Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Canon Law Society Offers Expertise

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Canon Law Society Offers Expertise

Article excerpt

News that the U.S. bishops doctrine committee believes its spat with theologian St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson has "come to an end" might cause one to wonder: What happens next time? If there is a dispute between the committee and a theologian in the future, what will be the process?

In a letter that was received Dec. 9 by New York Archbishop Timothy Doian, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canon Law Society of America offers to help the bishops answer those questions.

Mercy Sr. Sharon Euart, the society's executive coordinator, confirmed the existence of the letter in a phone interview with NCR Dec. 9. Society president Rita Joyce wrote the letter on behalf of the some 1,300 canon lawyers represented by the group.

Bishops' conference spokeswoman Mercy Sr. Mary Ann Walsh said the Canon Law Society's letter had arrived at Dolan's office that day. She said that Dolan would likely forward the letter to the Committee on Doctrine since "competence in that matter" is with that committee.

While the letter has not been made public, Euart said it was the result of a resolution passed by the society at its annual meeting in October. That resolution was printed in the September. edition of the society's quarterly newsletter, which is available online.

The back-and-forth between Johnson and the bishops has "focused attention on the need for appropriate procedures for ... investigations of the writings of theologians," the resolution says. …

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