Charles E.

Stories by Charles E. Curran

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    My Turn: Celibacy, the Pope, and Sex Abuse

    I knew that the letter—approved by Pope John Paul II and issued by then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—was unlikely to be good news. It was 1986, and for the previous seven years, Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—the office charged with safeguarding official theology—had been investigating my work. As a professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., I lectured and wrote about traditional church teachings. But I also pointed out areas where I believed Catholicism and modern life were misaligned, including Rome’s opposition to birth control for married couples; its stance on homosexuality, divorce, and remarriage; and the status of women in the church. The Vatican had finally had enough. “One who dissents from the Magisterium as you do,” the letter said, “is not suitable nor eligible to teach Catholic theology.”