Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

roger and out

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 08, 2009

The weirdness continues. Modalist heresy fans will remember that, back in 2004, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith made known the results of its examination of Jesuit Father Roger Haight's book Jesus Symbol of God.  In the course of its examination the CDF dealt not with Haight directly but with his superiors, with the result that it got flim-flammed. This from the CDF's notification

In accordance with Art. 26 of the Regulations for Doctrinal Examination, on July 22, 2002, the General Superior of the Society of Jesus was sent a list of the book’s erroneous positions and a general evaluation of its hermeneutical approach, asking him to request that Father Roger Haight S.J. submit, within two canonical months, a clarification of his methodological approach and a correction, faithful to the teachings of the Church, of the errors contained in his book. 

The Author’s reply, submitted on March 31, 2003, was examined by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, on October 8, 2003. The literary form of this reply was such as to raise doubts about its authenticity, that is, if it was truly the personal response of Father Roger Haight S.J.; he was therefore asked to submit a signed response. 

Got that? We're given to understand that the SJ took 252 days (two canonical months, I guess) to submit a bogus ghost-written response presumably penned in the third person (e.g., "the author intended" instead of "I intended") in the hope that the CDF would be too obtuse to notice the equivocation.  It wasn't. Finally Haight sent in his own answers and was duly yanked from the pitching rotation. 

Has Haight recently been the object of new disciplinary measures?  The Catholic News Service sought confirmation of the rumor from the Jesuits, whose spokesman "clarified" the matter in such eerily oblique language that our view of the situation is even murkier than before.  His statement is a minor masterpiece of contentlessness, of which a few specimen passages may suffice: 

"[Haight] can continue to teach, but not systematic theology connected with Christology," said Father Giuseppe Bellucci, spokesman for the Jesuits. "The prohibition against teaching is not a condemnation and is not definitive; a committee of Jesuits, in fact, is studying the position of Father Roger, who is willing to collaborate to clarify his positions," Father Bellucci told Catholic News Service Jan. 5. 


The spokesman described the Vatican action as "a suspension" and added, "Father Haight is an excellent Jesuit and neither he nor anyone else is involved in a fight. The desire is simply to clarify his position." The committee working with Father Haight consists of three U.S. Jesuits, who are all theologians, Father Bellucci said.

It is entirely unclear from Bellucci's statement -- as is doubtless meant to be -- whether some new prohibition has formally been put upon Haight, or whether the terms of the original 2004 "Vatican action" have yet to be implemented to the CDF's satisfaction. We aren't told who appointed the "committee" of Jesuits, nor who they are, nor whom they answer to; on the other hand we are told that Haight is "an excellent Jesuit." Right. That'll reassure the Pope.

In the 2004 Notification, Ratzinger calmly nailed Haight's project to the barn wall, observing that it results in "a subordination of the content of faith to its plausibility and intelligibility in postmodern culture." In other words, Haight takes post-modern intelligibility as the non-negotiable, the given, and from that starting point finds himself obliged to jettison the classical understanding of the classical dogmas.  I can't imagine Haight disagrees with Ratzinger's reading; they disagree about whether you can be a Catholic while denying what a Catholic believes. And Haight is an excellent Jesuit.



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