Home > Queensland Synod News > Vatican reprimands liberation theologian

Vatican reprimands liberation theologian

The Vatican has condemned "errors" expressed in two books on Jesus by Roman Catholic priest Jon Sobrino, a noted theologian of liberation in Latin America. However, Rome has not silenced the Jesuit cleric, banned his books or barred Catholics from reading them

The British think tank Ekklesia on its Web site (www.ekklesia.co.uk) said the condemnation was a "move which will confirm its [the Vatican’s] critics’ accusations of authoritarianism", but Italian newspapers noted the sanction was merely a "condemnation".

The Vatican sent its formal notification about Sobrino to all Catholic bishops saying his books "may cause harm to the faithful: Father Sobrino manifests a preoccupation for the poor and oppressed, particularly in Latin America. This preoccupation certainly is shared by the whole Church."

However, the letter explained: "The Congregation does not intend to judge the subjective intentions of the author, but rather has the duty to call attention to certain propositions which are not in conformity with the doctrine of the Church. These propositions regard: (1) the methodological presuppositions on which the author bases his theological reflection, (2) the Divinity of Jesus Christ, (3) the Incarnation of the Son of God, (4) the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, (5) the Self-consciousness of Jesus, and (6) the salvific value of His Death."

Sobrino was formerly theological adviser to the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who was shot and killed by death squads, said to be backed by the United States, Other priests and theologians backing liberation theology were also murdered in the 1980s, including six Jesuit priests with whom Sobrino lived at the Jesuit-run University of Central America in El Salvador.

The ruling condemning Sobrino was handed down by Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an important regulatory group in the Vatican that was formerly headed by Pope Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. The CDF said it had found "flaws" in works by Sobrino.

The Jesuit priest has said his work has been misrepresented as part of a campaign to discredit liberation theology, reported Ekklesia on its Web site.

Sobrino, now aged 69, was born in the Basque region of Spain and joined the Jesuits. He arrived in El Salvador in 1958 and became a leading voice in liberation theology, widely regarded as the most important stream in Latin American Catholicism following the reforming Second Vatican Council of 1962 to 1965.

(c) Ecumenical News International