Fr. Curran to Examine American Bishops and Abortion Politics

Keep an eye out for Catholic theologian Fr. Charles Curran’s public lecture on Thursday at Southern Methodist University titled “The U.S. Catholic Bishops and Abortion Legislation: A Critique from Within the Church.”

The promo material describes it thusly:

The U.S. Roman Catholic bishops have now made legal opposition to abortion their primary social issue. This lecture will document the change that has occurred in their position about abortion laws over the years. In addition, the lecture criticizes the bishops from the perspective of Catholic theology, for having claimed too much certitude for their position. There should be room in the Catholic Church for different positions on this issue.

Dallas Catholic Bishop Kevin Farrell has denounced the lecture already, expressing his regrets that “Father Curran has chosen to criticize the position of the bishops of the United States on this matter.” Farrell’s statement has been posted on the SMU Catholic Ministry website and inserted into bulletins at Catholic Masses on campus Sunday.

Curran responded, “This paper is not about the Catholic moral teaching on abortion. In fact, the paper accepts the Catholic moral teaching that direct abortion is always wrong. The paper deals solely with abortion law and argues that one who holds the Catholic moral teaching can come to different conclusions about what the law should be.”

If anyone attends this lecture in Dallas, I’d like to hear your report. Otherwise, I will try to get a transcript and post it here. While the Catholic hierarchy has stated that Catholics cannot discuss issues such as abortion, ordination of women, or same-sex relationships and marriage on Catholic property, we certainly can and should discuss these issues — along with war and peace, nuclear weapons, the climate crisis, death penalty, health-care reform, workers rights, etc — everywhere else.

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