Sunday, March 1, 2009

The List Is Long...

of those who were silenced or otherwise disciplined by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, acting under the orders of Pope John Paul II in his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition. From the words and actions of the former cardinal since he became pope, one might assume that he felt little reluctance to do the job. The list was compiled four years ago, and it's likely that more names could be added today. The theologians on the list include some of the finest minds in the field of Roman Catholic theology.

From the Nationa Catholic Reporter:

The List

Editor's note: Following is a list of Catholic theologians and others disciplined by the Vatican during the papacy of John Paul II. Though not an exhaustive list, it is a substantial representation of the range of people subject to papal discipline during the past 26 years. The list was compiled by Tara Harris, assistant to the editor.

Fr. Jacques Pohier: A French Dominican priest, he was the first theologian to be disciplined by Pope John Paul II. In 1979 Pohier, the dean of the theology faculty at the Dominican theological school near Paris, lost his license to teach theology, was banned from saying Mass or participating in any liturgical gatherings. The Vatican objected to his views on Christ’s resurrection. He left the Dominicans in 1984.

Fr. Hans Küng: A Vatican investigation into the writings of this Swiss-born theologian began in 1975. He lost his license to teach Catholic theology in 1979 after the Vatican found fault with his views on papal infallibility. He continued to teach at the University of Tübingen as a professor of ecumenical theology.

Fr. Edward Schillebeeck: A Belgian Dominican, he was the theologian of the Dutch bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and has endured several Vatican investigations. He was initially investigated in 1968 for questioning the virginity of Mary. The Dutch hierarchy, clergy and laity rallied to his defense, and Fr. Karl Rahner, who himself would be investigated, convinced the Vatican of Schillebeeckx’s orthodoxy. In 1979, a trial or “procedure” was convened to investigate his writings on Christology. In the face of an international campaign of protest against the trial, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dropped the matter in 1980. He has since received several “notifications” from the congregation that his writings remain in conflict with church teaching.

Fr. Charles Curran: Once a professor of moral theology at the Catholic University of America, Curran lost his license to teach theology in 1986 because the Vatican did not approve of his views on sexuality and medical ethics. He currently teaches at Southern Methodist University. He is a member of the NCR board of the directors.

Leonardo Boff: A Brazilian Franciscan and one of the most famous proponents of liberation theology, Boff was investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981. The Vatican objected to his views on Christology and the structure of the church. Boff was silenced for a year in 1985. Boff enjoyed the support of his religious order and two of Brazil’s cardinals, Aloisio Lorscheider and Evaristo Arns, but he was silenced again in 1991. In 1992 Boff left the Franciscans and the priesthood.

Fr. Anthony Kosnik: A priest of the Detroit archdiocese, he was forced to leave his teaching position at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary because he co-authored a Catholic Theological Society study called Human Sexuality. The Vatican disliked the study’s theology and Kosnik was pressured to resign in 1982. Seminarians and faculty threatened to boycott the school’s spring commencement if Kosnik was not reinstated. He got his job back, but was forced to resign the next year.

Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez: Often called the “father of liberation theology,” Gutiérrez has had to face numerous investigations by the Vatican. In 1983, the Peruvian bishops received a notification from the Vatican containing 10 complaints about Gutiérrez’s writings. They declined the request to condemn them. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued instructions in 1984 and 1986 that criticized certain aspects of liberation theology. In 1988, the congregation began another investigation of Gutiérrez. Nothing came of any of these investigations. In 2001 Gutiérrez joined the French province of the Dominicans in a move that was seen as an attempt to distance himself from the conservative Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, the conservative archbishop of Lima.

Fr. Karl Rahner: Considered one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century, Rahner spent much of his career under Vatican scrutiny. John XXIII had him silenced and was extremely critical of his writings. Under Paul VI, he was rehabilitated and his theology greatly influenced the Second Vatican Council, where he served as an expert for the German bishops. In his later years, he was very critical of the conservative direction the church had taken under John Paul II. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took issue with Rahner’s views about priestly ordination, contraception and his doctrine of the “anonymous Christian.” After his death in 1984, a gradual reassessment of Rahner’s theology took place, and by the time of his centenary in 2004, the secretary to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith declared Rahner to be “an orthodox theologian.”

