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Marquette Tribune, April 10, 2007

Respect deserved for Maguire's diversity of Catholic perspectives

By Mary E. Hunt

I am pleased to see that Marquette University, thanks to professor Daniel Maguire, is a venue for exploring a variety of Catholic positions on disputed ethical issues. In my view, this is what a Catholic university does when it fulfills its educational mission.

Maguire makes careful distinctions between what is official Church teaching and what is equally important and equally Catholic theological wisdom. They are not always the same.

It is this dynamic that seems to be in dispute in the inexplicable charge of "false teaching" by bishops who apparently have not read his work.

The point at issue is not the matter of sexuality as a superficial reading might suggest, but the matter of power and authority.

In this case, the issue seems to be who and what counts as Catholic rather than what one thinks about a particular sexual issue.

As a graduate of Marquette's theology department (class of '72), I learned about a rich and textured theological tradition that is lived out among adherents in a variety of ways.

This is the rough and tumble of ideas in which the "false teaching" is that there is one and only one Catholic view on life's complex questions.

Rather, as Maguire makes clear, there are, and long have been, a range of responses on ethical issues by Catholics as Catholics well beyond what the institutional church teaches.

Those are not Methodist, Presbyterian, Buddhist or Jewish perspectives, but Catholic ones.

They deserve respect and standing even when they are at odds with the position held by the hierarchy.

It is the institution's position that all too often, especially on matters of sexuality, needs to be explained as to how it can be claimed as Catholic when it is at odds with the sensus fidelium.

As the Catholic community takes increasing notice of our internal pluralism, it will be our sustained conversation, not our coerced consensus, that will best express our tradition.

I hope that you will publicly support Maguire with more than a nod to his rights as a tenured professor.

Indeed, his courageous and straightforward work, while problematic to bishops who would benefit from taking a course from him, is a credit to Marquette University.

I am confident that history will judge Maguire kindly as a stellar Catholic theologian.

Marquette University will undoubtedly endow the Daniel C. Maguire Chair in Catholic Moral Theology in years to come.

I suggest we show that same support today.

Mary E. Hunt earned her doctorate from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1972. This is taken from a letter to University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild.

© Copyright 2007 The Marquette Tribune

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