This will make you snort, from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune report on encyclical reax (actually a reprint from the Toronto paper - so note that it was probably Canadian "Catholic scholars" who were consulted) :
Few Catholic scholars contacted this week had read the encyclical or planned to do so. Two professed amusement at the notion that the pope had written about love. And what puzzled some scholars is why Benedict had chosen the subject.
God save us from the Catholic scholars. There has been much hand-wringing of late about the "big chill" on Catholic theological work because of CDF, Ratz, etc...oh, I think it's okay. The less we hear from (some of) them, the better.
The ultimate irony is that as the theologians wimper about not being heard, the Big Guy is, of course...a theologian. And people all over the globe are pouring over his work. Even folks like the fellow who wrote me last week who'd read what I'd said about the encyclical on the blog and was confused about where to read the text itself. I sent him the links, and he responded thanks, and that he wasn't Catholic but was intrigued by what he'd read about the Pope's words.
So...is theology dead and did Ratzinger kill it? I'm thinking...no.
Update: And to address an issue that's popped up down below. I'm not suggesting that a papal encyclical should immediately be at the center of every Catholic's - even Catholic scholar's - consciousness and concern. I actually spent some time musing - although I never blogged on it - about why I was interested and why I should care.
But you know, this is the first papal encyclical since 2003, it's the first from this new Pope, who also happens to be a renowned theologian, who has been an object of controversy in the past and whose papacy so far has confounded some. So yeah, it's of interest, it's not very long at all, and any "Catholic scholar" who's on the newsroom rolodex (and once you get on, you learn to expect calls for reactions regularly), you'd think might have something to say besides, "Sniff." If that is, indeed, an accurate metaphor for what they said.