Does Veritatis Gaudium imply that those only among the faithful are theologians who have met all the requirements and received the nihil obstat from the Holy See, as detailed in this new set of rules?
No. A theologian is someone who writes theology. “The breast of the Lord is the knowledge of God; he who rests upon it is a theologian.” [Evagrius of Pontus]. A faithful Catholic theologian is someone who writes sound and insightful Roman Catholic theology, on a continuing basis.
On the other hand, someone who merely instructs the faithful in Church teaching, and does not write theology, seeking a new and deeper understanding, does good work, but is not a theologian. Persons who call themselves apologists sometimes write theology to a sufficient quality and extent to be considered theologians. Some priests write theology, similarly, and so they should also be considered theologians.
I oppose the claim, found in various places online, that a person who studies and writes theology, competently and faithfully, for many years, is not a theologian unless he has certain other qualifications. I find this claim to be an example of modern-day Pharisaism.
The Church has never issued a law or teaching restricting the use of the term “theologian” to only those among the faithful who meet certain conditions, over and above the simply condition, inherent to the term, that the person be engaged in doing theology.
This post is an overview of my work in theology. This work proves that I am, in fact, a Roman Catholic theologian. My body of work in theology equals or exceeds the quality and the extent of the theological works of most other theologians.
1. The translation and editing of Bible versions
* I worked as a proof-reader for the 2006 Tweedale edition of the Clementine Vulgate Bible.
* I worked on the World English Bible project, specifically the Deuterocanonical Books of Tobit, Judith, Esther, Baruch, Jeremiah’s Letter, and Daniel.
* I am the sole translator and editor of the Catholic Public Domain Version (CPDV) of the Sacred Bible, which is a translation from the Clementine Vulgate Bible into modern English. I worked on the translation project (the CPDV) nearly every day for just over five years.
* I prepared my own edit of the Clementine Vulgate, and I published a Latin-English version of my edit of the Latin with the CPDV translation.
* I’ve also translated anew the doctrines of the Council of Trent from the original Latin.
How many other theologians today have translated the entire Bible? The study of Sacred Scripture is the soul of theology.
2. My work in Biblical Chronology
I’ve written three books on the subject of Biblical chronology:
* Adam and Eve versus Evolution
* Noah’s Flood: Literal or Figurative?
* Important Dates in the Lives of Jesus and Mary
The book on Adam and Eve proposes a comprehensive solution to the problem of reconciling modern science, especially evolution and anthropology, with the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve, as well as other accounts in Genesis 1 to 11. The proposal accepts much of what evolution teaches, but considers that everything occurs under the providence of God, and that God intervened miraculously to create Adam and Eve.
The book on the Noah considers several scientific explanations for the great flood, and concludes that the flood was a real historical event, worldwide and catastrophic, specifically a deep-ocean strike by a comet in 2807 B.C. (following the work of W. Bruce Masse). The biblical description of the Ark and the flood is highly figurative. Not all humans and not all animals, outside the Ark, were killed by the flood. The flood did not cover all land. The Ark did not contain every species of animal. But the event occurred, and Noah did survive by means of an Ark. The figurative elements are used to emphasize the spiritual meaning of the historical event.
These two books together address the substantial and longstanding problems offered by apparent conflicts between history and science, on the one hand, and the Biblical accounts in Genesis on the other. Neither science nor faith is rejected. The solution is neither to see the stories as entirely fictional, nor to reject the conclusions of sound scientific research.
The book “Important Dates” took over 4 years to research and write. It is a comprehensive new chronology for New Testament times, based on numerous points of evidence as well as the Biblical accounts themselves. The work finds proposed and supportable dates for the Immaculate Conception, the birth of Mary, and the events of Christ’s life, as well as many events in the early Church. These dates do not agree with the more commonly proposed dates of chronologists, but ample evidence is presented to support this revised though speculative chronology.
3. My work in Roman Catholic moral theology
* The Catechism of Catholic Ethics
* Roman Catholic Teaching on Cooperation with Evil
* Roman Catholic Marital Sexual Ethics
* Roman Catholic Teaching on Abortion and Contraception
* Is Lying Always Wrong?
* Roman Catholic Teaching on Intrinsic Evil
The souls of the faithful are being gravely harmed by two types of false teachers in the Church today. The first is a set of known teachers and authors, who are radically revising the ethical teachings of the Church, along with the claim that this revisionist ethics is merely the correct understanding of doctrine. The second is a much larger set of thoroughly incompetent and unqualified teachers, who mostly teach under cover of anonymity, in various blogs, discussion groups, and websites. Together, these wolves in sheep’s clothing are spreading many serious errors on many different questions within moral theology. In particular, they are tearing apart the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium that intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances.
My work seeks to correct these many errors by presenting a comprehensive study of moral theology, “The Catechism of Catholic Ethics”, along with several works on particular topics. All of these books and booklets teach ethics from the basic principles taught by Pope Saint John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor, especially the three fonts of morality and the condemnation of all intrinsically evil acts, as well as from magisterial documents on particular kinds of sin.
On the subject of sexual ethics and also contraception, most teachers of ethics have wrongly justified intrinsically evil acts. They each have a different scheme for that justification. But few present the teachings of the Church faithfully, when the acts at issue are popular sins. My work challenges the faithful to adhere to every grave requirement of the eternal moral law and of Church teaching. I defend the teachings of the Saints and of the Church on marital chastity, and I argue against the justification of intrinsically evil unnatural acts in marriage.
