Friday, March 16, 2007

It's Not About Liberation Theology

It's never a happy thing to see a fellow Jesuit censured, and so I don't rejoice at the notification regarding Fr. Sobrino's work this week, but readers of this blog know that I am sympathetic to the concerns addressed there, and which John Allen outlines so well in his latest column. Contrary to popular belief, this has little to do with liberation theology. John Allen writes:

I suspect the most common reaction to news this week that the Vatican has censured Jesuit Fr. Jon Sobrino, a pioneer of liberation theology and a former advisor to Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, will be, "Why now?" After all, the titanic battles over liberation theology were fought during the 1970s and '80s. Should we also expect the Holy See, some may wryly ask, to condemn eight-track tapes, or "Miami Vice"? . . .

. . . . In fact, however, the Notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Sobrino is not quite as "retro" as it appears. A close reading reveals that its main concern is not really old arguments over liberation theology and Marxism, but rather more recent debates over the uniqueness and singularity of Jesus Christ. The text is of a piece, therefore, not with the 1984 "Instruction on Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation," but rather the 2001 document "Dominus Iesus," and the proper analogy is not to 1980s-era investigations of Leonardo Boff or Gustavo Gutiérrez, but rather to notifications over the last six years regarding Jesuits Roger Haight and the late Jacques Dupuis.

I think John Allen is right on here. Read the rest.

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Blogger Lisa said...

Wow, Jon Sobrino on Rome's radar (again).

I have a lot of respect for him and his work and his witness. I feel for him being called on these works. It's interesting that the CDF is preoccupied with these works NOW still especially given that at least one of them bears a legitimate imprimatur.

I went on to read John Allen's commentary and news story (and expect to read the Vatican documents later while it snows)and have to say that, in my view, while officially the notification focuses on the Christological doctrine questions it also reaches at the edges of liberation theology (or at least the aspects for which it is so frequently criticized).

I wonder where this is coming from and for what purpose. I'll be interested in the SJ Father General's response.

Thanks for bringing this to forefront.

3:36 PM  
Blogger milanta said...

This is the letter to P. Kolvenback:


8:27 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This goes back a long, long way. Alfonso Lopez Trujillo is very powerful in the Curia right now, and he has wanted to have all of the liberation theologians censured for decades. Leonardo Boff was hauled up before then Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF back in the 80s, and Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutierrez were in their sights then too. I was re-reading the late Penny Lernoux's The People of God, written way back in 1989, and the cast of characters and the issues were all the same.

I'm glad the Fr. Sobrino is not accepting the notification.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Allow me to chime in with an opposite viewpoint.

CAVEAT: I am on record as having very grave concerns about "liberation theology" and the solutions it posits as being, in fact, workable solutions.

1- You are correct that this notification does not really touch upon liberation theology.

2- I find it troublesome that Fr. Sobrino's response has been -- and someone correct me here should I be in error -- somewhere in the "Not Exactly Humble and Obedient" spectrum.



7:24 PM  

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