.- The United States bishops have welcomed the Vatican’s decision concerning the book “Jesus, Symbol of God,” by Fr. Roger Haight, SJ. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Notification a few months ago that the book has serious doctrinal errors and that the U.S. Jesuit should not teach Catholic theology until he corrects his positions.
The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said its March 14 statement on the matter was issued "in order to clarify any misconceptions, to affirm our support for the decision of the Holy See, and to reassert the importance of authentic theological inquiry."
The committee said the Notification “does not comment on the author's personal character, but assesses the book, judging it to contain ‘serious doctrinal errors regarding certain fundamental truths of faith.’”
The errors concern "the pre-existence of the Word, the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the salvific value of the death of Jesus, the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus and of the Church, and the Resurrection of Jesus."
The Notification was not the result of a snap decision, said the committee. Rather, the decision was made after a lengthy process, including consultations with the author over five years.
The bishops’ committee, chaired by Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco, noted that the Vatican document Ex Corde Ecclesiae says "bishops should encourage the creative work of theologians," but theologians must assent to Catholic doctrine.
“While the Catholic theological community is not only competent but indeed obliged to address creatively and to debate strenuously theological issues that are open to authentic development, theologians are not permitted to espouse theological positions that are contrary to the teaching of Scripture and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church,” the committee’s statement said.
"It is essential that we, as the authentic teachers and guardians of the Apostolic Faith, ensure that the faithful throughout our country, be confirmed in their faith, and not become confused by ambiguous or erroneous theological speculation," the statement said.
"Authentic doctrine, contained in the Scriptures and in the Apostolic Tradition and defined by the Councils of the Church, must be the explicit and unambiguous foundation not only for catechetical instruction, but also for theological teaching and inquiry."
The competence to judge what is in conformity with the Catholic faith resides with the bishops, the committee said.