4. The most holy Trinity
My brief booklet “God is One Divine Eternal Act” explains the nature of God as a single act encompassing everything that God does and everything that God is. In God, doing and being are exactly the same. Thus, God is a single act — divine, perfect, eternal, and exceedingly full — in His one Nature. Then certainly, that one Nature is Three Persons. The oneness of the Nature does not detract from the distinction of Three Persons. The booklet also proposes some speculative theology about the Trinity.
My work in Mariology covers certain speculative questions. I propose that Mary’s conception and birth were each virginal and miraculous. Saint Ann was not herself a virgin; only the manner of conception and birth were virginal. The claim that this opinion is condemned by the Church is false, as I explain here.
I’ve also written at length about the Marian dogmas of the Church, and against the false claim (derived from a false private revelation) that there are only five Marian dogmas. Moreover, I’ve proposed an understanding of Mary’s role as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix which corrects some common errors found among supporters of this title.
6. Distinguishing true from false private revelation
I’ve written dozens of lengthy articles analyzing claimed private revelations, and explaining which of these are false (many of them). Some of the faithful are attracted to claimed private revelation. But they can be quickly led into grave error by visionaries and locutionists whose claimed messages are filled with doctrinal and moral errors. My work has convinced many Catholic to turn away from these errors, and to find their way in life using the teachings of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium instead.
7. My work in eschatology
The field of eschatology is a legitimate branch of theology. However, its highly speculative nature leads to the possibility of error, especially in attempting to determine the timing of events. Even so, the end times are unequivocally part of God’s plan. Jesus gave an eschatological discourse recounted by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John wrote an entire book of eschatology, the Book of Revelation. And there are eschatological passages throughout the Old and New Testaments.
One of the main benefits of my writings in eschatology so far has been to refute the claims, also prominent in most false private revelations, that the end is very near, that the Antichrist is in the world today, and that Jesus will return for this generation (all of which are false). My view is the common Catholic opinion that the tribulation is divided into two parts, the lesser and greater, with a time period between them. Since we have not yet entered the first part of the tribulation, the second part must be in the distant future.
I reject the heresies of millenarianism and chiliasm. At no time does Jesus reign over the earth, neither in a reign of temporal delights, as held by historical millenarianism, nor in a spiritual reign in person on earth, as held in mitigated millenarianism.
However, I hold a similar opinion to St. Justin Martyr, Fr. Iannuzzi, Fr. Gobbi, and Fr. Albert Roux that (1) the end of the tribulation is followed by a time of relative peace and holiness on earth, and that (2) the general Resurrection occurs many years later. This separation of the two events is not heretical, nor contrary to any magisterial teaching (and this was verified with the CDF, as Fr. Roux explains).
8. Salvation Theology (soteriology)
I researched and wrote a comprehensive work of Roman Catholic soteriology, which explains the possible path to salvation for all human persons. It is not the case that every single human person is saved, but rather that all human persons are offered the concrete opportunity for salvation. The book reconciles the teachings of the Magisterium throughout the history of the Church on salvation with the most recent magisterial teachings, especially from Pope Saint John Paul II. The book also defends the traditional teaching of Hell as a place of eternal punishment, where, unfortunately, many human souls will spend eternity.
This book, Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone, answers questions on the idea of limbo, refutes the opinion that unbaptized babies go to limbo or Hell, and solves the problem of how they can be saved. The book also proposes an understanding of dying in “original sin alone” which applies to adults, rather than infants.
9. In Defense of the Pope
I propose an understanding of the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church, in conjunction with the teaching of the First Vatican Council on the never-failing faith of every Pope, in which God absolutely prevents every valid Pope from teaching material heresy, and from committing the sins of apostasy, heresy, or schism. And this same protection is also given to the body of Bishops, only as a body, not as individuals.
In my book, In Defense of Pope Francis, I argue against the papal critics and in favor of putting our faith in the work of God through the Pope and the Papal Magisterium.
10. My online writings
My blog posts are sometimes commentary on ideas or events in the Church, and other times they are lengthy articles of theology. I often answer theological questions from the faithful on my blog. I started a Catholic online discussion group, CatholicPlanet.net, which is now ably led by longtime member “Brother”. I also participate in discussions at Catholic Answers Forums. Unlike many theologians, I am accessible to the faithful to answer questions on a range of topics.
Roman Catholic Theologian
I’ve been writing theology for about 20 years now. An up-to-date list of my publications can be found here. Prior to writing my first theology book, I obtained a degree in philosophy and theology (B.A.) from Boston College. I am also a believing and practicing Catholic, who prays the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and who regularly attends Mass and goes to Confession.
The hallmarks of my writings in theology are faithfulness to the teachings of the Magisterium, a thorough knowledge of Sacred Scripture, and great confidence in the Saints. My work in ethics is firmly based on the love of God above all else, and the love of neighbor as self. In my earlier adult years, I worked in service to persons in need, including physically-handicapped, mentally-handicapped, and mentally ill persons.
In my theology, I strive to write the truth, inspired by the virtues of love, faith, and hope. I prayerfully understand that my work in theology is of value to the Church and to Christ. My work clarifies and defends the teaching of the Magisterium, and also proposes new insights into the deposit of faith. I know that my life and my work in theology will one day be judged by God, and I live and write with that judgment in mind.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.