The New study of human sexuality produced by a task force of the Catholic Theological Society of America continues to fuel controversy even though it is not formally scheduled for release until June 20.
The book-length report, titled "Human Sexuality: New Directions in Catholic Thought," proposes a set of moral guidelines against which the individual can measure the rightness or wrongness of sexual actions to take the place of a fixed sexual code.
A group of theologians headed by Dr. Wiliam May of Catholic University have asserted that the report should be "seriously questioned, its positions challenged and its methodology repudiated."
The statement by May criticizes the report for differing from official Church teaching on "such questions as premarital intercourse, marital fidelity, contraception, homosexuality and masturbation."
The task force report, the dissenting theologians contend, "will be an embarrassment to many responsible CTSA members and to the Catholicality.
THey also accused the task force of failing to carry on a "widespread consultation with interested members of the theological community? in developing the report, and that the report therefore is "unrepresentative of the views of theologians community" in de
Sister Angnes Cunningham, associate professor of patrology and Church history at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., a member of the task force which wrote the report and president-elect of the CTSA, in turn criticized May for leaking inaccurate copies of the report to a conservative, Catholic journal in advance of the release date. The result, she said, was to unleash "distorted" versions of the actual report.
Sister Agnes also said the five-person task force, which included two priests and two laymen, had conducted wider consultations on the report than had any previous task force of the society.
The CTSA has not scheduled any formal discussinon of the report when the body convenes in Toronto next week for its annyal meeting. While the society commissioned the sexuality study and selected and funded the task force, CTSA policy-makers memely "accepted" the report last winter in an action that implied neither approval nor rejection.
Paulist Press, publishers of the book, already has exhausted its first printing of 15,000 copies and is well into a second printing of 25,000 copies.