A void of serious scholarly research on Mary and Her place in the Church has been filled with the Sydney launch of a new book promising to shed learned light on the matter.
Mariology at the Beginning of the Third Millennium was launched at the University of Notre Dame in Broadway on 8 September.
The launch proved timely, taking place on the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and was attended by some of Australia’s leading Catholic academics.
Dr Tracey Rowland, Notre Dame Professor of theology and a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, presided over the launch, calling the book “the most engaging collection of essays on Mariology currently available on the Anglophone market”.
Notre Dame theology lecturer Dr Kevin Wagner was similarly laudatory, describing the book’s publishing as “the start of something quite important for the Church in Australia”.
Mariology is the study of Mary in an intellectual environment; this is a rarity in Australian theological literature.
The book is the first in a planned series under the name “Theology in the Third Millennium.”
Theology in the Third Millennium will consist of papers from various academic disciplines about topics in theology.
This is the fruit of the Mariology conference in 2016 which was a collaborative effort of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, The University of Notre Dame, and Campion College.
Dr Peter John McGregor, a theology lecturer at the Catholic Institute of Sydney and an editor and contributor to the book, remarked: “If you go back in our history there is a quite substantial Marian devotion in the Australian Catholic population.”
But the relationship between Marian devotion and Mariology is reciprocal. Dr Paul Morrissey, President of Campion College and another editor of the book, said that the collection “in the Australian context at least, seeks to address the current situation of Marian studies [and] represent a call for renewal and reawakening in Mariology”.
The collection is as diverse as it is ecumenical with papers from Greek Orthodox Dr Mario Baghos (the date of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary is common in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church), Maronite Fr Joseph Azize and Schoenstatt sister and Dr M Isabell Naumann (ISSM), who concluded her contribution with a quote from Swiss theologian Hans Ulrich Von Balthasar:
“Without Mariology, Christianity threatens to become inhuman. The Church becomes functionalistic, soulless … And people in their masses run away from such a Church”.
Contributions for future books are welcome from multiple disciplines. The next theological conference at Notre Dame in Sydney is on the 23-24 February 2018 on the topic Ecclesiology.
Paper abstracts are due at the beginning of December. Contact the theology faculty at [email protected] for more information.