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Vatican bans Jesuit from teaching as Catholic theologian

After a five-year investigation, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation said it had found "serious doctrinal errors" in the work of US Jesuit theologian Fr Roger Haight and forbade him to teach as a Catholic theologian.

The Vatican's critique focused on Fr Haight's 1999 book, Jesus Symbol of God, which explored the themes of Christ's divinity, the resurrection, the Trinity and salvation for non-Christians.

A lengthy notification summing up the investigation's conclusions was published by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano this week. The notification, dated 13 December, was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A a note said Pope John Paul II had approved the notification and ordered its publication.

The doctrinal congregation said Fr Haight's book contains "serious doctrinal errors against the Catholic and divine faith of the church."

"As a consequence, the author is forbidden to teach Catholic theology until his positions have been rectified in such a way as to be in full conformity with the doctrine of the church," the notification said.

The notification said Fr Haight's assertion that Catholic theology must be "in dialogue" with the modern world leads him to downplay or deny central teachings of the church.

The congregation also criticised Fr Haight's assertion that "because of modern pluralistic consciousness," one cannot continue to affirm that Christianity is a superior religion or that Christ is the centerpiece of God's plan for salvation.

Fr Haight has declined to comment. But in a brief statement, his New York Province Jesuit provincial Fr Gerald J. Chojnacki said Fr Haight "has collaborated with the congregation and is available for consultation with them."

He said the priest submitted a letter of resignation to the president of Weston in February 2003, and it was accepted in October 2004.

"Fr Haight now lives in New York City, where he continues his research and writing," Fr Chojnacki said.

Vatican forbids US Jesuit to teach as Catholic theologian (Catholic News Service 8/2/05)

Roger Haight: Jesus Symbol of God (Amazon - includes contents, excerpt)
Haight on trial (Commonweal/Looksmart 18/5/01)
Roger Haight: Spirituality and Social Justice: A Christological Perspective (Spiritiuality Today Winter 1982)
Roger Haight: Four Gifts of the American Church to the Universal Church (2002 Conference Speaker's Texts, Call to Action USA)
Haight silencing feeds theologians' fears (National Catholic Reporter 4/5/01)

Ratzinger seeks further explanation from US theologian (CathNews 17/9/03)

Work of Jesuit Haight contains 'grave doctrinal errors,' Vatican says (National Catholic Reporter 8/2/05)
Vatican denounces book, suspends US Jesuit from teaching Catholic theology (Catholic News Agency 9/2/05)
American Jesuit Roger Haight barred from teaching Catholic theology (Jesuits-Europe 9/2/05)
Jesuit Roger Haight's Book Has "Grave Doctrinal Errors" (Zenit 8/2/05)

10 Feb 2005