Vatican process against Basque theologian continues
Condemnations, book burnings and persecutions are coming back. Five centuries later, the Inquisition has returned in all its splendor. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has opened a process against the book Jesus: An Historical Approximation by the Basque theologian José Antonio Pagola, to determine if it conforms to Church doctrine.
This is the latest link in a chain of persecution by the Catholic hierarchy whose recent victims include José María Castillo, Juan José Tamayo and Marciano Vidal in Spain, and international figures such as Leonardo Boff and Hans Küng, all of them advocates of the Second Vatican Council and freedom of opinion in the Church.
The Roman investigation has been pushed by the most ultra conservative sector of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, led by the bishops of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández, and San Sebastián, José Ignacio Munilla, with the supervision of the bishops’ spokesman, Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, and the consent of cardinal Rouco Varela.
The debate has also flared up because the book has become a religious best-seller (more than 80,000 copies, as well as having been translated into new languages), and it also has the nihil obstat (“nothing to oppose”) and the Imprimatur (canonic authorization) of the former bishop of San Sebastián, Juan María Uriarte. But none of this has kept the Bishops’ Conference from achieving the intervention and getting the text withdrawn, and a process opened against Pagola.
José Antonio Pagola, who has been keeping prudent silence over these last months, acknowledged a few days ago that the publisher (linked to the Marianists) had been obliged by the Bishops’ Conference to withdraw the 6,000 copies still in circulation. According to some sources, a “certification of destruction” of the copies has even been demanded.
The theologian confirmed the opening of a process in Rome: “I accept it as something anticipated, but I don’t feel that I’m either a martyr or a prophet. I try to be a believer who, from his passion for Jesus, tries to contribute to a Church that is closer to the gospel at the service of a more humane world.”
Starting now, a long, slow period begins, one based on secrecy. The theologian doesn’t know exactly what accusations the Vatican is bringing against him. These sorts of processes only resort to the accused for an interrogation for which he cannot prepare himself, and to announce his condemnation or absolution.