Representative US bishops have a meeting with representative young theologians. Is there a bit of snark and cafeteria Catholicism in this story?
CTSA head Richard Gaillardetz:
And it is mildly disappointing to me that the bishops don’t want to work in conjunction with any number of respected professional societies to help make sure that they receive an interesting cross-section [of theologians] from different teaching contexts and different theological orientations in order to further enrich the conversation.
USCCB media director Sr. Mary Ann Walsh said this get-together was part of an effort. Not the whole thing. It was also limited to those having earned a doctorate since 2008.
The bishops have strained relations with theologians. They certainly recognize it. I think it’s easy to dismiss one group or another and suggest something is wrong. The bishops, alas, seem to have alienated a bunch of different groups–and that doesn’t even to start to consider non-Catholics. Parents and allies of abuse victims. Clergy who think they’ve been hung out to dry. Conservatives who think bishops are soft on pro-life. Theologians who may have a legitimate beef with bishops who don’t bother to read their books or even talk about them.
A previous participant’s comment:
One theologian who participated in the earlier event, Christie Billups, an assistant professor of theology at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., told NCR afterward that the bishops “need to make the forum open enough — and safe enough, frankly — for theologians of all stripes and perspectives to say what they truly think and feel. And I don’t believe that that happened.”
I wonder if any bishops are CTSA members. I wonder how many theologians were involved with the planning of these meetings. Seems like a lot more work is left to be done.