Dissident Fr. Charles Curran, professor of theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the Vatican action “is the most serious attack possible on U.S. Catholic theology because Theological Studies is our most prestigious scholarly journal.”
Curran, whom the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared in 1986 was not suitable to be a Catholic theologian because of his dissent from hierarchical moral teaching, noted that “once again” it is moral theology and sexual ethics that has become the Vatican’s litmus of orthodoxy.
In a move some theologians say undermines the credibility of the leading English-language Catholic theological journal, the Vatican has pressured it to publish a scholarly essay on marriage, unedited and without undergoing normal peer review.
The essay, which appeared in the June 2011 issue of the quarterly Theological Studies, published in Milwaukee under the auspices of the Jesuits, upholds the indissolubility of marriage. It was a reply to a September 2004 article in which two theologians argued for a change in church teachings on divorce and remarriage.
The Vatican has been pressuring the editors at Theological Studies since not long after the publication of the 2004 essay, according to theologians not connected to the journal or to the Jesuit order. The Vatican aim is to weed out dissenting voices and force the journal to stick more closely to official church teachings.