Theologians lament the procedures of the CDF
A recent book edited by theologian Richard Gaillardetz entitled “When the Magisterium Intervenes” studies the processes by which the CDF operates when it censures theologians. The chapter by Bradford E. Hinze outlines ten ‘laments’ that theologians have about the procedures of the CDF. These are the ten he lists:
1. Anonymous Accusers and Critics: Who is the accuser? What is their competence? What is their motive?
2. The Scourge of Secrecy, Tortuous Isolation: Secrecy in these matters can be painfully onerous and in effect become a means of isolating an individual and thereby depriving him/her of support in time of need. Although this manner of proceeding may not be intended as a form of persecution, it is experienced by many as tortuous isolation.
3. Unfair interpretation: Work not fairly or accurately interpreted; sentences taken out of context; the CDF functions as the sole arbiter of correct interpretation.
4. Contested Doctrines Frozen in Time: There is too little acknowledgement of the fact of doctrinal development and of the hierarchy of truths.
5. The Same People are Investigators, Prosecutors and Judges: Moreover the accused often get the impression that they are presumed guilty rather than innocent.
6. A Failure to Communicate: This serves as another cause of anguish that weighs on the minds, psyches, and bodies of those being investigated.
7. Interrogation masked as Dialogue: What transpires is an interrogation in which the theologian is placed in the position of defending his or her position before a group of people who have already reached certain conclusions.
8. Defamation of Character: This process results in a defamation of character; often there are serious consequences for one’s life and work.
9. Failure to Trust the Community of Theologians and the Faithful People of God as a Whole: The CDF proceeds as if it is the primary or sole guardian of the truths of faith. It provides the only court of judgement. It frequently acts as if it is the teaching Church, the guarding Church, and everyone else is the learning Church and in need of their paternalistic protection.
10. Larger repercussions; Creating a Culture of Surveillance, Policing, Control and Intimidation: How many times since Vatican ll have we heard theologians cry out: ‘Do not extinguish the Spirit’. This articulates a fear shared by theologians of every generation and every continent, and it is voiced by many other members of the Church as well, lay people, women religious, and clergy.