Just weeks after Father Richard McBrien, a controversial professor at the University of Notre Dame was essentially cleared by the University on charges of plagiarism, Virginia’s Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has announced evidence of a separate--and far more sweeping case--this time involving the priest’s 1997 book; Lives of the Popes.
Yesterday, CNS said they faxed Notre Dame president, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C an 11-page comparison of McBrien’s 1997 book, Lives of the Popes, and strikingly similar--sometimes exact--pages from Rev. J.N.D. Kelly’s 1986 Oxford Dictionary of Popes.
They pointed out that this situation was first reported in 1998 by University professor emeritus Rev. Marvin O'Connell, in the magazine, Books and Culture.
Patrick Reilly, CNS’s president said today that "Notre Dame's response to our first complaint was a whitewash, but this they cannot ignore"
"There is no valid excuse for a university professor to copy or closely paraphrase the wording of another's scholarly work without clear attribution,” he said. “If that is what has happened here-and the evidence is extensive-then Notre Dame's integrity is on the line."
Fr. McBrien’s previous allegations were also brought by the Cardinal Newman Society, along with Catholic blogger, Domenico Bettinelli and the Boston Herald newspaper.
They claimed that a column written by the priest in The Tidings--a LosAngeles Catholic newspaper--closely resembled a column and news items previously printed in the Boston Globe newspaper.
McBrien strongly denied the claims and Notre Dame’s theology department chair, John Cavadini dismissed the charges, according to a university report leaked to the National Catholic Reporter newspaper in January.
Cavadini has charged the Cardinal Newman Society as being a “militant right-wing Catholic interest group lobbying for the most stringent standards of orthodoxy to be used in courses and curricula at Catholic colleges and universities." Likewise, Fr. McBrien maintains that the group hasa“thorough bias” against him.
As of press time, Fr. McBrien was unavailable for comment.
In a letter sent yesterday to Notre Dame’s president, Reilly wrote that "On behalf of the more than 18,000 members of the Cardinal Newman Society-and in the interest of the students, faculty and alumni of the University of Notre Dame-I urge you to insist upon a serious investigation of the concerns raised about Fr. McBrien's work…Anything less than a serious examination, whatever the result, is less than wha tone expects from Notre Dame."