Writing in Eureka Street, Melbourne-based Fr Hamilton says that it is "too early" to explore the justice of the Vatican criticism of Fr Sobrino's theology but points out that "such judgments also affect human lives".
Fr Hamilton, a theologian at the Jesuit Theological College, insists that Sobrino's theology reflects the Jesuit tradition that emphasises identification with the poor, powerless and humiliated Jesus.
He says that Fr Sobrino argued against those who weakened the Gospel by reducing it to individual piety or to abstractions.
According to Fr Hamilton, who was with Fr Sobrino at a Bangkok conference when the latter learned of the massacre of six of his El Salvador colleagues, the liberation theologian uses "Salvadorean society as the matrix for the theological imagination".
"In such exigent places Christ's divinity hides itself," he says, but "people who live in more comfortable places want a more ceremonious theology."
Fr Sobrino, who was also an adviser to the assassinated El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero, was visiting the Jesuit Refugee Service regional base in Bangkok in November 1989 when he learned from a radio report that six Jesuits from his community had been murdered along with the community's cook and her daughter.
Among those killed in the massacre were Sobrino's mentor, Fr Ignacio Ellacuria, Fr Hamilton writes.
According to Fr Hamilton, Sobrino's preoccupation as a theologian "was less to think systematically about the Gospel than to ask how we should respond to it".
The reality of El Salvador in which Sobrino worked for many years was one where the "Government army, with United States backing, had waged war against its people," Fr Hamilton says.
"No doubt the humiliation entailed in the judgment on Jon Sobrino's theology will serve large ends," Fr Hamilton concludes. "He will bear it, as he has borne so much, with the bravery of an exemplary Catholic, priest, theologian, Jesuit and human being."
Jon Sobrino and the Vatican judgment (Eureka Street, 15/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jon Sobrino (Wikipedia)
The Jesuit Portal
Jesuit Theological College | Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ
No bar for liberation theologian but work "erroneous" (CathNews, 15/3/07)
Liberation theologian to be silenced (CathNews, 13/3/07)
Liberation theologian named to key Vatican post (CathNews, 1/11/06)
16 Mar 2007