Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Fr. Charles Curran’

No Civil “Right” to do “Wrong” — Part #4

June 17th, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In the prior posting I promised to get back to the individual priest issues this time.  There are two situations which I wrote about in the Newsletter It Really Matters:  about Fr. Charles Curran, and about Fr. Timothy Niven’s hosting Fr. Timothy Radcliffe.

In August 2008 we noted that Fr. Curran was speaking at Transfiguration, and we questioned the wisdom in allowing him to do so.  However, since we’d written much which was justifiably critical of Our Lady of the Lakes (OLOL), we used this particular occasion to praise Fr. Ring’s not allowing his parish bulletin to carry notice of the talk.  That snippet said:

We see so much that is wrong; perhaps when we get a chance to compliment — no matter who it is — we do well to take the opportunity, although omissions are often harder to notice than commissions.  Yet the facts, the egregious facts about Fr. Curran, should not be ignored.  That his faculties to teach were removed says, in one sense, all that should be necessary to say if he were under a Bishop to whom that was an issue.  But we even have the local pseudo-seminary giving him accolades, and that speaks more loudly than papal criticism apparently.  No wonder prospective seminarians could get tainted.

Jeff Ziegler in his article “The Barren Fig Tree” (elsewhere reviewed and linked on Cleansing Fire), quoted James Likoudis, who served as president of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) from 1988 to 1994:  “The Diocese of Rochester is known throughout the nation as one of the most liberal and modernist dioceses, where there has been a collapse of authentic Catholic catechesis and a policy of deliberately devaluing the priesthood in favor of feminization of the liturgy and promotion of lay ecclesial ministries.”  

Likoudis continues:  “Rochester is the diocese where the architect of the sexual revolution in the Church (Father Charles E. Curran) remains a ‘priest in good standing’ despite his continuing to shred Catholic moral theology.”   Ziegler’s point regarding vocations seemed to be that who the bishop is, his own level of obedience to Catholic teaching, will either inspire a young man to become a priest or not, as it is to that very bishop he will owe his obedience.

Since Father Curran could no longer teach in a Catholic institution, he went to SMU (Southern Methodist University) to teach and use it as a platform for his aberrant permissiveness.   To get a peek into his own morality, he waited until days before the death of Pope John Paul II to publish a book viciously attacking the Holy Father.  And his version of the Holy Father seems a mere prop to use to expound his revisionist and simplistic arguments for lack of sexual restraint, or the semblance of morality.  For more analysis and review of Father Curran’s work, see:   In my opinion, this is an immoral theologian criticizing one of the world’s greatest moral theologians.  With this backdrop, what possible justification can Bishop Matthew Clark have to turn Father Curran loose on an unsuspecting parish audience?  Where does such shepherding of souls lead?  I think we know.

That the careful review of JP II’s moral theology, life and writings led in record time to his beatification, speaks reams about the baseless criticism of a priest who had to leave his own diocese and Catholic institutions to find advocates to employ him.  God have mercy on him, and especially on the souls he leads astray.  And on the bishop who provides audiences for his false teaching.

Next we have the Case of Father Timothy Radcliffe.  For that situation, the two-column article from It Really Matters is reproduced below.  The Bishop also provides a persistent stage for the homosexual message, but there is an additional twist to be noted here.  Back in November 2005, when Pope Benedict XVI was about to issue another definitive pronouncement against homosexuals becoming priests, LifeSiteNews reported the following  by John-Henry Westen:

“VATICAN, November 14, 2005 ( – As the publication of the new Vatican document on homosexuality and the Catholic priesthood is about to be published at the end of the month, several Catholic leaders including an American bishop have publicly stated their views against the long-standing Vatican position against ordaining men with homosexual inclinations to the priesthood.  Rochester, NY, Bishop Matthew H. Clark, was the latest to come out in favour of homosexual priests in a column in his diocesan paper Saturday. [This is the one this blog post covered in Part #3 of this thread.]

“Homosexual priests in Canada and the United States have condemned the Church’s position in mostly anonymous statements to the media.  However some US and Canadian priests have also identified themselves while publicizing their rejection of the Catholic position on the matter.  In recent weeks the former head of one of the largest religious orders in the Catholic Church did so, and his statements are closely followed by those of Bishop Clark. 

