CTSA resolution on the Committee on Doctrine
As Tom Fox reports, last night the membership of the Catholic Theological Society of America voted on a resoultion expressing regret over the procedures of the Committee on Doctrine, which claimed Elizabeth Johnson’s book Quest for the Living God “completely undermines the gospel.” The statement further recommended that the USCCB establish a committee to evaluate those procedures.
Michael Buckley, SJ, a past president of the CTSA, brought the resolution to the floor. It passed by a vote of 147 to 1 (with a couple of abstentions). That was the first time in several years that a resolution had come before CTSA membership for a vote. (I’m at CTSA this weekend.)
The discussion was relatively brief. One member wondered whether the resolution added anything to the statement released by the board in April. Another noted that what’s new is that the resolution suggests the bishops form a committee to evaluate the Committee on Doctrine’s procedures. One member took issue with the April statement, because it takes up the substantive points of Johnson’s book, rather than focusing on procedure, as the new resolution does.
Just before the question was called, a member stood to support the resolution, reminding the assembly that in November of last year, representatives of the CTSA and the Committee on Doctrine held their annual meeting, which they’ve been doing fairly regularly since the early 1990s. At that meeting, no one from the committee mentioned that they were preparing a critique of Johnson’s book. (The review began early last year.) Needless to say, that left many CTSA members feeling betrayed. After all, the point of having such meetings was, at least in part, to head off precisely the situation in which the CTSA and the Committee on Doctrine find themselves.
Apparently the USCCB will take up the matter at its meeting next week. I’d be surprised if they followed the CTSA’s recommendation. Still, not all the bishops are thrilled with the way the Committee on Doctrine behaved. And, after reading Johnson’s withering critique of their statement, you can see why.