An article published in the New York Times this week highlights another instance in which the prominent leaders of the Catholic Church have questioned or reconsidered the female role within the Church. As the article explains, a committee of American Roman Catholic Bishops have announced that the book “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” written by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, theologian at Fordham University, should not be used in theology courses at Catholic Schools.
The committee’s statement explains, “The book does not take the faith of the Church as its starting point. Instead, the author employs standards from outside the faith to criticize and to revise in a radical fashion the conception of God revealed in Scripture and taught by the Magisterium.”
However, many theologians believe that the committee’s issue with the book stems from Sister Johnson’s discussion of a feminine aspect of God, a line of study informed by the Second Vatican Council, which urged the faithful to overcome “every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion.”
This is not the first time in recent years that Catholic leadership has stepped back from the views set forth by the Second Vatican Council, particularly in regard to women within the church. I addressed the investigation into the “Quality of Life” of progressive American orders of nuns by the Vatican just over a year ago, as did Maureen Dowd in her Op-Ed column.
The continually more conservative standpoint of the Catholic Church will increasingly isolate the Church from future progress, alienate current members of the Church, and discourage new members. This stance, particularly regarding women, is just plain backward.