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Theology professor removed from post after ordination


A tenured theology professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh was removed from her post after university officials discovered she recently became an Episcopal priest, according to a Jan. 25 news report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The professor, Moni McIntyre, is a former nun of the Immaculate Heart of Mary order who specializes in Catholic theology. Neither McIntyre nor her attorney, Loraine Tabakin, was available for comment as NCR went to press.

According to the Post-Gazette, McIntyre returned from Christmas break to find that her classes had been assigned to other professors and that books she had written had been removed from the display case in the theology department. On Jan. 9, she received a letter from Duquesne President John E. Murray Jr. saying that her decision to become an Episcopal priest “necessarily repudiates certain teachings of the Roman Catholic church.” Murray said she would no longer be allowed to teach theology.

McIntyre remains on the university’s payroll, but Murray said formal dismissal could follow.

Murray said he had first consulted with Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl.

“She is now a publicly proclaimed, official teacher of Anglican doctrine, which differs from Roman Catholic doctrine in very important areas,” Murray told the Post-Gazette. “To present her as a teacher of Roman Catholic theology under these circumstances is a contradiction which is not in keeping with the mission of the department of theology, the university or the Roman Catholic church.” He said Wuerl had concurred “without qualification.”

Murray’s action comes as U.S. bishops are preparing to implement U.S. norms for Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Vatican document that calls for Catholic colleges and universities to strengthen their religious identity. U.S. norms, under discussion now between church officials and theologians, will require that theologians be certified by local bishops by obtaining a mandatum, effectively a license to teach.

School officials learned about McIntyre’s ordination from Catholic diocesan officials who had noted on the Episcopal diocese’s Web site that McIntyre was to be ordained Dec. 16.

Murray referred to Ex Corde Ecclesiae in his letter to McIntyre. He told the Post-Gazette that the ongoing public discussion of the papal document should have served as a signal to McIntyre that she would be unsuitable as a professor of Catholic theology if she left the church.

Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, a professor at Yale and former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, told NCR that McIntyre’s case is “troubling, not only in the case itself, but in the precedent it sets. It seems to say that if you are not a Roman Catholic you can’t teach Catholic theology. … Protestants can understand Catholic theology and teach it.”

“We wait to see what it will mean ultimately in terms of how she can negotiate her situation there,” Farley said of McIntyre. “My hope is that in the process we’re now in, with dialogue between bishops and theologians, we can build trust. This may test that possibility.”

National Catholic Reporter, February 2, 2001