Volume 3, Chapter
includes three documents, two of which have been taken out of their
chronological sequence in order to put the third into its correct
context. This third document is a condemnation by Archbishop May,
in the name of loyalty to the Pope, of a visit to St. Louis by Mgr.
Lefebvre. Archbishop May's protestations of fidelity to the Holy
See must be examined in the context of his refusal to forbid a public
lecture by Charles Curran within his diocese. His excuse was that
no judgment could be made concerning Curran until the Holy See had
pronounced upon his orthodoxy. This claim is cowardly, nonsensical
and hypocritical. The incompatibility of Curran's theories with
Catholic moral teaching is obvious enough for a reasonably instructed
high school student to discern. This is made clear in the courageous
editorial by Father Paul Crane, which begins this chapter, by the
refusal of Bishop Sullivan of Baton Rouge to allow Fr. Curran to
preach in his diocese, by the condemnation of the book Human
Sexuality, to which Curran contributed as a consultant, and
by his eventual condemnation by the Hole See in 1987.
Jesuit Editor Condemns Curran Visit to Great Britain
Christian Order – August 1981
With the approval
of a considerable number of the English bishops, Father Charles
Curran was invited to give “in service” (i.e., brain-washing)
course for priests. In the August 1981 issue of Christian Order,
the Edition, Father Paul Crane, S.J., condemned the invitation extended
to Father Curran as an act of betrayal. He commented:
will know about Father Curran anyway; or, at least I imagine they
will. What they may not know is that Father Curran was scheduled
– to my personal knowledge, at least as long ago as March
– to give an "in service" (O blessed word!) course
for priests on "Contemporary Moral Theology" at the
Upholland Northern Institute from August 24-28 of this year. He
was described in the language of contemporary clerical double-speak
moral theologian from the Catholic University, Washington, (who)
will lead an examination into current developments in this important
area of Church teaching. It will be an opportunity to discuss
and study with this theologian who has made such an enormous contribution
to the pastoral as well as the theoretical side of moral theology."
enormous contribution"? Is this how the sponsors of this
series of short courses, those who have graciously lent their
patronage to this effort, view Father Curran's dissent from Humanæ
Vitæ, his advocacy of stable relationships between
homosexuals, his insolent criticism of Pope John Paul? Patrons
of this series of nineteen short courses, which included Father
Curran's, were the bishops of the Northern Provinces of England
and Wales, and of Shrewsbury. And so, I would ask you, My Lords,
by what authority do you lend your patronage to such a course?
That of the Holy Father whom you are pledged to serve and whose
teaching Father Curran has so insolently attacked? Do you claim
his authority for placing his attacker under your patronage? By
what authority then? I leave the answer to yourselves. Our Lord
said: "He who is not with Me is against Me." His words
apply equally to His Vicar on earth.
I notice that
the fee for Father Curran's course was £45. I suggest it would
have been more appropriate had it been thirty pieces of silver.
Clarification by Archbishop May
St. Louise Review – March 1980
A number of
you have asked my opinion about the lectures to be given some months
hence by Father Charles Curran at St. Louis University. I will try
to answer your questions fully and clearly. This will be my policy
whenever there is need for explanation about any matter whatever.
Please do not reply on hearsay or conjecture. Just ask for the facts
by writing to the St. Louis Review. I will be glad to answer.
Curran is a tenured professor on the theology faculty of the Catholic
University in Washington, D. C. As such, he was invited to give
some guest lectures in an academic setting here at St. Louis University.
This is what I learned on my arrival in St. Louis.
St. Louis University
is within its rights in tendering this invitation of course. Some
local Catholics have, however, questioned the judgment of the University
authorities in this regard because Father Curran has taken some
controversial theological positions in recent years. In fact, he
has himself allegedly revealed that Rome has requested some explanations
of his teachings. Presumably there will be some decision forthcoming
as to his position as an accepted theologian at our Catholic University.
Meanwhile, it is just perennial Catholic and American tradition
not to condemn a man until a decision is rendered.
I question rather definitely some positions taken by Father Curran
although I know he is a rather able theologian. Accordingly, I would
prefer not to invite him to speak as a Catholic theologian before
a general convocation of our people. That is my opinion as a bishop.
It is my considered
conviction that it would be best for the Catholic people of St.
Louis to entrust the judgment of Father Curran’s orthodoxy
to Rome. I would hope that our people would not interfere with Father
Curran’s lectures to the academic community who want to hear
him at the University. It would seem best not to stir up a controversy
over his appearance here. (I wonder how many Catholics here have
ever read any of Father Curran's books or heard any of his lectures.)
Those who object to his coming to St Louis might best completely
ignore his presence here rather than make it the event of the year
with the inevitable attendance of thousands.
That is my
position. I hope it is clear.
* * *
May's expression of hope that his people would not interfere with
Father Curran's lectures is reminiscent of a police chief allowing
a burglar to rob homes within his jurisdiction and expressing the
hope that the citizens would not interfere with the activities of
the criminal in question.
* * * *
Clarification by Archbishop May
The St. Louis Review – May 1980
Just a few
days back in the daily papers I learned that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
will be visiting our city soon. Allegedly he will be dedicating
a chapel in a converted school building. I believe it necessary
for me to make the following statement.
ago Pope Paul VI was forced to suspend this French prelate from
his episcopal functions. The Pope' s action was taken only after
years of fruitless effort to reconcile the Archbishop to the official
teaching of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II has made similar
efforts in a series of personal meetings with Archbishop Lefebvre.
The suspension remains in effect even though both Popes have mercifully
not excommunicated this aging Archbishop who has caused so much
misunderstanding in the Catholic Church.
Let no one
tell you that the issue is the Latin Mass. As I mentioned recently
in this column, Mass may be offered in Latin wherever it will be
pastorally helpful. The issue is simply the authority of the Pope.
Archbishop Lefebvre will not accept it.
no Catholic may support in any way this tragic movement headed by
Archbishop Lefebvre. I regret very much his coming to St. Louis
because of the disunity he represents. I call upon all Catholics
at this time to reaffirm our loyalty and allegiance to our Holy
Father, Pope John Paul II, by ignoring this visit and this chapel.
Let us show all who would come to this archdiocese to divide us
that we stand strong with the Pope as one flock and one shepherd.
* * *
of this cowardly prelate to take any action when Charles Curran
came to lecture in St. Louis, despite many protests from outraged
members of his flock, certainly constituted a case of a shepherd
allowing the wolf to enter the shepherd with impunity. When the
shepherd becomes a wolf the flock has every right to defend itself.1
It is hardly surprising that with such a shepherd faithful Catholics
in the Archdiocese of St. Louis were anxious to have a true Catholic
bishop come to minister to them, just as St. Athanasius had come
to the assistance of pockets of faithful Catholics in the dioceses
of Arian bishops. The arguments put forward by Archbishop May are
similar to those expressed by Mgr. Elchinger of Strasbourg, though
expressed in a far less courteous manner (see page 73).
May who had tolerated the manifestly unorthodox views of Charles
Curran within his diocese has the effrontery to suggest that Archbishop
Lefebvre needed to be reconciled to the official teaching of the
Catholic Church, a teaching from which Mgr. Lefebvre has never deviated
on any occasion. His suspension was solely the result of his ordaining
priests contrary to the prohibition of Pope Paul VI.
May accuses his brother in the episcopate of causing disunity. What,
one wonders, did he consider would be the effect of the visit of
Charles Curran? Archbishop May's appeals for loyalty and allegiance
to the Pope must be considered as one of the most repellent examples
of hypocrisy to come from an American bishop in the years following
See Apologia I, page 394.
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