Haight Redux

Earlier this month, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) barred the theologian Roger Haight, SJ, from teaching Catholic theology until he corrects “grave doctrinal errors” put forth in his book Jesus: Symbol of God (Orbis, 1999). Among the issues in dispute are Haight’s presentations of Jesus’ divinity, the Trinity, and the Resurrection. Haight, former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, is a respected scholar, especially for his efforts to reconcile traditional Catholic ideas about the universality of the Christian revelation with the fact of religious pluralism and the moral imperative of religious tolerance. “My fear is that educated Catholics will walk if there isn’t space for an open attitude to other religions,” he has said. It is important to note that Haight, though barred from teaching in a Catholic institution, remains free to publish. He has not, in other words, been silenced.

When the CDF first suspended Haight from teaching at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 2001, Commonweal raised objections to the Vatican’s secretive procedures in which the CDF “serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, and defense counsel” (May 18, 2001). This way of adjudicating questions of theological fidelity is an invitation to mischief or worse. The CDF’s treatment of the late Jacques Dupuis, SJ, who was eventually exonerated, was widely seen as crude and ill-conceived. There is no...

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