Just back from the Catholic Theological Society of America's convention in San Jose, where on the first night, the bishop of the local diocese, Patrick J. McGrath, before the entire membership, noted that in the past all the best theologians were bishops, but "that was a long time ago." He then praised the book Truly Our Sister, by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, and received a standing ovation, which was as much for the bishop's words as in heartfelt support of Sister (and Professor) Johnson. Ironically, given the furor over the USCCB's condemnation of her book Quest for the Living God, the Congress's theme this year ("All the Saints") meant that Johnson's book Friends of God and Prophets, a look at the idea of sanctity and, more specifically, the Communion of Saints, was the focus of one the convention's formal sessions and was mentioned in many others. The topic of the U.S. bishops' critique and everyone's admiration for "Beth," as her friends call her, was on almost everyone's lips. Now the CTSA has passed a resolution critical of the process that led to the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine's public critique of Quest. NCR reports:
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Catholic Theological Society of America June 10 overwhelmingly passed a resolution recommending the U.S. bishops establish a committee to evaluate procedures that led to their doctrine committee’s April statement, which severely criticized a book by a noted U.S. theologian.
By a vote of 147 to one, the society approved a statement saying it “deeply regrets” the bishops did not follow procedures they established in 1989 aimed at resolving conflicts between bishops and theologians.
It was the first time since 2006 that the full theological society passed any resolution (that one was in solidarity with the undocumented), an indication of its deep displeasure at the way the bishops’ doctrine committee handled an investigation of Fordham University Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s 2007 book, “Quest for the Living God.”
The resolution was put before the full body of the theological society by Jesuit Father Michael J. Buckley who said the bishops need to know the “theological reputation of a theologian” can be threatened by a mishandling of this kind of investigation.
“The Catholic Theological Society of America regrets deeply that the provisions established by the American bishops in the document ‘Doctrinal Responsibilities: Procedures for Promoting Cooperation and Resolving Disputes Between Bishops and Theologians’ were ignored in passing judgment on ‘Quest for the Living God’ by Professor Elizabeth Johnson,” the resolution reads.