You have reached the website of Fr. Emmett Coyne, author of “The Theology of Fear.”


John XXIII (of happy memory) made familiar the Italian word, ‘aggiornamento’ - a bringing up to date. The word has become synonymous with change, open-mindedness, reading the ‘signs of the times.’ One can only imagine if he was pope as long as John Paul II, where ‘aggiornamento’ would have taken the Roman Church.

Since Vatican II there have been two attempts to update the liturgy. What needs updating more than liturgy is its doctrine and morality. There is a greater attrition of members not because of the liturgy but because of its current interpretation of doctrine and morality. As persons become more educated they are less apt to swallow whole current interpretations.

John Cardinal Newman, who was referred to as the “absent Council Father” of Vatican II, is particularly remembered for his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Cardinal Newman represents a view that everything is dynamic, not static. Humanity is continually discovering new insights in everything that affects life on this planet.

Theological understanding of doctrine and morality is no less subject to new awareness and a rejection of previously held propositions. While Augustine argued for a ‘just war,’ today, more persons argue war is altogether obsolete.

It is in the spirit of Newman’s dynamic view of things theological, and John XXIII’s ‘aggiornamento,’ that I offer my contribution - The Theology of Fear - for a dialogue of change in our understanding of doctrine, morality, and how the Roman Church ought to “seek first the Kingdom of God” by reading the signs of the times.

Genesis of The Theology of Fear

Emmett Coyne was baptized Roman Catholic as an infant and ordained a priest in 1966. Now on the “last lap” of life, he reexamines the theology he learned as a child and enforced as a clergyman - one that largely, he concludes regretfully, fosters fear rather than liberation from it.

He contends the Church deemphasized Jesus’ original proclamation of the Kingdom (Reign) of God, promoting the Seven Sacraments, which essentially control rather than free members. Today, participation in the Sacraments is in severe decline while the Kingdom remains a vague concept among members.

In its current incarnation, the Roman Church reflects more of Caesar than Christ - imposing fear, power, and control rather than cultivating love, service, and freedom. Its language remains Latin, its vocabulary ancient nomenclature, its clerical vestments vestiges of “the glory that was Rome.” It is the only religion demanding to be treated as a political entity, mediating the Kingdom’s message through political considerations. Jesus would be aghast. 

Rather than exorcising fear from its theology, the Church reinvigorates the presence of the Devil by commissioning more exorcists. It has sewn into its tradition a constant thread, weaving a pattern of perfect fear rather than perfect love. The possibilities for committing mortal sins abound. Hell becomes more easily attained than heaven.

After serving as a parish priest, Fr. Coyne spent twenty-four years traveling to well over a thousand parishes raising awareness and funds for “the least ones.” Inspired by the subversive examples of Jesus, he now questions his tradition, realizing how pervasive fear permeates doctrine, how Canon Law and Natural Law take precedence over the Jesus of scripture.

As he probes an institution to which he has been committed since birth, he provokes critical questions: Can the Roman Church convert itself to seek first the Kingdom of God?  To become unconditionally compassionate, absolutely inclusive, truly catholic? To risk institutional survival, confront the status quo, fight for justice, speak truth to power?  Advocate "the preferential option for the poor?" Remain vulnerable like its Jesus?

The Theology of Fear can be purchased

from the publisher by clicking HERE

or from by clicking HERE.


A half-hour interview of Fr. Coyne by Syndicated Columnist Suzette Martinez Standring may be viewed below.


E-Mail Emmett Coyne with your questions or comments.


Copyright © 2012


Website Design by MW


The Theology of Fear


Note: All profits from the sale of this book will go to support the work of 

Partners In Health

a federally approved 501(c)(3)

non-profit organization providing a preferential option for the poor in health care.

PIH’s mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at its disposal to make them well - from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services.




It's All Write With Suzette - Guest Author: Father Emmett Coyne, The Theology of Fear from Suzette Standring on Vimeo.

Fr. Coyne’s Current Mission

is in San Miguel Viejo, Mexico


Ojalá Niños

a non-profit year round program that gives 100+ indigenous children in the rural community of San Miguel Viejo in the state of Guanajuato, México the opportunity to explore their strengths through art, music and literacy. Ojalá Niños also teaches these young artists the cooperative business model.

All classes are offered free of charge.