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1968 witnessed perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. It was led by Fr. Charles Curran, professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, with more than 500 theologians who signed a Statement of Dissent that declared Catholics were not bound in conscience to follow the Church s teaching in the en 1968 witnessed perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. It was led by Fr. Charles Curran, professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, with more than 500 theologians who signed a Statement of Dissent that declared Catholics were not bound in conscience to follow the Church s teaching in the encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, that artificial contraception is morally wrong because it is destructive of the good of Christian marriage. The battle at Catholic University centered on the major question in Catholic higher education during the turbulent years after the Second Vatican Council, What is the meaning of academic freedom at a Catholic university? Curran and the dissenting theologians maintained they needed to be free to teach without constraint by any outside authority, including the bishops. The bishops maintained that the American tradition of religious freedom guaranteed the right of religiously-affiliated schools to require their professors to teach in accord with the authority of their church. This clash over the authority of the Magisterium of the Church within its own academic institutions was at the heart of the dramatic clash which unfolded at CUA. This book uses never-before published material from the personal papers of the key players at CUA to tell the inside story of the dramatic events that unfolded there in the late 1960 s. Beginning with the 1967 faculty-led strike in support of Curran, this book reveals the content of the internal discussions between the key bishops on the CUA Board of Trustees. Incorporating personal interviews with Curran, the author presents a balanced account of the deep frustration and anger against the institutional authority of the Church which played into the hands of the dissenting theologians. This work attempts to disprove both the standard liberal and conservative interpretation of the events of 1968, suggesting that the culture of dissent was a direct fruit of the excessive legalism and authoritarianism which marked the Church in the United States during the years preceding Vatican II. Because the polarization in 1968 has continued to define the experience of many American Catholics and has had an ongoing effect on Catholic education, this work should be extremely interesting to those who wish to understand the recent past so as to move forward into the 21st century with a greater awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of Catholic education in the United States."


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1968 witnessed perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. It was led by Fr. Charles Curran, professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, with more than 500 theologians who signed a Statement of Dissent that declared Catholics were not bound in conscience to follow the Church s teaching in the en 1968 witnessed perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. It was led by Fr. Charles Curran, professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, with more than 500 theologians who signed a Statement of Dissent that declared Catholics were not bound in conscience to follow the Church s teaching in the encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, that artificial contraception is morally wrong because it is destructive of the good of Christian marriage. The battle at Catholic University centered on the major question in Catholic higher education during the turbulent years after the Second Vatican Council, What is the meaning of academic freedom at a Catholic university? Curran and the dissenting theologians maintained they needed to be free to teach without constraint by any outside authority, including the bishops. The bishops maintained that the American tradition of religious freedom guaranteed the right of religiously-affiliated schools to require their professors to teach in accord with the authority of their church. This clash over the authority of the Magisterium of the Church within its own academic institutions was at the heart of the dramatic clash which unfolded at CUA. This book uses never-before published material from the personal papers of the key players at CUA to tell the inside story of the dramatic events that unfolded there in the late 1960 s. Beginning with the 1967 faculty-led strike in support of Curran, this book reveals the content of the internal discussions between the key bishops on the CUA Board of Trustees. Incorporating personal interviews with Curran, the author presents a balanced account of the deep frustration and anger against the institutional authority of the Church which played into the hands of the dissenting theologians. This work attempts to disprove both the standard liberal and conservative interpretation of the events of 1968, suggesting that the culture of dissent was a direct fruit of the excessive legalism and authoritarianism which marked the Church in the United States during the years preceding Vatican II. Because the polarization in 1968 has continued to define the experience of many American Catholics and has had an ongoing effect on Catholic education, this work should be extremely interesting to those who wish to understand the recent past so as to move forward into the 21st century with a greater awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of Catholic education in the United States."

45 review for The Coup at Catholic University: The 1968 Revolution in American Catholic Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Stein

    If you ever wanted to know how most Catholic universities became uncoupled from their traditions and orthodoxy, and how most Catholic universities seem not much different than secular institutions, then “The Coup at Catholic University,” is the book for you! It should be obvious to the reader that Fr. Mitchell conducted due diligence during the development of his book. He includes all pertinent appendices, and there are more footnotes than you can possibly imagine. One could easily suppose that Fr If you ever wanted to know how most Catholic universities became uncoupled from their traditions and orthodoxy, and how most Catholic universities seem not much different than secular institutions, then “The Coup at Catholic University,” is the book for you! It should be obvious to the reader that Fr. Mitchell conducted due diligence during the development of his book. He includes all pertinent appendices, and there are more footnotes than you can possibly imagine. One could easily suppose that Fr. Mitchell would have his share of critics and I am sure that he does. However, one need only look at what happened throughout our country in the 1960s. During this time, the professors at most universities, both secular and private, endured administrative transformations that tended to relegate professors to the role of employees. In the case of Catholic universities, the professor/priests were not required to adhere to the teachings of the Magisterium. Fr. Mitchell’s primary point is that following the vicissitudes at CUA, in 1968, Catholic institutions of higher learning permanently changed. One can hear St. John Henry Newman conclude that education is influenced by “fashion.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    The Coup at Catholic University begins by telling the story of the dismissal of an associate professor named Fr. Charles Curran in 1967. The university said that instead of calling it a dismissal, that anyone asked should refer to it as choosing not to renew a contract of a non-tenured professor. This logic did not set well with Fr. Curran, and he did not take his dismissal lightly, calling it unfair and threatening to take it to the media. The media did get hold of the story and protests and st The Coup at Catholic University begins by telling the story of the dismissal of an associate professor named Fr. Charles Curran in 1967. The university said that instead of calling it a dismissal, that anyone asked should refer to it as choosing not to renew a contract of a non-tenured professor. This logic did not set well with Fr. Curran, and he did not take his dismissal lightly, calling it unfair and threatening to take it to the media. The media did get hold of the story and protests and strikes occurred. Eventually, after much deliberation and meetings, the bishops, not only reinstated Fr. Curran, but gave him a promotion that came with tenure. On its surface, this seems like a David and Goliath story of a young priest battling a large university and winning. In reality, Fr. Curran was a liberal priest teaching sexual morality that conflicted with the Church's teachings during the sexual revolution. So what we have was a Catholic university trying to retain its orthodoxy, and instead caving in to pressure and losing any authority it had left. In 1968, Fr. Curran and 500 other theologians signed a "statement of dissent" saying that they did not have to follow Humanae Vitae and that artificial contraception is not morally wrong. It took until 1986 and Pope John Paul II to declare Fr. Curran ineligible to teach at Catholic University of America. The remainder of the book follows the negative consequences of these actions and the rippling effect it had not only on its campus, but on other Catholic campuses across the United States, because it dealt primarily with where control of the university rested. Within this book, the author, Fr. Peter Mitchell, draws on a great deal of primary sources to tell the real story of what happened, as not the liberally slanted version of the story that has been spread. This is always appreciated and makes you trust the author more than if he had just went to secondary or tertiary sources. A lot of people have said they found this book easy to read. I, however, struggled through it a bit as it is 300+ pages of history, and history was never my strongest subject in school. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating read and one you should pick up if you have an interest in Catholic education or Catholic American History.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    "Reveals the origins of and gives theological insight into the tensions still present in Catholic higher education." - Bishop Cozzens A valuable read for those involved in Catholic education. "Reveals the origins of and gives theological insight into the tensions still present in Catholic higher education." - Bishop Cozzens A valuable read for those involved in Catholic education.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Silvonek

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Creavey

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    Chris

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