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Too little, too late.

"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. Wuerl says that he offered to meet with Johnson on July 22, October 11, and October 26. In fact, it was Johnson who first asked to meet with the Committee on Doctrine.

In a letter dated July 14, she wrote to Wuerl: "I assure you explicitly of my willingness to meet face-to-face to clarify these matters, and in fact would like to do so, should you deem that helpful." Johnson was replying to Wuerl's letter acknowledging receipt of her response to the Committee on Doctrine's critique of Quest for the Living God. It was not until his July 22 reply that Wuerl offered to meet with Johnson. In that letter, he explained that the next step would be for the committee to "review...your observations and how they affect the committees original statement. The next meeting of the committee is set for September and as soon as possible following the meeting I will get word to you. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you.The next time Wuerl contacted Johnson was earlier this month, when he sent a letter dated October 11 to Johnson's office at Fordham. Johnson is on sabbatical this semester, so she did not receive the letter until the 25th. In that letter, Wuerl wrote:

With this letter I want you to know that the Committee on Doctrine has completed its study. Enclosed is the text of the committees response to your observations. The committee intends to make this text public on Friday, October 28, 2011.In earlier correspondence, you and I spoke about the possibility of meeting in person. I renew my offer to meet with you if you so desire.

Not having heard back from Johnson, Wuerl's secretary Fr. Adam Park called her office, learning that she was not on campus this semester. So Park e-mailed Johnson on October 25, reiterating the offer to meet with Wuerl--not with the Committee on Doctrine, and only after it had completed its response to Johnson.

She replied as soon as she read Park's e-mail (October 26), apologizing for the trouble Wuerl had reaching her, and noting that in the cardinal's October 11 letter there was no request to meet before the committee's statement would be released. "There is no timing to this offer," Johnson wrote to Park. "When I read it yesterday, I took it to mean the Cardinals door was open for a meeting some day." Park replied later that day, renewing the cardinal's offer to meet at a mutually agreeable time. "The reason there was a two-week interval between the sending of the letter and statement and the publication of the statement," Park wrote, "was to allow time for a personal meeting prior to the statement's publication."

Yet the document was complete on October 11, and Park did not say that the committee was open to changing the text on the basis of anything discussed at the proposed meeting between Wuerl and Johnson. On Saturday, October 29, Johnson sent a follow-up letter by post requesting a meeting with Wuerl "once the dust settles."That was before she saw Wuerl's October 28 press release, claiming that she did not respond to any of his three offers to meet. So yesterday morning, Johnson sent another e-mail to Wuerl's secretary, pointing out the misleading nature of the cardinal's news release:

I am aghast at the accusation you make in the USCCB website post that I have not responded to any of the offers to meet. I never received an offer to meet at a definite time or with a protocol or agenda that would ensure serious discussion of the issues in my book. If I had, I would have accepted immediately. In addition, each offer was vague about time, indicating that a meeting would take place after the committees deliberations were over.

In conclusion, Johnson asked Wuerl--"for the sake of your own reputation for truth-telling, and for the good of the church"--to have the press release removed from the USCCB Web site. As of this writing, it remains in place.

***

Update: Here are links to correspondence between Johnson and Wuerl, and Johnson and Park (Wuerl's secretary):

* 7/14 letter from Johnson to Wuerl [.rtf]

* 7/22 & 10/11 letters from Wuerl to Johnson [.pdf]

* 10/25 e-mail from Park to Johnson

* 10/26 e-mail from Johnson to Park

* 10/26 e-mail from Park to Johnson

* 10/30 e-mail from Johnson to Wuerl (here's a link to a transcript of the e-mail [.rtf])

Update 2: Catholic Culture has run a follow-up story to their original, erroneously titled one, which repeats the false claim that Wuerl invited Johnson to meet with the Committee on Doctrine. In fact, she was the first one so suggest meeting--and he never invited her to meet with the full committee. In journalism--but not in PR--it's common practice to correct errors once they've been pointed out. Maybe that's the key to understanding Catholic Culture's shoddy reporting (remember their work on the Sobrino case?).

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Ann, it seems, though, that as a judge is to a prisoner in the dock, and as Oxford governors were to Greyfriars, so the USCCB Committee on Doctrine is to a theologian's work.In other words: I don't have an issue, conceptually, with the USCCB having a committee that looks at the works of theologians and points out problems when there are problems. It's part of the bishops' role to do this, the national conference seems like the right place for it to happen, and a standing committee doesn't seem any worse a way to implement this duty than the alternatives. Obviously, the committee should do its best to ensure that its judgments are credible and its processes are fair (and I'm not claiming that, in this instance, there are no grounds for criticizing the Committee on these points.)

