Vatican clears Schillebeeckx of deviations
THE VATICAN'S Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has cleared the Belgian theologian, Fr Edward Schillebeeckx, of deviating from the Church's • teaching in nine points of doctrine. But it has asked him to clarify his views on four new points. The new areas of concern relate to hiS opinions on the magisterium, or teaching office, of the Church.
Fr Schillebeeckx has held the chair of theology and the history of theology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, in Holland for 23 years.
He was summoned to Rome in December 1979 to explain some of his theological positions to a three man inquiry board set up by the Congregation. Most of the questions put to him then dealt with the orthodoxy of his views on Christ, including his understanding of Christ's divinity, the objective reality of the resurrection, and Christ's own awareness of being the messiah and the son of God.
They also concerned the theologian's interpretations of revealed truth, the theology of ecumenical councils. papal infallibility, the foundation of the Church and the institution of the Eucharist.
The verdict of the Congregation was given to Fr Schillebeeckx in a letter from Cardinal Seper in November. The letter said the Congregation was satisfied with the clarifications he had offered at the hearing in Rome and that it considered the nine points at issue then settled.
However, Fr Schillebeeckx said that they had found "another four points that I have to clarify."
These all revolved around "my attitude towards the Church's magisterium."
Asked if there were any specific Church teachings at issue in the new questions, he said the letter asked him to clarify if "I accept the last word of the teaching office of the Church" as it is contained in "the formulations by the councils."
Specifically, he said, the questions asked if he accepts the formulation by the fifth-century Council of Chalcedon stating that Jesus Christ is one person with a divine nature and a human nature.
"At the moment 1 have not given an answer to Rome," he said. "I am free to write an article in some review" clarifying his views on the subject.
He said he was not given a deadline for such an article by the congregation. But he added: "I will not write an article explicitly on that." He would clarify his views on that within the context of writing on some broader topic, he said.
When asked if he was satisfied with the Congregation's letter, Fr Schillebeeckx replied: "Yes and no," It had cleared him of questions about the orthodoxy of the views expressed in his three books on Jesus which were the focus of the inquiry. But in the meantime, he said. he has finished a book on ministry which has been published in Dutch and will soon begin appearing in other languages. He said that he now anticipated further questions from the Congregation on that.