The Catholic Theological Society of America voted 171 to 14 for a resolution supporting the Rev. Charles Curran in his dispute with the Vatican. Because of a typographical error, a wrong total was given in an article Sunday.
The Catholic Theological Society of America yesterday adopted a formal statement appealing to the Vatican not to take disciplinary action against the Rev. Charles Curran, the Catholic University moral theologian who faces censure because of some of his views.
"For the good of Roman Catholic theology, Catholic higher education and the Catholic Church in North America, we strongly urge that no action be taken against Charles Curran that would prohibit him from teaching on the theology faculty" at Catholic University, said the statement adopted by the group at its annual meeting in Chicago.
The society is an organization of men and women who teach theology in Catholic and non-Catholic colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The group voted 171 to 104 in favor of the resolution.
This year Curran was warned by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that some of his views in certain areas of sexual morality are unacceptable to the Vatican. Curran was ordered to recant or face loss of his right to teach as a Catholic theologian.
Under church law, the penalty would mean his dismissal from the CU theological faculty.
Theological society President Frank Fiorenza, also of CU, said the action "shows the high respect that Father Curran's fellow theologians have for him and his work."
In an earlier session of the society's meeting, Professor Anne E. Patrick, chairman of the religion department of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., commented in a lecture that the threat against Curran, along with Vatican actions against other theologians in Europe and Latin America, has created "a climate of fear" for theological research.
Efforts to "silence" theologians, she said, have created a "stifling climate . . . in which one's perception of truth can't be spoken nor one's honest questions pursued."
The society did not attempt to take a position on the specific issues on which Curran's views are at odds with church teaching, including birth control and abortion. Rather, the group upheld his right to dissent.
Curran's position has been that because the teachings in question do not involve infallible doctrine of the church, theological dissent is permissible.
He has told the Vatican that he cannot recant his beliefs, but he has offered, by way of compromise, to agree not to teach courses on sexual morality. He is awaiting Ratzinger's disposition of the matter. Copies of the theological society's statement will be sent to Ratzinger and to American Catholic bishops.