getting the poor down from the cross

Despite living over here, I'm a little behind on the latest attack on liberation theology by the Vatican. Following fellow Latin American theologians, Leonardo Boff and Ivone Gebara (although each case is distinct) Jon Sobrino was officially reprimanded in March of this year.

The Notification of the Vatican focused on Sobrino's Christology as lacking in sufficient stress on the divinity of Christ. The document, Notificazione Sulle Opere Del P. Jon Sobrino, S.I.: "Jesucristo Liberador. Lectura Histórico-Teológica de Jesús de Nazaret (Madrid, 1991) e "La Fe En Jesucristo. Ensayo desde Las Víctimas" (San Salvador, 1999), 14.03.2007 suggests the process of investigation has been going on for some years, only now reaching the stage of notification.

Our understanding of God and ourselves grows through discussion and debate. However, when one conversation partner has the power to silence the other, the overwhelming emotion is fear. Fear from those who seek to drown out any dissenting voice. And courage from those who, despite all the risks, continue to call attention to God's disturbing presence in the world.

It's easy for those of us outside the Roman Catholic church, or theological circles, to see such official denouncements as little more than a joke. Yet, the reality is the Vatican has immediate power over priests and theologians. Thus, while the Vatican did not formally censure Sobrino, the decision was given over to the local bishop, Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle, archbishop of San Salvador. And it has been reported that the archdiocese has stopped Sobrino teaching at the University of Central America (El Salvador).

Support for Sobrino has come from various quarters. A month after the notification, a group of EATWOT theologians published Getting the Poor down from the Cross: a Christology of Liberation. This collection of essays on the figure of Jesus is available to download free - an encouraging sign of collaboration, solidarity and accessible theology.

Fellow "reprobate" Leonard Boff comments (with some irony) in the forward:
Every word in this digital book takes advantage of the propitious occasion provided by the Vatican notification about some points of his Christology. It is a book that pushes forward what, in our opinion, Jon Sobrino, for his part, has written with such pertinence, orthodoxy, and orthopraxis in dealing with the meaning of faith in Jesus Christ, based on the humiliated humanity of millions of brothers and sisters of our peripheral societies. He has taught us how the Churches can join forces in the resurrection of those who are crucified.


Javier said…
Yes Rachel,

it is really sad when those in power try to drown by force the dissenting voices of minorities.
It happens wherever there's a church with high priests who think themselves the custodians of truth.
It happens wherever anyone thinks there is such thing as absolute truth.
Recently, in a similar episode, the Science Museum in London cancelled talks by Nobel Laureate James Watson, because he dared to express the dissenting view that blacks are less intelligent than whites.
Churchs everywhere only stifle debate.
rachel said…
Hi Javier

I don't agree that all churches stifle debate, simply that people in a position of power - both in the church and elsewhere - are often tempted to silence marginalized and alternative voices.

While not wishing to get into a debate on this blog about the decision of the Science Museum, I do wish to reject absolutely any notion of black and white as fixed divisions of race and thus any suggestion that one group of humans are more or less intelligent that another. Such prejudices must always be challenged, and the injustice and inequality that arise from racism and notions of white supremacy also.
Javier said…

I agree with you. The concept of race is hardly relevant. As we are all descended from Adam and Eve (or the family of Noah if you will), we all belong to the same genetic pool, and as science has shown, differences among humans are genetically irrelevant. White, black, or yellow supremacy, are provincial nonsense.
Still, Dr. James Watson, even being wrong, should be entitled to his dissenting opinion. Or we would be no different than the Roman Inquisition.
I see no merit in tolerating a dissenting opinion when we agree with that opinion.
Our tolerance, love for the other, and opendmindedness are put to the test only when we hate or fear the dissenting opinion we have to tolerate.
rachel said…
hi javier - i kind of agree, and i kind of don't. if discourse harms those already marginalized and silenced in our communities, who is protected by freedom of speech?
as we know, this debate (respect/ censorship) will run and run. thanks for your comments.