Loyal Dissent is the candid and inspiring story of a
Catholic priest and theologian who, despite being stripped of his
right to teach as a Catholic theologian by the Vatican, remains
committed to the Catholic Church. Over a nearly fifty-year career,
Charles E. Curran has distinguished himself as the most well-known
and the most controversial Catholic moral theologian in the United
States. On occasion, he has disagreed with official church
teachings on subjects such as contraception, homosexuality,
divorce, abortion, moral norms, and the role played by the
hierarchical teaching office in moral matters. Throughout, however,
Curran has remained a committed Catholic, a priest working for the
reform of a pilgrim church. His positions, he insists, are always
in accord with the best understanding of Catholic theology and
always dedicated to the good of the church.
In 1986, years of clashes with church authorities finally
culminated in a decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, that Curran was
neither suitable nor eligible to be a professor of Catholic
theology. As a result of that Vatican condemnation, he was fired
from his teaching position at Catholic University of America and,
since then, no Catholic university has been willing to hire him.
Yet Curran continues to defend the possibility of legitimate
dissent from those teachings of the Catholic faith-not core or
central to it-that are outside the realm of infallibility. In word
and deed, he has worked in support of more academic freedom in
Catholic higher education and for a structural change in the church
that would increase the role of the Catholic community-from local
churches and parishes to all the baptized people of God.
In this poignant and passionate memoir, Curran recounts his
remarkable story from his early years as a compliant, pre-Vatican
II Catholic through decades of teaching and writing and a
transformation that has brought him today to be recognized as a
leader of progressive Catholicism throughout the world.
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