In his Jan. 27 Sunday Opinion commentary, “Acting on faith,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl argued that the Catholic Church’s contributions to Western civilization and its considerable efforts to serve the poor and suffering derive from its dogmatic nature. While his claim of these important contributions is irrefutable, his causative explanation is not. If dogma is critical to doing good, how is goodness explained in less dogmatic denominations? And hasn’t dogmatism caused evil as well? 

In Catholic history, there are myriad examples of dogmatic condemnations that were later reversed. Thomas Aquinas, Joan of Arc and Galileo, to name a few, were all condemned and subsequently rehabilitated. If, in the 21st century, the church is to live into its vocation to be “the witness of love and truth to the world,” what is needed is not dogmatism but rather dialogue with what the Second Vatican Council called “the people of God.” 

Dana Greene, Alexandria