Uncovering the roots (and branches) of the greatest revolution in the American Catholic Church

New book analyses the uprising of a transformative movement that began at the Catholic University of America

SAN FRANCISCO, April 28, 2015 – Perhaps no institution has been more affected by the sexual revolution and its adherents than the Catholic Church in the United States, especially its education system. In 1968, Fr. Charles Curran, professor of theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, along with more than 500 theologians, signed a “Statement of Dissent” that declared Catholics were not bound in conscience to follow the Church’s teaching in the encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, which said artificial contraception is morally wrong because it is destructive of the good of Christian marriage.

Fr. Peter Mitchell analyzes the push for the “Statement of Dissent” and its impact on the U.S. Catholic education system in his revealing new book, THE COUP AT CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY.

Mitchell’s book answers a number of questions pertaining to the transformation of Catholic education and the events that unfolded at the Catholic University of America, including:

  • Why did Curran dissent from the Church’s teaching on the issue of contraception, and how was he able to garner support from a vast number of theologians who opposed Humana Vitae, one of the Church’s most important — and controversial — encyclicals?
  • How did CUA’s decision to ouster Curran, and the controversy it caused throughout the nation, alter the Catholic education system?
  • Why did the vast majority of Catholic schools in the United States, from the university level down to parochial schools, choose to be guided by the teaching authority of the dissenting American Catholic theologians who successfully took control of the Catholic University of America in 1967 instead of the Pope and bishops?
  • How did institutes of Catholic higher education respond to the moral permissiveness heralded by the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and what was the impact of its response?

THE COUP AT CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY uses never-before published material from the personal papers of the key players at CUA to tell the inside story of the dramatic events that unfolded there. Beginning with the 1967 faculty-led strike in support of Curran, this book reveals the content of the internal discussions between the key bishops on the CUA Board of Trustees.

Mitchell’s work attempts to disprove both the standard “liberal” and “conservative” interpretation of the events of 1968, suggesting that the culture of dissent was a direct fruit of the excessive legalism and authoritarianism that marked the Church in the years preceding Vatican II.

“An extraordinarily rich and detailed account of what was perhaps the crucial event in modern American Catholic higher education,” James Hitchcock, Ph.D., St. Louis University, says of THE COUP AT CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY. “It should be on every short list of indispensable historical studies of the post-Vatican II Church in America”

For more information, to request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Fr. Peter Mitchell, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or KWandra@CarmelCommunications.com) of Carmel Communications.

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To find more materials on The Coup at Catholic University, please visit the press room here.

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