US Bishops Rebuke Two Theologians

Book on Sexuality in Error

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2010 ( – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Wednesday issued a sharply worded rebuke of a book co-authored by two Creighton University theologians.

"The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology" was published in 2008 and written by Todd A. Salzman, chairman of the Creighton University Department of Theology, and Michael G. Lawler, the department’s professor emeritus. The book attempts to provide moral justification for contemporary sexual behaviors that consistently have been held to be immoral by the Catholic Church.

The 23-page statement is titled "Inadequacies in the Theological Methodology and Conclusions of The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology." Drafted by the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, it calls the authors’ conclusions “a radical departure from the Catholic theological tradition,” erroneous, and “harmful to one’s moral and spiritual life.” Moreover, the statement said, “the book proposes ways of living a Christian life that do not accord with the teaching of the Church and Christian tradition.”

Archbishop George J. Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha said it is unfortunate that two theologians associated with Creighton University have taken theological positions in clear conflict with Catholic tradition. “The Catholic community is rightly proud of the good work of Creighton University over so many years,” Lucas said. “However, it is disappointing that Professors Salzman and Lawler have persisted in publishing material that is not consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church.”

In 2007, Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss, then archbishop of Omaha, publicly reprimanded Salzman and Lawler for co-writing articles that argued for the moral legitimacy of homosexual acts. A year later, in The Sexual Person, the theologians opposed the Church’s traditional teaching that prohibits premarital sex, homosexual acts, contraception, and artificial insemination and called the Church’s teaching on these matters “flawed theology.”

“The sound teaching of the Catholic faith on the nature of the human person, as well as on the nature of marriage and human sexuality, provides a beacon of truth and hope to all people,” Lucas said. “It is especially important that these truths be spoken clearly in our culture. Professors Salzman and Lawler have departed in a serious way from sound Catholic teaching. Catholics are well advised not to be misled by them.”

Lucas said he was confident Creighton University officials will address the Catholic bishops’ concerns with Salzman and Lawler in a manner consistent with the mission of a Catholic University.

The USCCB statement can be found in its entirety here.

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