US Bishops Warn Against Book on Sexuality

Say Basic Methodology Is Unsound

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 23, 2010 ( The U.S. bishops are cautioning about a book that claims to teach “Catholic anthropology” but in fact goes against Church doctrine on human sexuality.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement from its Committee on Doctrine, headed by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, regarding the book, “The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology.”

The statement noted that the book “does not offer minor revisions to a few points of Catholic sexual ethics,” but rather, “the authors insist that the moral theology of the Catholic tradition dealing with sexual matters is now as a whole obsolete and inadequate and that it must be re-founded on a different basis.”

Consequently, it continued, the authors, Creighton University professors Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, “argue that the teaching of the magisterium is based on this flawed ‘traditional theology’ and must likewise be substantially changed.”

The doctrine committee issued the statement in response to a request from the archbishop of Omaha, Nebraska, to review the book. Creighton University is in Omaha.

In 2007, Archbishop Elden Curtiss, then archbishop of Omaha, had already published a statement in the diocesan newspaper regarding various articles by these professors.

In his statement, Archbishop Curtiss said: “In these articles, Professors Lawler and Salzman argue for the moral legitimacy of some homosexual acts. Their conclusion is in serious error, and cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching.”

Clear conflict

Then, in 2008, when the book, “The Sexual Person,” was published, the prelate requested the aid of the doctrine committee.

In its statement, dated Sept. 15, the committee detailed some of the errors of this book.

It asserted, “The fact that the alternative moral theology of ‘The Sexual Person’ leads to many positions in clear conflict with authoritative Church teaching is itself considerable evidence that the basic methodology of this moral theology is unsound and incompatible with the Catholic tradition.”

“The Committee on Doctrine wishes to make it clear that neither the methodology of ‘The Sexual Person’ nor the conclusions that depart from authoritative Church teaching constitute authentic expressions of Catholic theology,” it added.

“Moreover,” the statement continued, “such conclusions, clearly in contradiction to the authentic teaching of the Church, cannot provide a true norm for moral action and in fact are harmful to one’s moral and spiritual life.”

Rather, it affirmed, “In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where we find a genuine systematic presentation of the faith, we look for that wisdom that reflects the words of everlasting life.”

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