Patrick, please tell me you're making that up. And what about poor Marcion? How much longer does he have to wait for his rehabilitation?

Jim P.==Agreed -- that the bishops' committee should provide a hearing to Sr. E. (and should have provided it long ago), just as the governers of Oxford provided a hearing to Greyfriars. And, if you'll note about judges (who are analogous to the bishops, not the committee), they do not invite either the defendents or the prosecutors into their chambers when they are actually considering what their decision shall be.Look at it this way: contrary to the bishops' own guidelines, Sr. Elizabeth has never been granted a hearing about the orthodoxy of her book. There have been zilch hearing -- which is analogous to no trial in a court of law.

Grant, you are correct, "liar" was only my interpretation. I should have made that clearer. It is a real pity that Donald Wuerl didn't in 2004 take to heart Peter Steinfel's bold and direct challenge to Wuerl and his fellow bishops to be more open. Peter's excellent essay, "Necessary But Not Sufficient", along with many other fine essays, is in the commendable book, "Governance, Accountability, and the Future of the Catholic Church". Incidentally, many of the critical goverance themes in the 2004 book have been updated earlier this year in the equally excellent book, "The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity", edited by Francis Oakley. Many of these themes are implicated in the present controversy. Finally, John O'Malley, S.J. , a former colleague at Fordham of Elizabeth's, has just offered a valuable historical model of how theologians and bishops worked efffectively and fruitfully at the Council of Trent. The model provides a helpful alternative to the current approach of the USCCB to interactions with theologians evident in the current Elizabeth Johnson case. John's short article is accessible by clicking on at http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13099

1) I think the issue of governnace today in the Church includes the bishop's comittee, their spokesman and Cardianl Wuerl and his unknown peers on said committee. .Their creds and applications in duty persormance strike me as part of accountability. The coments here seem in general to view that performance as at best desultory.2)The discusssion here made me think of the george carlin thread.While Fr. Rafferty (now no spring chicken I beleive) may carry on for a while, what will happen thereafter in the Church of New york, where the Abp. thinks the Legionairres are great and I don't think he'll do much about this mess. Given the current state of the seminary there (from what I hear) the future wil bring more Steubenville like pastors whose idea of governance will be much like the Bishop's committee.The affair Johnson to my mind is emblematic of the lack of insight (as Jerry noted in Oakley's fine work) into a systemic issue of governance.Unfortunately, the sytemic isue laps ovber into the personalities who operate it hence some of the verbisge here (I think Ms. Steinfels had it right.)

When Wuerl was appointed auxillary to A/B Hunthausen in Seattle he said he had authority over Hunthausen in several areas. Hunthausen disagreed. Three 'visitors' were sent to look into the squabble. A/B Quinn, Card. Bernardine, Card. Law.. Bishop Wuerl was removed.Wikipedia"In January 1986, Pope John Paul II appointed Donald Wuerl as auxiliary bishop of Seattle. Bishop Wuerl was told he was being given faculties in five liturgical and administrative areas over and above Archbishop Hunthausen; the Archbishop was informed differently. By May 1987, the irregular situation had become untenable and Bishop Wuerl was removed from his position."Nothing new!!

" -- it really would be good if Cardinal Wuerl and Sr. Johnson could meet. --"Agreed. But in the presence of credible, non-aligned witnesses.Otherwise the "he said, she said" game will continue, with supporters of both "sides" refusing to believe what the other says comes out of the meeting.And that is the state of so much of what passes for Catholicism today. Shame, shame, shame.

As one of our hospice patients said to me while explaining why he left the Church: "Too much 'Churchianity,' no Christianity.

"1) I think the issue of governnace today in the Church includes the bishops comittee, their spokesman and Cardianl Wuerl and his unknown peers on said committee."The USCCB website lists the bishop members of the Committee on Doctrine and the consultants, some of whom are bishops and some of whom are not. Somewhat puzzlingly (at least to me), Fr. Weinandy is not listed.Committee on DoctrineChairmanHis Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of WashingtonMembersMost Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of ToledoMost Reverend Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB, Archbishop of IndianapolisMost Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los AngelesMost Reverend William E. Lori, Bishop of BridgeportMost Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of WorcesterMost Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South BendMost Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of PatersonMost Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of DetroitBishop ConsultantsHis Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of ChicagoMost Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and MinneapolisConsultantsVery Reverend Steven C. Boguslawski, O.P, Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate ConceptionSr. Sara Butler, MSBT, University of St. Mary of the LakeDr. Peter J. Casarella, DePaul UniversityDr. John C. Cavadini, Ph.D., University of Notre DameReverend John Michael McDermott, S.J., Sacred Heart Major Seminaryhttp://www.usccb.org/about/doctrine/who-we-are.cfm

