Mater si, magistra no (literally "Mother yes, teacher no") is a macaronic phrase that means Catholics need not follow all the teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly in regard to economic justice or the rights of workers. It was originally in direct response to the papal encyclical Mater et Magistra of 1961, as a reference to the then-current anti-Castro slogan, "Cuba sí, Castro no."
The original use was focused on the Church's 1960s teachings on social policy but Roman Catholic publications such as the New Oxford Review and the National Catholic Reporter have described it as a slogan for "'pick-and-choose Catholicism" or for those who have a "deep love for the faith and tradition, coupled with skepticism about ecclesiastical authority and its claims to special wisdom."
The phrase is often attributed to William F. Buckley, Jr; although it was first published in Buckley's National Review, the phrase was actually coined by Garry Wills during a telephone conversation with Buckley.
Russell Shaw says the phrase "helped set the stage for the self-righteous dismissals that greeted the 1968 publication of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae", and later Pope Francis's Laudato si' on the environment. It became the expression of a knee-jerk antipathy to church teaching [which] spread to other areas where dissenters happened not to like what was taught.
- When Commonweal published Eamon Duffy's negative review of Wills's 2000 book Papal Sin, the caption on the front cover read "Mater Si, Wills No".
- National Review editor Priscilla Buckley subsequently regretted having published the phrase, stating in 2005 that it had "got (National Review) into lots and lots of trouble ... over lots and lots of years".
- Garry Wills (2003). Why I Am a Catholic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 48. ISBN 0-618-38048-5.
- "Another Outbreak of Mater, Si; Magistra, No". New Oxford Review. May 4, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
- "'Poped out' Wills seeks broader horizons". National Catholic Reporter. November 21, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
- "Going the rounds in conservative circles: 'Mater si, Magistra no.'". National Review. August 12, 1961. p. 77.
- Shaw, Russell. "Give the pope's encyclical a chance", The Arlington Catholic Herald, May 22, 2015
- "Caveat Lector". The Catholic Labor Network. July 31, 2000. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
- "Living It Up In Important Ways", National Review, October 6, 2005, retrieved 2015-11-19,
I had belated second thoughts about the wisdom of republishing a quip of Garry Wills's in my For the Record column. It was the phrase: 'Mater si, Magistra no,' in response to a papal encyclical that got us into lots and lots of trouble with the liberal Catholic press over lots and lots of years.
- John XXIII: Mater et Magistra (Critical Comments Selected by Gerald Darring) from the Theology Library of Spring Hill College