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Dispute at theological journal: authors reveal essay was peer-reviewed

August 31, 2011

Rebutting a story published by the National Catholic Reporter, two noted theologians have revealed that an article they wrote for the Jesuit journal Theological Studies was submitted to peer review prior to publication.

The National Catholic Reporter had said that the Vatican had ordered Theological Studies to publish an article defending the indissolubility of marriage, by Father Peter Ryan and Dr. Germain Grisez, without submitting the piece to peer review, in accordance with the journal's ordinary procedures. But Ryan and Grisez report that their article was reviewed and revised before publication. In fact the article, as it appeared in the journal, included a note of thanks to the reviewers.

The Ryan-Grisez essay was a response to another article, published by Theological Studies in 2004, suggesting that the Church should reconsider her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Ryan and Grisez disclose that the editor of Theological Studies proposed to publish only an abridged version of their essay, which would not have contained the full thrust of their argument against the earlier piece. The authors acknowledge that a "higher authority"--an obvious reference to Vatican intervention--persuaded the journal to publish the full essay.

Father Ryan and Dr. Grisez express their dismay that editor published a note saying that their essay was being published "as it was received," thereby creating the inaccurate impression that the piece had not been reviewed and edited. The editor's note led other theologians to complain--again inaccurately--that the Vatican had forced publication of a piece without scholarly review.


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