Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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“Sorry, Charlie”

August 7th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

This may be an old post – it’s from 2006 – but, for anyone still not familiar with the story of Fr. Charles Curran, it will serve as a quick, entertaining backgrounder.

Call Me Charlie

The memoir of Charles Curran inadvertently contains an interesting story — the decline of liberal Catholicism

Pardon this convert for his ignorance, but before I read Charles Curran’s autobiography I didn’t understand why some conservative coreligionists made such a big deal out of “dissent.” The word, that is. I got why orthodoxy is important, but it sounded odd to hear theological liberals described as “dissenters.” It reminded me of the gag from Annie Hall, where Woody Allen said that the political journals Dissent and Commentary had merged to form (wait for it) Dissentary.

Now I understand. When people say “dissenters” what they mean is roughly “people like Charles Curran.” Fr. Curran wrote, edited, contributed to, or was the subject of Dissent in and For the Church, The Responsibility of Dissent, Dissent in the Church, Faithful Dissent, Vatican Authority and American Catholic Dissent, and now we have Loyal Dissent. The subtitle is “Memoir of a Catholic Theologian.”

The Vatican would disagree with that self-description. In 1986, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), headed then by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and egged on by John Paul II, declared that “one who dissents from the Magisterium as you do is not suitable nor eligible to teach Catholic theology.”

According to Curran, Rome basically declared him a “nonperson,” which is a bit of an overstatement. He wasn’t defrocked or excommunicated or barred from parish ministry. He was simply forbidden to teach theology, including moral theology (i.e., ethics), until he rethought some of his ideas. He writes that he could not, in good conscience, sign the Vatican’s “loyalty oath.”

Read the rest here.

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