Heretic guest speaker in my theology class


Today in Theology, our guest speaker was one of the priests that worked on the New American Bible translation committee. (I, sadly, forgot to write down his name.) Among the things that he told us today was that “the Church no longer believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary” and “the Prophets were not divinely inspired, they were just commentators in their time period.”

I challenged him on both of these points, to which he replied with a fluffy answer like “oh well when you’re before God in heaven when you die, Mary not being a virgin isn’t going to destroy your faith, is it?”

This being a low level theology class, I was getting very upset at his ultra-liberalism. Thankfully, when I walked out, almost every single person in the room started complaining about what a heap of balogna that priest was.

For the record: I go to the Catholic University of America, and until today I have been very satisfied with the education I have been receiving. I think there was just a momentary lapse of judgment for choosing this particular lecturer.

But, as for my question: what should I do about this?


First I would talk to the professor … why was this person chosen, what does the professor think about the information provided, etc? Was the professor present?

If after this conversation, you still have concerns about course content then …

I would write a ‘joint letter’ addressed to both the Unversity President and the Bishop, be sure to copy the professor’s who class you were in, do not fail to include them in he correspondence.

Also [though I am not sure about this one] perhaps copy the Board of Trustees, if you think it might help …

For sure I would write the Bsihop and the University President with a copy to the professor …


Complain to the department head, charitably. If you do not get a response, or get blown off, send a letter to Archbishop Wuerl and to your own bishop at home. CUA is unique in that it is actually Church run. They seem to be trying really hard to overcome a prior reputation as Catholic Lite. I hope you get a good response. :thumbsup:


HOWEVER, please bear in mind that the purpose (the professor’s? God’s?) of bringing this particular priest into the classroom may well have been to challenge you, make you think, and make you firm in your resolve to protect and defend the faith. We cannot be good soldiers of Christ, good warriors in the faith, if we don’t allow ourselves to know what the Church’s enemies are saying. We defend ourselves best when we know what the opposition has up its sleeve. Christ Himself had to defend Himself against Satan – a very good temptor – in the Desert.

The fact that you firmly expressed a view, and your classmates supported you, says to me that this experience may well have been a very good thing.

Good for you!! :thumbsup:


First of all, congratulations to you for recognizing this heretical speaker. Second of all, I will pray to the Holy Spirit that your inquiries will not go unanswered when it comes to why the selection of this person for your theology class. Thirdly, I think this an affront that even though this is a low level theology class according to your original post, you should be afforded the correct information at all times…especially at the university level. God Bless you for pointing out this error…and may the Holy Spirit guide you when you present your argument to the power that make these decisions. Say a prayer to Him for the right words…before you present your argument too, it really makes a very strong difference. God bless you.:thumbsup:


The important thing is for him to stop corrupting souls.

Pray for his conversion.

Into what depends on him…


As a graduate of Catholic with a degree in Theology, I can most assuredly tell you that 99% of Catholic’s professors are very Orthodox, the others are Jesuits not teaching theology. I believe I know the professor you are speaking about and the class you are taking. Rest assured he does not teach theology at Catholic, but instead teaches translation. He is a very good translator and that is why he is kept around. However most, if not all, of Catholic will tell you to take anything he says with a grain of salt (if not ignore him). Once again, he is kept around for his translation skill not because of his theology and normally they keep him out of all but one undergrad class.

If you have a problem with this, the person to talk to would first be your professor. If they do not satisfy you the next person to talk to would be Dean Korol, The TRS Dean for undergrads. She is very approachable and would be more than happy to talk with you. If she does not satisfy you (at this point I think you should leave and deal with it but…) then talk to Msgr. Irwin, Dean for the School of Theology and Religious Studies. I would suggest that be the furthest up the chain you go, as above that, Archbishop Wuerl (Chancellor of the University and Archbishop of Washington) and Father O’Connell like him for his translating ability and are not going to fire him or in any way get rid of him. Dr. Brennan, Provost of the University also like him for his translation skill.

Personally I suggest that you just let it go. His position is not that of the Church or of the University and you seem to already know this. He is normally left to just translation and teaching that in the context of the Bible. It is really not that important as long as you don’t take him as authority on anything else.

Good luck in your Catholic career!


You’ve had some really good advice. You know what I would suggest. . .especially with October coming up. . .is that you, and all the others who were at this class. . .say a rosary, every day in October, specifically for this priest. Quietly. . . but united. . .and because of love of HIM rather than the disquiet of his message. . .for “God’s will to be done”.


She’s the teacher for the class. She was present and she agreed with the things he was saying. I’m not quite sure if she was just being polite and not wanting to challenge an esteemed guest or whatnot, but she asked us by all means to voice our complaints in the next assignment, which you can bet I’ll be doing.


Perhaps this is her very reason for allowing this professor to address the class, to see if you can defend the Catholic position on the virginity of Mary and other things he might have said. Also, when looking at Scripture from the angle of translation alone, scholars can translate the word for “virgin” as “young woman” or other unmarried woman. The same thing for where it states in the NT that Jesus had “brothers and sisters.” It sound as if they are looking at it purely from a translation standpoint and you need to bring in Catholic Tradition. This argument came up in one of our parish classes just recently and the instructor told me that he was not stating Catholic belief but simply what the translation means. He did say, in class, that he was not denying Catholic dogma on the topic of virginity of Mary, but simply looking at the translation from the Greek. The class now knows how to argue with Protestants, many who do not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary based on the biblical statements alone.


Write a very good essay for your next assignment. Dissect every single point he made and refute them all. Back up everything you say using the Catechism, the Bible, and other Church documents. I would also advise you to use the documents of Vatican II, espcially Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum.

Use quotations from Lumen Gentium when defending the doctrines concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary. I found this paragraph to be relevant in your situation:

  1. This most Holy Synod deliberately teaches this Catholic doctrine and at the same time admonishes all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered, and the practices and exercises of piety, recommended by the magisterium of the Church toward her in the course of centuries be made of great moment, and those decrees, which have been given in the early days regarding the cult of images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the saints, be religiously observed.(22*) But it exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to abstain zealously both from all gross exaggerations as well as from petty narrow-mindedness in considering the singular dignity of the Mother of God.(23) Following the study of Sacred Scripture, the Holy Fathers, the doctors and liturgy of the Church, and under the guidance of the Church’s magisterium, let them rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always look to Christ, the source of all truth, sanctity and piety. Let them assiduously keep away from whatever, either by word or deed, could lead separated brethren or any other into error regarding the true doctrine of the Church.* Let the faithful remember moreover that true devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to a filial love toward our mother and to the imitation of her virtues.

The bold is mine. I highlighted this section because this speaker was clearly guilty of “gross exaggerations as well as…petty narrow-mindedness in considering the dignity of the Mother of God.”

This is your chance to defend the faith. I recommend using Vatican II documents because liberals always attempt to defend their beliefs and actions by citing Vatican II. Use these documents against him.


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