- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006


A well-known liberal theologian at the University of Notre Dame said yesterday that the school is reviewing an article he wrote after a conservative Roman Catholic group questioned whether the piece was plagiarized.

The Cardinal Newman Society says that a syndicated article Richard McBrien wrote for several Catholic newspapers, including the Tidings in Los Angeles, earlier this month closely resembles the “structure, arguments, ideas and general theme” of an article written a month earlier by Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara.

Mr. McBrien said the accusations were unfounded.

Both articles were about a protest of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s appearance at a Catholic Charities dinner in the city in December. The protest focused on the group’s decision to honor Mr. Menino despite his support for abortion rights and same-sex “marriage.”

Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, urged Notre Dame to investigate Mr. McBrien’s article in a letter last week to the Rev. John I. Jenkins, the university’s president.

“Because this concerns the reputation of one of the most well-known Catholic universities in the United States, we urge you to give this matter serious consideration. If the faculty member is indeed guilty of such dishonesty, we urge you to consider whether he belongs at Notre Dame,” the letter said.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said Notre Dame “takes any allegation of plagiarism seriously and has procedures in place for investigating such charges in a confidential manner.”

Mr. McBrien confirmed that the university is reviewing the article. He accused the Cardinal Newman Society of irresponsibly criticizing Catholic theologians.

“They use any ploy they can to attempt to discredit theologians whom they regard as unorthodox and universities which they regard as un-Catholic according to their ultraconservative perspective,” Mr. McBrien said.

The Boston Herald reported last week that Mr. McBrien conceded that he took facts from the Globe article that he should have credited, but he denied committing plagiarism.

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