In the third verse of his eponymous New Testament epistle, Jude exhorts his readers “to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered,” a charge that continues to resound to the present day. This collection of essays responds to the apostle’s call by providing both a diagnosis of the ills of modern progressivist Catholic doctrinal and moral theology and a prescription for the safeguarding of orthodoxy via a rightly understood return to the traditional sources of theology.

The essays in the first part of this collection seek to answer the question, “What went wrong with Catholic theology since the Second Vatican Council?” Following a brief account of the movement in modern theology from its philosophical basis in Kant and Hegel to the nouvelle théologie and later progressivist theologies of the twentieth century, the writings of Karl Rahner, Walter Kasper, and Bernhard Häring are treated as representative of principal problematic trends, and the concept of heresy is surveyed as it has been understood in the past and as it operates in the Church today. The essays in the second part indicate the way forward for Catholic doctrinal and moral theology, examining and distinguishing the orthodox use of the fontes theologiae of magisterial teachings, the deposit of faith in its development, the “sense of the faithful” (sensus fidelium), Sacred Scripture, and Church councils and synods.

In its twofold attentiveness to contemporary errors in Catholic theology and to tradition-based correctives, The Faith Once for All Delivered offers an urgent and compelling summons to the sacred mission of defending doctrinal and moral orthodoxy.


Fr. Kevin L. Flannery, S.J., was born in 1950 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1977. As a Jesuit he completed an M.Div. and an S.T.L. at Weston School of Theology, as well as a B.A./M.A. and a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford. Beginning in 1992,he was Professor of the History of Ancient Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, serving as Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy from 1999 until 2005. He is the author of several books, including Ways into the Logic of Alexander of Aphrodisias (Brill, 1995), Action and Character according to Aristotle: The Logic of the Moral Life (The Catholic University of America Press, 2013), and Cooperation with Evil: Thomistic Tools of Analysis (The Catholic University of America Press, 2019).


“Since the early twentieth century, theologians have been yearning for the revitalization of their sacred discipline. And yet clarity about the precise essence of such a renewed theology remains elusive. What is authentic Catholic theology? With subtlety and nuance, the essays in this volume collectively invite readers to revisit this crucial question. These authors identify key principles that always inform Catholic theology—even as they model its authentic practice.”

Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C.


“This important book is a masterful treatment of some of the major problems with contemporary theology that deviates from the Catholic tradition. No other book to my knowledge tackles these contemporary theological issues with such expertise.”

Former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


“Christians today are divided between those who are servants of the Word, accepting Revelation as godly, and those who see themselves as masters of the apostolic tradition, able to change the deposit of faith and morals. One cannot belong to both camps. This superb collection of essays, sometimes blunt and regularly demanding, merits the effort required of the reader.”

Archbishop Emeritus of Sydney, Australia


“Below the turbulent surface of current ecclesial life lie the deep currents which the contributors to this book seek to plumb. They show how, without a robust metaphysics, an objective ethics, and an epistemology suited to both, Catholic philosophy cannot safely take on board any worthwhile wares the cargo of modern thought might contain. Likewise, without a steady gaze on the fixed stars of canon, creed, and crozier by which the Church, historically, has read the map of the Christian life, Catholic theologians, and their epigones in high places, will inevitably hole the side of the Barque of Peter.”

Former John Paul II Memorial Visiting Lecturer at the University of Oxford

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The Faith Once for All Delivered: Doctrinal Authority in Catholic Theology