Professor Dr. Daniel Maguire of Marquette’s Theology Department has come out with another book on Catholic moral ethics, entitled Whose Church? A Concise Guide To Progressive Catholicism.
Dr. Maguire received his degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, has written over 150 articles for major publications and has been published twelve times.
He has also been censored by the Catholic Church via the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. In a letter responding to two pamphlets published by Dr. Maguire in July of 2006, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, speaking for the USCCB wrote:
“The opinions expressed in the two pamphlets enclosed…are totally at odds with clear Church teaching. Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium, and Natural Law are consistent in opposition to abortion and so-called same-sex “marriage”. You speak of your duty to dissent. Well, at least call it such. To claim that support for abortion and same-sex “marriage” is consonant with Catholic moral teaching is preposterous and disingenuous. I, too, have a duty: to teach what the Church clearly believes. Your opinion on these two matters is contrary to the faith and morals of the Church.”
In Whose Church, Dan Maguire writes Chapters called Good Sex (Even Catholics can have it), Male and Female We Were Made, War is For Dummies, and a few others. He makes some very valid points regarding Catholic social teaching, as well as on the state of social justice work in the Church nationwide. This is about as far as he goes in line with Catholic teaching. Here’s where he deviates…
According to the prologue of Whose Church?, Dr. Maguire “does not think reliance on Divine assistance [is] an adequate substitution for intellectual training and years of study.” This is probably why he is able to so quickly write off the letter from Archbishop Timothy Dolan. In fact, this direct quote from his book contradicts Canon 6 of the Council of Orange which states: “If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when we, apart from his grace…study, seek, ask, or knock, but do not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have…the strength to do all these things as we ought; he contradicts the Apostle who says, ‘What have you that you did not receive?’ (1 Cor. 4:7), and, ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am’” (1 Cor. 15:10).
Dr. Maguire is also quick to write off the works of St. Augustine in the chapter Good Sex. Maguire cites and attacks him as a, if not the, main reason for the Catholic Church’s preoccupation on “pelvic issues” (My guess is that Dr. Maguire has never heard of the books of Galatians, Romans, Corinthians or any of the other hundreds of places where circumcision is mentioned and debated). He states that Augustine’s personal views on sexuality “dug a root deep and sprouted up like a kudzu vine,” implying that Augustine’s theology is the reason for the Catholic Church’s preoccupation on the destructive attributes of sexuality.
Another tenured Professor in Marquette’s Theology Department says this of Dr. Maguire’s statements on Augustine: “scholars who claim [this] are simply wrong; Augustine is simply not anti-sex or anti-woman. In fact, Augustine is ahead of his time stating that the female body is a gift from God, a good gift.” Yet another of Marquette’s tenured Theology professors states of Augustine, “he holds a special place in the history of Christianity, and for good reason, he was a genius.” According to this professor, the Eastern Church develops entirely without the influence of St. Augustine into the 13th century, when his works are translated into the Greek for the first time. It is Dr. Maguire’s contention that Augustine is the reason for the Catholic Church’s preoccupation with pelvic issues. This, however, does not explain the even more rigid sexual teachings of the many Eastern Orthodox churches prior to the 13th century. Perhaps this does lend credence to divine intervention?
One of Dr. Maguire’s main points in a radio interview on NPR regarding his new book is “there are saints who have supported abortion, there are saints who have been homosexual.” This, to Dr. Maguire, justifies a Catholic stance for pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage. Dr. Maguire fails to mention that those saints who supported early term abortions had an entirely different concept of when life begins, based on their limited knowledge of biology. He also fails to admit that the Catholic Church has saints who have killed, been sexual deviants, thieves and poor husbands. Because there were saints who committed such acts at one point in their life, according to Maguire’s standard there must also be a Catholic stance that is pro-murder, pro-sexual deviancy, and pro-carjacking. Interestingly enough, Maguire does assert that there is a viable Catholic pro-choice stance, which combines two of the three previously mentioned unthinkable acts, you decide which two.
Dr. Maguire also concludes (without the help of the Holy Spirit, as he has already stated that it is an unnecessary hindrance to Theology) that the Roman Catholic position on an all male clergy is only explained by “indentured hatred of women, sexism in full bloom” (31).
He again fails to overlook the overwhelming Biblical reasons, as well as Church Tradition (with a capital T), that lend themselves to this teaching. After reading this book, I have decided that Dr. Maguire has neither intellectual ground, nor the “Divine intervention” that he so readily writes off, to stand on. On what then does he stand?
Dr. Maguire iterates his stance in Whose Church?, as he did on National Public Radio when he said that “one has to distinguish between Vatican Theology and Catholic Theology. Vatican Theology is very narrow, based on very few experts”. And who are these experts?
To Dr. Maguire, Vatican Theology “ignores such views as those of Catholic philosophers Daniel Dombrowski and Robert Deltete of Jesuit Seattle University” (18). These “experts” that Maguire says we should be consulting are those who see the “literal Virgin birth of Jesus as metaphoric.” So, the experts that we should be listening to are those who deny basic doctrines of Christianity; some experts.
Just to recap this for you, in case you’re as confused as I. Dr. Maguire writes off the intervention of the Divine, dislikes the viewpoints of St. Augustine, disagrees completely with 257 Catholic Bishops and Archbishops, and follows the advice of scholars who don’t believe in the Virgin birth. Excuse me for deferring to the teachings of St. Augustine while Mr. Dombrowski and Mr. Deltete in Seattle wait to see if they are canonized.
After weighing the positives and negatives of keeping Whose Church? on my shelf next to copies of Aquinas’ Concise Summa and Augustine’s Confessions, I’ve decided that it might make for better kindling than reading. Maybe a better name for the book could be Whose Fire? A Concise Guide to Progressive Atheism. Whose Church? Definitely not mine.