Author: Matthew Shadle

Faith, Politics, and Power

I would like to thank Brad Rothrock for continuing our discussion on faith, politics, and partisanship (Brad’s most recent post is here; his original post is here and my response is here). His most recent post is helpful for making clear that there are deeper theological and philosophical issues at stake in the discussion than I realized at first, and that disagreements over these issues help explain why, while some have been enthusiastic about the editorial policy at America magazine that served to initiate this discussion, others have reacted negatively. Before getting to the substance of my response, I...

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Post-Partisan, No; Post-Politicized, Yes

Over at Daily Theology, Brad Rothrock offers a critique of what he calls the “post-partisan” mindset, and in particular of the editorial policy laid out by new editor of America Matt Malone, S.J. As a succinct statement of the post-partisan mindset, Rothrock quotes Malone from an interview in the Washington Post, following up on the magazine’s new policies:  It’s not simply that terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ are inaccurate, it’s that they are counterproductive. There’s a real unity of Catholics. Any language that would oppose one part of the body to the other is inappropriate. We’re a communion. We’re,...

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California’s AB-460: Same-Sex Relationships and Infertility

So far it has not received much media attention, being drowned out by the various scandals swirling around the Obama administration, but in May the California Assembly passed a bill, AB-460, requiring insurance companies to provide infertility treatment to same-sex couples. The bill was introduced in February and is now awaiting discussion in committee in the Senate. Arguing that since health insurance already covers infertility treatment, including artificial reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination (although not in vitro fertilization), for opposite-sex couples, equality demands that the same coverage be extended to same-sex couples. Whatever one’s views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, AB-460 illustrates the complex and contradictory views on sexuality, marriage, and children present in our society. Even if this bill has so far avoided the limelight, with the increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court’s two upcoming decisions on the issue (Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor), we as a church and a nation will not be able to avoid a discussion of how we understand the relationship between marriage and procreation. The debate over same-sex marriage revolves around the proper definition of marriage. Arguments that marriage should be limited to partners of the opposite sex almost always hinge on the procreation of children being a defining characteristic of marriage. For example, in their document Between Man and Woman, the U.S. Catholic bishops write,...

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College Theology Society Annual Convention

From May 30 to June 2, the College Theology Society gathered on the campus of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for its fifty-ninth annual convention. I first presented a paper at a CTS convention back in 2003 and, with only a couple of exceptions, have attended every year since. The fact that I have only been a professor for seven of those eleven years demonstrates one of the endearing characteristics of the society: it nurtures graduate students and young scholars while remaining a serious forum for the established names in Catholic theology. This year’s theme, “Teaching Theology and Handing on the Faith: Challenges and Convergences,” coalesced with the ongoing tensions between American Catholic theologians and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, which in recent years has offered criticisms of the works of noted theologians such as Elizabeth Johnson, Margaret Farley, Todd Salzman, and Michael Lawler. Bishops such as Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. have defined the vocation of theologians as “collaborators in the New Evangelization.” Wuerl insists that given the lack of formation for many young Catholics entering colleges and universities, “it is necessary to recognize that the student entering the ‘groves of academe’ too often comes in need of evangelization and faith formation more than theological speculation. The sharp blade of precise theoretical investigation and speculation should be affixed to the handle of...

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