Thanks for the list, Jim -I think Weinandy is a spokesperson, not consultant.Q?Do they all share the view of this (since Wuerl says accountaility is openness), and how many were involved in the decsion?Beypmd that, do they all share the Committee's presuposirtions on what the work of theologians entail?The process questions in this affair underscore the governance issues and relate deeply to the model embraced in processes.If the committee begins in thinking of a strictly monarchical mindset, the no change or or admission of wrong is possible once they've spoken, right or wrong.But we see that consistently(unfortunately) from Church policy makers

Here are the theological degrees/theol. preparations of the bishops on the committee according to Wikipedia:Most. NOTE: only three have S.T.D.s. Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of Toledo Gregorianum == S.T.L. Angelicum == doctorate in theologyMost Reverend Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB, Archbishop of Indianapolis attendd St. Meinrad, made rector of. Wiki gives no advanced degrees. retired Sept. 21, 11 ill healthMost Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles BA s in Accounting and philosophy, no theology degree Opus Dei memberMost Reverend William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgport\Seminary of Saint Pius X in Erlanger, Kentucky where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1973. [3] He holds a M.A. from Mount Saint Mary's Seminary and a S.T.D. from The Catholic University of America, where he is now chairman of the Board of Trustees. [3] Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester''He is an alum of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and the Toronto School of Theology"Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend BA in philowophy, Rhoades studied theology at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained his Bachelor of Sacred Theology In 1985, he returned to the Gregorian in Rome, earning a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) in 1986 and a Licentiate of Canon Law (J.C.L.) in 1988.Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Patersonhe attained two advanced degrees, an S.T.D. (Doctorate in Sacred Theology) and an S.S.L. (Licentiate in Sacred Scripture). . he attended the Pontifical Gregorian Universityson' '. .Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of DetroitGregoriqnum -- bachelor' in Sacred Theology, licntiqtiate in Sacred Theology

I wonder whether the European bishops also have so little training in theology. (Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles had no special theology preparation at all, apparently.)

Grant: I check in to this thread only periodically. As a result, I did not reply to your response as quickly as you responded to my response.Thanks you for your prompt response.However, I am not uncomfortable with seeing the bishops' critique of her book in antifeminist terms, even though I mentioned this point in my opening statement regarding the NYTimes news story.So let me try again to explain why I want to shift gears here from discussing only one critique to discussing two critiques.If we were to discuss both critiques posted by the bishops, then it would become clearer that the bishops are trying to show the three theologians involved (one woman and two men) who's the boss here.The bishops sees themselves as the bosses, so to speak, and they aim to show theologians what the hierarchy of importance is. In short, bishops outrank theologians in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.I admit that I am putting the matter crudely. I admit that others might not see the bishops' behavior in the stark terms that I am suggesting here.

Ann:At one time, I also looked up the membership of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and their educational credentials of the different members.However, for the bishops involved, I don't think that their educational credentials are the most relevant consideration.The bishops buy into the claim that they are successors of the apostles of Jesus. If you take this claim seriously, this is heady stuff. You can understand this claim to mean that you are especially endowed in ways and to degrees that non-bishops are not endowed.

News from Rome - "USA: The theologian-nun who opposes Benedict XVI"Benedict XVI is mentioned only in the headline.http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/inquiries-and-interviews/d...

"The bishops buy into the claim that they are successors of the apostles of Jesus. If you take this claim seriously, this is heady stuff. You can understand this claim to mean that you are especially endowed in ways and to degrees that non-bishops are not endowed."Thomas --I certainly do not deny the charism of bishops. However, being a bishop does not insure that the bishop cannot be mistaken. All we have to do is look at the dispute between Paul and Peter and we know that that is false.So the question then becomes: how can bishops avoid errors, given that it is their charism to preach. I submit that the Church itself recognizes that the bishops can use help from studying what the professional theologians have to teach them. (See Vat II.) Yes, it is the function of the theologians to teach the bishops what has been taught and is being thought by the theologians. And it is also the function of the theologians and bishops to consider the sensus communus (sp?). When the bishops are themselves illogical or ignorant, therefore, they can use some blowback. They will be better bishops for listening.What scandalizes me is that the Curia does not seem to think it is necessary that bishops should ordinarily be very well trained in theology -- in what the Church has taught. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. Yes, there are particularly smart bishops and holy ones who no doubt have theological insights without having studied a lot of theology. But aren't they the exceptions and nto the rule?Yes, the relationship between theology (there is more than one Catholic system) and "the magisterium" (there is also more than one of those) needs clarifying.)

