Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Steve Shiffrin (here), Fr. Araujo (here), Susan Stabile (here), and others discussed academic freedom and the Catholic university in light of Pope Benedict's address to Catholic educators. Avery Cardinal Dulles provides his usual wisdom in a May 2008 First Things article entitled "The Freedom of Theology." Near the end of the essay, he writes: "All Catholics are of course obliged to accept the defininitive teaching of the Church on matters of faith and morals. Even in the sphere of nondefinitive teaching, theologians should normally trust and support the magisterium and dissent only rarely and reluctantly, for reasons that are truly serious. Dissent, if it arises, should always be modest and restrained. Dissent that is arrogant, strident, and bitter can have no right of existence in the Church. Those who dissent must be careful to explain that they are proposing only their personal views, not the doctrine of the Church. They must refrain from bringing pressure on the magisterium by recourse of popular media."
Given what we profess about the Church and given the general need for civility and love in all things, this approach seems right to me. And, don't Cardinal Dulles' cautions about dissent apply with even greater force to us - at least those of us who are non theologians - because we are not learned in the nuances of the various debates?