When Pope Benedict XVI announced in his first sermon that he has a “primary commitment to work without sparing energies for the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ,” many expressed surprise.
At a meeting that underlined the high priority he may give to dialogue with non-Catholics—both Christians and the faithful of other religions—Pope Benedict XVI met with more than 30 non-Catholic representatives within a week of his election as Pope John Paul II’s successor.
The theology of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger played a major part in my book After Our Likeness (1998), which sought to develop a trinitarian, nonhierarchical understanding of the church. He thanked me politely for the copy I sent him and added, “You don’t expect me, of course, to have changed my mind after reading it.”
After a grand funeral attracting world leaders to the Vatican and crowds urging a speedy sainthood for the late Pope John Paul II, the assigning of a former U.S. cardinal to celebrate one of the masses in St. Peter’s Basilica during the mourning period reminded Americans of the scars still present in the U.S. church.
In February the Jesuit theologian Roger Haight, former professor at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received notification that the Vatican had found “serious doctrinal errors” in his 1999 book Jesus: Symbol of God (Orbis) and that he was forbidden to teach as a Catholic theologian. The news did not come as a surprise.
The Vatican order to prohibit Jesuit priest Roger Haight from teaching Catholic theology unless “his positions have been corrected” to conform with church doctrine recently was condemned by Haight’s fellow theologians and welcomed by the Doctrine Committee of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. At issue is Haight’s 1999 book, Jesus: Symbol of God.
Former Boston priest Paul Shanley has been sentenced to 12 to 15 years behind bars for raping a minor in a Catholic church. Shanley’s was one of the more high-profile cases of offenders in the abuse and cover-up scandal in 2002.