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Catholic Education Daily


Vatican Official Criticizes LCWR Award to Fordham Univ. Professor

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Cardinal Gerhard Müller, recently expressed his disappointment regarding the decision made by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) to honor a Fordham University theologian whose work has been criticized by the U.S. bishops, according to the National Catholic Register.

Cardinal Müller said that the LCWR’s decision to give its Outstanding Leadership Award to Sr. Elizabeth Johnson “will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment.”

Cardinal Müller’s remarks were given during the LCWR’s annual meeting with the Vatican.  He emphasized that the organization must show “more substantive signs of collaboration” with the implementation of the 2012 reform mandate from the CDF.

In addition, the decision to honor Sr. Johnson “further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops” and “demonstrates clearly the necessity of the [2012 reform mandate’s] provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate.”

The apostolic delegate who had been put in charge of overseeing the LCWR’s reform, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, should be included in discussions about honorees, Cardinal Müller stated, in order to avoid speakers using an LCWR forum “to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The full text of Cardinal Müller’s remarks is available here.

In 2011, the U.S. bishops released a statement condemning a 2007 book by Sr. Johnson entitled, Quest for the Living God, because of “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” that do “not accord with authentic Catholic teaching on essential points,” as was reported.

Sr. Johnson herself balked in a public statement at the time, claiming that the USCCB statement “in several key instances . . . radically misinterprets what I think, and what I in fact wrote.” But the bishops responded to Sr. Johnson by publicly reaffirming their condemnation of the book, saying “the book is seriously inadequate as a presentation of the Catholic understanding of God,” as was reported.

Sr. Johnson taught courses on “20th Century Theologians” and “God in Contemporary Theology” this spring at Fordham, according to the Jesuit University’s website.

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