The U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine has issued a 24-page critique of the 2008 book titled The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology, by theologians Michael G. Lawler and Todd A. Salzman, both faculty members at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
The committee said the authors' methodology "marks a radical departure from the Catholic theological tradition," leading to "a whole range of conclusions that are contrary to Catholic teaching."
We are working on a news story about this, so check back later.
Meanwhile, below is the press release NCR obtained.
Below that is Creighton University's response.
Here is a link to the doctrine committee's full statement: INADEQUACIES IN THE THEOLOGICAL METHODOLOGY AND CONCLUSIONS OF THE SEXUAL PERSON: TOWARD A RENEWED CATHOLIC ANTHROPOLOGY BY TODD A. SALZMAN AND MICHAEL G. LAWLER
And here is a link to an NCR review of the book in 2009: Sex that contributes
Julie Hanlon Rubio, associate professor of Christian ethics at St. Louis University, reviewed the book for us. She called it "among the most important works in Catholic sexual ethics to emerge in the last two decades."
The book, Rubio wrote, "will be noticed because of its controversial positions on contraception, same-sex relationships, cohabitation and artificial means of reproduction. However, its contribution is its clear articulation of a person-centered natural-law ethic that offers Catholics an authentic way to think about sex in relation to their faith."
Lawler and Salzman, Rubio wrote, "stand firmly within the Catholic tradition even as they argue for significant change."
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine has issued a statement in response to a request from the former and current archbishops of Omaha to review the content of a book by Creighton University professors Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology. In the statement, "Inadequacies in the Theological Methodology and Conclusions of The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology," the Committee asserts that the authors of The Sexual Person "base their arguments on a methodology that marks a radical departure from the Catholic theological tradition" and "reach a whole range of conclusions that are contrary to Catholic teaching."
The Committee concluded that "neither the methodology of The Sexual Person nor the conclusions that depart from authoritative Church teaching constitute authentic expressions of Catholic theology. Moreover, such conclusions, clearly in contradiction to the authentic teaching of the Church, cannot provide a true norm for moral action and in fact are harmful to one's moral and spiritual life."
The views of the two professors previously came under episcopal censure in 2007, when Archbishop Elden Curtiss, then archbishop of Omaha, published a notification in his diocesan newspaper regarding the conclusions of two articles by these professors.
Archbishop Curtiss wrote: "In these articles, Professors Lawler and Salzman argue for the moral legitimacy of some homosexual acts. Their conclusion is in serious error, and cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching." When in 2008, Salzman and Lawler published their book, The Sexual Person, Archbishop Curtiss wrote to the Committee on Doctrine asking for assistance. After studying the book and conferring with Archbishop Curtiss's successor, Archbishop George Lucas, the Committee decided that the most effective way to address the problem presented by the book was to prepare a statement on the problematic characteristics of its methodology, which leads the authors to a number of conclusions that contradict Catholic moral teaching.
The full statement is available online: www.usccb.org/doctrine/Sexual_Person_2010-09-15.pdf
The USCCB Committee on Doctrine includes Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, chairman; Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio; Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, of Indianapolis; Coadjutor Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles; Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts; Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana; Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey; and Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit.
Creighton University Statement
Creighton University is fully committed to the Catholic tradition. Therefore, the University as an institution accepts as authoritative the statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. As a Catholic university, Creighton – in accord with Ex Corde Ecclesiae – presents to its students as Catholic doctrine only that which is deemed to be true doctrine.
As a comprehensive university, Creighton is nonetheless mindful of its obligation to honor the academic freedom of individual faculty members. Indeed, in his April 2008 address to Catholic educators, Pope Benedict XVI “reaffirm[ed] the great value of academic freedom.”
The University is particularly grateful to Archbishop Lucas for the positive working relationship between the Archdiocese and the University. Creighton strives to, and is confident that it will, maintain this positive relationship.