Rev. Timothy Radcliffe, the international leader of the Dominican Order from 1992 to 2001, last week slammed any suggestion of barring homosexuals from the priesthood, and suggested barring “homophobes” instead.  “Any deep-rooted prejudice against others, such as homophobia or misogyny, would be grounds for rejecting a candidate for the priesthood, but not their sexual orientation,” he said. (see coverage: )”

Aha! this is significant insight into just “how it works.”  Bishop Clark’s invitations to outside speakers don’t seem either random or reflective of the needs of his flock, but again he gives the stage to an outcast from the Church’s teaching, and puts him with one of the sympathetic diocesan priests (noted in his Intercessions when in OLOL.)  Father Niven will also be the subject of a future thread on his role in destroying St. Mary Rushville illegitimately.  But for now, we focus on the article in It Really Matters, in January 2010 about what was supposed to be a pre-Lenten series of talks for the people from at least six churches; i.e. the NW Ontario Planning Group:

























































Finally, and probably obviously, all invited speakers need to be watched and warnings posted here and wherever else possible when the invitee claims to be Catholic but is heretical with respect to any teaching of the Catholic Church.  (Why, oh why, should it be necessary to remind the hierarchy?)  For example, watch whom Bishop Clark invites to give missionary appeals.   Even up to several years ago, I would just write a check.  But now, I won’t, without a thorough checkout in advance of the appeal, but look what happened last year (this too is a newsletter excerpt, from August 2010): 

“Adrian Dominicans Warning:  Recently in several churches, including St. Michael (Penn Yan) and St. Theresa (Stanley), members of the Adrian Dominican order from Michigan were permitted to take the pulpit on Sunday morning to fund-raise.  This cannot happen without the Bishop’s specific directive.  There are two concerns.  First, only an ordained (priest or deacon) is permitted to preach a homily (although announcements can be made before or at the end of Mass by laity), and also of great concern is that the Adrian Dominican Order signed the support document (in opposition to the position of the US Council of Catholic Bishops) for Obamacare legislation.  It hardly seems fair for the faithful not to be told in advance of such affiliation.”



Fr. Curran Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

November 25th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

Fr. Charles Curran – dissident Catholic theologian, architect of the progressive Catholic rejection of Humanae Vitae, and a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Rochester – has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Fr. Curran joins 228 other “leaders in the sciences, social sciences, the humanities, the arts, business and public affairs” in this year’s class of AAAS inductees.

According to AAAS Chair Louis W. Cabot,

The men and women we elect today are true pathbreakers who have made unique contributions to their fields, and to the world.

Well, I suppose that’s one way of putting it.

H/T (Why am I not surprised?): St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry’s Fall 2010 issue of The Sheaf.

The theologians’ rejection of Humanae Vitae: How it all went down

August 6th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

In Shaw Says II Dr. K treated us to a little gem from Fr. Denis Shaw.  Commenting on a recent Vatican statement Fr. Shaw wrote,

I’m sure there will be as much and similar attention paid to this statement as there was to Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.

I have no doubt Fr. Shaw was referring to the near total apathy shown this encyclical by the majority of the American Catholic laity.  But, while that may have been the situation for many years now, it was certainly not the situation when Humanae Vitae first came out in 1968.  Back then many people paid a lot of attention to it.

Sadly, most of them were dissident Catholic theologians, with one of the leading dissenters being DOR’s own Fr. Charles Curran.

Writing in 1988, B. A. Santamaria described the events of those days as follows …

Humanae Vitae was signed on 25 July 1968. It was released on 27 July, and presented to the media in Rome on 29 July. The New York morning papers on the 29th reported the Holy Father’s confirmation of the traditional teaching.

According to his own account, a copy of the encyclical had been obtained by Fr Charles Curran some days before its presentation to the media and even before its distribution to the bishops. It was therefore possible for him, together with his theological and academic associates, to concoct a plan of operation to destroy the encyclical and the authority on which it rested.

Hence on the following morning, 30 July, by means of a carefully-planned coup de theatre, which proved that the dissident theologians fully understood the role of the media in abetting the religious revolution, the Catholics of the United States were the first to be informed that large numbers of the most distinguished theologians of the West held that the people had the right in conscience to set aside the Pope’s teaching on moral questions without calling into question their membership of the Catholic Church.

That the coup de theatre was organised and had a conscious purpose is supported by evidence provided by Fr Curran himself who wrote: “Our quick, purposeful response supported by so many theologians, accomplished its purpose. The day after the encyclical was promulgated, Catholics could read in the morning papers about their right to dissent and the fact that in theory Catholics could disagree with the papal teaching.”

From this carefully organised campaign have flown most of the troubles which have disturbed the Church over the past twenty years.

