Karl Rahner Consultation in 2021: “All You Who Labour”

Erin Kidd will speak on epistemic justice.

Erin Kidd will speak on epistemic justice.

This year’s Karl Rahner Consultation will feature two presentations related to the theme of work.  They will take place on June 11, 2021, from 11:00-12:15 (Pacific Standard Time) within the online convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Erin Kidd (St. John’s University, New York) will present a paper titled “Seeking Epistemic Justice.”  The paper will employ Rahner’s concept of “witness” and recent philosophical work in epistemic injustice to provide a “theology of testimony.”  Rahner argued that testimony has a theological character, whether or not the content is explicitly religious.  In bearing witness one offers oneself in the hope that the other will respond.  Theological wisdom emerges when a person’s testimony is received by the community.  Testimonial injustice, a concept first developed by Miranda Fricker, arises when people are not believed as a result of prejudice against their identity.  The paper proposes that such injustice leads to “theological harm.”  Kidd equates it with the epistemic and spiritual harm that is done when the community does not receive a person’s testimony.  Terrence Tilley (Fordham University) will respond to the the paper.

Terry Tilley will respond to the two papers.

Terry Tilley will respond to the two papers.

Karl Rahner’s Work on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven” is the title of a paper by Mark F. Fischer (St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo).  In 1951, Jesuit censors denied Rahner permission to publish an almost 400-page work in German, Assumptio Beatae Mariae VirginisThe censors found the work too speculative and “insufficiently grounded,” and it did not appear until 2004.  It might seem that Rahner’s lack of success in publishing his work on the Assumption was an example of fruitless labor.  The paper will argue, however, that the book’s interpretation of the dogma of the Assumption — and especially its “theology of death” — laid the foundation for much of Rahner’s later work, including his soteriology, Christian anthropology, and Christology.  This seeming failure also suggests that theological labor has a metaphysical dimension as the transmission of spirit.  Terrence Tilley will respond to the paper.

Mary Beth Yount (Neumann University, Philadelphia) will moderate the Rahner Consultation, and Kevin Patrick McCabe (Seton Hall University) will convene it.

Karl Rahner Consultation 2019

Karl Rahner’s Theology provoked reflections on how “Another World Is Possible: Violence, Resistance, and Transformation,” which was the theme of the June 6-9, 2019 convention in Pittsburgh of the Catholic Theological Society of America.  Brandon R. Peterson (University of Utah) convened the “Karl Rahner Consultation,” a regular part of the convention, and Susan Bigelow Reynolds (Emory University) moderated the session.


Jakob Karl Rinderknecht considered Rahner’s views on ecclesial failure.

The first of two presentations at the Consultation was offered by Jakob Karl Rinderknecht (University of the Incarnate Word).  He titled his paper “Another World is Present: Rahner’s Theology of the Church after Failure.” In 1974, said Rinderkneckt, Karl Rahner provided an account of how we can recognize God at work in Protestant ministries.  The Catholic Church had previously judged Protestant ministries as invalid due to schism. Rahner’s work in 1974 contributes to the contemporary conversation about structural reform of the church after its failures responding to clerical sex abuse, said Rinderkneckt.  Such failures, he said, may be “serious enough to split the church from the Kingdom.”  In a work entitled Vorfragen zu einem Ökumenischen Amtsverständnis, Rahner drew out several principles for thinking about the church as the locus of God’s work despite its repeated failures.


David A. Stosur examined Rahner’s concept of the liturgy of the world.

The second presenter at the Consultation was David A. Stosur (Cardinal Stritch University).  His paper was titled “Rahner’s ‘Liturgy of the World’ as a Hermeneutic of Another World that is Possible.” Stosur explored Rahner’s conception of the Liturgy of the World in light of the convention theme. Employing Rahner’s hermeneutics of worship, he defined violence as a denial of the cosmic liturgy, transformation as conversion to it, and resistance as the stance opposing the denial. Resistance to violence, he said, entails solidarity with all humanity in liturgical participation and in action for social justice.  Stosur also considered (1) Rahner’s concerns with the nature-grace relationship, human freedom, and the economic Trinity, (2) Metz’s critique of Rahner from the standpoint of political theology, and (3) the connection with Teilhard’s “Cosmic Mass” in light of contemporary cosmology.

Heidi Russell (Loyola University Chicago) responded to the papers by Rinderkneckt and Stosur. To read titles of previously published “Rahner Papers” click here.

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