Haight on Trial

The news is pathetically familiar-yet another theologian barred from teaching, and set to writing a take-home exam for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

According to Robert Manning, S.J., president of the Weston School of Theology, Roger Haight, S.J., professor of theology at the school, "has begun the work of clarifying his book," Jesus Symbol of God (Orbis), by responding to questions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) (Boston Globe, April 24). Catholic belief and practice are a great gift handed down from generation to generation and rightly guarded by the faithful and their bishops. But the secret process by which the CDF begins its investigation and then alone serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, and defense counsel is shameful, inviting subterfuge and hypocrisy. Its process is the antithesis of the careful discernment of teaching that the church needs today.

Catholics everywhere must grapple with the challenges of religious pluralism-as Haight, and others recently scrutinized, have been doing. When theologians struggle with questions about Jesus, about salvation, and about the worldwide role of the church itself, how can silencing and harassment possibly advance our understanding? What is required is dialogue, conversation, criticisms, countercriticisms, prayer, and Christian charity. This may not be easy, but it is absolutely necessary.

Haight’s book was reviewed critically in...

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