2007-03-15 15:01:14

Vatican criticizes Jesuit liberation theologian but issues no sanctions

(15 mAR. 2007) : In a detailed notification released on Wednesday, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, strongly criticized the work of Jesuit Fr Jon Sobrino, a leading proponent of liberation theology, saying his writings relating to the divinity of Christ were "not in conformity with the doctrine of the church." However, the notification did not impose any disciplinary measures on the 69-year-old Spanish Catholic theologian, who has taught for many years at the Jesuit-run Central American University in El Salvador. The Vatican notification came after six years of study by the doctrinal congregation, which focused on Father Sobrino's widely read books, "Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological View" and "Christ the Liberator: A View from the Victims."

The doctrinal congregation said its objections fell into six categories: FIRST, Father Sobrino's "methodological presupposition," it said, identifies the ecclesial foundation of Christology with "the church of the poor" instead of the apostolic faith as transmitted through the church for generations. SECOND, his proposal that the divinity of Christ is found in the New Testament only "in seed" and was formulated dogmatically after later reflection, although not denying the divinity of Jesus, fails to affirm it with "sufficient clarity." THIRD, the way he treats the divine and human natures of Christ, "the unity of the person of Jesus is not clear. FOUR, Fr Sobrino distinguishes between Jesus as mediator and the kingdom of God in a way that obscures the universal and absolute nature of Christ's salvation. FIVE, by emphasizing Christ's humanity, Fr Sobrino downplays Christ's awareness of his own divinity and the divine plan of salvation and SIX, In some texts, he appears to presume that Jesus did not attribute a salvific value to his own death, but only saw it as having exemplary value for others.

Fr. Prosper Grech, a consultor to the doctrinal congregation said, Fr Sobrino's books are not only widely read but are used in seminaries. The books in question are not in any way prohibited, but should be used with caution. "We are not speaking here of explicit heresy, of personal excommunication, but of theological statements which endanger the faith of the Catholic Church," he said

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