Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. and Ecclesiological Hermeneutics

An Exercise in Faithful Creativity


In Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. and Ecclesiological Hermeneutics, Canaris traces the significant contributions that Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. has made to Catholic ecclesiology, paying particular attention to the method and application of his hermeneutical approach to the writings of the magisterium.

Though highly esteemed by professional theologians in both Catholic and ecumenical circles, Sullivan is less well-known among general audiences than many of his peers. The author addresses this lacuna by arguing that Sullivan’s work, when viewed through an interpretive lens, can aid the faithful to engage seriously with magisterial texts of various genres and levels of authority, find meaning within them, and encourage an active reception process whereby contemporary understanding of the teaching (and learning) role of the entire church becomes possible.

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Michael M. Canaris, Ph.D. (Fordham University, 2013), is Assistant Professor of Ecclesiology at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies. He teaches systematic theology, ecumenism, hermeneutics, and immigration studies at both their Chicago and Rome campuses.
"(...) this work is a welcome addition to the literature for those concerned with the Catholic doctrinal and dogmatic tradition. Sullivan’s work is the benchmark against which others are measured in examining the authority of the various components in this tradition, and Canaris has done us a service in providing illumination of his work." - Neil Ormerod, Australian Catholic University, in: Reading Religion September 10, 2018
"(...) Canaris writes clearly and demonstrates an impressive mastery of Sullivan's corpus and the complex interpretive issues he engaged. As a respresentative of a younger generation of scholars, Canaris gives hope that the important work of expanding and creatively applying the theological notes tradition to the needs of the church today will not end with the contributions of Francis Sullivan." - Richard R. Gaillardetz, Boston College, in: Journal of Jesuit Studies Volume 4,3 (2017)
"C.’s volume, in other words, is important reading for the theologian in general, and the ecclesiologist in particular. (...) C.’s basic point [is] that Sullivan is “a theologian well suited to help address serious ecclesial problems in our day”. One can say likewise of this volume: it is well suited to serve as an aid to readers of magisterial documents, beginners and veterans alike." - Peter Folan, SJ, Boston College, in Theological Studies, Vol. 78.4 (2017)



Chapter One - Major Trends in Modern Hermeneutics

Chapter Two - Karl Rahner's Ecclesiology as a Resource for Sullivan's Doctrinal Hermeneutics

Chapter Three - Francis A. Sullivan's Method: An Asset for Our Times

Chapter Four - What Constitutes "Outside"? Employing Sullivan's Method to Interpret Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, Anonymous Christians, Substit In, and Dominus Iesus

Chapter Five - Towards a Hermeneutical Catholic Ecclesiology of the Twenty-First Century

Primary Works by Francis A. Sullivan S.J.
Selected Bibliography

Catholic theologians (especially ecclesiologists), ecumenists, graduate students, academic libraries, Jesuits, educated lay people, all interested in the development and interpretation of the writings of popes and councils (especially Vatican II).
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