Monday, March 19, 2007

Crooked lines, mysterious ways

Jesuit liberation theologian Jon Sobrino was formally denounced this week by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But in a surprise move, the Pope's enforcers have not silenced the man, banned his books or barred Catholics from reading them

For the first time in his almost two-year pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has ordered the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the CDF -to denounce publicly a well-known theologian's writings for containing "notable discrepancies with the faith of the Church". This week's formal "Notification" (and its explanatory note) on certain writings of Fr Jon Sobrino SJ accuses the liberation theologian of "erroneous" and "dangerous" theses that "may cause harm to the faithful".

But, surprisingly, it takes no direct steps to silence him, burn his books or stop Catholics from reading his theology. On the contrary, the CDF warning actually presupposes that people will continue to study Fr Sobrino's works and its Notification is meant "to offer the faithful a secure criterion, founded on the doctrine of the Church, by which to judge" what they read....


The present Notification has actually been sitting in a desk drawer in Cardinal Levada's office since 26 November 2006, the date on which he and CDF secretary, Archbishop Angelo Amato, signed it. It is unclear why it took nearly four months to issue it. But the timing could be poetic. Its publication this week came 10 days before the twenty-seventh anniversary of the death of Oscar Romero and exactly two months before the Pope will be in Brazil to preside at the opening of the month-long Fifth General Conference of CELAM (Episcopal Conferences of Latin America).

Although the Notification deals specifically with Fr Sobrino's Christology, it looks very much as if liberation theology is the Vatican's real target. Perhaps the Pope and his collaborators at the CDF believe their kinder and gentler approach will gain a more sympathetic hearing and help put the final nails in the coffin of liberation theology. But, on the other hand, this particular Notification could have the opposite effect and help increase Fr Sobrino's popularity and revive a form of theology that many people already thought was waning." FULL ARTICLE HERE

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