Magisterium, theologians, and the need for dialogue

Odd A. Salzman, Michael G. Lawler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Throughout history there have been theological tensions between official church teachers and church theologians, creating at times a divide between both the magisterium and theologians and also between theologians of different methodological approaches. We offer as examples of tension the declarations by the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine (CD) on the "inadequacies in the theological methodology and conclusions" of our book and of the books of three other contemporary theologians. These examples afford us the opportunity both to consider the theological tensions in general and to propose a solution to them. We establish some ecclesial context for dialogue with the CD, calling attention to four factors in this context: first, recent patterns of discourse between theologians and the magisterium in statements issued against particular theologians; second, an important change in the Catholic concept of church; third, an equally important change in how Catholic theologians set about doing theological ethics; and fourth, the reaffirmation of the importance of conscience by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s and, more recently, by Pope Francis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-112
Number of pages34
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Religious studies


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