Jack Barry --That headline is, yes, a lie.

Ann - I can live with the fact that not every bishop has a PhD or STD in theology. Would rather know that they have pastoral skills and leadership qualities. OTOH - it does seem that any USCCB committee and its consultants need to call upon the experts that we have in our universities and dioceses to support their work. Following up on O'Malley's new book about the relationship of Trentan bishops and theologians, continues to baffle me why current bishops do not "trust" or "avail" themselves of theologians. One of the fascinating elements of Vatican II was the role of periti and small groups of bishops which held classes led by experts, theologians, liturgists, etc. that basically provided updates and education to episcopal leaders.The current "centralization" and isolation of magisterium to bishops/cardinals/Curia only has diminished the church. This episode with the theology committee is mirrored by the committee on liturgy over the last ten years and its role with the new translation. You would find that you have a committee with no liturgists or biblical experts making policies and changes on translation/sacraments/liturgy with significant pastoral implications. And again, there is no transparent process that tells the US church how these committee folks were appointed and why?

Bill --Maybe the reason they don't trust theologians is *because* they don't know much theology?Ignorance breeds fear.Yes, O'Malley's book looks very interesting. But will the contemporary bishops believe it?The worst story I've ever heard about the liturgical changes concerns the Japanese. It seems their bishops also had to submit their new liturgies to the Curia for approval -- to the Curia where there were no Japanese speakers. Madness.

I have to ask: Did the "Princes of the Church" pay any attention to the Gospel reading last Sunday? 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other peoples shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called Rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Just asking...

Dorothy wrote:"I have to ask: Did the Princes of the Church pay any attention to the Gospel reading last Sunday?"Excellent question! Surely applicable as well to the contemporary scribes: professors, posters, and the quasi-professional thread-weavers.To which I hope all will reply: "Amen!"

Ann: You appear to me to be one of the liveliest contributors to various threads. Good for you! Keep up the good work!However, I am in a playful mood this morning. In the spirit of playfulness, I am going to discuss the example you mention of Paul and Peter.How many times does Paul tell us that he is an apostle? I don't know the exact count, but he never tired of saying this.So does it follow that only someone who claims to be an apostle is licensed to step into the arena and debate with another person who claims to be an apostle? From the example of Paul and Peter, it appears to me that this may the basic ground rule.But how many Catholic theologians today claim to be apostles of Jesus, as the Catholic bishops today claim to be? None that I know of.For this reason, it seems to me that Catholic theologians today would be prudent to submit their books to their local bishop and obtain the local bishop's Imprimatur before publishing their books and then publish the bishop's Imprimatur on the reverse of the title page of the book.Like many other book authors, theologians usually ask professional colleagues to read chapters of their books and/or entire book manuscripts and comment on them. So adding the local bishop would simply be adding one more professional reading to the loop.In light of my understanding of the basic ground rule for entering the arena and debating with today's successors to the apostles of Jesus, I would have to conclude that the only hope for American Catholics today is that at least one Catholic bishop in the United States will emerge to debate with Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Dolan in the spirit of what is known as fraternal correction.

Thomas --You'll get no argument from me about that -- if you're talking about an ideal world. You probably got the impression that I would like to eliminate the bishops and pope, but nothing is farther from the truth. The Church is a human institution and needs leaders, judge, encouragers, and mediators. Those are the bishops' functions that go beyond merely repeating what their predecessors have said.However, unlike too many conservatives, I don't see the bishops' charisms as already actualized potentials to accomplish those jobs. I see ordination as conferring *capacities*, abilities to do things they could not have done otherwise. AS with playing a musical instrument, they have to choose to exercise their capacities and then actually do what they are meant to do. And, because ordination does not repair their wounded humanity -- it only gives them a means to start repairing it, they can and do strike many a wrong notes in the process. Some of them -- no, make that many of them these days -- don't seem to realize that ordination doesn't turn them automatically into actual wise men.Unfortunarely, those who choose the bishops don't look for the qualities that the laity thinks are needed most -- the understanding of the Faith as it has already been developed, the ability to then communicate it,as well as fostering new understandings and settling disputes (as best they are capable at the moment) among the non-bishops, including especially the theologians. Yes, the bishops need the theologians, the specialists, the professionals whose special charism it is to help the bishops in their tasks of understanding, developing and communicating the Faith. And the theologians need the help of the laity who also can have insights of value. The artists especially seem to have such abilities/charisms.In other words, the teaching function of the Church is a collective, collaborative thing, with the bishops guiding when necessary at the top of the process, and they can work well only when everyone else is operating at maximum capability. Yes, it is possible for the lower orders to be operating better than the highest order -- for the theologians to be operating as theologians better than the bishops are operating as bishops. And conversely, the theologians and laity too can fail. Then the Church is like a brainless animal running around in circles. An ugly metaphor, but I fear it describes the worst of theological times. And, unfortunately, at the moment we do not seem to be we are blessed with the sort of theological giants the Church is sometimes blessed with. There were some not long ago, and they helped produce Vatican II. I guess the Church is in process of assimilating that feast, or should be.

