ALTHOUGH the Vatican's Doctrinal Congregation is now engaged in examining the teachings and writings of Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, the Dutch Dominican theologian, the proceedings were in no sense a trial for. doctrinal deviation, said Mgr. Vallaine, Vatican Press Officer, in a recent statement.
He pointed out it was the Congregation's ..iuty "to follow whatever in teachings and writings, as in ideas and in movements of thought, concern precisely the doctrine and truth Of the faith."
Such constant vigilance was not aimed at favouring one school of theology over another. "Its primary purpose is to support whatever helps clarify and deepen knowledge of the faith." Another purpose was to hinder the spread of error.
But Mgr. Vallainc emphasised that all explanations of the faith must be "in full conformity with the ecclesiastical magisterium."
aHe said the 32 consultors considering Fr. Schillebeeckx's teachings came. from every country and represented every theological school. The consultation "is not a court, but an assembly of specialists on the various fields of doctrine."
Commenting on reports that Fr. Karl Rahner, a friend of Fr. Schillebeeckx, had been summoned to act as "defence lawyer," Mgr. Vallainc said he was there as a friend of Fr. Schillebeeckx who shared similar opinions with him on various doctrinal questions.
"They wanted to understand Schillebeeckx better. It seems to me that never in the past was such a delicate and basically friendly gesture extended towards anyone."
Warning journalists to be on their guard against "hasty, superficial and mistaken" reports, Mgr. Vallainc went on: "There is a temptation to create an atmosphere of persecution, to have it believed that there is a return to methods little adapted to the mentality of our century."
Mgr. Vallainc's statement revealed that the inquiry is meeting each Monday to discuss Fr. Schillebeeckx. Dutch sources have said that Fr. Schillebeeckx, who teaches at Nijmegen University, is being investigated chiefly for his contribution to the controversial New Dutch Catechism and for questioning the biological virginity of Mary.
Vatican sources have said that if errors are found in Fr. Schillebeeckx's teachings, he will be advised and asked to correct them.