False Theologians, Then & Now

June 2007By Anne Barbeau Gardiner

Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the 17th century.

In 1529 Catholic theologians teaching at major universities in France, Italy, and England gave King Henry VIII the theological fig leaf he needed to get a divorce from Queen Catherine, his wife of 20 years. These theologians took large sums of gold from the English King and set themselves up as a rival magisterium. They went so far as to falsify passages from the ancient Church Fathers, medieval Doctors, and Church councils to give King Henry what he paid for.

Today too there are plenty of false theologians at Catholic universities. Among them is Daniel Maguire, a professor in the Department of Moral Theology at Marquette, who has received grants from the Ford and Packard Foundations to produce a video-documentary and two books that falsify Catholic teaching on abortion. He brazenly contends that the Church has long approved the killing of unborn babies and falsely claims that abortion is a sacred choice and a sacred right in every major world religion. Forbidding abortion anywhere, he argues, amounts to "religious persecution." Maguire is President of The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics (TRC), whose website links to Planned Parenthood, Catholics for Free Choice, and other pro-abortion groups' websites. Among the participants in TRC are seven religious instructors affiliated with Catholic universities: Loyola University of Chicago, University of Detroit Mercy, Xavier University, Marquette University, Manhattan College, Catholic University of America, and St. John's University. Two of these are elderly priests -- Gerard Sloyan and Paul Surlis. And so, despite the promulgation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, all these instructors are confident they can publicly support the merchants of death and at the same time proudly cite their Catholic affiliations. They are confident they can set themselves up as a rival magisterium to the Pope with total impunity. Just as seven Catholic universities colluded with Henry VIII and paved the way to the English Reformation, so dissenters such as these at seven Catholic universities collude with Planned Parenthood and pave the way, so far as it is within their power, to the triumph of the Culture of Death. That Henry VIII bribed a cohort of Catholic theologians to justify his divorce is little known today, though St. John Fisher wrote a whole book about it in 1530, titled De causa matrimonii, a work carefully abridged in the first part of Dr. Nicholas Harpsfield's Treatise on the Pretended Divorce Between Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon, a 16th-century Catholic account of the English Reformation that was not printed until the late 19th century. Harpsfield, the last Catholic archdeacon of Canterbury and an expert in canon law, spent the last 24 years of his life in prison for his religion, dying there in 1583.

In 1528 Henry VIII suddenly claimed that he was "tormented in conscience" about his 20-year marriage to Queen Catherine and, according to Dr. Harpsfield, believed "he had lived all this while in detestable and abominable adultery." He wanted a speedy divorce, so as to marry Anne Boleyn, but the Queen appealed to Pope Clement, causing delay. At this point, Henry turned to the European universities, hoping to use them against the Pope. In turn, the Queen asked Bishop John Fisher -- the only bishop in England brave enough to stand up to Henry -- to be her advocate. Fisher spent two years in investigation and came to the conclusion that Henry would never have sought a divorce, "if lechery had not embraced the attempt" and "if covetousness of the goods and lands of the church" had not "furthered the said attempt." The charge of greed also applies to the prostitute-theologians who took pay to justify Henry's divorce.

In the fall of 1529 Henry sent his agents loaded with gold across Europe "to procure the private censures and judgments of diverse learned men, as also the public judgment of certain universities, for the disproving and disallowing of his first marriage." Once he got their paid-for judgments in writing, he would send Sir Thomas Boleyn with them to pressure Pope Clement into granting his divorce. Mule-loads of "English angels" (gold coins) at the time "flew far and wide among the learned men of France and Italy," according to Pedro Fernandez Sardinha, the first Bishop of Bahia, San Salvador, who witnessed "the bribery then wrought in Henry's name" in Paris. He wrote, "Certain theologians, debasing the Word of God and seeking the favour of men, corrupted by gifts and largesses of angelets -- a coin well known among the English -- fell into the toils of Satan, and helped the king's faction, contrary to their own convictions. And I am not afraid to speak so plainly, for I have seen it with my own eyes." Likewise, Peter Blomevenna of Leyden, prior of the Carthusians in Cologne, testified to the attempted bribery at the University of Cologne, where "a certain king, mighty and powerful, hoped by heavy sums of money to purchase the opinion he wished to obtain."

