Sandro Magister of Chiesa on the matter of the writings of Fr. Roger Haight, S.J., and the ongoing investigation, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, into heterodox statements within those writings:
Of the last seven theologians scrutinized by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, four are Jesuits. In addition to Haight, the others are Anthony De Mello, Jacques Dupuis, and Jon Sobrino, the last of these a leading exponent of liberation theology.
It was no surprise that one year ago, while the Society of Jesus was assembled to elect its new superior general, the Vatican authorities called its many theologians and exegetes back to greater doctrinal fidelity and a more effective "sentire cum Ecclesia."
Naturally, not all Jesuit theologians have been suspect. In order to convince Haight to correct his positions, the American province of the Society of Jesus asked for help from Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles, a theologian of recognized greatness and unquestionable orthodoxy, in spite of his advanced age and precarious health. Cardinal Dulles died in New York last December 12.
But it is beyond doubt that Haight's theology finds a generally hospitable atmosphere in the Society of Jesus. He lives in New York, at the residence of the Jesuits who publish "America," a leading magazine for progressive Catholicism. In March of 2008, when he was already prohibited from teaching and was about to receive new sanctions, he published in "America" an extensive overview of Catholic theology at the end of the 20th century, with the major theologians classified in seven categories, thoroughly described and evaluated. It was all to demonstrate that the future of Catholic theology depends on its capacity to represent the articles of the Creed in a form that is comprehensible to the dominant culture in the West.
Another American Catholic magazine that has come out in support of Haight is "Commonweal." In January of 2007, it published an impassioned apologia of his thought by the title "Not So Heterodox. In Defense of Roger Haight." Its author was a highly esteemed theologian, Paul Lakeland, a professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, one of the 28 universities and colleges run by the Jesuits in the United States, and its first holder of the chair in Catholic studies named after the Jesuit theologian Aloysius P. Kelley.
Other American theologians have instead expressed severe criticism of Haight, who for several years was also president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A couple of noteworthy critics include William Loewe, of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and John Cavadini, a professor at Notre Dame University in South Bend Indiana and a consultant for the doctrinal commission of the United States conference of Catholic bishops.
Another critic of Haight's positions is himself a Jesuit, who also teaches at a university of the Society of Jesus, the most important one in the world. He is Gerald O'Collins, a professor of systematic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a specialist in Christology.
O'Collins made a memorable quip after news came of Haight's first condemnation: "I wouldn't give my life for Roger Haight's Jesus. It's a triumph of relevance over orthodoxy."
• Damning the newly departed with faint praise (Jan. 12, 2009; on Fr. Haight and Fr. Neuhaus)