The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ordered the American Jesuit theologian Fr. Roger Haight to stop teaching and publishing on theological matters. The academic’s work has been criticized for undermining Catholic teaching on the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the importance of the Church, and issues related to Salvation.
Vatican expert John L. Allen, Jr., writing for the National Catholic Reporter, said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) communicated these restrictions to the Jesuits in spring 2008. Jesuit leaders reportedly had consulted the late theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles in the matter.
Jesuit spokesman Father Jose de Vera confirmed the restrictions, but said a “final resolution” has not been reached in the case.
“The process continues,” Father de Vera said, according to John Allen.
In a 2005 notification, the CDF cited “serious doctrinal errors” in Father Haight’s 2000 book “Jesus: Symbol of God.” The Congregation said that Father Haight, a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, should be barred from teaching Catholic theology.
The Congregation for Catholic Education removed him from a position at the Jesuit-operated Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass. However, Father Haight and Jesuit officials believed that teaching at a non-Catholic institution was not proscribed by the order and so he became a teacher at the multi-denominational Union Theological Seminary in New York.
As a result of the most recent order, Father Haight may no longer teach at Union Theological Seminary or anywhere else.
According to John Allen, Haight sees his book “Jesus: Symbol of God” as an attempt to express traditional doctrines about Christ and salvation “in a language appropriate to postmodern culture.” The book “offers a positive theological reading of non-Christian religions and savior figures” and is seen as part of a broader concern about the theology of religious pluralism.
Father Thomas Slon, Socius (Executive Assistant) to the Provincial of the New York Province, on Tuesday told CNA that Father Haight “absolutely” plans to comply with the CDF restrictions.
“He’s working with our own Jesuit superiors, our own Father General, and the CDF. I think he’s working towards a resolution,” Father Slon explained.