The Vatican has issued an 11-page criticism of a controversial book by Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, "The Church: Charisma and Power," charging that some statements in the book constitute "subversion of religious reality" and others are "unsustainable."
Boff was summoned to Rome last September by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where he spent 4 1/2 hours answering charges that the 1981 work distorts Roman Catholic dogma and misjudges the structure of the church. The criticism issued last week appears to have rejected his explanations.
The 11-page notification, as it is termed, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation, and approved by Pope John Paul II, said the Franciscan priest's work revealed "a profound misunderstanding of the Catholic faith as regards the church of God in the world."
In his book, Boff had accused the church of "dogmatism" that leads to "repression of the freedom of diverse thinking within the church." He accused the church's hierarchy and clergy of abusing their power and leaving too little space for action by lay Catholics.
The Vatican acknowledged the "danger of abuse," but said that "to interpret the reality of the sacraments, of the hierarchy, of the word and of all the life of the church in terms of production and consumption, of monopoly, expropriation, of conflict with the ruling block . . . is equal to a subversion of religious reality which, far from contributing to the solution of the real problems, leads instead to the destruction of the authentic meaning of the sacraments and of the word of the faith."
A Vatican spokesman said that the latest criticism of Boff "is just a judgment. No disciplinary action is involved."
An attorney for five mainline Protestant churches argued this week before the U.S. Court of Appeals that CBS should be required to provide air time to churches to respond to a "60 Minutes" program two years ago alleging improprieties in the National Council of Churches' use of mission funds.
The churches are appealing a Federal Communications Commission ruling last year that held they are not entitled to invoke the FCC's "personal attack" rule, which requires broadcasters to present both sides when airing issues.
The FCC held that the "60 Minutes" segment, which contended that church money was being channeled to Marxist causes, did not address an issue of sufficient public importance to invoke the fairness doctrine.
Earle K. Moore, attorney for the churches, contended that "CBS clearly can't argue here that this issue is not controversial because they argued in the program that it is highly controersial."
The women's group of the American Lutheran Church scrapped 40,000 worship booklets because of complaints over a feminine pronoun in reference to the Holy Spirit in one of the prayers.
"Creator God, send us your Spirit, with all her power to heal," read the prayer that generated nearly 100 complaint letters to the group's Minneapolis headquarters. In the reprinted version, it was changed to " . . . all your power . . . "
"Why is it that we become disturbed if a feminine . . . pronoun is used, even when Scripture itself uses it?" mused church executive Bonnie L. Jensen in a letter responding to complaints. "We seem to be more comfortable in seeing God as a rock than as a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings."
Roman Catholic Bishop James Clifford Timlin of Scranton, Pa., who sought unsuccessfully to bar the University of Scranton from granting an honorary degree to House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass), has said he will stay away from the May 26 commencement because O'Neill has not opposed abortion funding bills in Congress.
"It is policy that the Bishop of Scranton will not lend his presence to any occasion which might in any way seem to support a public figure whose views are proabortion, prochoice or in any way ambiguous on this most critical issue," Timlin said. He indicated full agreement with the policy set by his predecessor, Archbishop John O'Connor, now of New York.
The University of Scranton is a Jesuit institution. Its president, the Rev. J.A. Panuska, said that while he considered abortion "among the worst moral evils of our time," he could not "ignore the complexities of American public and political life . . . .
"If the university or I attempted to avoid every action which might conceivably give the appearance of supporting a cause, a cause we do not support, we would be reduced to an isolating negativism which has no place in university life and should also be avoided in other human situations."
Archbishop Joseph T. Ryan of New York has been named to head the Military Archdiocese, which oversees the pastoral care of some 2 million Roman Catholics in military service or Veterans Administration facilities. He succeeds the late Cardinal Terence Cooke, who was military vicar as well as archbishop of New York. Headquarters of the Military Archdiocese will be moved from New York to Washington later this year.
The Rev. Dolores Causion Carpenter, a professor of religious education at Howard University Divinity School since 1982, is the new pastor of Michigan Park Christian Church. The Baltimore native, who has served churches in Maryland, Missouri and New Jersey, is the first woman and the first black pastor to lead the historic Northeast Washington congregation.
The Rev. Richard Christian Halverson Jr., will be installed as pastor of the Chesterbrook Presbyterian Church in Falls Church tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. The Rev. Richard C. Halverson Sr., Senate chaplain, will preach at his son's installation. -- Marjorie Hyer