Anna B. Moreland
Written by Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, on May 2020 at the Induction in the College of Fellows
Anna Bonta Moreland, wife and mother, educator, author, theologian and loyal daughter of the Church, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology salutes you:
In a homily delivered in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul on the occasion of his 2014 visit to Turkey, Pope Francis spoke of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church:
Ours is a hopeful perspective, but one which is also demanding. The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit, because he takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles us; he makes us get up and drives the Church forward. It is always easier and more comfortable to settle in our sedentary and unchanging ways. In truth, the Church shows her fidelity to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control or tame him. And the Church shows herself also when she rejects the temptation to look only inwards. We Christians become true missionary disciples, able to challenge consciences, when we throw off our defensiveness and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. He is freshness, imagination and newness.
In your scholarship and in your teaching you have insisted upon an openness to the Holy Spirit, grounded in the communion that requires obedience to the Catholic tradition. Like St. Albert the Great who called his students his socii, you have extolled and promoted friendship with your colleagues and students as integral to the theological project and invited an imagination borne of a fidelity to human experience, examined in the light of the Gospel.
You have challenged your students to have an imagination for society and for their own possibilities, illumined by faith, and have sought to advance a Catholic pedagogy that consists, in your words, of “a pursuit of knowledge that is organic, humanizing and interpersonal.” You have insisted that a reception of revelation requires a constant advertence to ordinary human experience, often playfully. Hence, for example, a comment that is regrettably unusual in academic reporting:
….I could not help but notice Fr. Rhonheimer’s optimism with respect to children’s immediate grasp of the goods involved in their natural inclinations. This mother of four is not sure that that grasp is as immediate as I would like.
Throwing off defensiveness and led by the Spirit, you have shown that both fidelity to the magisterium and a close reading of classical texts can afford new possibilities in addressing contemporary culture and in inter-religious dialogue. Hence, for example, you have proposed that St. Thomas Aquinas’ treatment of prophesy can open us to the possibility of reassessing prophesy in the Islamic tradition in the light of the Conciliar document, Nostra Aetate. Or, again, by Insisting that we take seriously Aquinas’ assertions concerning the natural knowledge of God, new possibilities for dialogue with the culture are opened to us.
At the recent General Chapter of the Dominican Order convened at Biên Hoà, Viet Nam, the capitulars exhorted the centers of study of the Order to address such contemporary challenges as ideological secularism, atheism, and the disaffection of youth and called for renewed efforts in inter-religious dialogue and engagement with contemporary culture. We are delighted that you have consented to entertain this conversation with us as a Fellow of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.