“Catholic” Theologians Blast Bishops for Opposing Gay “Marriage”

A group of “Catholic” theologians are quoted in today’s online magazine The Daily Beast excoriating the bishops for upholding the Catholic Church’s teaching on same-sex “marriage.” Some even go so far as to advocate gay “marriage” not only as a civil matter but within the Catholic Church.

If one were to read this article called “Do Most Catholic Theologians Support Same Sex Marriage?” you might get the faulty impression that theologians at Jesuit institutions make up the sum total of Catholic theologians. The piece quotes professors of theology at Fairfield, Marquette, and Santa Clara. And that’s it.  Oddly, they didn’t quote any theologians to argue as strongly in favor of the Church’s stance on marriage. The online magazine also spoke to Fr. James Martin,  culture editor of America Magazine, who tepidly stated Catholic teaching but is not quoted arguing for or against it in any meaningful way.

“[W]hile many non-Catholic Americans may take the political position put forward by the bishops as the final word in American Catholic life, progressive Catholic thinkers and theologians say it is time for the church to step back from political arguments about same-sex marriage, and reconsider its own position,” the article states.

Paul Lakeland, a professor of religious studies director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Catholic university in Connecticut, is placed “among the theologians who say the bishops are in the wrong.”

Dr. Paul Lakeland

Lakeland, a former Jesuit priest, was the conference organizer at Fairfield University for the “More than a Monologue” conference which The Cardinal Newman Society reported on here. Lakeland’s 2004 book, The Liberation of the Laity, displays how little regard he has for the Catholic bishops: “What we have is an episcopate of men selected more for their commitment to the party line on outmoded ideas about contraception, ordination, and homosexuality, more for their administrative capabilities than for their stature as spiritual leaders.” In 2009 Lakeland  reportedly opposed Bishop William Lori and testified in support of Connecticut State legislation that y would have wrested legal control of Catholic parishes away from the diocesan bishop.

And now he is quoted in The Daily Beast saying:

“That’s not really an argument that has a theological justification,” Lakeland said of the [C]hurch’s opposition to same-sex civil marriages. “It’s an argument that’s based more on fear or repugnance.”

“There is a lot more to be said about these issues than one stream of words from the hierarchy,” Lakeland said.

But wait, it gets worse.  Taking on the USCCB’s latest statement on gay “marriage” which was written by Bishop Salvatore Cordileone which said, “this is not a partisan issue, but a matter of justice, fairness, and equality for the law to uphold every child’s basic right to be welcomed and raised by his or her mother and father together,” a theologian at Marquette blasted the bishops’ position.

That theologian is, of course, Daniel Maguire, a former priest who reportedly once called partial birth abortion “a necessary procedure.” Most recently, Maguire reportedly called the bishops “moral heretics” for their opposition to the HHS mandate.

Maguire is quoted saying Cordileone’s position is dead wrong. Maguire reportedly said the interpretation of Church teaching held by Dolan, Cordileone, and other bishops isn’t representative of the position held by many lay Catholics and theologians.

Archbishop Dolan and the United States Catholic Conference are misrepresenting ‘Catholic teaching,’ and are trying to present their idiosyncratic minority view as the ‘Catholic position,’ and it is not,” Maguire wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “The bishops will stand with Dolan and the U.S. Catholic Conference, but on this issue, they are in moral schism since most in the Church have moved on [to] a more humane view on the rights of those whom God has made gay.”

“Most Catholic theologians approve of same-sex marriage and Catholics generally do not differ much from the overall population on this issue,” Maguire said.

The Daily Beast also quotes “Frank Parella” of Santa Clara University, yet another Jesuit institution. Since there is no Frank Parella listed at Santa Clara, we wonder if this isn’t Santa Clara Theology Professor Frederick J.  Parrella. Anyway, “Frank” Parella reportedly told the online magazine that he finds “nothing in the Gospels” that should lead the Church to oppose legalization of gay “marriage.”

And according to The Daily Beast, Parrella and Lakeland agree there are “good theological arguments” to not just allow same-sex civil marriages, but also to support same-sex unions in the Church.

The level of one-sided journalism displayed by The Daily Beast is bad enough, but the theologians quoted here are worse. Attention should be paid to avoid them.

Cover Photo Credit: Catholic News Agency


Matthew Archbold is a contributing writer to Campus Notes and to National Catholic Register, as well as the co-founder of the popular website, Creative Minority Report.

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