Thanks to Ann underscoring the vital point of BALANCE -lacking in the process today.And now we have LaStampa teling us how opositional Sr. Johnsonm. Fr. Martin., Fordham etc. are.This is the sordid business that lack of balance makes hapen and probably will get worse.

Forgot to add that now we can discuss whether Adam(dust) and Eve9fem. prononoun) were real persons.Oy!

Ann: You have exceeded my expectations of you. You are wonderfully articulated and spirited in this response.

Not to oversimplify, but it seems to me the basic problem between Sr. Elizabeth Johnson and the bishops is between those who search (quest) for God and those who believe they have found out all there is to know about God and there's no more to be said about that. One part of knowing all there is to know is the control of the naming. He who defines (controls) the names controls the way the conversation proceeds, or doesn't proceed. And when anyone suggests that the names might be too gendered (limiting) to be fully useful, well, you can imagine how that threatens the status quo.

Thank you, Thomas, for a compliment undeserved so all the more appreciated.

Amen!, Robert, we all stand under the Gospel mandates. "Quasi-professional thread-weaver", I lke that. As an admired theologian who must know the protagonists, it might benefit us thread-weavers greatly if you expanded your quip into a responsive and substantive comment.Thank you, Ann, for your typically comprehensive wisdom. Given the much evident ideological domination today of Catholic theologians by the Roman puppet masters and their puppet bishops, to suggest that a theologian should submit a serious theological work to bishops for an impartial imprimatur cannot be considered a very serious proposal. John O'Malley's example of the relation of theologians and bishops at Trent appears to be a much better way to go.The article that Jack Barry linked above (11/1-8:23 pm) from LaStampa's Vatican Insider is very troubling. Relying apparently on undisclosed Roman sources, it trashes Elizabeth as a purported "heretic" and takes aim at American Jesuits as well. I hope the Jesuits will finally reach into their unique theological tradition and stand up here to the Roman clique and their US puppet bishops. While the theological and procedural nuances of Elizabeth's case are surely worthy of careful analysis, and some from hindsight can quibble fairly over "who said what, when?", the attempted destruction by some in the hierarchy of Elizabeth's outstanding reputation, earned over a lifetime, for careful scholarship and devotion to the Gospel message is a disgrace. She deserves better. I hope the Jesuits will step up and defend one of the most dedicated women professors teaching at any Jesuit university. They certainly should.

The game here is about fear...the bishops are good at that but not so good at theology, methinks. My money is on Elizabeth Johnson. She can run circles around them and they know it. So the appearance of an invitation is really all they can proffer and then muddy it up further with unclear proposals and miscommunication. Johnson is in good, noble company, and I hope sales of her book shoot off the charts. She is a brilliant, creative thinker who loves God and the Church; I don't always agree with her work, but I always learn from it. If the bishops would just turn from their idols to the living God, they might make a better show of their "expertise" and actually become qualified to discuss serious theological work. But as it stands, they have god in a box: no new insights, ideas or questions allowed. Suffocating, to say the least...

To Robert Imbelli: I assume you mean that postings here in defense of EJ against what seems to be a highly unjust "process" initiaited by the USCCB againt her work display the same behavior condemned in the passages quoted by Dorothy. If I am correct, then I must remind you that nobility obliges, and the passages in question are, in fact, directed to those who exercise authority. In this discussion, that would apply to the bishops who have condemned EJ's book and, it seems, lied about the process and her ability/willingness to participate in it. If defending a gifted fellow Christian against the strong-arming of the "lords" of the Church is wrong, then count me in. The bishops want all the authority, but none of the responsibility that goes along with it. Dorothy's point is right on...seeking to "guilt" the faithful by applying to them a non-applicable Scripture is simply another form of "bait-and-switch" we are all too familiar with.

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