Utilizing the Savior Story to Exercise Power Today —The Debate over Vatican Censures, Apocrypha, and Literary Interpretations
From New Directions in Catholic Social and Political Research
ABSTRACT: In 2000, 2004, and 2005, the Vatican issued doctrinal censures against the works of three Catholic theologians. The targeted priests were, Roger Haight, SJ, Jon Sobrino, SJ, and Peter Phan, respectively. The aim of this essay is thus to fathom the political stakes behind the disputation. And to fathom what truly lies behind Christology, politically speaking. This it does at a time of quasi-complete Catholic disaffection in the West. And by interpreting in turn the objectives of each dissentient opus versus the established prerogatives of Rome.
The thesis is threefold. First, 1) that Sobrino’s “affront” is an idiosyncratic yet wholly legitimate j’accuse of the Vatican’s geopolitical line during the last phase of the Cold War. Furthermore, 2) Haight’s and Phan’s Christological “deviations,” on the other hand, are something altogether different. They are hermeneutical poses masking a schismatic overture to the new postmodern Church of U.S. academia. And, finally, 3) these notifications are but another symptom of the Holy See’s ongoing incapacity to find what ought to be one of the leading voices in the world movement for social justice.
In sum, the main concern of this long monograph within the anthology is to question the nature of belief in relation to one’s daily, political action in society. Relying exclusively on sociological and aesthetic categories, I specifically ask what the Savior Story, in its essentials, actually signifies; and what that story itself truly signifies for the existence of an institution as the Catholic Church in this day and epoch all over the world. The discussion of all such topics is, in connection with the inquisitorial notifications, accompanied by a great variety of literary tropes and anthropological digressions, such as the Gospel of Judas, Veblen’s institutional peregrinations on primitive Christianity, Tolstoy’s meditations on the Gospels, and, when touching on multi-culturalism, the novels and aphorisms of Japanese Catholics, such as Akutagawa and Endo.
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