Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Jesuit Father Peter Ryan Named Head of USCCB Doctrine Secretariat

Jesuit Father Peter F. RyanJesuit Father Peter F. Ryan, a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

He succeeds Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, who announced his resignation in January. Fr. Weinandy began his work at the USCCB in 2005. Fr. Ryan’s appointment is effective August 19.

Fr. Ryan has been director of spiritual formation and professor of moral theology at Kenrick-Gennon Seminary in St. Louis since January 2012. Prior to that he was professor of moral theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, 2001-2011, and assistant professor of theology at Loyola College in Maryland, 1994-2001.

Fr. Ryan holds a licentiate and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome; a master of divinity degree from Regis College, Toronto; a master of arts degree in English and a licentiate in philosophy from Gonzaga University, Spokane; and a bachelor of arts in political science from Loyola College in Maryland.

He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and has served three terms on its executive board. He also was been a senior fellow with The Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person, founded in 1998 to renew, deepen, and promote the Western tradition of moral reflection.

Fr. Ryan has written extensively on ethical and theological issues and been published in scholarly journals, including Theological Studies, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, the National Catholic Bioethical Quarterly, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and American Journal of Jurisprudence. He speaks and reads English, Italian, French and German and also reads Latin and Spanish.

The executive director of the doctrine secretariat oversees the work and staff of the secretariat for the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and also assists the bishops’ Subcommittee on Health Care Issues and Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts.

Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB General Secretary, thanked the Jesuits for permitting Fr. Ryan to join the USCCB staff and highlighted the relevance of his background.

“Fr. Ryan’s considerable expertise on bioethical issues is vital as contemporary society addresses moral challenges inherent in biotechnology, medical ethics and environmentalism,” Msgr. Jenkins said. “He brings a depth of theological knowledge to these and other areas, including the study and teaching of systematic theology, that are critical to the Church today and to the strategic priorities adopted by the bishops.”

Msgr. Jenkins also applauded the contributions of Fr. Weinandy.

“Fr. Weinandy has offered a steady hand in serving the U.S. bishops in their immersion in today’s theological issues,” he said. “He leaves the USCCB knowing he has been a valued contributor to its work. He has earned the sabbatical he now takes as he prepares for further work in academia.” [USCCB]

 

Father James Martin on the Papal Resignation in The New York Times, on The Colbert Report

Jesuit Father Jim Martin on The Colbert ReportJesuit Father James Martin, editor at large at America magazine, appeared on The Colbert Report last night where he and host Stephen Colbert discussed the pope’s resignation, the papal election process, ex-pope etiquette and the unlikelihood of choosing an American pope.

Fr. Martin also has an op-ed, “The Change Upon Christ’s Rock,” in The New York Times today on Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy:

“Paradoxically, Benedict might also be best remembered for how he left the papacy. In becoming the first pope to resign since 1415, he demonstrated immense spiritual freedom, putting the good of the institution, and of a billion Catholics, before power or status. This most traditional of popes — who in his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had often been criticized for exercising too much power — has done one of the most nontraditional things imaginable.”

Read the op-ed at The New York Times website and watch Fr. Martin on The Colbert Show below:

Jesuits React to Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI waving“I didn’t see it coming,” said Jesuit Father Stephen Sundborg about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, echoing the thoughts of many Catholics. Pope Benedict’s announcement that he will resign on Feb. 28 makes him the first pope to step down in over 600 years. Here are some reactions and commentary from U.S. Jesuits on the pope’s resignation:

Fr. Sundborg told KOMO News Radio he thinks it means that “this is a very thoughtful pope. He sees he doesn’t have the energy to carry on as pope beyond what his current age and strength is. I think people will respect this [decision].”

Fr. Sunborg went on to say that he thinks Benedict will be remembered as “the pope theologian.”

“He was an expert at the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. He wrote very extensively about the Gospels. He tried to re-engage culture in a positive way.” Listen to all of Fr. Sundborg’s comments at the KOMO News Radio website.

Jesuit Father George Coyne, a former director of the Vatican Observatory who teaches at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., said Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down because of poor health is in keeping with the pope’s character.

“I think it was a very courageous move, a very good move,” said Fr. Coyne, who knew Benedict as a cardinal for many years. “I think he had a very personal conviction that he could not carry on the job because of general health conditions.”

Benedict “lived through the aging of John Paul II, and I think that very much influenced him,” Fr. Coyne said. “He didn’t want to see the church go through another period like that.” For more from Fr. Coyne, visit Syracuse.com.

Jesuit Father James Martin, of America magazine, tweeted, “The Holy Father’s resignation is a selfless and noble act done for the good of the Church he has loved and served for his entire life.”

