“Nun Has Refused to Meet with Doctrine Committee, Cardinal Wuerl Reveals.” That’s the headline of a Catholic Culture story reporting on a press release put out on Friday by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. There’s one problem with that headline. None of it is true.
A common criticism of the Committee on Doctrine’s conduct during l’affaire Johnson is that the bishops failed to engage her in dialogue before slamming her book Quest for the Living God. As the Catholic Theological Society of America board and membership have pointed out, the committee’s refusal to discuss its concerns with Johnson before issuing its critique violates the bishops’ own guidelines for handling such conflicts. Indeed, in her response to the committee’s most recent statement on the controversy, Elizabeth Johnson points out that “both publicly and privately I made clear my willingness to meet with Cardinal Wuerl and the committee to discuss these matters at any time…. No invitation was forthcoming to meet and discuss with the committee in person.”
On Friday–in what may be the shortest press release ever issued by the USCCB–Cardinal Wuerl claimed that he had offered to meet with Johnson on three occasions, and that “Sister Johnson did not respond to any of the offers.” You can see why Catholic Culture might interpret that as “Johnson refuses to meet with Committee on Doctrine.” But, according to correspondence I have obtained, not only were the offers to meet with Wuerl alone, rather than with the full committee, but each of the offers came after the committee had already finished composing its critiques of Johnson. Perhaps more troubling, the correspondence shows that Johnson did in fact respond to Wuerl, as recently as October 26. Read the rest of this entry »