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Theologians demand respect from bishops: a one-way street

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 09, 2011

The College Theology Society (CTS) sees a rift in relations between theologians and Catholic bishops. They blame the bishops, naturally, because it’s a well-known principle that if there are hard feelings between me and you, the fault must lie with you.

In their dealings with Sister Elizabeth Johnson, the CTS charges, the US bishops did not follow the guidelines that were set forth in 1989 by…the US bishops. Now here we come to an epistemological problem, since the theologians are generally quite hostile toward rules imposed by bishops. So when the bishops impose rules on themselves, should those rules be followed? A knotty problem; there’s a doctrinal dissertation in there somewhere.

On the broader question of episcopal conduct, the CTS pronounces its judgment:

The vital working relationships among bishops, theologians, and the entire people of God can only be advanced by recognizing the dignity and vocation of theologians and indeed of all the faithful in the mission of the church, and by cultivating practices of dialogue that can promote our collaborative relationship.

Is that the only way to advance the cause? The CTS misses the possibility that, just maybe, theologians should recognize the dignity and vocation of bishops.

 

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: John J Plick - Dec. 12, 2011 11:51 AM ET USA

    They "DEMAND???" "respect....? ...or else "what?"

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Dec. 09, 2011 10:07 PM ET USA

    The way I see it Evagrius was right in that you have to actually pray to be a theologian and sadly, today many of these so called "theologians" are simply rationalist academics with an axe to grind against the divenely revealed dogmas of the Faith. The Church needs saints to do theology, not rationalists with college degrees and an agenda. That's the biggest problem today.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Dec. 09, 2011 8:21 PM ET USA

    The attitudes of some lay theologians in regards to the Sr. Elizabeth Johnson case have been very unedifying. The bishops are exercising their teaching office.

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