Wednesday, June 20, 2007


According to John Allen:

ROME (National Catholic Reporter) – More than 100 German theologians have expressed support for a call from an emeritus professor of dogmatic theology from the University of Tübingen who called for an “intelligent restructuring” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal agency.

Peter Hünermann published his proposal in a German theological journal titled Herder Korrispondenz, in response to the recent critical notification from the congregation on two works by the Jesuit liberation theologian Father Jon Sobrino.

Among those who have backed Hünermann’s position are prominent German theologians such as Johann Baptist Metz, Dietmar Mieth, Bernd Jochen Hilberath and Otmar Fuchs. The response from German theologians was reported by the Italian news agency Adista. In terms of church politics, many of these theologians would broadly be considered left of center.

After criticizing the notification on Father Sobrino, Hünermann offered a set of general observations about the congregation, arguing that since the middle of the 19th century it has been responsible for a series of “serious conflicts that are damaging to the image of the church and to its journey of faith.”

For one thing, Hünermann asserted, deficiencies in the theological preparation of personnel in the doctrinal congregation sometimes “aggravate the conflicts.”

More deeply, however, Hünermann said the real problem lies with the congregation’s mentality.

“At bottom, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the successor to the Holy Office – has preserved the structure of a censor’s office, which it had at the beginning of the modern era.” By way of contrast, Hünermann said, “the guarantee of quality in the scientific field today is structured differently: Essentially, it’s a matter of collaboration with the sciences, and possibly includes scientific authorities in the decision-making procedures relative to the politics of scientific research, and in the administration of scientific discoveries.”

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I found the most interesting part of the story to be this at the end:

Critics of Ratzinger viewed those statements as ironic, given that in 1968, another group of predominantly German-speaking theologians had issued a similar call for reform, known as the “Nijmegen Declaration.” Among the signatories at the time was Father Joseph Ratzinger, then a member of the faculty at the University of Tübingen.

The Nijmegen document asserted that “the freedom of theologians, and theology in the service of the church, regained by Vatican II, must not be jeopardized again.” The signatories pledged their loyalty to the pope, but argued that the teaching office of pope and bishops “cannot and must not supersede, hamper and impede the teaching task of theologians as scholars.”

What goes around comes around, or proof that the zebra has changed his stripes. Thank goodness! Why don't these German theologians just start their own church?

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