Following the CTSA‘s release of a statement responding to the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine’s report on Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, PhD’s book Quest for the Living God (Continuum, 2007), the College Theology Society (CTS), another professional organization of Roman Catholic theologians, published a statement signed by the board of directors.

The CTS statement reiterates the CTSA’s earlier critique of the USCCB Committee’s report, while also adding its own elaboration of concern.

The College Theology Society is 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.  With this mission in mind, we believe that Elizabeth Johnson’s book Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God exemplifies a compelling style of Catholic theology that engages many different kinds of undergraduate students populating college and university campuses.  Her theology is credited with plumbing the depths of the received Catholic tradition as found in diverse scriptural and historical witnesses of faith while investigating pressing issues and searching for ever deeper understanding.  This book illustrates what has been a hallmark of all of Johnson’s work: a dedication to exploring the living faith of the Church as it is conveyed in communities in various cultures and contexts in the United States and throughout the world.  Her gifts and talents as a highly effective theological educator are clearly displayed in this book.

In addition, the CTS board of directors made it clear that the understanding of the vocation of the theologian and the response of the USCCB Committee to the ongoing work of such theologians raises certain concerns for the future of Roman Catholic Theology, particularly among young scholars.

Since the membership of the College Theology Society includes a high percentage of younger faculty members and graduate students in theology, we are particularly concerned about the chilling effect the statement by the Committee on Doctrine will have on our 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, as well as the process by which that document was formulated, breeds disillusionment, fear, and mistrust among younger theologians in their relation to bishops and increasing sadness and fatigue among more seasoned scholars.

You can read the full text of the CTS report on the homepage of the College Theology Society’s website.

Photo: Guardian, UK


  1. Regarding Thomas Weinandy, OFM, whose theology has been drawn into the mix by his presumed leading role in the cloistered review of Sr. Beth Johnson’s book, does his speculative “Does God Suffer” bear an Imprimatur and/or a Nihil Obstat?

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