Fr. Matthew Fox: A former Dominican priest, his views on sexuality, original sin, and pantheism attracted the notice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983. His work was reviewed by a panel of fellow Dominicans and cleared. However, he was silenced by his superiors after the congregation found fault with his views. In 1993 he was expelled from the Dominican order after refusing to return to his community in Chicago. He joined the Episcopal church in 1994.

Mary Agnes Mansour: A Sister of Mercy, she was forced to choose between her job as the director of Michigan’s Department of Social Services and her religious vows. In 1983 after 30 years of religious life, Mansour left her congregation.

Elizabeth Morancy and Arlene Violet: Both were Sisters of Mercy in Rhode Island. Morancy, a Rhode Island legislator, and Violet, Rhode Island’s attorney general, were forced by the Vatican to choose between keeping their jobs and remaining in religious life. They chose to keep their jobs and left religious life in 1983.

Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen: The former archbishop of Seattle found himself under investigation after the Vatican received letters complaining of liturgical abuses. In 1983, Archbishop James Hickey of Washington conducted a visitation of the Seattle archdiocese. His report to the Vatican resulted in the appointment of an auxiliary bishop in 1985, and Hunthausen was stripped of much of his authority. After a wave of complaints and protests from laity, clergy, religious and Hunthausen’s brother bishops, the Vatican restored Hunthausen’s authority and replaced his auxiliary bishop with a coadjutor in 1987. He retired in 1991.

Fr. Ernesto Cardenal: He was a member of the Sandinista party in Nicaragua. When the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime in 1979, Cardenal became the Sandinista’s minister of culture. When John Paul II visited Nicaragua in 1983, he publicly chastised Cardenal for his participation in the Sandinista government. Cardenal and four other priests were ordered to quit their government posts by the Vatican. Cardenal refused and lost his priestly faculties. He remained in the government until 1988. In 1994 he resigned from the Sandinista party, accusing its leadership of corruption.

Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick: The two spent much of their religious careers working in ministry to homosexuals. In 1984 they were forced to leave their New Ways Ministry. In 1988, they were again investigated and in 1999 the Vatican sanctioned them for not representing authentic church teaching about homosexuality. They received sanctions from their religious congregations that essentially prohibited them from participating in public ministry to homosexuals. Nugent, a Salvatorian priest, accepted the sanctions. Gramick left the School Sisters of Notre Dame and joined the Loretto Sisters in 2004.

Dr. John McNeill: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened an inquiry in 1974 into the former Jesuit priest’s view about homosexuality. In 1977, church authorities in Rome officially silenced him. He was no longer allowed to speak about or minister to homosexuals. He disobeyed that order in 1986 and the Society of Jesus began formal procedures to expel McNeill. The expulsion became official in January 1987 and McNeill became a psychotherapist.

Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey: Sisters of Notre Dame de Namour, they left their religious order 1988. They and 91 other nuns and priests signed an ad in a 1984 issue of The New York Times that proclaimed a “diversity of opinion regarding abortion” existed among Catholics. Ferraro and Hussey alone refused a Vatican order to retract their support for the ad. Although their religious congregation supported them throughout their investigation, the two left religious life, protesting the process used by the Vatican against them.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: The leader of traditionalist Catholics was excommunicated in 1988 for ordaining four bishops. Lefebvre rejected the reforms of Vatican II, believing the council opened the church to the negative influences of communism and modernism. He also rejected the “new Mass.” During the reform council, he led a group of traditionalists who firmly opposed anything new or different. After the council, he established his own seminary in Econe, Switzerland. Paul VI suspended him for ordaining the graduates of this seminary. John Paul II made many attempts to reconcile Lefebvre to the post-Vatican II church, but the episcopal ordinations made Lefebvre’s excommunication automatic. (Note: Abp. Lefebvre is deceased, but the pope recently lifted the excommunication of the four bishops he consecrated, including British Bishop Richard Williamson, a holocaust-denier.)

