Author: Julie Rubio

Responding to the Vatican’s Survey on the Family

Over at NCR, Joshua McElwee reported this week that two groups of German theologians answered the Vatican’s questions on “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The 17 signers “bluntly outlined” how most Europeans embrace different ways of living than the Church asks them to and articulate concerns about family and sexuality that differ from those of Church authorities. They “propose that the church adopt a whole new paradigm for its sexual teachings, based not on moral evaluations of individual sex acts but on the fragility of marriage and the vulnerability people experience in their sexuality.”...

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Women in the Church

Over at America magazine, Sidney Callahan has a great article, “Feminism at Fifty: A Catholic Woman Looks Back at ‘The Feminine Mystique.'” She describes how popular ideas about women in the 1950s, “served as a more subtle form of ensuring women’s subordination to male privilege.” Then she poses a question: Was it really that bad? the young may ask. Yes, it was. In the 1950s my father, who told me I was intelligent enough to be a doctor, also warned, “Don’t be too smart or no one will marry you.” Women were not welcome in graduate and professional schools,...

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CTSA to Theologians: Embrace Your Conservative Colleagues

The Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) has just released an important report from an ad hoc committee on diversity. The committee calls CTSA  members to a deeper commitment to ideological diversity.  For the sake of integrity, intellectual rigor, and concern for the future of the church, theologians need to heed this call. The report’s most damning passage reads: “In sum, the self-conception of many members that the CTSA is open to all Catholic theologians is faulty and self-deceptive. As one of our members put it, the CTSA is a group of liberal theologians and ‘this permeates virtually everything.’ Because the CTSA does not aspire to be a partisan group, both attitudes and practices will have to shift if the CTSA is to become the place where all perspectives within Catholic theology in North America are welcome.” As evidence, the committee reports: *Conservative theologians are rarely chosen as plenary speakers or elected to the Board. *Presenters often make jokes that assume liberal politics or stances toward the Magisterium. *Liberalism is associated with intellectualism and conservatism is characterized as backward-thinking. *Resolutions that are favored by the liberal majority pass, leaving conservatives to feel ambivalent about belonging to an organization with stances they cannot affirm. *Many conservatives are leaving the CTSA for other organizations, such as the Academy of Catholic Theology, which leads to fragmentation. Although I have been a plenary...

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Bernard Cooke and the Sacrament of Human Friendship

I am writing from Creighton University, Omaha, NE, where the 59th meeting of the College Theology Society is being held. We received word that Bernard Cooke died peacefully early this morning. He would have been 91 today. I did not know Cooke but, like many other Catholic theologians and lay people, I found his writing important for my own work and my own understanding of the Catholic tradition. Cooke’s understanding of marriage as a sacrament of friendship has been particularly significant for me. Cooke worried that pre-Vatican II sacramental theology led Catholics to think that when people receive a sacrament, they are to able make special withdrawals from the bank of grace. This notion was not very convincing, as not all Catholics seemed to have extra help when they needed it most. It also didn’t come close to capturing the richness of the Catholic sacramental tradition. Instead, Cooke claims, the primary sacrament is God’s love. Not just in the context of sacramental rituals, but everywhere, all the time, God continually extends love to all human beings. We experience this love primarily in human friendship, when we love others and are loved by them. In marriage, couples are grace to each other, to their children, and to everyone around them. Love is the most profound human experience. We experience love in friendship, and marriage is the ultimate friendship, wherein God...

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The Conversation on How Not to Die

In this month’s Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch profiles Dr. Angelo Volandes’ work to change the way Americans approach death. After realizing that most people facing end of life decisions did not really understand what various treatment options or conditions looked like, Volandes embarked on a mission to produce short, brutally honest films that he could show his patients. Dementia, artificial nutrition and hydration, heart disease, cancer, emergency CPR. . . If we really knew, Volandes believes, we would forgo a lot more end of life care that can make dying inhumane. Unwanted care is, in his view, the most urgent issue facing medicine today. This is why he interrupted medical school to learn film-making: “Videos communicate better than just a stand-alone conversation. And when people get good communication and understand what’s involved, many, if not most, tend not to want a lot of the aggressive stuff that they’re getting.” Volandes attempts to make his videos as objective and dispassionate as possible. He says wants to inform patients, which will improve The Conversation (or conversations) that must eventually take place near the end of life. But he sees this work as “subversive,” in that it has the potential to fundamentally change the way we approach end of life care. Interestingly enough, Volandes is not invested in changing laws or policies. A doctor who uses his videos says, “The changes will come...

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