• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Getting Into the Holiday Spirit December 15, 2017
      Recently I and other members of the Spiritual Care Department at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis decorated a window for the holiday season. A number of other departments also got into the holiday spirit and creatively and colorfully decorated a window in one of the hospital's ground floor hallways.Above: Fellow Spiritual Care colleagues (fro […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Quote of the Day December 13, 2017
      It's so refreshing seeing Doug Jones on stage with his supporters tonight, looking like America – brown and white, young and old, male and female, professional and blue collar – in stark contrast to those standing with Roy Moore – the Old South, nothing but pinched-faced, elderly white men, with that pasty look of Scots-Irish backwoodsmen gone to pot in […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Christmas at Litmanova December 29, 2016
      The Marian Shrine of Litmanova, Slovakia.Christmas 2017A forest chapel at the Slovakian Marian shrine of Litmanova.Stunning painting of the Sacred Heart inside the forest chapel.
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
    • Not Our President November 16, 2016
      To hear the simplistic denial of those who scream out with naiveté “give Trump a chance” as they condemn others engaged in selfless protest against a certain political and social tsunami in the making, is to ignore his life-time public embrace of policies that tens of millions reject as not just destructive, but evil per se. They are not mistaken.Those in st […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • Another World is Neccessary: Anarchism, Christianity and the Race from the White House July 30, 2008
      I’ll be presenting at the upcoming Jesus Radicals conference in Columbus, Ohio. My session (on the relationship between Church and State) will be on Friday afternoon. If you’re in the area, drop by. I’d love to meet some of the folks who frequent this site. Here’s the info: August 15-16, 2008 St. John’s Episcopal 1003 W Town Columbus, OH [...]ShareThis […]
      Mark Van Steenwyk
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Goodbye net neutrality December 14, 2017
      Another gift from the Trump administration ... F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality RulesFor those who don't understand how truly awful this decision is, watch this past episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver ...
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Theologians’ Revolt Deepening, Widening

When the German theologians last week released their declaration calling for far-reaching reform of the Catholic Church culture, structures and teaching on sexual morality, it had been signed by 143 leading theologians from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The publication of the declaration on Friday coincided with the resignation of the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, in the culmination of sustained popular protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. Since then, Arab street protests have spread to other countries of the Middle East, notably including Bahrain, Iran, Libya, Jordan and Algeria.

The theologians’ revolt has similarly been spreading beyond the original 143 German signatories.

A note by Bill Lindsey in the Open Tabernacle comments thread drew my attention to the current list of signatories, which as of yesterday (February 18th) had grown to 245 German theologians. Simple calculations demonstrate that if the original 143 represented about a third of the total, then 245 are more than half – an absolute majority. (There will still be others who agree with all or most of the points, but have withheld their signatures). Even more interesting to me, was an observation at the bottom of the German list, confirming what I suspected when I first wrote about this; theologians in other parts of the world are now adding their names.

Das internationale Interesse am Memorandum ist groß. Immer mehr Theologieprofessorinnen und -professoren aus den nicht-deutschsprachigen Ländern bekunden uns ihre Unterstützung.

(International interest in the Memorandum is huge. An increasing number of theology professors in the non-German countries are telling us of their support).

The site lists 22 foreign names – not yet many, but this will surely grow, once the word spreads that this is no longer an exclusively German development. Academics thrive on extensive personal international connections (several of the theologians are listed as associated with  two distinct institutions, in different countries) International attention will spread rapidly.

Several conservative commentators have attempted to dismiss this declaration as no more than the dying gasp of older liberal, well past their sell-by date – or paradoxically, of young and junior people of no real clout.  The reality is that these are a diverse group of varied backgrounds, working in  institutions ranging from the most prestigious universities (Catholic and secular) through technical universities and specialist vocational schools. With over half of all the academic theologians now aligning themselves with this Memorandum, we must conclude that is reasonably representative of all German theologians. For completeness’ sake, I am compiling a statistical summary of the signatories and the institutions they come from, which I will add to this post as an update later today.

Meanwhile. I would like to share with you the rest of Bill Lindsey’s comment to my earlier post at The Open Tabernacle. (As an academic theologian himself, Bill has good personal knowledge of the politics of academia, and is also well-placed to evaluate the credentials of the people involved – far more so than an outsider like myself.)

As of today, the count of theologians in German-speaking areas signing the reform petition to Rome stands at 254.

In my view, one of the most significant aspects of this document is its opening statement, which notes that, as theologians, those drafting and signing the document recognize their important pastoral responsibility to address a moment of serious crisis in the Catholic church in Germany. In the past year, the numbers of Catholics officially resigning from the Catholic church in Germany and Austria were at record levels. As the theologians note, if this situation is not addressed pastorally–and by dialogue between church pastoral leaders, theologians, and the laity–the church will in all likelihood not recover from its present crisis.

It is fascinating to me to watch the ill-informed and twisted reaction to this eminently pastoral document in the circles of the American religious and political right. Increasingly, right-wing American Catholics are taking their talking points from websites of the political and religious right, which are without any knowledge at all of the role theologians play in the Catholic church–and, in this case, of the demanding requirements for receiving a degree in theology in Germany.

The silly ad hominem attacks among those of the American political and religious right, which try to question the expertise or credentials of these German theologians are astonishingly ill-informed. German theologians are among the most rigorously trained in the world, and as with all professions in Germany, they go through a credentialing process that puts the credentialing of theologians in many other countries to shame.

There is also obviously little awareness among members of the American political and religious right that theologians play a significant function in the Catholic church as teachers called by the Spirit to assist the body of Christ in understanding scripture and tradition. The rather conservative Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles, who was made a cardinal, in fact wrote a classic article describing the teaching role of theologians as a second magisterium that works in tandem with that of the bishops of the church.

Most of all, it is difficult to understand the lack of any sense of pastoral responsibility among American Catholics who take their talking points from the religious and political right, and who seem oblivious of (or even gleeful about?) the serious crisis through which the Catholic church is passing right now, due to the pastoral malfeasance of its leaders. In nation after nation (Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Austria, the U.S., e.g.) people are walking away in droves. By February 2008, the figures in the U.S. were appalling: one in three adults raised Catholic in our country had left the church. One in ten American adults is a former Catholic. If all those who have left the Catholic church in the U.S. were grouped into a church, that church would be the second largest denomination in the country.

The German theologians are to be highly commended for showing the pastoral responsibility one would expect of any faithful Catholic concerned about the future of the church, and, in particular, from theologians.







2 Responses

  1. Terry, thanks for all you are doing to keep us informed about this significant Catholic story. I am very happy to see the name of one of my own grad school theology professors in the list, Gregory Baum. He’s among the Candians who have signed the petition. Gregory was born in Germany, however, and was an expert at Vatican Council II, along with the current pope.

  2. […] Theologians’ Revolt Deepening, Widening (opentabernacle.wordpress.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: