US theology professor fires back at Vatican

Sr Elizabeth Johnson

A religious sister who drew US Catholic bishops' ire over her writings says their investigation of women's orders is wasteful when financial mismanagement and sexual abuses are being covered up, reports the Religion News Service on Ucanews.

Sr Elizabeth Johnson, a theology professor at Fordham University, accepted the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' top award last Friday and then lambasted bishops for criticism of her book Quest for the Living God, saying it appears they've never read it.

"To this day, no one, not myself or the theological community, the media or the general public knows what doctrinal issue is at stake," she told the Nashville assembly of about about 900 sisters representing 80 percent of the nation’s nuns.

In her 20-minute acceptance speech, followed by a standing ovation, Johnson suggested the conference's support of her work prompted the investigation by the church's top enforcer of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Johnson's book includes chapters on black and feminist theology and interfaith engagement. She said book sales skyrocketed after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops criticised it.

The LCWR has been undergoing a Vatican-ordered doctrinal investigation since 2009. In 2012, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered the LCWR to reform its statutes and appointed Seattle's Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee changes, including a rewrite of the group’s charter and approval of all speakers at future assemblies.

In April, a top Vatican official warned the LCWR that in recognising Sr Elizabeth it would provoke the Holy See. "When the moral authority of the hierarchy is haemorrhaging due to financial scandals and many bishops who … cover up sexual abuse of children, a cover up that continues in some quarters to this day, and thousands are drifting away from the Church … the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable," Sr Elizabeth said.

FULL STORY US sisters' champion lambasts Vatican investigation

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