Fr. Tissa Belasuriya: A Sri Lankan Oblate of Mary, he attracted the negative attention of the Vatican with his writings on Mary, the divinity of Christ, and original sin. In 1994 he was notified that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had found errors in his writings. In 1995, he was ordered to sign a profession of faith or risk excommunication. He responded by signing a profession of faith written by Paul VI. He was formally excommunicated in 1997. One year later, after protests and negotiations, Belasuriya was “reconciled” to the church.

Fr. Eugen Drewermann: A German theologian, he was suspended from the priesthood in 1992. He questioned the virgin birth of Christ and the physical reality of his resurrection. He was later expelled from the priesthood.

Ivone Gebara: A Brazilian Sister of Notre Dame found herself under investigation in 1993 for publicly advocating legalized abortion. A yearlong investigation by the Brazilian bishops’ conference ended with Gebara reaffirming her defense of human life in all forms. Although the Brazilian bishops considered the matter closed, the Vatican did not. Citing problems with her theological writings, in 1995 the Vatican pressured her religious congregation to sanction her. The sanctions resulted in Gebara being silenced for two years.

Bishop Jacques Gaillot: He was removed from his position as bishop of Evreux, France, in 1995. The Vatican, and several of his brother bishops, saw his identification with the poor and advocacy of homosexuals and contraception as too unorthodox for a bishop.
(From Ormonde in the comments:) Also, Jacques Gaillot has a great web site at Partenia, which I have followed for years. The Pope exiled him from Evreux in Normandy to the defunct diocese of Partenia in the Sahara desert.

National Catholic Reporter, February 25, 2005

Fr. Hans Kung, a Swiss theologian, whose name is on the list, spoke recently on the policies of Pope Benedict, as reported in the Earth Times:

The Catholic church was under the increasing threat to deteriorate into a sect under the rule of Pope Benedict XVI, a leading progressive theologian said. Father Hans Kung, an emeritus professor of ecumenical theology at the University of Tubingen in southern Germany, said he was "very sad" over the direction where the current church leadership was heading.

Remarks by Kung that the Catholic church under the current pope risked becoming a sect triggered fierce criticism by the Vatican.

After meeting Pope Benedict XVI four years ago he was still optimistic, Kung, whose authority to teach Catholic theology was rescinded by the Vatican over his criticism against papal authority, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"I was hoping that he [Pope Benedict] would show himself as reforming, ecumenical and open for the future. But this hope has been bitterly disappointed," Swiss-born Kung said

The Vatican's response from Catholic News Service:

His [Fr. Kung's] remarks drew a sharp comment from the dean of the College of Cardinals, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who told Vatican Radio he felt "wounded" when he read the interview.

"Fraternal criticism has always been possible in the church, from the times of Sts. Peter and Paul. Bitter criticism, on the other hand, especially when it's so broad, does not contribute to the unity of the church, for which Pope Benedict is working so hard," Cardinal Sodano said.

H/T to Of Course I Could Be Wrong for the link to the article in the Earth Times.


  1. Yikes! I'm a Bad Priest, on a counta I gots books by several of these heretics.

    Oh well, That's life!

  2. I'm a Bad Priest...

    Padre, we already knew that. This confession only worsens your reputation a little.

    I've been sitting on this list for quite a while, but Fr. Kung's recent comments pushed me to publish it.

  3. Quite a roster of heroes. We read several of them when I was in Baptist seminary (so no wonder they were questionable, eh?). When one drives out the finest minds one is left with the second-rate ones and that is what Rome has been doing. It is really sad to witness it.

    Oh, I have some of their books too, so you may add me to the Bad Priest list with Mickey.

  4. you may add me to the Bad Priest list with Mickey.

    Do I know any other kind?

  5. I'm so grateful that I was born into the Methodist Church.

  6. I am sure you have encountered some respectable clergy over the years - and wisely avoided them!

  7. Counterlight, I came out all right in the end, but the end was long in coming.

    Paul, heh, heh, heh.

  8. Well, some of us are badly misled laity. I, too, recognize far too many of these people. What a self-inflicted tragedy!

  9. Elizabeth, for a couple of years back in the 70s, when I was still in the RCC, I subscribed to the "National Catholic Reporter", but I had to stop, because it made me so angry at the authorities. I check it out now and again, and it's still doing its job as the loyal opposition.

