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A report on an encouraging conference — attended by Leroy Huizenga, author of several recent “On the Square” articles — held by the Catholic bishops’ doctrine committee for young (untenured) Catholic theologians: Young Theologians Encouraged to Confront ‘The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization by Joan Frawley Desmond. Among the addresses was one by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and FIRST THINGS contributor ( Jesus and the World Religions  and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Aquinas ):

At the symposium, Archbishop DiNoia explored related themes in an often passionate address. The work of a Catholic theologian “is not simply an academic vocation. It is an ecclesial vocation,” he stated. The task at hand required an affirmation of the “doctrinal core of the Catholic faith” and a concerted effort to address the “internal and external factors” that impede the New Evangelization.

He counseled his audience not to allow academic specialization and speculative work to lead them to ignore the fullness of the Church’s teaching.

Archbishop DiNoia, a member of the Order of Preachers, observed that St. Thomas Aquinas mastered every aspect of Catholic theology and would never have divided it up into patristics, systematic theology, bioethics and other areas of specialization.

The fragmentation of theological work has resulted in the weakening of the holistic vision and power of Revelation, he said. “You have to keep asking yourself: What does this have to do with . . . the central doctrines of the faith?” he said. “The part you specialize in relates to the whole.”

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