Did US Bishops ignore own guidelines in Elizabeth Johnson critique?

The U.S. bishops have been accused by a prominent U.S. theologian of not following their own guidelines in handling disputes between bishops and theologians before issuing a critique of last week of a 2007 book by Elizabeth Johnson.

The bishops’ doctrine committee said that Elizabeth Johnson’s book, “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God” is marred by “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” and “completely undermines the Gospel and the faith of those who believe in the Gospel.”

The public finding, the committee determined, was necessary because the popular book is directed to a broad audience and is being used as a textbook for the study of God.

The guidelines approved by the U.S. bishops state doctrinal disputes with theologians are to be kept as local as possible and are to follow carefully delineated steps involving dialogue with the theologian to clarify data, meaning and the relationship with Catholic tradition while identifying the implications for the life of the church.

Fr Leo O’Donovan said “It’s regrettable, and much more than regrettable, that our bishops have not seen fit to use procedures they themselves adopted.”


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