Richard A. McCormick, S. J., Chair of Catholic Moral Theology
Short Biography of Richard A. McCormick
Richard A. McCormick, S.J. (1922–2000), an American Catholic moral theologian, earned his doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1957 after receiving both a BA (1945) and MA (1950) in English from Loyola University Chicago. A Jesuit priest, he faithfully taught for 17 years in various Jesuit universities including Loyola University Chicago and was named the Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Georgetown University in 1974. He joined the theology faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 1986 as the John A. O’Brien Professor of Christian Ethics. His professional achievements were as myriad as they were significant. He authored the “Notes on Moral Theology” for the journal Theological Studies from 1965-1989, co-edited eleven volumes on Catholic moral theology and was a major figure in the post-Vatican II revision of Catholic moral theologies by contributing in the areas of bioethics, reproductive technologies and end-of-life issues.
A fierce advocate for the Church’s positions on abortion and euthanasia, Dr. McCormick was equally bold and courageous in his dissent on controversial positions such as contraceptive use, some teachings on sexual morality and in-vitro fertilization. He was devoted to exploring both the role of the magisterium in social teaching and the grounding of norms in the task of moral theology as “reason informed by faith.” It was this latter interest that led him to develop his controversial theory of proportionalism as an alternative way of interpreting natural law. A person of great intellect, heart and passion, Dr. McCormick is remembered not only for his contributions to the content of moral theology, but perhaps most significantly as a model for approaching the discipline. The Richard A. McCormick, S.J. Papers were donated to the Loyola University Chicago Libraries in 1999 and are currently held in the Archives and Special Collections.