Georgetown professor receives CTSA’s John Courtney Murray Award for excellence

Father Peter Phan (CNS/Rick DelVecchio, Catholic San Francisco)

Father Peter Phan, professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University, received the John Courtney Murray Award from the Catholic Theological Society of America during the organization’s annual convention in Cleveland June 12.

The award is CTSA’s highest honor.

A native of Vietnam who emigrated as a refugee to the United States in 1975, Father Phan, is widely recognized in theological circles for contributions in a wide range of systematic theology topics including ecclesiology, Christology, the Trinity, race, eschatology, liberation theology, popular religion and piety, ecumenism and Catholic social thought.

As the award was announced during the society’s annual banquet, Father Phan was recognized for his breadth of expertise in systematic theology as well has for his original contributions in Catholic theology.

In addition, his record includes 12 monographs, 11 edited works, 35 encyclopedia entries, 62 book chapters, 93 referred articles, 104 book reviews and numerous articles for publications such as America, Commonweal and U.S. Catholic.

Father Phan’s career has included stops at the University of Dallas and The Catholic University of America before his arrival at Georgetown. Formerly a Salesian, he is a priest in the Diocese of Dallas.

It should be noted that the 67-year-old priest’s career is not without controversy. His 2004 book on religious pluralism, “Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue,” was found to contain “pervading ambiguities and equivocations that could easily confuse or mislead the faithful,” by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

The December 2007 decision by the bishops’ committee followed an evaluation of the book at the request of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When asked to respond to concerns raised by the congregation and the bishops, Father Phan declined.

Quoting frequently from the book, the documents of the Second Vatican Council and “Dominus Iesus,” the 2000 declaration of the Vatican doctrinal congregation on the “unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the church,” the committee said Father Phan’s book “could leave readers in considerable confusion as to the proper understanding of the uniqueness of Christ.”