Thursday, September 13, 2007

Theologian at Georgetown being investigated

Fr. Peter Phan at Georgetown is, according to this "breaking news" report by John Allen in the NCR, being investigated both by the Vatican and (at the request of the Vaticanb) by the US Bishops. The issues is, as Allen writes, one of the central thrusts of this pontificate: the relationship between Christ, Christianity and the religions of the world.
Both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are investigating a book by a prominent American Catholic theologian, Vietnam-born Fr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University. The book raises issues about the uniqueness of Christ and the church, issues that were also behind recent censures of other high-profile theologians, as well as a recent Vatican declaration that the fullness of the Christian church resides in Catholicism alone.

The case confirms that no subject is of greater doctrinal concern for church authorities, including Pope Benedict XVI, than what they see as “religious relativism,” meaning the impression that Christ is analogous to other religious figures such as the Buddha, or that Christianity is one valid spiritual path among others.

Critics of writers such as Phan, who offer a positive theological evaluation of non-Christian religions, assert that their work courts confusion on these points, while others believe church authorities are drawing the borders of theological discussion too narrowly.

Phan, a priest of the Dallas diocese, is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The book in question is Phan’s 2004 Being Religious Interreligiously, published by Orbis.
Here's a link to a Commonweal article by Fr. Phan that gives a sense of his thought - Praying to the Buddha: Living amid religious pluralism. (It's an interesting article, and I'll probably put down some thoughts later.)

More links and commentary at American Papist (including a response form Sherry Wedell at Intentional Disciples. She's written an interesting piece, to be added to the "to read" list: The Challenge of Independent Christianity.)

[I've just started a second reading of Changing Gods -- I inserted a second reading of Pope Benedict's Truth and Tolerance: Christian Beliefs and World Religion in between -- all this is to help me write a proper response which just might end up getting published in a missionary journal in India. Or, it might not.]

1 comment:

Tito said...

Fr. Peter Phan is a member of the dying breed of the 'spirit of Vatican II' liberals. Fortunately the silly season if on its last legs.