Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

bishops black-flag maguire

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 23, 2007

The First of April is nine days away; the following is not a prank. The USCCB's Committee on Doctrine has acted in defense of Catholic teaching:

On June 19, 2006, Professor Daniel Maguire of Marquette University sent two pamphlets to all of the Catholic Bishops in the United States, one entitled The Moderate Roman Catholic Position on Contraception and Abortion and the other A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage. These pamphlets do not present Catholic teaching. His views about contraception, abortion, same sex "marriage", as well as the very nature of Church teaching and its authoritative character, cross the legitimate lines of theological reflection and simply enter into the area of false teaching. Such mistaken views should not be confused with the faith and moral teaching of the Catholic Church. Since it is apparent that considerable efforts have been made to give these views the widest possible distribution as if they were a valid alternative to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops considers it important to offer a public correction of the erroneous views proposed in these pamphlets. At the same time, the Committee on Doctrine calls attention to the Catechism of the Catholic Church where correct and authentic teaching can be found.

Such-and-such views of Prof. So-and-So are in error. Here's where you can find the correct teaching. That wasn't so hard, was it?

I'm pleased to report that, in the Committee's statement, the bishops not only tag Maguire's positions as wrong but they apologize neither for Catholic doctrine itself nor for their acting in its defense. "We deplore as irresponsible," they write in their conclusion, "his public advocacy of his views as authentic Catholic teaching." Spoken like a ... pastor.

Laurie Goodstein's NYT article shows that Maguire has one working key on his broken piano and is stabbing at it for all he's worth:

"They're simply uninformed," Mr. Maguire said of the bishops. "There is no one Catholic view on contraception, abortion or same-sex marriage. There's a diversity of views. And it's not just Dan Maguire versus the bishops. There's a large school of thought that agrees with everything I've said in these pamphlets."

In Maguire's terms, there is a diversity of Catholic views on necrophilia, cannabilism, and the Dodgers' chances of winning the pennant. If we understand any opinion on any subject held by any person who has not been formally excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church to count as "a Catholic position," we'd have to grant him his point. But can Maguire really believe the bishops are uninformed -- in a way he isn't -- about who holds which opinions? A feeble tune, but it's all he has left.

Goodstein goes on to add this response from Maguire's employer, Milwaukee's university in the Jesuit tradition:

Marquette University, responding to questions from a reporter, issued a statement saying that the university "agrees with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine that the views outlined by Daniel Maguire in pamphlets he circulated to the hierarchy earlier this year do not represent the teachings of the Catholic Church."

Marquette's statement is welcome, and it is true. It could have been issued verbatim, however, by Kansas State University, or Texaco. It would be great if Marquette had said, "the views outlined by Daniel Maguire do not represent the teachings of the Catholic Church, and are false." Well, some of the bishops have been reinfected with pastoral gumption. Let's hope it's contagious.

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