Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Full of Hope

September 2nd, 2011, Promulgated by Hopefull

Here’s some encouragement from the Cardinal Newman Society.  (Which  unfortunately has the same initials as the Catholic News Service.)  Note that this will be easier to read (problem with overlap into the right column) if you click on Comments at the end first, even if there are no comments.

Subject: Vatican crackdown on dissent

“Wow,” I thought. “It’s happening!”  



The Vatican is cracking down on dissent.

Even the leftist National Catholic Reporter is complaining with great alarm: The Vatican aims to “weed out dissenting voices.”

Oh my… this couldn’t be what Pope Benedict meant by “evangelical pruning”?

If so, then we’re quite happy here at The Cardinal Newman Society!

We have worked more than 18 years to expose dissent at many Catholic universities, which are leading thousands of Catholic students astray.

And we are working toward faithful Catholic teaching on Catholic campuses, which depends primarily on strong college leadership but also on vigilant oversight from the Vatican and the U.S. bishops.

And it’s happening!

You may recall that the Vatican quietly ousted Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese — now a rabble-rouser at Georgetown University — from the prominent Jesuit magazine America in 2005.

Now we’ve been able to confirm leaked reports that Rome is challenging heterodox material in the Jesuit journal Theological Studies, published at Marquette University.

The chairman of Boston College’s Theology Department, Fr. Kenneth Himes, co-wrote an article arguing that Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage should be changed.

And now the champions of dissent are crying foul.  Why?

Because the Vatican has demanded that the journal’s editor, Marquette theology professor Fr. David Schultenover, S.J., publish a rebuttal by Jesuit Father Peter Ryan and Germain Grisez.

Father Ryan and Dr. Grisez are serious Catholic theologians and both recent professors at Mount St. Mary’s University — one of only 20 colleges profiled in our Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College and the new home for our Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.

The authors confirm that their rebuttal is backed by a “mandate from higher authority” — and they make no apologies for it!

But that’s just the latest news.  The U.S. bishops have been cracking down on bad theology elsewhere.

Indeed, the problems with Theological Studies go back to 2006, when Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha publicly challenged false teaching by Creighton University theologians Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler.

Lawler (now retired) and Salzman (who continues to teach theology at Creighton) claimed that “homosexual couples can engage in sexual acts that are natural, reasonable and therefore moral.”

In 2007 the Cardinal Newman Society complained about Lawler’s leadership of Creighton University’s Center for Marriage and Family, after which Archbishop Curtiss cut ties with the Center.

And last year, the bishops’ doctrine committee publicly condemned The Sexual Person by Salzman and Lawler as “harmful to one’s moral and spiritual life.”!

This is one of a series of public censures of work by wayward theology professors by the Vatican and the U.S. bishops!  They include:

– Daniel Maguire of Marquette University (Wisconsin)

– Fr. Richard McBrien at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana)

Fr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

– Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J., of the University of Central America

– Fr. Roger Haight, S.J., of the Union Theological Seminary (New York)

– Fr. Joseph Imbach of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure (Rome)

And just last year, the bishops censured a feminist theologian at Fordham University.

The bishops’ doctrine committee publicly condemned a book by Sr. Elizabeth Johnson — who has referred to God as “She Who Is” — for “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” that do “not accord with authentic Catholic teaching on essential points.”

This month we learned that the bishops’ top administrative committee unanimously authorized the review of Sr. Johnson’s work.

Why is this important?  Catholic Culture found that Sister Johnson’s book was used in theology courses at no fewer than 13 Catholic colleges and universities!

One solution that would address much of this problem is the mandatum for theology professors, by which the local bishop recognizes a theologian’s commitment to teach authentic Catholic theology.

That’s a requirement of Canon Law, and something The Cardinal Newman Society has advocated many times since Pope John Paul II issued Ex corde Ecclesiae in 1990.  Recently the executive director for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat on Doctrine, Fr. Thomas Weinandy, strongly supported the mandatum.

You who have followed The Cardinal Newman Society’s reports over the last several years know that we have worked hard to expose wayward professors.

And you can understand why we are so encouraged by the latest Vatican effort to rein in the Jesuits’ journal from Marquette!

Faithful families and students have suffered a lot of heartache in recent decades, but today we are living in times very exciting to be Catholic!  We’re so glad that you’re with The Cardinal Newman Society as we work for the renewal of Catholic higher education!

Thank You, our Father in Heaven, for good news.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Patrick J. Reilly

P.S.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers, and support our work with your contributions!  With the Holy Spirit, all things are possible.

The Cardinal Newman Society
9415 West Street
Manassas, VA 20110


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One Response to “Full of Hope”

  1. Thinkling says:

    Amen. Thanks be to God.

    I tried to parse both the critique of Sr Johnson’s book, and her, er, rebuttal. To be fair, I do not have her actual book, but I did go point by point through the first third or so of the critique and her response (both can be found online somewhere). I quit because it became quite tedious, as much of her logic went like this: (exaggerated for emphasis):

    USCCB: Sr. Johnson’s book is not in accord with Church teachings here, where she writes that Jesus is not really present in the Eucharist.

    Sr. J: My book is indeed in accord with church teachings because I write here that there are 10 Commandments.

    She claims her book was misunderstood. Fair enough. But if experts in theology appointed to review it were confused, imagine what students would be….I would think the only prudential course would be to pull it from print and update it to be clear, But no, “they misinterpreted me”

    Pride 101. MWF. 4 credits.


    Whenever I think of this long overdue cleansing of heresy or at least confusion, I think of the flooding of Isengard (e.g., here). I also remember Gandalf’s recommendation to Treebeard later to flood it again and again until it “remains a standing pool, or you discover the outlets. When all the underground places are drowned, and the outlets blocked, then Suruman must stay upstairs and look out the windows.”

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