Saturday, March 9, 2013

There’s Only Been One Theologian Publicly Chastised

Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J.
So, is the long-awaited “Reagan Revolution” in Catholicism at hand? In thinking that through, five bits of perspective may be helpful. First, a cascade of disciplinary moves all at once can produce a misleading sense of proportion.
Measured over the full seven years of Benedict’s papacy, the total number of occasions when Rome has called someone on the carpet remains relatively limited. There’s only been one theologian publicly chastised by the Vatican on Benedict’s watch, the Jesuit liberationist Fr. Jon Sobrino of El Salvador in 2007. 
A handful of other cases, such as Sr. Elizabeth Johnson in the United States or Fr. Andres Torres Queiruga in Spain, have been handled by local bishops, and a few writers for publications sponsored by religious orders have had their wings clipped at Rome’s behest. Second, when discipline has been imposed, even by recent historical standards it’s often been fairly light. No one’s had their license to teach theology publicly yanked, as happened to Hans Küng in 1979, nor has anyone been fired from a teaching post at the Vatican's direction, as happened to Charles Curran at the Catholic University of America in 1987. For the most part, official censure of theologians these days typically takes the form of bad book reviews. Beginning in the 2000s, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informally adopted a policy of preferring to target ideas rather than people, on the belief that gag orders or firings often take the focus off the content of the case and put it on process. In the main, this approach has continued under Benedict XVI. (In Sobrino’s case, the congregation criticized the content of two of his books, but did not impose disciplinary measures.)
Link (here) to John Allan's full piece in "The Fish Wrap"

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