles, and suggesting a willingness to rethink entrenched attitudes and patterns of behavior in order to realize an ecclesiology of communion."

It will be interesting to see how bishops and conservative Catholic theologians and commentators respond to Finn's overture. What Finn is proposing is similar to the vision of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's Common Ground Initiative, an effort to engage liberal, moderate, and conservative Catholics in conversation, an effort resisted, and even condemned, by influential bishops and conservatives. What, some conservatives superciliously argue, do those who affirm Catholic teaching have to talk about with those who ignore or question it? A belief in the value of dialogue, after all, is considered by some to be symptomatic of what is wrong with so-called liberal Catholicism.

What dialogue will not obscure, of course, is that the differences among Catholics are not trivial. All the more important then, as Finn pointed out, to "meet for conversations not just with your allies but with your strongest opponents as well." If there is to be any hope for an ecclesiology of communion, it is important that bishops, clergy, theologians and the laity build personal relationships. The first step in building a relationship is to begin talking with one another, and the only hope for sustaining one is to continue talking.

Keep Catholic Online School alive


Commonweal Magazine: A Review of Religion, Politics and Culture ,
- ,



To all our readers,

Please don't scroll past this. We interrupt your reading to humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online School's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they look the other way. If you are an exceptional reader who has already donated, we sincerely thank you. If you donate just $10.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online School could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online School is useful. If Catholic Online School has given you $10.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the world that access to Catholic education matters to you. Thank you.

Help Now >

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,717

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Children learning @ Catholic Online School

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Saints Fun Facts Coloring Book free PDF download

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Usage more than TRIPLED! Can you help now?

Young girl learning @ Catholic Online School Enrollment in Catholic Online School has more than TRIPLED these past 12 months. We are the fastest growing online Catholic education platform. With schools still closed, Catholic Online School is needed now more than ever. To make sure we can keep going as our costs increase, we need your renewed support!

Give $10 monthly Give $5 today

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!