I haven’t been following the news bits on the LCWR assembly in Nashville. But I did notice that Professor Elizabeth Johnson’s two significant pokes at the US bishops.
In one instance, reading comprehension isn’t even an issue. The guys simply haven’t read theology:
To this day, no one, not myself or the theological community, the media or the general public knows what doctrinal issue is at stake.
My suspicion is that Cardinal Wuerl and his “doctrine” committee have relied on sloppy assistance from their clergy on this one.
Ordinarily, diverting attention to someone else’s problems isn’t good debate practice. But a dozen years into the Charter, it’s hard to argue with the import of this one either:
When the moral authority of the hierarchy is hemorrhaging due to financial scandals and many bishops who … cover up sexual abuse of children, a cover up that continues in some quarters to this day, and thousands are drifting away from the church … the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable.
Perhaps some prelates have time to waste. But in so wasting, they place themselves outside the Gospel mandate. Temporarily so, but outside nonetheless.
Outside can also mean good leisure: good food, travel, and hobbies. These sorts of things can feed the spirit and lift one to better efforts in one’s role as priest, bishop, or minister. But when one’s time “on the clock” is deemed so obviously wasteful, it is right to ask questions.
Nobody seems satisfied. Conservatives grind their teeth: many concede their bishops seem impotent to inflict punishment. Abuse survivors and allies continue to wonder how many bishops are still hiding behind their chancery filing cabinets. Bishops Finn and Nienstedt have set back the institution at least a decade for their recent blundering. And Catholics are right to wonder how many prelates are at least competent in cover-up and more continues to go on behind the scenes. The ongoing saga of Carlos Urritigoity has got to be a painful distraction across the various heavy wooden desks. When people start throwing Pope Benedict under the bus, you can’t help think there’s a whiff of desperation.
Focus and competence: these seem lacking.