Prestigious Theologians Join STRS Faculty
By Richard Wilkinson
in August-September Issue of Inside CUA
CUA's School of Theology and Religious Studies has hired three new professors who are international leaders in their fields and have joined Catholic University as full, or "ordinary," professors. The school has also hired two young faculty members as assistant professors.
"When you hire people at the ordinary professor rank, you're making a statement about their accomplishments," says Monsignor Kevin W. Irwin, S.T.D., dean of the theology and religious studies school and the Monsignor Walter J. Schmitz Professor of Liturgical Studies.
The first of the prestigious new hires is an Australian, Rev. Brian V. Johnstone, C.SS.R., "a scholar of the first order," says Monsignor Irwin. Father Johnstone taught at CUA from 1981 to 1987 (and in 2005) and he has taught in Rome for 20 years, most recently at the Alphonsian Academy of the Pontifical Lateran University. "He's world renowned," says Monsignor Irwin. "He's judicious, highly respected and a very senior person in the field of moral theology.
"It has been in the School of Theology's strategic plan for several years to hire a senior figure in moral theology and we were never able to do that until this year when we got the person we wanted, which is Brian Johnstone."
Moral theology is the study of Christian ethics and the human response to the Christian revelation. This area of theology is studied in conversation with Scripture and Church tradition, as well as with other disciplines such as philosophy, religious studies, politics, law, medicine, and the social and behavioral sciences.
Father Johnstone will hold the university's endowed Warren Blanding Chair of Religion and Culture.
A second new ordinary professor, Rev. Paul McPartlan, has been a leader in Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogues with the Anglican Church, the World Methodist Council and the Orthodox Church. In fact, one of those who wrote letters recommending that CUA hire Father McPartlan was Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the titular head of the Anglican Communion and its 70 million members worldwide.
Named to the coordinating committee of the newly reconstituted Roman Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, Rev. McPartlan "is perched to be an important person in that dialogue," says Monsignor Irwin.
A professor of systematic theology at the University of London from 1995 to 2005 and a visiting professor at CUA last year, Father McPartlan will hold CUA's Carl J. Peter Chair of Systematic and Ecumenical Theology. On March 6, 2004, Father McPartlan was named to
the Church's International Theological Commission, a body of 30 Catholic theologians from around the world that advises the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
A third new ordinary professor is Rev. John Paul Heil, the author of 11 books focused on New Testament theology. "His coming to us is a major plus because he is one of the best of the classically trained biblical scholars and brings a vast knowledge of biblical and modern languages to his study and teaching," says Monsignor Irwin. Father Heil has taught at the Kenrick School of Theology in St. Louis since 1979.
CUA's School of Theology and Religious Studies also has hired two new assistant professors, William C. Mattison and Thomas Schärtl.
Mattison, a moral theologian, was formerly an assistant professor at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md. He is a co-chair of a national group of young Catholic moral theologians called New Wine, New Wineskins, and edited that group's 2005 book, New Wine, New Wineskins: A Next Generation Reflects on Key Issues in Catholic Moral Theology (Rowan & Littlefield Publishers). One of the group's goals is to move beyond the contentious old approaches to American moral theology that sometimes included conservative-liberal name-calling and a spirit of dissent toward Church teachings.
Schärtl, a systematic theologian, comes to CUA with a doctorate in theology and an M.A. in philosophy earned in his homeland of Germany. A specialist in the nexus of theology and philosophy, he brings an important European voice to the faculty, according to Monsignor Irwin.
All five of these faculty members start their new appointments with the present fall semester.