Colleagues remember McCormick
By TIM LOGAN
Theology professor Father Richard McCormick died Saturday in Michigan and will be buried today in Toledo, Ohio, but he lives on in the minds of his friends and colleagues here at Notre Dame.
Father Richard McBrien, a theology professor and close friend of McCormick's, remembered the professor as a genial man who reached out to those around him.
"He had an extraordinary capacity to establish warm, friendly relationships with people," McBrien said.
McCormick, who taught at Notre Dame for 14 years, was also a renowned scholar, generally considered one of the world's experts in moral theology. He specialized in medical ethics.
University president emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh had high praise.
"He was the best moral theologian in the world, bar none," Hesburgh said. "He was also a very balanced man."
Hesburgh noted that McCormick was neither a liberal nor a conservative in most of his teachings, but was certainly willing to stand up for his beliefs.
"He went down the middle," Hesburgh said, "But he had courage, and when he disagreed with something, he wasn't afraid to say so."
His views on sexual ethics were sometimes the subject of controversy, and stood at odds with conservative Catholic leaders.
McCormick was an ardent supporter of Father Charles Curran, a moral theologian whose teachings on sexual ethics issues led to a Vatican censure in 1986.
But, McBrien said, McCormick was more than simply an intellectual.
"He was a famous theologian, but he was also a down to earth guy," he said. The two worked together since 1986, when McBrien, then chair of the theology department, hired McCormick at Notre Dame. They soon became close friends.
"I can't say enough good things about him," McBrien said. "He was a great man, both as a Jesuit priest and a theologian and as a human being, and I will miss him very much as a close friend."
His touch was not limited to fellow priests and theologians, however.
Sociology professor Maureen Hallinan remembered McCormick as a friend, and came to know him when they both arrived at Notre Dame at around the same time.
"He was a gracious gentleman who seemed comfortable in his humanity, who faced his disability after his stroke with enormous courage and a great sense of humor and who always put others at ease and made them feel comfortable," she said.
Before coming to Notre Dame, McCormick taught Christian ethics at Georgetown University from 1973 to 1986. He was a professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago from 1957 to 1973.
McCormick wrote more than 20 books, penned numerous articles for publications from Commonweal to Sports Illustrated and served as past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.
He was born in Toledo on Oct. 3, 1922, and entered the Society of Jesus after graduating from high school. He was ordained a priest in 1953.
He will be buried in Toledo, where McBrien and Hesburgh will concelebrate his funeral Mass.
Plans have not yet been finalized for a memorial service on campus.
All News Stories for Thursday, February 17, 2000