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Controversial Catholic theologian to talk about roles of church

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 3/6/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A controversial Catholic theologian and priest will deliver the 2007 Thulin Lecture at the University of Illinois.

Charles E. Curran, the Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, will speak at 8 p.m. on March 29 (Thursday) in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana.

The title of Curran’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “The Church and Politics.” He said he plans to discuss various roles of the church – as teacher and motivator, provider of direct services to the poor, moral model and advocate for the poor.

He also will be a guest on “Focus 580” on WILL-AM (580) on March 29.

Over a nearly 50-year career, Curran has disagreed with official church teachings on a wide variety of issues, including abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexuality and moral norms.

In 1986, after years of clashes with church authorities, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, decided that Curran was unsuitable to be a professor of Catholic theology. As a result of Curran’s condemnation by the Vatican, he was fired from his teaching post at Catholic University of America. No Catholic university since that time has hired him.

Curran, a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., is the author, co-author or editor of more than 40 books, the most recent of which, “Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian,” was published last year.

In its review of the book, the magazine “America” wrote: “As this newly released memoir recounts, at a relatively young age Curran became, by choice and circumstance, the most infamous American Catholic theologian of his time.”

Curran also is the author of “The Moral Theology of Pope John Paul II” and of “Catholic Social Teaching, 1891-Present.”

In 2005, Curran received the leadership award from Call to Action, a reform movement of 25,000 Catholics.

In 2003, he received the Presidential Award of the College Theology Society for a lifetime of scholarly achievements in moral theology.
Curran was the first recipient of the John Courtney Murray Award for Theology, the highest honor bestowed by the Catholic Theological Society of America. He has served as the president of that society and of the Society of Christian Ethics and of the American Theological Society.

The U. of I. Program for the Study of Religion sponsors the Marjorie Hall Thulin Lecture.

Thulin, a 1931 alumna of the U. of I., is a resident of Glencoe, Ill. After graduating she had a successful career in advertising; she also has published poetry and children’s literature and edited a book about the history of Glencoe.

Thulin, who plans to attend this year’s lecture, endowed a fund that established the Marjorie Hall Thulin Scholar of Religion and Contemporary Culture. Through the endowment, an internationally recognized scholar of religion and contemporary culture is annually chosen to reside on the campus for a several days, giving talks and meeting with faculty and students.

For more information, contact Robert McKim, the director of the U. of I. Program for the Study of Religion and a professor of religious studies and of philosophy, at 217-244-5832;