Jesuit Roger Haight's Book Has "Grave Doctrinal Errors"

Author of "Jesus: Symbol of God" Barred From Teaching Catholic Theology

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See published a Notification on the book "Jesus: Symbol of God," warning that it makes affirmations that are contrary to a core doctrine, the divinity of Christ.



The 1999 book was written by Father Roger Haight, an American Jesuit and professor of systematic theology at the Weston School of Theology, in Massachusetts. It was published by Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

In the wake of a Vatican analysis of the book, the Notification states that the work has "grave doctrinal errors against the divine and Catholic faith of the Church."

"As a consequence, the author is prohibited from teaching Catholic theology as long as his positions are not rectified so as to be in full conformity with the doctrine of the Church," it states.

The Vatican notification, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, appears in the Feb. 7-8 Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

The Vatican has engaged in dialogue with the author since Feb. 14, 2000, to point out the errors found in the work and to request that he himself explain them, the Notification states.

After several answers from the book's author, the last handed in on Jan. 7, 2004, the doctrinal congregation's ordinary session last May 5 stated that the book has affirmations that deny fundamental issues of Christianity.

Specifically, according to the Notification, Father Haight makes affirmations contrary to "the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the salvific value of Jesus' death, the uniqueness and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus and of the Church, and the resurrection of Jesus."

According to the Vatican study, the theologian came to these conclusions by basing himself on "an improper theological method."

Father Haight believes that "the Tradition must be critically received in today's situation," characterized by a pluralist context, the study said.

Citing quotations from the book, the doctrinal congregation said that the author maintains that because of today's pluralistic awareness, "one cannot still continue to affirm [...] that Christianity is the superior religion or that Christ is the absolute center in relation to which all the other historical mediations are relative."

"In postmodern culture it is impossible to think [...] that a religion can pretend to be the center to which all the others must be led back," adds Father Haight.

Regarding the value of the dogmatic formulas, especially those related to Christ, the author affirms that they are not neglected, but neither are they acritically repeated, because "in our culture they do not have the same meaning they did when they were elaborated."

"Therefore, one must refer to the classical Councils and also interpret them explicitly for our present" time, writes the theologian.

"The author's interpretation turns out to be, instead, not only a different reading but contrary to the true meaning of the dogmas," states the doctrinal congregation.

The Notification is posted in the Web page of ZENIT's Italian edition.