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One must remember to never confuse the teachings of a Catholic theologian with that of the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. The theologigan is not protected from error and the Church is protected from error by the power of the Holy Spirit. My children are young and I am making sure, even at their tender age, that they know the difference. In fact I was hearted that Pope Benedict recently chided the theologians that have gone astray with the CDF paper on what constitutes Church. I was greatly distressed two years into a Lay Ecclesial Ministry Course by my diocese. Some of the teachings even strained the "Spirit" of Vactican II and some were simply in gross violation of the Cathecism. I dropped out but not first without protestations. They fell on deaf ears...I was reprimanded for not having an open mind and was reminded that many Catholic theologians did not like or agree with "Dominus Iesus." It was a battle lost but the War for the Truth of the Magisterium will be won because it is Christ's Church. Have heart!
Posted by: Artsgolfer
August 06, 2007 11:38 AM EDT

if you are so concerned about the orthodoxy of notre dame, why in the world do you send your kid there? you're indirectly supporting notre dame's corruption. with so many good catholic schools out there, i don't understand how a serious catholic would give that place money. why not send a check to planned parenthood while you're at it.

Posted by: awacs
June 25, 2007 03:54 PM EDT
Our son attends Notre Dame. He is required to take courses on theology. But many of those who teach theology there are dissenters with regard to Church teaching (including, for example, one notorious priest), and some are trying to teach about 'thinking about God,' with no reference to God's revelation. A good cohort of the 'theology' teachers at Notre Dame do not have a mandatum from Rome, which requires their assent to Church teaching. At other so-called 'Catholic' universities, NONE of the 'theology' teachers do (and they would be ashamed to apply for one).

In short - if you are a serious Catholic, and send your child to a 'Catholic' university - you should beware. Evil will be brought to bear on your child by those we have been led to believe we should trust. Do NOT believe for an instant that the 'leaders' of the university or any 'Catholic' theology department are to be trusted for an instant with teaching your children what the Church actually teaches. Do NOT believe for an instant that any old priest your child is exposed to at a so-called 'Catholic' university will be drawing your child closer to the teachings of Christ and the Church.

The only person you can trust is you. If you care about what your children are being taught, you will have to investigate what they are being taught, and who is doing the teaching. It's that simple.

Posted by: luke
June 12, 2007 11:25 AM EDT
If pro-abortion politicians can be barred from receiving Holy Communion, if the university does not want to fire tham, why cannot the Vatican, the bishop, or even an individual priest deny communion for these "theologians," or if they are priests, lift their faculties and prohobit celebrating the Holy Mass? Posted by: blueskies
June 25, 2007 11:39 AM EDT
I stopped giving to my school, the University of Dayton, because they did not give me a satisfactory answer regarding the mandatum (even the local bishop there did not answer my email regarding why UD (and the bishop) did not follow the mandatum and publish a list of teachers that teach according to the church teaching. How else will a parent or student know if he/she is being taught correctly? I now give to schools that do follow the mandatum. It is one small way to fight back. Sending your child to ND, because of it's fine tradition, is really a go along to get along mode of response. Stand up for your child and your religion. Posted by: wunsch
June 25, 2007 10:35 PM EDT

Sure, awacs.

We sent our son to Notre Dame for three reasons:

1) There is a sufficient number, in our observation, of devout Catholic students (no matter what the priests and theologians and 'leadership' are doing), to save the place from secularization. There is glorious possibility at Notre Dame, but it is hanging precariously in the balance;

2) Our son is strong enough and smart enough and devout enough to understand and see through all the idiocies and unGodly things that occur there. His presence will help, along with the presence of many, many other like students, to try to rescue Notre Dame from its slide into the world. It is still worth fighting for; our son is a fighter;

3) Our son, if careful, can still receive at Notre Dame a top-notch truly Catholic education. If that should cease to be the case (which it might well in the near future), we will not send any more of our children there.


Posted by: Luke
July 02, 2007 10:09 PM EDT
Imagine. Theologians can be bought! Historical precedent.Prominent Catholic Neocon Theologians take note! You may be tempted to contend with the Pope on moral issues and church teaching! Posted by: Henry Patrick
July 04, 2007 06:43 AM EDT
I have heard and read of faithful laymen and priests complaining of these anti-Popes in catholic universities for over 20 years. Evidently nothing can be done. Posted by: martillo
February 18, 2008 10:15 AM EST
I graduated from U Notre Dame in 1983. I have watched it move ever further left. As a result I have never contributed a penny.

I had hoped that Fr. Jenkins would help change their course. Apparently he too is unable to steer it right; most likely Satan has his hands on the wheel. Last week I wrote and asked not to be sent the alumni magazine any more.

I just received the engineering college magazine and will ask that it too cease to be sent to me. I for one cannot say that I am proud to be a U ND grad.

Posted by: djkuendel
February 18, 2008 03:22 PM EST
What are you people carrying on about? I was on the Library Committee of ND in the mid 1970s. The university was almost stripped of its accreditation because of the inadequacy of its library.

Rather follow Fulton Sheen's advice. Send your child to a secular college where he will have to defend his faith; not to a Catholic college where he will most likely lose it.
Posted by: Gabriel Austin
November 14, 2008 03:11 PM EST
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