Jesuit USA Newsletter

May 16, 2001

In This Issue

Jesuit on Leave from Teaching to Explain Views to Vatican

Fr Roger D Haight SJ has been on leave since last fall from teaching at Weston Jesuit School of Theology while explaining to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith his understanding of Jesus as savior. The congregation has raised questions about his 1999 book, Jesus Symbol of God (oRBIS, 1999).

Fr Robert E Manning SJ, Weston's president, said that the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education asked Fr Haight "to take a leave from his teaching in order to devote the time needed to respond" to the congregation's observations.

"Because Fr Haight acknowledges the truth of the church's dogmas concerning Jesus Christ, he has begun the work of clarifying his book in a spirit of fraternal dialogue and will continue this important task for the sake of the church," Fr Manning said.

Last August the National Catholic Reporter weekly newspaper said Fr Haight confirmed that there was an investigation but declined to comment on it, saying, "I want to handle this like [Jesuit] Jacques Dupuis did and not comment."

Like Fr Dupuis, Fr Haight has been exploring issues of religious pluralism and interreligious dialogue.

Both have explored whether a Christian understanding of Christ as the savior of all humankind can be articulated in a way that leaves room for a more positive assessment of the role of other religions as a means of salvation.

Fr Manning described Fr Haight's book as "an attempt to enter into a `dialogue with postmodern culture' in the spirit of Vatican [Council] II, to present the church's faith, and to explain the church's central dogmas concerning Jesus Christ in terms that men and women today can understand."

He added, "Fr Haight is a theologian highly esteemed by his colleagues and his book has generated much discussion among them. As is often the case, there have been both positive and negative reviews." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


JRS at Work with Child Soldiers in Indonesia

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Moluccas is working with child soldiers; the child fighters have participated on both sides of the war between Muslims and Christians in the Indonesian islands, and some are still actively involved. According to a field worker, JRS is reaching out to the Christian soldiers and "has approached the children to undertake activities like Bible discussion, drawing, and games."

"The aim is to occupy the children, so they think less about the war," said JRS Indonesia director, Edi Mulyono SJ. "A JRS worker reported an instance where a child claimed he was approached to kill a local government official. The child was offered a gun and money to do this, but he refused. Almost every night, a JRS worker accompanies the children so they will be less vulnerable to influence by people who still want to use them."

The Crisis Center of the Diocese of Amboina said last month there were 42 Christian youths who had fought in the war and who were now sheltered at the St Francis Xavier Parish in Ambon.

"Quite a few among them have killed people and burned houses. Most have lost close family members, parents, and/or siblings, and have nowhere to go," said the report. [Source JRS Dispatches]


Fr Berrigan Draws Parallels between Revelation, Today

All governments are today's Babylons and all weapons of war should be beaten into plowshares right now, said Fr Daniel Berrigan SJ in a talk at St Thomas University in Miami, where he drew scriptural parallels between the Book of Revelation and today's world.

For Fr Berrigan, there are no in-betweens: War kills, therefore, a Christian does not participate, no matter how "just" the war is supposed to be. Rather, a Christian passively resists.

He said that, in teaching through the years, he had observed that Revelation is often used as a "gloomy textbook of death" predicting there simply must be a big war to resolve good and evil. "That's a lie," the priest said.

He was asked what his answer is to people who say, "The other side has bombs and missiles, so we must have them."

Fr Berrigan replied, "The question is not what people say, but what does Christ say? Either we are talking as citizens and Christianity is unimportant, or as people who say, `My faith is everything.' Then we open the Gospel, which says love your enemies and do good to those who do ill to you." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Jesuits say Vatican Upholds Dismissal of Indian Priest

The Society of Jesus said the Vatican has ruled the order acted legitimately in dismissing Indian priest Joseph Pallathu SJ for insubordination and for "personal attitudes and ways of acting" that did not conform to those of the Jesuits.

Fr Pallathu was founder of the Samskriti Cultural Research and Action Institute in Cannanore, India; the institute was dedicated to defending the rights of India's dalit, or low-caste, Christians and to preserving their culture.

Fr Pallathu was dismissed in May 2000, but appealed his dismissal to Fr General Peter Hans Kolvenbach and to the Vatican.

The Jesuits' press statement said that, although Fr Pallathu was ordained in 1981, his attitude toward the way the society worked was such that his superiors continually postponed allowing him to make his final vows as a Jesuit. After 18 years, the statement said, "because the results were not satisfactory," it was decided he should be dismissed from the order.

His superiors in India have said that he was unfit to be a Jesuit, that he lacked "the basic spirit and values required to be a religious," that much of his work and traveling was done without permission from his superiors and that he mishandled money donated to his institute.

Fr Pallathu, who called the charges "lies to justify the society's decision to dismiss me," continues to protest the decision.[Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


On the World Wide Web You Can Find ...

Sacred Space: Daily Prayer for Easter, produced by the Irish Jesuits. They invite you to make a 'Sacred Space' in your day and spend ten minutes praying here and now, as you sit at your computer, with the help of on-screen guidance and scripture chosen specially every day.;


Remembrance of Things Past


From the Editors

JesuitUSA News is a service of Company Magazine. In addition to the print edition, almost all of the items in Company Magazine can be viewed via the World Wide Web at Any correspondence concerning this mailing list should be sent to the editor at <[email protected]>. The newsletter is available to all Jesuits, to those who work with them, or to those who are simply interested in what they are doing. Tell your friends; the price is right! If you are requesting addition to the list, please include your real name as well as your email address. If you are changing your address, please include YOUR NAME as well as both the NEW and the OLD email addresses.

The editor of this Newsletter is Richard VandeVelde SJ who is ably assisted by Ms Rebecca Troha, Assistant Editor. They would both like to remind you of the following useful WWW links for items of Jesuit interest. Many of these links will lead you to others.



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