May We Please Hear Some Other Voices?

by John Mallon


The Secular Press' Choice of Quotable Theologians


Commentary on the choices of the secular press of "Catholic" theologians worthy of quoting.


The Sooner Catholic


Sooner Catholic, July 3, 1994

Recently a story came over the news wire along the lines of "theologians respond to papal statement on women’s ordination." The theologians they chose for comments were very disappointing. It was disappointing to see the Catholic press choose the same theologians the secular press seeks out when they want to play up the "divided flock" angle.

Dr. Monika Hellwig asserted that "we are losing the young people and intellectuals." After spending nearly 10 years on Catholic campuses studying theology I know first hand that this is simply false. It is true however, that dissident theologians are losing the young people and intellectuals. Perhaps she slept through World Youth Day. There, dissent was spontaneously and universally booed and the Pope wildly cheered by the 500,000 young people there, leaving the media with egg on its face.

Comments were also sought from the ubiquitous Father Richard McBrien. Father McBrien’s broken-record laments and attacks on the Holy Father and Church teaching can be heard ad nauseam in the secular media. The dissenting establishment portray themselves in the media as underdogs and noble rebels but they rule the roost at most Catholic universities and frequently with an iron hand against those who side with the Church.

Publicly, should anyone disagree with Father McBrien and Co., people rush to their defense with the cliché accusation of the Church of being afraid of "opposing viewpoints." Meanwhile the Church’s true viewpoint seldom gets a hearing, drowned out, as it is, by the shouting. Instead, the Church’s viewpoint gets maligned and caricatured, and confusion prevails.

Theological dissent, as it has evolved, has become a narrow academic provincialism, and gone far beyond civilized discussion by featuring bigoted comments on John Paul II’s nationality and smug anticipations of his demise contained in remarks about a new conclave. Such personal attacks are far beyond the pale of decency for anyone, much less priests and theologians speaking about the Bishop of Rome. No matter what the issue, or how hotly contested, this line of ‘‘argument’’ is unacceptable.

I hope at least the Catholic press will start seeking comments from more responsible and credible theologians and other scholars who will help explain the teachings of the Church instead of attacking them with cheap and erroneous sound bites.

While the tired clichés of the dissenters get all the ink, there is no shortage of first rate Catholic scholars available for comment who support and understand Catholic teaching instead of denigrating it. To name a few: David Schindler, Alice von Hildebrand, Peter Kreeft, Msgr. Michael Wrenn, Janet Smith, Regis Martin, Father Benedict Ashley O.P., William May, Scott Hahn, Father Lorenzo Albacete, Joyce Little, Father Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Mark Miravalle, and Timothy O’Donnell.

These are the scholars who are teaching the young theology students who have abandoned the dissenters. It can be statistically proven that where theology faculty have embraced the Oath of Fidelity they are burgeoning with theology majors while at the heterodox (dissenting) Catholic universities theology enrollments have dried up. In other words, it is the dissenting establishment —and not the Church—who have lost the young. Today’s young people are hungry for Catholic morality and truth.

In God’s mercy, few young people are buying dissent anymore. They are, however, buying the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Dissenting theology has created the vacuum the Catechism is now filling.

John Mallon is editor of the Sooner Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, where this article originally appeared.

© John Mallon 1994