O disappearance of theology it will make our Catholic campuses less diverse and inclusive. And fewer Catholics too.
The opinion of the Italian historian Massimo Faggioliteacher from University of Villanovain an article published by la croix international, 03/23/2023. The translation is from Moses Sbardelotto.
He asks: “Is it possible to have a theologian in Catholic science today? A inquisition What academic theologians working in marketoriented universities fear most today is not that Holy Office In the Vaticanbut run by lay technocrats independent of ecclesiastical authority but very dependent on other, even less visible, powers”.
Here is the text.
I’m a layman, I’d like to be a professor Institute for Theology and Religious Studies from a Catholic university. I love my job, especially the opportunity to teach students with little or no interest in it theologywho need to take my course to meet a prerequisite. But the future of my profession is very questionable.
A recent case has shaken the community of Catholic theologians US. Last February, the board of Marymount University a Catholic university in arlington, Virginiathat the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary Founded in 1950 voted unanimously to cut several liberal arts programs including the theology.
These courses are no longer offered as degrees, although some of them remain part of the core liberal arts university curriculum. However, the cuts follow a restructuring of that curriculum in the previous school year.
It is the brave new world of higher education that is transforming the vast and unrivaled network of Catholic colleges and universities that American Catholicism has created. This is what was shown on the account chirp of the Marymount University Just days after the board’s decision to cut programs:
MU is officially the first college in the United States to have an oncampus convenience store operated by @Amazon‘s Just Walk Out technology!
Read more about Saints 24, designed to eliminate checkout lines and provide a hasslefree customer experience. https://t.co/CM4C3hNC5L
— University of Marymount (@marymountu) March 10, 2023
“MU is officially the first college in the country to have an oncampus convenience store operated by @Amazon Just Walk Out! Read more about Saints 24, designed to eliminate checkout lines and provide a hasslefree customer experience.”
It seems that eliminating some of the required humanities courses was just a step towards a complete sellout to technocracy. What comes next?
Lack of faith in the liberal arts
what happened in Marymount University is just one of many stories we’ve heard in recent years: Catholic colleges and universities, competing in a market system, are cutting their theology programs in favor of more professional courses.
This is partly due to the undeniable shortage of students at many institutions, which have become too expensive to attend. But there is also a fundamental lack of faith in the liberal arts and theology by many in the new group of lay administrators who run Catholic colleges and universities today.
O role of theology in educational institutions has previously changed. In the first centuries there was an “episcopalmonastic theology” in the form of Bible commentaries. At the beginning of the second millennium, the model shifted towards a “university theology” that became the queen of disciplines in the newly formed universities. Theologians were professional intellectuals who focused on theological questions using a very complex philosophical language and took as true the truths discovered by the philosophers Aristotle and try to show how they are compatible with Christianity.
the role of theology at the university today is part of the legacy or holdover of the 19th century German university model. Catholic institutions in US this model, together with the already existing system of seminaries for the formation of clergy, was adapted to the sons and daughters of “immigrant church” who needed an education competitive with that offered in evangelical and public schools.
The crisis of theology and the emergence of a technocratic mentality
This system is now in crisis: the academic theology will be postponed. It’s unclear where, if, or how it will survive, except in a handful of large, prosperous universities that aren’t as representative of the world’s overall fabric. Catholicism. This is also a major moment of crisis for some of the many achievements of the Second Vatican Council (19621965) and after the Second Vatican Council, when theology was finally not only taught by theology male celibate clergybut also by laypeople.
Another achievement of the PostVatican II was that Catholic theology was no longer practiced only in Europe and the western world, but also in the global south Latin America, Africa It is Asia. The current crisis of Catholic theology in the AngloAmerican world will certainly not help these new global Catholic voices.
One is tempted to see this as the inevitable consequence of secularization in the western world: a decline in church membership; the side effects of expanding the Catholic higher education from small colleges to universities with various professional programs.
These factors certainly play a role, but there is so much more. We now live in a different world: no more bourgeois capitalism, but Technocratic globalization. The ethos of the modernizing bourgeoisie focused on the concepts of civilization (culture) and education (education) as necessary to reshape a social and political system in which knowledge (science) is important to the economy, but also to the formation of citizenship and Citizenship was public opinion.
The ethos of the current generation of technocrats is different and often not convinced of the importance of a solid education. The critical thinking that develops when dealing with questions of religion and faith is not only irrelevant, but has now also become an enemy.
The Great Shift of theology in progress holds many unknowns. But we already know that this is not solely the fault of the clergy. In many Catholic universities founded by religious orders and clergy, the old leadership was replaced by lay people. It reminds us in the middle of the “synodal process that replacing clergy with lay leaders is not a guarantee.
On the other hand, the institutional church seems to have little to say about it. The distance between Catholic universities and the hierarchical Church makes bishops unable or unwilling to say or do much about it.
Where can one be a Catholic theologian today?
This is a big problem for the church as a whole, not just for those who will lose their academic positions. It’s a step backwards from that democratization of the Faculty of Theology in the last 50 years and the fact that Catholic women are teaching theology in Catholic institutions.
It’s a victory for the often selftaught and selfproclaimed fortune tellers who pose as theologians all over the internet. It feeds a Reclericalization of ecclesiastical thinking. It is also a betrayal of the Catholic schools’ promise to their students that they should receive an education as whole people, in which the problem of God and faith is taken seriously.
This raises serious questions, especially given the particular situation of Catholic Church Today. Where can church thinking on crucial issues like the abuse crisis develop? How is it possible to be a church of discernment if we continue to eliminate theology from Catholic higher education, thereby accelerating the disappearance of public opinion in the church?
The basic question is about the location of Catholic theology Today. Where can it be taught and studied in the Church? Where, in the public square? This could be the beginning of a longterm intellectual catastrophe for the Catholic spirit.
In an important article published in the magazine America On March 15 [disponível em inglês aqui]my colleague Matthew Shadle (who at the Faculty of Marymount University to recent developments) asks whether it is possible to be a theologian outside of academia.
But there is this other, perhaps more worrying question: is it possible today to be a theologian within Catholic scholarship? A inquisition What academic theologians working in marketoriented universities fear most today is not that Holy Office In the Vaticanbut the one run by lay technocrats, independent of ecclesiastical authority but very dependent on other, even less visible, powers.
Despite all initiatives for diverse, equitable and inclusive education, the disappearance of theology will make our Catholic universities less diverse and inclusive. And it will also make them less Catholic.
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The disappearance of academic theology: Where is the future of “faith seeking understanding”? Article by Massimo Faggioli Instituto Humanitas Unisinos IHU