Professor Daniel Maguire may be the most unwanted man in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Dr. Maguire, in his 38th year in Marquette University’s theology department, is nationally known as an outspoken liberal in a church dominated by conservatives. Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan has barred Maguire from speaking at any parishes in the archdiocese. When the theologian speaks to Catholic groups, they rent a neutral site.
It’s the result of Maguire’s stand on what he calls “the pelvic issues” – contraception, homosexuality and abortion. “It only represents about 7 percent of my published work, but it’s the only thing Catholic right-wingers understand,” he says.
But that percentage includes his pamphlet writings from 2006 that defended abortion and same-sex marriage for Catholics. He sent copies to every active bishop in America and received three replies, including a dressing down from Dolan.
“Maguire’s positions are completely at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the archdiocese said in a statement, adding that he can’t be considered a faithful Catholic theologian as his positions are “so radically outside Church teaching they go beyond dialogue or purposeful dissent.”
Maguire began his career as a priest, but left in 1969 for the first of his two marriages. The loss of one of his sons at age 10 to a congenital disease still influences his work.
Respect for all human rights, he says, is something the bishops do not apply equally. He sees them squandering their influence on abortion instead of advocating for peace and against poverty.
Historically, Maguire says, the Church recognized three sources of truth: bishops, theologians and the laity. Today, he contends, the latter two are ignored. “Bishops are not professional theologians,” he says. “They’re professional pastors and administrators.”
Asked for a comment, Marquette officials said, “Dr. Maguire’s statements and publications are his own and do not reflect the viewpoints of the university. A university, by its very nature, must be a place for the exploration and discussion of various perspectives.”
Despite such resistance, Maguire, 77, has no plans to retire. “I tell students, ‘I couldn’t live without you,’ ” he says. “I love teaching.”