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Friday, March 23, 2007

Thanks, US Bishops!

posted by on March 23 at 10:34 AM

It’s not usually a headline that catches my eye…

Bishops Denounce Writings of a Catholic Theologian

I mean, who gives a fuck? The Catholic hierarchy declared jihad on independent Catholic theologians thirty years ago—it began with the soon-to-be-sainted JPII—and it shows no signs of letting up. My Catholic family is convinced that an evil cabal has seized control of the papacy—for only, oh, the second or third time in the last hundred or so years—and is enacting a secret plan to make Lutherans, Episcopalians, and atheists of us all. I’ve pretty much stopped following intra-Catholic disputes because, again, who gives a fuck? But I read the story, and I’m glad I took the time…

The theologian, Daniel C. Maguire, teaches religious ethics at Marquette University, a Jesuit institution in Milwaukee. He is a 75-year-old former priest and a prolific writer, educated at the prestigious Gregorian University in Rome, who has been challenging Catholic teaching on sexuality for years.

Last summer, Mr. Maguire mailed two of his pamphlets, “The Moderate Roman Catholic Position on Contraception and Abortion” and “A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage” to 270 Catholic bishops. In them, he argued that the Catholic position on these issues was “pluralistic,” and that Catholic theologians through history had taken a variety of acceptable stances on these issues.

The Rev. Thomas G. Weinandy, executive director for the bishops’ doctrine committee, said in an interview, “The big concern was that the pamphlets are written in a very popular and lively style, and from what the bishops knew, they were very widely distributed.”

Well, I hadn’t heard of Maquire or either of his pamphlets until the US bishops took time out of their busy covering-up-for-child-rape schedules to denounce them. Now I’m looking forward to reading “A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage,” which is available here. Maguire’s other pamphlet, “The Moderate Roman Catholic Position on Contraception and Abortion,” is not yet available online. But it will be shortly now that the US bishops have denounced it.

RSS icon Comments


interesting. thanks.

Posted by josh | March 23, 2007 10:59 AM

That's a really nice article. I only wish my parents were Catholic so I could send it to them.

Posted by Tiz | March 23, 2007 11:29 AM


Thanks for culling this little gem!Background: I came out to my ex-wife and family this past year. My family being Irish Catholic was refreshing supportive...all 8 siblings and parents :-)
I have forwarded this article on to them. Sadly I agree with your assessment of the cabal. Additionally I dig the term heterosexism for that pathetic superiority that Str8 folks often express in their romantic affections being just and good vs honmo affections.
Now when I kiss my b/f at the store and get hat glaze I can eductae them on their special brand of hate.

Posted by Jack | March 23, 2007 11:43 AM

Thanks for the post, Dan. Its good to see some catholics straying from the dogma, I only wished I knew about him when I was attending MU.

On a related note, the Bishops have probably known about him for a while - here's an "eat me" letter he wrote to the NYT a few years ago.

Posted by Jacob | March 23, 2007 11:57 AM

Fuck bishops. They only move diagonally, so they can't move onto any squares that aren't same color as their own. That's just retarded.

Posted by Gomez | March 23, 2007 12:23 PM

There's some good news from the Episcopal bishops though:

Brief synopsis: the worldwide Anglican communion has threatened to toss out the US church if they don't stop doing gay marriages, and the US bishops told them they'd just have to go fuck themselves...

Posted by Rhymeswithlibrarian | March 23, 2007 1:28 PM

Maguire has also written a whole book supporting contraception and abortion from various religious perspectives: "Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions."

Posted by Abby | March 23, 2007 1:29 PM

It sucks that the papacy has been so conservative over the past 40 years. It's just driving more and more Catholics away. I think it would be amazing if the next pope could be from Latin America or Africa-- we really need someone who's able to speak to modern Catholicism, not the dying form of it in Europe.

As for abortion, a lot of the major Catholic church fathers had pretty moderate views on abortion. St Augustine believed that fetuses didn't get human souls until they were more fully developed; hence, first-trimester abortions weren't a big deal (but after that he did consider it murder).

St Thomas Aquinas, whose writings pretty much formed the early modern Catholic church's dogma, said that until the baby 'quickened' (i.e., started moving in the womb), abortion was fine.

Of course, there were popes and theologians who agreed with this and ones which didn't, but up until 1869, the official position of the Catholic church was that a fetus did not acquire a soul at the moment of conception, and hence abortion, while not great, wasn't considered murder.

Also, just as a side note, often the church was more opposed to certain sex acts than to abortion-- there's some 8th or 9th century encyclical which says that oral sex demands a lifetime of penance, whereas abortion only needs about 3 months. So at least they've been sort of consistent on the sex side of things...

Posted by Megan | March 23, 2007 8:24 PM

Actually this pamphlet is available online, and this guy and his website are a great source for liberal Catholics.

Posted by BC Law 07 | March 27, 2007 6:32 AM

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