This is why people have a hard time accepting anything that comes out of the US bishops’ conference’s bureaucracy, apart from the pro-life secretariat. The Family, Laity, Women and Youth Secretariat is holding a summer workshop on lay ministry in preparation for a new document on the topic. On September 4, the committee writing the document will be consulting with a group of theologians. While some of the theologians are good—like Cardinal Avery Dulles—others have proven themselves to be unreliable in adhering to the Church’s teaching.
For example, Fr. Francis Sullivan, SJ, wrote in the New York Times in 1995, dissenting from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document on women’s ordination, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. He also holds some strange views on infallibility, including the requirement that for a doctrine to be infallible there should be “the universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians.” Oh really? That doesn’t seem to have been part of the classic teaching on papal infallibility.
Dr. Edward Hahnenberg has been panned by orthodox groups like Adoremus for his views on liturgy and the removal of the special place of the priest in the liturgy, as well as an emphasis on the egotistical focus of the community in on itself as collective-as-divine. Dr. Christopher Ruddy is a regular contributor to Commonweal and America, although I don’t know much about him, nor about the rest. But those first two examples are enough.
Why must the US bishops’ conference continually draw on theologians who have demonstrated no regard for authoritative Church teaching or whose theology has been acknowledged as flawed in these areas? Whether it’s the Resurrection-deniers working in Jewish-Catholic dialogue or the gay-friendly types writing Always Our Children, the bishops’ conference’s bureaucracy proves time and again that when it comes to Catholic teaching, it’s no friend of authoritative, orthodox Catholic belief.