Baltimore’s Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, quoted by James Francis Cardinal Stafford in “The Year of the Peirasmos – 1968” (an essay I cannot recommend too highly), gave us this take on the revolt …

[A]fter receiving the first news of the publication of the encyclical, the Rev. Charles E. Curran, instructor of moral theology of The Catholic University of America, flew back to Washington from the West where he had been staying. Late [on the afternoon of July 29], he and nine other professors of theology of the Catholic University met, by evident prearrangement, in Caldwell Hall to receive, again by prearrangement with the Washington Post, the encyclical, part by part, as it came from the press. The story further indicated that by nine o’clock that night, they had received the whole encyclical, had read it, had analyzed it, criticized it, and had composed their six-hundred word ‘Statement of Dissent.’ Then they began that long series of telephone calls to ‘theologians’ throughout the East, which went on, according to the Post, until 3:30 A.M., seeking authorization, to attach their names as endorsers (signers was the term used) of the statement, although those to whom they had telephoned could not have had an opportunity to see either the encyclical or their statement. Meanwhile, they had arranged through one of the local television stations to have the statement broadcast that night.

Cardinal Stafford went on to add,

[Cardinal Shehan’s] judgment was scornful. In 1982 he wrote, “The first thing that we have to note about the whole performance is this: so far as I have been able to discern, never in the recorded history of the Church has a solemn proclamation of a Pope been received by any group of Catholic people with so much disrespect and contempt.”

Finally, Gary Dorrien, in his 2008 book Social Ethics in the Making – Interpreting an American Tradition, tells the story this way …

For years Curran told lecture audiences that the mere existence of a papal birth control commission showed that a change in Church teaching was conceivable. In 1968 his hope soared after a majority of the pope’s commission favored a change, until Curran learned that the pope was leaning the other way. Through the media Curran and others appealed to the pope, urging that issuing no encyclical would be better than the catastrophe of reaffirming the contraception ban. On July 27, 1968 Time magazine informed Curran that the pope had answered, showing him an advance copy of Humanae vitae. Two days later it was published; in the meantime, Curran organized an unprecedented protest …

Ten theologians at Catholic University met to formulate a response, drafted by Curran and Daniel Maguire, which emphasized that Catholic doctrine recognized the right to dissent from noninfallible teaching. Releasing their statement to the media on July 30, with endorsements from 87 American Catholic theologians, Curran’s group announced its dissent at a press conference. The statement set off a barrage of condemnations, praise, and puzzled commentary that such a thing was possible. Nothing like an organized public dissent from papal teaching had ever occurred in American Catholicism. Twenty Catholic University professors supported the dissent, including theologians Bernard McGinn, Roland E. Murphy, and David Tracy; eventually more than 600 Catholic scholars signed it …”

And so I believe Fr. Shaw has overlooked the intense, highly organized, negative reception first accorded Humanae Vitae by a sizable number of Catholic theologians.  It is largely because of this attention in 1968 – and its lingering effects on many of our clergy – that so many American Catholics ignore Humanae Vitae today.

Update: A comment below states, “Fr. Curran to this day still claims the dissident response was spontaneous and not organized!”

Fr. Curran seems to have forgotten what he, himself, wrote in his 2006 book, Loyal Dissent:

[In late July, 1968] it was rumored that the pope’s encyclical on the subject [of artificial contraception] was about to be released. I consulted with some of my colleagues, and with others around the country, about how we should respond to the encyclical. It was my view that we theologians should issue a statement disagreeing with the encyclical if it proved to be as negative as we expected.

That sounds a lot more like premeditation than spontaneity.

Fr. Charles Curran and the “plurality of magisteria”

August 3rd, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

I recently came across the following insight into the reasoning behind Fr. Charles Curran’s dissent from so many Church teachings.  It is from Social Ethics in the Making – Interpreting an American Tradition, by Gary Dorrien.  Google Books has it here.

Persistently [Curran] contended that the church had more than one magisterium and that a plurality of magisteria were needed as a brake on the Vatican’s belief in its absolute certainty: “There are many magisteria in the Church – papal and episcopal magisteria, the authentic magisterium of laity and the magisterium of theologians. Each of these has a creative service in the Church.” All faithful Catholics recognized the God-given role of the hierarchical magisterium, but its “teaching on specific moral questions cannot absolutely exclude the possibility of error.” Curran disliked the church’s tone of dogmatic certainty in claiming that human life began at conception (he believed it began at least 14 days after conception) and that euthanasia was always an abhorrent evil. On these subjects he dissented, “but my dissent is not all that great. Others might propose a more radical solution.” In his view premarital sex was usually, but not always, morally wrong; gay and lesbian sexual acts in the context of a committed relationship striving for permanency were objectively good, although short of the ideal; and the church needed to end its prohibition of divorce. Curran wanted to reconcile divorced Catholics to their church and curtail the pain and hypocrisy of the annulment traffic.

To this day Fr. Curran describes himself as “a committed Catholic, a priest in good standing.”

That he can call himself a “committed Catholic” is but a measure of the extent of his self-delusion.  For the fact that he remains a “priest in good standing” we can thank Bishop Clark.