Wuerl explains bishops’ role on theological matters

Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Cardinal Donald Wuerl

May 9, 2011

Bishops have a responsibility to teach the Catholic faith and preserve it “as it has been received and passed on” and thus are bound to respond to the work of theologians if they perceive the faith is being portrayed in error, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, said in a new resource for prelates.

While bishops welcome dialogue with any theologian over any particular work, they also must uphold the teaching magisterium of the Church, said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, the committee chairman.

The cardinal offered the explanation of the bishops’ teaching role in a 13-page document, Bishops as Teachers, released April 18.

The document challenged the April 8 assessment by the 10-member board of directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America that raised concerns about the doctrinal committee’s critical assessment of a 2007 book by Sister Elizabeth Johnson.

“The leadership of the Catholic Theological Society of America seems to misread the legitimate and apostolic role of bishops in addressing the right relationship of theologians and bishops,” the document said.

The doctrinal committee originally said March 30 that the book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, contained “misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” related to the Catholic faith.