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Father Curran Ends Effort to Teach Theology Courses

January 15, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Suspended theology professor Charles Curran today ended his efforts to teach at Catholic University of America this semester, saying that to keep pushing could hurt his students and Roman Catholic education in general.

But Curran, a priest, said he will continue his fight for eventual reinstatement.

The university on Wednesday, just before the beginning of the school's spring term today, canceled the three courses he normally teaches.

Curran said today that if he conducted the classes anyway while appealing the suspension, as he had said earlier he would do, students would not know whether they eventually would get credit.

In addition, Curran provided copies of a letter to him in which the university's chancellor, Archbishop James Hickey of Washington, threatened to invoke a Roman Catholic canon law provision that Curran said could spread the controversy to other Catholic institutions.

The provision states: "It is necessary that those who teach theological disciplines in any institute of higher studies have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority."

Curran's suspension, announced Monday, was not based on that canon but on a ruling in his specific case last summer by the Vatican, which pronounced him unfit to teach as a Catholic theologian because of his dissenting views on issues of sexual ethics.

That pronouncement was important in Curran's case because Catholic University, the only Vatican-chartered university in this country, requires a church-sponsored "canonical mission"--or theologian's license--for teachers in its theology department.

Similar requirements do not exist at independent Catholic universities, such as Notre Dame, Georgetown and others, and the canon law cited by Hickey has not been invoked at any U.S. school.

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