More allegations of McBrien plagiarism

More allegations of McBrien plagiarism

The Cardinal Newman Society has made another allegation that Fr. Richard McBrien plagiarized someone else’s work, this time in a book he wrote in 1997.

CNS yesterday faxed Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., an 11-page comparison of numerous citations from McBrien’s 1997 book Lives of the Popes which closely paraphrase and sometimes identically resemble wording in the 1986 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes by Rev. J.N.D. Kelly.  This “troubling problem” was first revealed by another Notre Dame professor—Rev. Marvin O’Connell, professor emeritus of history—in a 1998 book review published in Books & Culture magazine.

“Notre Dame’s response to our first complaint was a whitewash, but this they cannot ignore,” said CNS president Patrick J. Reilly.  “There is no valid excuse for a university professor to copy or closely paraphrase the wording of another’s scholarly work without clear attribution.  If that is what has happened here—and the evidence is extensive—then Notre Dame’s integrity is on the line.”

Notre Dame had dimissed the original claim of plagiarism as “carelessness” rather than unethical action. Theology department chairman John Cavadini said he had searched McBrien’s past back to 1991 and found no previous complaint of plagiarism. I guess he didn’t look too closely, since it was another Notre Dame professor who had the accusation. I’m curious as to the grounds upon which Notre Dame will dismiss these allegations, which if true aren’t just about some syndicated column in diocesan newspapers, but relates directly to academic writing and research.C

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli