.- During a press conference at the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishopsâ Council, the president of the Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Latin America, Father Ernesto Cavassa, SJ, expressed his hope that the theology of Father Jon Sobrino would in time be vindicated, and that therefore the notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would be left historically outdated.
Earlier this year on March 14, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a notification on some of the writings of Jesuit priest Father Jon Sobrino, stating that parts of his theology are ânot in conformity with the doctrine of the Church.â The warning mainly addressed two works by Sobrino in which the divinity of Jesus is questioned, as well as Jesusâ knowledge of himself and the salvific value of his death. While the Congregation praised Sobrino for his concern for the poor, it said this option (the preferential option for the poor) should âexclude no one,â and that âthe Church cannot express this option by means of reductive sociological and ideological categories which would make this preference a partisan choice and a source of conflictâ.
In response to a question by an activist of the organization âAmerindiaâ about the censuring of the writings of Sobrino, Father Cavassa said, âThe notification on Jon Sobrino is not a condemnation but a notification. They are very different. A notification is the Church hierarchyâs lowest category for publishing a statement on issues it disagrees with.â
A notification may signal âdisagreement with some points of his theology, but it cannot say absolutely that the Church does not recognize Jonâs testimony. The notification explicitly says this,â Father Cavassa claimed.
âThe notification says absolutely nothing about any sanctions that prevent him from teaching,â he continued. âIt refers to some theological points in two of his works, which are debatable issues, disputed questions, most of which are not his own. These formulations in his works have been previously taught by other theologians for the purpose of determining whether they are or arenât within the bounds of the faith of the Church. In most cases the response has been positive,â Father Cavassa stated.
Father Cavassa continued his comments on Sobrino saying, âThis is not the first time that the hierarchy has notified a theologian of the Church about supposed errors or discrepancies. The theologians of the 1950s were themselves considered outside the Churchâs orthodoxy. Ten or thirteen years later they were the theologians of the Council.â
He went on to compare Father Sobrino to the controversial Jesuit theologian Pierre Theilard de Chardin, who was also disciplined but who he said made âsignificant contributionsâ to the faith of Church. âThe relationship between charism and institution is not new in the Church and will always be with us,â he said.
Asked by Catholic News Agency if he was saying that the Congregation was in error rather than Father Sobrino, Father Cavassa replied, âI donât know if what I said can be interpreted that way. I donât think that is the most accurate interpretation.â
After the press conference, Father Cavassa told Catholic News Agency, âThere have been cases in which the Congregation was mistaken. I canât say what will happen in the future. Can you?â