Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Jesuit Controversy

The Jesuits are one of the great orders of the Church, whose universal work is very congruent with the Lampstand apostolate, and an order with which I have a particular fondness.

I belong to a Jesuit parish, graduated from a Jesuit college and constantly study the works of the great Jesuits, including Fr. Rodger Charles, Fr. John Hardon, and Avery Cardinal Dulles, yet the fairly recent tendency of some of its leading theological lights to come into open conflict with the Church regarding doctrine is of continual dismay.

The latest case is presented by Chisea.

An excerpt.

“ROMA, January 22, 2009 – Roger Haight, 72, a theologian, belongs to the Society of Jesus. But the Jesus of his writings is too far from the one proclaimed in the Creed, in the judgment of the Vatican authorities who keep watch over correct doctrine.

“Previously, on December 13, 2004, the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, headed at the time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued a notification condemning some of the ideas that Haight had expressed in a book published five years earlier, "Jesus, Symbol of God." It concluded by prohibiting the Jesuit from "teaching Catholic theology."

“As a result, Haight left his professorship at the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, run by the Jesuits. But he did not stop teaching theology. He moved on to the Union Theological Seminar in New York, a non-Catholic institution founded by the Presbyterians in 1836. Leading Protestant theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich have taught there. Today, it is independent of the control of any individual Christian denomination.

"Haight has also continued to publish books of theology presenting his basic ideas. Two of these in particular are "Christian Community in History," in three volumes, and "The Future of Christology."

“But now the Vatican authorities have again acted against him. They have ordered him to stop teaching theology anywhere, including non-Catholic institutions, and not to publish books and essays on theological subjects. This – as the previous notifications said – will last "until such time as his positions are corrected to be in complete conformity with the doctrine of the Church."

“The new provision dates back to last summer, but it was made public only in January of 2009. Haight has not commented on it.

“The examination of Haight's positions, both this time and before the notification in 2004, was conducted according to the usual procedures. The Vatican congregation for the doctrine of the faith entrusted the case to the superior general of the Society of Jesus, who in turn activated the American province of the Society, to which Haight belongs. He was asked to send clarifications and corrections on points indicated as erroneous. And he did so. But this did not convince his judges to clear him. In 2002, there was even a curious setback. Haight's response arrived at the Vatican after the deadline, and created doubts about its authenticity: it did not seem certain that he had actually been the one who had written it. They sent it back to him demanding that it be returned with his signature on every page.

“The reasons given in support of Haight's condemnation are not insignificant. The 2004 notification lists them meticulously. In the judgment of the Vatican authorities, Haight uses a theological method that subordinates the content of the faith to its acceptability on the part of postmodern culture. And for the objective realities defined by the articles of the Creed, it substitutes symbols.

“The result is the loss of substance of key truths of the Christian faith like the preexistence of the Word, the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the salvific value of the death of Jesus, the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus and of the Church, the resurrection of Jesus. On each of these points, the Vatican notification says how and why Haight contradicts Catholic doctrine.”