US Bishops Rebuke Creighton Theologians

By Allen, John L., Jr. | National Catholic Reporter, October 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

US Bishops Rebuke Creighton Theologians


Allen, John L., Jr., National Catholic Reporter


Two theologians at Creighton University, a Jesuit-run school in Omaha, Neb., have been sharply rebuked by the Committee on Doctrine of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for defending the moral legitimacy of homosexuality, contraception, premarital sex, and other hot-button issues in sexual ethics.

The theologians, Michael Lawler and Todd Salzman, had been previously censured in 2007 by Omaha's then-archbishop, Elden Curtiss, for articles that, according to Curtiss, expressed "serious error ... [that] cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching." The Sept. 15 statement from the doctrine committee reaches the same conclusion about a 2008 book by Lawler and Salzman titled The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology.

"The book proposes ways of living a Christian life that do not accord with the teaching of the church and the Christian tradition," the statement says.

Salzman is the chair of Creighton's theology department, while Lawler is now an emeritus professor.

In the Catholic theological guild, their work has often drawn sympathetic reviews. In a 2009 essay for the National Catholic Reporter, Julie Han-Ion Rubio of the Jesuits' St. Louis University said that The Sexual Person is "among the most important works in Catholic sexual ethics to emerge in the last two decades," and that the authors "stand firmly within the Catholic tradition even as they argue for significant change."

The Sexual Person also earned first-place honors in the books in theology category from the Catholic Press Association.

The doctrine committee does not impose disciplinary measures, and the current archbishop of Omaha, George Lucas, has expressed "confidence" that Creighton will handle the situation "in a manner consistent with the mission of a Catholic university." A statement from the university said Creighton is committed to both Catholic doctrine and academic freedom, and thanked Lucas for fostering a "positive working relationship."

A university spokesperson said she had no other information about what steps Creighton might take, and Salzman declined a request for comment.

The Committee on Doctrine is currently chaired by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington. …

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