Vatican watchdog body examining case of Spanish theologian

The Vatican office that safeguards doctrinal correctness is examining a Spanish Jesuit who is a prominent champion of liberation theology, a Vatican official said Monday.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi declined to give any details about the probe by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith into the work of the Rev. Jon Sobrino, a renowned theologian.

He said the congregation would report its conclusions soon, and this would lay out the case.

Spanish daily El Mundo reported last week that Sobrino would be banned from teaching in Catholic institutions and would not be allowed to publish.

The newspaper said the Vatican accuses Sobrino of distorting the name and history of Jesus Christ. Liberation theology promotes social, political and economic awareness among the poor.

Before becoming pontiff two years ago, Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the congregation's crackdown on theologians the Vatican judged to be perilously straying from Church doctrine.

During his two-decade tenure at the congregation's helm, Ratzinger, who is a theologian, worked to cripple support for the "liberation theology" movement, especially popular in Latin America, for its alleged Marxist leanings.

Sobrino has been based in El Salvador for decades and was closed to the Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, an insistent critic of human rights abuses in the country. The churchman was slain in 1980 while celebrating Mass.

Jesuit headquarters in Rome declined to comment on the case until the Vatican issues its findings, possibly later this week, reports AP.

Its press office described the newspaper report as being "mistaken" on several points, but declined to be specific.

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