College Theology Society endorses Catholic Theological Society statement on Fordham professor’s book

Leaders of the College Theology Society have endorsed a statement from the Catholic Theological Society of America in the fray over a widely used college textbook written by a Fordham University professor.

In a statement posted on the CTS website, 12 of the organization’s 14 board members said the CTSA raised widely shared concerns about the criticisms of St. Joseph Sister Elizabeth A Johnson’s book addressed by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

The bishops have said the book, “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” contained “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” related to the Catholic faith.

The CTS describes itself as a “professional society of theologians, solidly rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition and with a strong commitment to ecumenical collaboration, dedicated to teaching theology at the undergraduate level.”

Saying that its membership includes a significant number of younger faculty and graduate students in theology, the organization’s leaders said they were especially concerned about the “chilling effect” the doctrinal committee’s stance will have on younger colleagues.

“Instead of cultivating a culture of open collaboration and mutual dialogue between bishops, theologians and the people of God in the advancement of a deeper understanding of the faith, the document of the Committee on Doctrine … breeds disillusionment, fear and mistrust among younger theologians in their relation to bishops and increasing sadness and fatigue among more seasoned scholars.”

The CTS statement also said the doctrinal committee’s statement “threatens to undermine the credibility of the Catholic Church and its hierarchy” in collaborative work across faiths.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, chairman of the doctrinal committee, explained in a follow-up statement to his fellow bishops April 18 that prelates are responsible for teaching and preserving the Catholic faith and thus are bound to respond to the work of theologians if they perceive the faith is being portrayed in error.

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