Vatican Lifts Sanctions On Irish Theologian

An Irish priest who was forbidden to write by the Vatican because of his views on human sexuality has had the sanction lifted. The moral theologian Sean Fagan, 86, a Marist priest, had been subject to sanction by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the last six years. The superior general of the Marist congregation in Rome, Father John Hannan, confirmed that Father Fagan is now “a priest in good standing” where the church is concerned.

Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, reportedly wrote to Pope Francis appealing for his intervention in the case of Father Fagan and had her letter acknowledged by the pope’s secretary. Father Fagan, who has suffered from ill health for many years, was first disciplined by the doctrinal congregation in 2008 following the publication of his book, Whatever Happened to Sin? In 2010 Father Fagan was informed by Cardinal William J. Levada, then prefect of the C.D.F., that he would be dismissed from the priesthood should he write for publication any material considered contrary to church teaching.

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Frank Bergen
4 years ago
Until reading this piece, which I pray is truly a Sign of the Times, I had never heard of Sean Fagan, but the name of William Levada is all too familiar. Curiosity led me to Google Fagan and the title of his 'contrary to church teaching' book and I found this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/ni/2008/12/what_happened_to_sin.html. Written prior to Levada's action, it provides what would seem to be typical passages of what any sensible person might consider to be contrary to church mis-teaching in regard to sexuality and sin. It's interesting to me that Fagan was threatened with dismissal from the priesthood while other 'dangerous' theologians have merely been forbidden to write on particular subjects or to teach in Catholic institutions. Is it because others, e.g., Roger Haight, only wrote questionably about Jesus and not about sin, or might it be that he is a Jesuit not a Marist, and thus a tad further removed from the righteous rule of the Holy Office? In any event, let's applaud this action and hope it is a harbinger of better days for thinking Catholics, even theologians.
PATRICK NUGENT
4 years ago
Amen.
Anne Grady
4 years ago
Beautifully put and thanks for the wonderful link!
Michael Barberi
4 years ago
Frank, Thanks for the link. The article is a good summary of Fr. Fagan's insightful and realistic views. I agree with most, if not all of them. The magisterium needs to open their ears, minds, hearts and souls to the the possibility that some teachings are misguided. When this happens, we will be lead to a better understanding of truth and God's Will and have a Church that is more merciful, loving, wise, just when it comes to the person integrally and adequately considered.
PATRICK NUGENT
4 years ago
Thank God we are free of Levada!
Carlos Orozco
4 years ago
This note lacks basic context. For example, what specific views on human sexuality put Fr. Fagan originally at odds with the C.D.F.? If not compatible, what are the teachings of the Church on those specific topics? What happened since then that now have him as "a priest in good standing"?
Jacqueline MCGEE
4 years ago
This sounds as if it might be good news. I read the link to the bbc article and he seems to have some very good opinions about many issues.
Marie Rehbein
4 years ago
"This does not mean that everything is relative, but only that we need to relativise some of our mistaken absolutes. The moral law is discovered and explained by human reason, which is fallible and can make mistakes." Yup.
James MacGregor
4 years ago
Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I cannot support those who have been disciplined by their Church for disobedience or have any sympathy with those who support them. Whether the cleric's view is objectively right or wrong, that person is still under a vow of obedience.
Marie Rehbein
4 years ago
Well, the pope disagrees with you.
Anne Chapman
4 years ago
Based on the little I read at the link, it seems this priest is actually speaking for THE church, for the sensus fidelium. Of course Rome felt threatened. They continue to refuse to accept that the 1.1 billion are THE church and not a tiny handful of men in Rome.
David Ryan
4 years ago
I am curious (and trying to understand, not argue), if the 1.1 billion Catholics are the Church, then what separates them from any other Protestant denomination, from Lutherans to Westboro Baptist? I am under the understanding that the central authority of the Church is what distinguishes it and gives it legitimacy over the idea that we are each guided by the Spirit to whichever answers we feel to be correct, and therefore not in need of a "church." I have only thought about this recently and not discussed it in depth with anyone, so any serious comment is much appreciated.

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