From the editor's desk.
Dramatic shifts in the world's reality in general and religions in particular have led Catholic theology to widen its focus from largely internal concerns to include external concerns as well. Much of this shift was foreseen and begun during the 19th century, but the condemnation of Modernism and attendant internal church concerns impeded a smooth transition to theological engagement with modernity. One result was that the Church redirected its attention to internal matters, especially in the aftermath of World War I. The aftermath of World War II was another matter. World War I, for all its savagery, was still relatively limited in scope, particularly in the area of technological developments. Technologies associated with the prosecution of World War II, however, dramatically shrank the world and virtually forced the Catholic Church to face a crossroads: either engage modernity or become irrelevant. Pope John XXIII saw this challenge and knew that it was serious enough to call an ecumenical council to deliberate on the Church's response to the massively changing realities in both the religious and secular worlds. For the first time in history, a general council had worldwide representation and included observers from other Christian communities.
These events--Vatican II and the logjam it broke open--stirred theologians of all denominations and religions to enter on little-explored theological territory and engage in cooperative publishing projects. Hardly any serious theological publication since the council can be considered merely intramural; what affects one denomination or religion affects all. The world's theological reality is quite simply ecumenical and interreligious.
Theological Studies, sponsored by the Society of Jesus in the United States, has been from its beginning a venue for searching theological publication, and this in response to repeated mandates from the popes. Most recently Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to Jesuits gathered in Rome for their 35th general congregation (2008), implored the Society, for the sake of the Church's mission, to do theology "on the frontiers" while necessarily remaining "rooted in the center" (see my March 2009 editorial). This mandate applies, of course, to all of the Church's professional theologians.
Necessary as it is, however, doing theology "on the frontiers" entails risk. Many questions will be asked about traditional teachings, whose content then becomes subject to further investigation: this will always be so, since we are historical, developing creatures in a historical, developing ecclesial reality. And history is complex, even messy. Of course, even in transformation, not everything changes in its substance: philosopher H.-G. Gadamer cautioned to the effect that historiography's legitimate attention to change can displace appreciation for continuity in a tradition. Nonetheless, new contexts may resituate a teaching or practice in reference to the totality of the Church's life and thought, or even be a starting point for new insights into doctrine, discipline, and practice. Occasional straying across previously established doctrinal borders can hardly be prevented, but if that should happen in any of our articles, our editorial policy is to alert readers. Theological Studies has always been directed toward professional theologians who, for the most part, know how to read articles that explore implications of authoritative church teaching. Such exploration is what professional theologians do and must do, at least some of the time.
It has recently come to my attention, however, that some readers may have the impression that because the articles we publish appear in a journal sponsored by the Society of Jesus, the editors of the journal and superiors of the Society agree with and even promote their theses. This is not the case--as our disclaimer published inside the front cover of every issue of the journal makes clear. However, it has also come to my attention that this disclaimer does not sufficiently prevent such readers from gaining a wrong impression. Seldom do articles published in Theological Studies challenge authoritative magisterial teaching. When they do, they are published not because they challenge authoritative teaching or because the editors agree with all points argued, but because the articles have been judged by our outside referees and editors to be professionally important and responsibly argued. Seldom is an article a last, undebated word on a particular topic. The policy of TS is in accord with the standards of professional journals everywhere.
A clarification" Even with the best professional protocols and sincerest intentions to offer a journal of service to the Church, an article might appear in our pages that some judge could mislead some readers. This seems to have been the case with "'Catholic Sexual Ethics: Complementarity and the Truly Human" by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler (September 2006). Some readers might have formed an opinion that because this article appeared in our pages, the journal favors and even promotes its thesis, one that does not in all aspects conform to current, authoritative church teaching. For all such readers, I wish to clarify that this article, insofar as it does not adhere to the Church's authoritative teaching, does not represent the views of the editors and sponsors of Theological Studies. While the journal, heeding the mandates of recent popes to do theology "on the frontiers," promotes professional theology for professional theologians, it does not promote theses that contravene official church teaching, even if--though very rarely--such theses find a place in our pages. If and when they do, our policy will be to alert readers and clearly state the current authoritative church teaching on the particular issue treated.
David G. Schultenover, S.J.
Editor in Chief