On America’s website, Fr. Martin also wrote about the pope’s legacy: “His most lasting legacy, I would suggest, will not be in the various ‘newsworthy’ acts of his papacy that were highlighted in the media so often … but something far more personal: his books on Jesus. Far more people will most likely read those moving testaments to the person who is at the center of his life—Jesus of Nazareth—than may read all of his encyclicals combined.”

Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen also wrote about the pope’s legacy on America magazine’s website, noting some of the pope’s contributions during his tenure:

“His encyclical Caritas in Veritate, with its affirmation of structural reform as ‘political charity’ and his call for a global authority to regulate the financial sector, may be the most radical since John XXIII’s Pacem in terris 50 years ago. Though not a diplomat himself, he conducted extraordinary visits to Turkey, Britain and the Holy Land. His address to the British leadership in Westminster Hall was both a diplomatic and personal triumph.”

Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, president of Regis University in Denver, told the Denver Post that the news was shocking in its impact, but he believed there had been signs.

“I think the Holy Father, Benedict, has signaled in a number of ways he’ was very open to a more humane response to the human realities behind such offices,” Fr. Fitzgibbons said.

Fr. Fitzgibbons said Benedict will be remembered for carrying on John Paul II’s “glowing understanding that this is a worldwide church, and he moved further away from Euro-centrism by appointing cardinals that came from all over the world.”

As for what happens next, Jesuit Father Thomas Reese offers a helpful Q-and-A on the papal transition, conclave and election of new pope on America’s website.

Jesuit Explores God, Religion and Science in Ignatian Seminar

Jesuit Father David Collins Jesuit Father David Collins has always been “fascinated by God and religion.”  At Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he explores the relationship between religion and science in an Ignatius Seminar course he created two years ago.

Fr.  Collins says that he’s always had a theological curiosity, and as an undergraduate he began to investigate his own relationship with God. As a senior, he applied to join the Society of Jesus.

“Even during a highly skeptical phase in my life, I found the big questions that theology poses intriguing and important as in no other discipline,” Fr.  Collins says. “But the decision to enter religious life and pursue the priesthood had much more to do with an awareness of God in my heart than with any theological proposition or school of thought.”

In the classroom, Fr. Collins channels his interests into his popular seminar, “Science and Religion in the West: Historical Perspectives.” The course begins with Latin theologian St. Augustine and the dominant question of his time — should Christians study science, as the pagan Greeks do? — and ends with modern American debates about evolution.

For Fr. Collins, the most rewarding aspect of his Ignatius Seminar is that it goes against the popular Western narrative that science and religion are enemies. History, he says, shows that these two institutions work well together and that their cooperation often leads to good things for civilization.

“America’s religiously inspired hostility to evolution is the exception, not the rule, in the history of the West. It’s enjoyable to watch students’ jaws hit the floor when they see that, despite some newspaper polemic, Western scientific discovery has recurrently advanced thanks to religious insights and religious commitment of resources,” Fr. Collins says.

“The actual history of the relationship between science and religion in the West is so much more interesting than the sound bites of culture warriors on the left or the right.”

Read the full story at the Georgetown University website.

Jesuit Says Confusion Over Vatican II Is Normal, Even 50 Years Later

Jesuit Father Ladislas OrsyJesuit Father Ladislas Orsy served as an expert at the Second Vatican Council, which opened in 1962, but he admits, “I’m just beginning to understand the depth and breadth of the council.”

Fr. Orsy, a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., told an audience at a recent speech in Rome that while every ecumenical council in church history led to debate — and sometimes even schism — it has always taken more than 50 years for a council’s teachings and reforms to take root in the Christian community.

Fr. Orsy, 91, said he hoped to live a “few more years” so he could try to understand more about where the Holy Spirit is leading the church through the teachings of Vatican II and the continuing process of that teaching taking root in the lives of Catholics.

In his talk, Fr. Orsy looked particularly at “Dignitatis Humanae,” Vatican II’s declaration on human dignity and religious freedom.

Fr. Orsy, a canon lawyer, said the document, approved on the last day of the council, takes the visions of the church, the world and the human person expressed in the other Vatican II documents and applies them to “real-life situations.”

The document insists on “respect for the truth, but asserts that charity has its own priority, sometimes even above truth,” urging the church to model itself more closely after Christ, “who never imposed with any kind of violence the truth that he proclaimed,” said Fr. Orsy.

The council, he said, articulated a “fresh view of the human person” and affirmed that “by acknowledging the freedom of the human person, we honor a divine quality in the human person,” who was created in God’s image and likeness.

“The ultimate conclusion is not to enforce the truth, but to embrace the person,” Fr. Orsy said.

For more of Fr. Orsy’s reflections on Vatican II, read the full article at the National Catholic Reporter.