To the editor of the New York Times…

NB: This letter is posted with Dr. Massimo Faggioli’s permission.  As usual with guest posts on Daily Theology, this does not necessarily reflect the views of all DT contributors.

To the editor of the New York Times

On Sunday, October 18, the Times published Ross Douthat’s piece “The Plot to Change Catholicism.” Aside from the fact that Mr. Douthat has no professional qualifications for writing on the subject, the problem with his article and other recent statements is his view of Catholicism as unapologetically subject to a politically partisan narrative that has very little to do with what Catholicism really is. Moreover, accusing other members of the Catholic church of heresy, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly, is serious business that can have serious consequences for those so accused. This is not what we expect of the New York Times.

October 26, 2015

John O’Malley, SJ (Georgetown University)
Massimo Faggioli (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Nicholas P. Cafardi (Duquesne University)
Gerard Mannion (Georgetown University)
Stephen Schloesser, SJ (Loyola University Chicago)
Katarina Schuth OSF (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Leslie Tentler (Catholic University of America, emerita)

John Slattery (University of Notre Dame)
Megan McCabe (Boston College)
Thomas M. Bolin (St. Norbert College)
Kevin Brown (Boston College)
Alan C. Mitchell (Georgetown University)
Elizabeth Antus (John Carroll University)
Kathleen Grimes (Villanova University)
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
Christopher Bellitto (Kean University)
Corey Harris (Alvernia University)
Kevin Ahern (Manhattan College)
John DeCostanza (Dominican University)
Daniel Cosacchi (Loyola University Chicago)
Amy Levad (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Christine McCarthy (Fordham University)
Sonja Anderson (Yale University)
Fr. Robert A. Busch (Diocese of Amarillo)
Brandon Peterson (University of Utah)
Heather Miller Rubens (Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies)
Daniel Dion (Rivier University)
Mark Miller (University of San Francisco)
William T. Ditewig (Santa Clara University)
Stuart Squires (Brescia University)
Gerald O’Collins, SJ (Gregorian University, emeritus)
Anthony J. Godzieba (Villanova University)
Terrence W. Tilley (Fordham University)
Michael J. Hollerich (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Gerald Schlabach (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Luca Badini Confalonieri (Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research)
Francis Schussler Fiorenza (Harvard Divinity School)
Rebecca A. Chabot (Iliff School of Theology)
Mark Massa, SJ (Boston College School of Theology and Ministry)
James T. Bretzke, SJ (Boston College School of Theology and Ministry)
Anne Clifford (Iowa State University)
Jack Downey (La Salle University)
Sherry Jordon (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Julia Lamm (Georgetown University)
James F. Keenan, SJ (Boston College)
Ma Christina Astorga (University of Portland)
Thomas Rausch, SJ (Loyola Marymount University)
James P. Bailey (Duquesne University)
Philip Endean (Centre Sèvres, Paris)
Giuseppe Prigiotti (Duke University)
Andrea Grillo (Pontificio Ateneo S. Anselmo – Rome)
John Baldovin, SJ (Boston College School of Theology and Ministry)
David Schultenover, SJ (Marquette University)
Peter C. Phan (Georgetown University)
Maggie McGuinness (La Salle University)

Please review Daily Theology’s comments policy before sharing a response below.  

56 responses to “To the editor of the New York Times…

    • Please add my name. (G Mannion, T Tilley, and J Keenan can vouch for me).
      Patrick Hannon (emeritus prof moral theol Maynooth, Ireland; adjunct Mater Dei Institute, Dublin City University; Loyola Institute, Trinity College, Dublin)

  1. Excellent. thank you for doing this. Please add my name, Susan Francesconi. I noticed University affiliations being added to names and presume that refers to faculty status. If that’s not the case and it also refers to education you could add Catholic Theological Union after my name.

  2. If Mr. Douthat has no “professional qualifications for writing on the subject”, perhaps the good “Doctor” could spend at least a sentence explaining how he’s wrong. (A phrase perhaps?) Mr. Douthat and his readers should be edified.

    It would be indeed intolerably icky if Douthat’s “view of Catholicism” was “unapologetically subject to a politically partisan narrative”. But it’s rather odd that Douthat, and traditional Catholics everywhere, would say the same thing about Dr. Faggioli. Or the current pontiff, for that matter. Who’s right? The letter to the editor pretends the question doesn’t exist.

    Certainly, heresy is a serious charge for all the reasons Dr. Faggioli mentions. And it is also a question of fact, which may be answered in the affirmative or negative. Are we not men? Can we not look at questions of fact? Or do we tuck tail and retreat the mere seriousness of the charge?

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  19. I suppose that Mr. Douthat does express the views of some conservative Roman Catholics which is of course his right. We are all entitled to our various opinions but authoritative charges of heresy and Douthat’s insistence that these matters can be reduced to “politics” are not worthy either of the NY Times or a public thoughtful commentator on Roman Catholicism and society.

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