    So much of what Pope Benedict does is self-destructive. I don't understand him at all. But then, I don't understand the Archbishop of Canterbury either.

  10. Not a few of these have been mentioned by yours truly at Sunday morning discussion group while surveying people like Gomes, McLaren, and Gutierrez, to no objection (and much interest).

    Thanks, grandmere.

  11. Scott, thank you. I'm wondering when the good priests will start dropping by my blog. Let's see. I have:

    Bad Padre Mickey
    Bad Fr. Paul
    Bad Fr. Scott

    It's a little overwhelming.

  12. I know. Be not afraid.

  13. All of Rome's best are on this list (well, maybe not LeFebre). Kung, Schillebeeck, Curran, Gutierez, all of them decisively influenced my thinking

    Makes ya wonder.

  14. I heard about some of these - Boff amongst others, at Lund - and that is almost 20 years ago.

    Apparently Benedict was not idle in the Sanctum Officium.

  15. Counterlight, too often, the Vatican seems not to recognize a good thing, even they hold it in their collective hand.

  16. When I was taking theology courses at Notre Dame Seminary (of the RC Archdiocese of New Orleans) in 1970-1972, we read Küng, Schillebeeckx, Rahner, and other of that ilk. I doubt they are studied there now. Also, Jacques Gaillot has a great web site at Partenia, which I have followed for years. The Pope exiled him from Evreux in Normandy to the defunct diocese of Partenia in the Sahara desert.

  17. Hi, I just wanted to mention another theologian who was excommunicated: Ute Ranke-Heinemann.

    While Josef Ratzinger was not directly involved in her excommunication initially, Frau Ranke-Heinemann turned to her old friend (the two studied together in Munich), but Ratzinger refused to intervene.

  18. Ormonde, thanks for the update on Bishop Gaillot. I checked out his website. He's worth a post all his own.

    David, thanks for noting Ute Ranke-Heinemann. So. Ratzinger wouldn't intervene for his friend

  19. what a list! I have heard of and READ many of them, and am aghast. Had no idea about RAhner and Kung, who are held in such high esteem by many of us. I read a little of Fr. Fox too; I liked his earlier writings, not so warm about his later stuff.

  20. Diane, I remember the apprehension at the Catholic universities when the cardinal's visits to the US were announced. The so-called liberal bishops were concerned, too. It seems to me that almost always, after a period of time and perhaps a summons to Rome for questioning, discipline of one sort or another followed for those who were judged to have gone out of bounds.

  21. Funny how many of these theologians are on my shelves... I happily join the list of bad priests.

  22. Caminante, I'm rethinking the "bad priest" label. It's beginning to look like a roll of honor.

    When I first saw the list, maybe two years ago, I was shocked. I don't know why I waited so long to post it.

  23. Well, if you want to find the best Catholic theologians - always look for the persecuted ones...

    It seldom fails.

    Anthony de Mello should be added to the list as well - fine spiritual writer.

    You could add me to the honourable "bad priest" list if I wasn't "un-ordainable" as a woman. Guess the ordination just wouldn't stick - not even with the strongest Roman glue there is. Too bad...

  24. Charlotte Therese, welcome. The list is not exhaustive, by any means. Thanks for noting Anthony de Mello.

    I have the feeling that, in your case, it's very much the church's loss not to have you as a priest. Too bad, indeed.

  25. Diane, too Buddhist, I believe.

  26. I have been searching for a composite of heretical theologians who rebelled against the Teaching Magisterium of the Church and here they are, all neatly laid out, thanks to this blog and the National Catholic Distorter. Thank you. You are all in my prayers... the Rosary... but I suppose you wouldn't remember what that aincient prayer is all about, so please don't worry your pretty grey hairs about that. It is enough for me that the whole Church still stands behind it.

  27. And yes I did write my comment as
    "anonymous". You don't really think I would reveal my name to a pack of wolves, now, do you?

  28. Anonymous, thanks for the prayers. I'll take any that come my way. I'm glad I could help you.

    I pray the rosary myself from time to time, the heretical Anglican rosary.


Anonymous commenters, please sign a name, any name, to distinguish one anonymous commenter from another. Thank you.