In response to a recent letter to the editor, I think it would be reasonable to point out that although Father Richard McBrien’s syndicated columns reside within the Opinions section of The Catholic Messenger, they do not contain merely “opinion.”
As both a Catholic priest and a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, Fr. McBrien’s writings appear to represent the official teachings of the church and hence, would beg theological adherence on the part of unsuspecting Catholics reading his articles.
In his column this week, “Church stresses need for health care for all,” for example, he himself states “The point and purpose of this week’s column, however, is … to make sure that Catholics and other interested readers know what the official teaching of the Catholic Church is …”.
Fr. McBrien attempts to teach authoritatively on behalf of the church, but then, when it suits him, he teaches resolutely against it, taking uninformed readers in his wake. When discussing politics or sports, one can freely share “opinions,” even in a Catholic newspaper. But when matters concern the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church, they must be faithfully and truthfully conveyed. Catholics are entitled to receive the fullness of that teaching, especially when they open the pages of their very own diocesan paper.