J. Peter NixonSeptember 5, 2006 - 12:39am0 comments
Memoir of a Catholic Theologian
Charles E. Curran
Georgetown University Press, $26.95, 280 pp.
Charles Curran was once the best-known Catholic priest in the United States. His headline-grabbing dismissal from the Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1986 after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) found him unfit to teach Catholic theology made him virtually a household name. Curran’s firing was the climax to a protracted series of struggles with university and church authorities reaching back to his days as a seminary instructor.
The events of those years have been told before, most notably in Curran’s own Faithful Dissent and in Kenneth Briggs’s Holy Siege: The Year That Shook Catholic America. In the introduction to Loyal Dissent, Curran explains that his friends had long been urging him to write his memoirs. Curran freely admits that he is “not the most scintillating of writers,” and this admission is amply supported by the evidence of his prose. Yet his story is compelling enough to be retold without much flourish, and it is only toward the end of the book-where he veers into an excursus on the development of theology in the last half-century-that he may lose the reader’s attention.
Curran was born in 1934 to a middle-class Catholic family in Rochester, New York. He attended minor seminary, where he graduated as valedictorian. After two years at St. Bernard’s major seminary, he showed such academic promise that his bishop sent him to the Gregorian University in Rome for...