No bar for liberation theologian but work "erroneous"

Contrary to earlier reports, the Holy See has not barred Spanish liberation theologian Fr Jon Sobrino from teaching or publishing but has declared that his work contains statements that are "either erroneous or dangerous".

National Catholic Reporter says that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruling finds various flaws in the works of Fr Sobrino, who was a theological adviser to the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

Two books on Christology by a pioneer of the liberation theology movement contain statements that are "either erroneous or dangerous" and "may cause harm to the faithful", the official Congregation notification ruled.

A Jesuit spokesman in Rome told the Reporter that while future disciplinary action has not been ruled out, the Vatican has not barred Fr Sobrino from teaching or publishing.

According to the report, Fr Sobrino wrote in December to the Jesuit Superior General, Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach that he could not accept the Holy See's judgment because it "misrepresented" his theology and because doing so would be to acquiesce in what he described as a 30-year-long campaign of defamation against liberation theology.

In his letter, Fr Sobrino also quoted another Jesuit theologian, French Fr Bernard Sesboue, a former member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission, as saying that that the Congregation document on Fr Sobrino's work "appears so exaggerated as to be without value"

"With such a deliberately suspicious method, I could find many heresies in the encyclicals of John Paul II!" Fr Sesboue reportedly wrote.

The Fr Sobrino books in question are Jesus the Liberator, originally released in 1991, and Christ the Liberator, first issued in 1999. Both were published in English by Orbis Books.

Fr Sobrino also noted that the Portuguese translation of his book Jesus the Liberator had received the imprimatur of Cardinal Paolo Evaristo Arns of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He also criticised the methods of the Holy See as "not always honest or very evangelical".

"An atmosphere against my theology was created in the Vatican, in several diocesan curias and among several bishops," Fr Sobrino wrote, "and in general against the theology of liberation. This atmosphere was created a priori, often with no need to read my writings."

Vatican censures Sobrino, who calls procedures 'not honest' (NCR Cafe, 14/3/07)
Notification concerning the works of Fr Jon Sobrino (Vatican Information Service, 14/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jon Sobrino (Wikipedia)
The Jesuit Portal

Liberation theologian named to key Vatican post (CathNews, 1/11/06)
Liberation theologian to be silenced (CathNews, 13/3/07)

15 Mar 2007

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