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Theologian rips cardinal’s claim she avoided meeting

November 02, 2011

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Sister Elizabeth Johnson, whose book Quest for the Living God has drawn a cautionary note from the US bishops’ conference, has assailed Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington for claiming that she declined offers to meet with the bishops’ doctrinal committee to answer questions about her book.

When the bishops’ doctrinal committee reiterated its criticism of the Johnson book, Cardinal Wuerl—the chairman of that committee, said that the theologian had not replied to invitations to meet with the committee members. Johnson said that she was “aghast” at that claim, said that it was “blatantly false,” and demanded that the cardinal retract it. She said that she had never “received an offer to meet at a definite time or with a protocol or agenda that would ensure serious discussion of the issues in my book.”

Johnson released her correspondence with Cardinal Wuerl, showing that the cardinal had made a general invitation for her to meet with him but had not suggested a date, and his invitation had not suggested that she could meet with all the members of the doctrine committee, as she had hoped. She charged that the invitation for a meeting came only after the committee had already drafted its criticism of her book.

A spokesman for Cardinal Wuerl said that he would have no further comment on the matter.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: filioque - Nov. 05, 2011 2:22 PM ET USA

    And why do I suspect that if the cardinal had given a definite time and place, Sr. Johnson would have objected to being summoned? She should have answered the general invitation by suggesting some dates when she could be available. That's what normal people do.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Nov. 02, 2011 7:19 PM ET USA

    In sum, the dastardly Cd. Wuerl had blatantly neglected to read Sr. Johnson's mind. And not for the first time, either, evidently.

  • Posted by: rpp - Nov. 02, 2011 7:08 PM ET USA

    So basically what she is saying is that is she received a communication that said something like "I would like to meet with you to discuss the problems with your book." but that does not count as an invitation because it would not involve in her estimation a "serious discussion" about her book. And so what if the bishops reached a conclusion after reading her book without discussing it with her. Would the average reader also be able to meet with her to discuss problems?

  • Posted by: unum - Nov. 02, 2011 6:37 PM ET USA

    A "general invitation" to an author whose book has drawn a cautionary note from the bishops would ordinarily require a reply. But, it seems that the good sister prefers to do her communicating in the media rather than through correspondence.