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Letter: Vatican criticism of scholarly nun

Poland nuns buy portraits of late Pope Pope

Poland nuns buy portraits of late Pope Pope John Paul II, in a shop near St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, April 25, 2014. Credit: AP / Emilio Morenatti

The same church that taught me the value of scholarship now seems to fear it ["Standing with their sister," News, June 24]. Like many other Long Islanders, I was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood. Incredibly, those nuns are under investigation by the Vatican.

The charges against them are vague and remain unproven. The investigation now centers on Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a stellar nun if there ever was one. As her credentials, awards and books testify, she personifies the credo that scholarship must be advanced. As the sisters taught us, God expects that we will take the gifts we have received, use them and improve upon them.

The Newsday story says that Johnson is accused of "in certain cases" changing "the masculine language traditionally used to refer to God." But the church teaches that God is pure spirit, and, therefore, has no gender -- which seems to be Johnson's point.

The sister's second "offense" was to use "standards from outside the faith" in her book, which analyzed evolution, church teaching on creation, and our moral obligation at a time when the Earth created by God is in serious peril. How sister could analyze this subject without using Charles Darwin's scholarship is a mystery.

To attempt to impose such a limitation on scholarship is foolhardy, impossible and ultimately self-destructive.

Jean Van Riper, Oyster Bay