A Thelogical He Said/She Said

CNS headlines its Friday with another episode in the ongoing and seemingly endless tussle between bishops and theologians.

At some point, players and spectators alike are going to tire of this. Which inning are we playing? Who said what? Who’s pitching now? Who’s on third?

Professor Johnson:

(The USCCB committee) takes sentences and, despite my written clarifications to the contrary, makes them conclude to positions that I have not taken and would never take. The committee’s reading projects meanings, discovers insinuations, and otherwise distorts the text so that in some instances I do not recognize the book I wrote. This October statement paints an incorrect picture of the fundamental line of thought the book develops.

This happens quite often in politics these days. Also in the Church. People in an adversarial situation engage in caricature, and at times seem more than willing to think the worst of a person.

Cardinal Wuerl, for his part, seems willing to meet.

I reiterate my offer as chairman of the doctrine committee to meet with Sister Johnson. As a woman religious and theologian, she is a valued member of the church. Her goal of helping people come to an even better understanding of who God is, is a goal we share.

One would think this is important enough for a face-to-face meeting. Until that happens–an event both sides have publicly stated they are willing to do–it would seem that continuing rounds of misunderstanding themselves do harm to the teaching ministry of the Church. People in conflict speak of shared goals. It seems this would require a mediator to break through the deadlock.

Enough of public statements. The bishops can’t stop this book from being printed, sold, read, and discussed–no matter what they say about it. Their insistence is likely to make Professor Johnson’s publisher quite happy for the bottom line. And traditionalists in the cheering section are happy whenever men take on women in the Church. That’s not likely to change. Nothing changes, and nobody’s being convinced.

So again I ask: why are we continuing to see this play out in the public sphere?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to A Thelogical He Said/She Said

  1. John Drake says:

    Glad you’re not a journalist, Todd. You like to make stuff up too much. This has nothing to do with anyone enjoying “men taking on women.”

  2. Todd says:

    John, I think that for some, but certainly not all conservatives, this has everything to do with men beating back women: one or two comments on the dotCommonweal thread are very illustrative. Let’s not forget the commentary on Cardinal Rode’s investigation. And you don’t have to go very deeply into the more “humorous” Catholic blogs to find very bitter commentary about older women religious who are not doing “traditional” tasks.

    I never claim to be a journalist. On that score, maybe Cardinal Wuerl is happy no journalist is poking around the qualifications of his committee. Have any of these guys written books, published articles, or taught graduate-level theology on their own laurels?

    This post is commentary, and really, not very much at that. I linked a very curious article that seemed, for me, to just be going in circles. Every time this merry-go-round stops, the Catechetical One and his committee seem to crank it up for another few orbits.

    I’m not a journalist here–just an observer. But if I were the former, I think there’s a real story behind the misogynistic leanings of some Catholics, including the clergy. Maybe that’s a story that needs investigating. Do you suppose we’re up for another scandal with threads deep in the hierarchy?

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