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Presidential Address: Catholic Theology, 1974: Problems and Prospects

Catholic Theological Society of America
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  • Religious Science


PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS CATHOLIC THEOLOGY, 1974: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS Two of my recent predecessors have raised, in their own presiden- tial addresses, the question of the continued existence of the Catholic Theological Society of America. At our Washington, D.C., convention in that fateful year of 1968, Walter Burghardt asked: "Should we link with a similar, or dissimilar, organization-the College Theology Teachers [s/'c], the American Theo- logical Society, the American Humanist Society? Or should we cease to exist? In a word, can we, in hard-nose reality, justify our actual, inde- pendent, relatively unproductive existence? I say no."1 Those of you who were present at that session and who may have been stunned by so ominous a pronouncement from so insightful a critic were undoubtedly reassured by Father Burghardt's reappearance at last year's New York convention as its keynote speaker. The earlier judgment was neither reaffirmed nor retracted. Qui tacet consentire videturl At the Detroit convention in 1970 Charles Curran, too, posed the survival question but offered, at the same time, a probationary stay of execution. "If the Society does not eagerly embrace these opportunities of developing the discipline of theology as such and of serving the Church through theological research and discussion of particular points," he insisted, "then one should really question our continued existence. This seems to be the choice which is facing us as a Society now and in the future."2 Unless we have concluded at this year's convention that there is indeed no such enterprise as Catholic theology and no such academic breed as Catholic theologians, the question of the continued existence of the CTSA is largely moot. The Catholic Theological Society of America exists, and at times it has even shown the capacity to flourish. ^'Presidential Address: Towards an American Theology," CTSA Pro- ceedings 23 (1969), 27. 2"Presidential Address." CTSA Proceedings 25 (1971), 233.

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