Father Jon Sobrino, is a prominent Roman Catholic teacher and proponent of liberation theology who teaches at the University of Central America in San Salvador. Now, according to published reports, the Vatican has moved to silence him:
A Jesuit theologian who is a leading exponent of liberation theology will soon be disciplined by the Vatican, according to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
Father Jon Sobrino will be barred from teaching in Catholic schools and instructed not to publish written works, El Mundo reports, citing informed sources at the Vatican. The newspaper claims that the disciplinary measures will be announced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith within the next two weeks.
Father Sobrino’s work was cited as distorting the role of Jesus in the plan of salvation, the Vatican sources said. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reportedly found that his theological works placed an undue emphasis on the figure of Jesus as a human actor involved in social causes, neglecting his divinity and his unique role in Redemption.
Liberation theology played a prominent role in providing intellectual and spiritual underpinnings for the social movements in the 1970s and 1980s opposed to the oppressive government regime in El Salvador. Assassinated archbishop Oscar Romero was significantly influenced by liberation theology.
Jon Sobrino has been a prolific author.He was born in the Basque region of Spain, became a Jesuit priest, and since 1958 has lived and taught in El Salvador. In November 1989, he happened to be away from the country on the night when six of his fellow Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered by Salvadoran armed forces. He has continued on with their work since that dark night.
Liberation theology stresses a preferential option for the poor, and analyzes economic and political forces acting in history which can act to oppress the poor. Sobrino has written that the crucified Christ is present in the suffering of the poor in Latin America.
To learn more about Fr. Sobrino's writings on liberation theology, you can read some of his many books. From the BBC, you can read and listen to Fr. Sobrino describe the underpinnings of his views of liberation theology. You can also watch a short video clip of Fr. Sobrino talking about the dangers faced by the Jesuits at the University of Central America during El Salvador's civil war.
To understand the current action of the Roman Catholic authorities, you may want to review this article from National Catholic Reporter in April 1999 which discusses the opposition of Pope Benedict (then John Cardinal Ratzinger) to liberation theology. This critique of liberation theology is embodied in the 1984 Instruction on Theology of Liberation from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Ratzinger. Finally, this Washington Post article from 2005 discusses the ongoing tension between the Vatican and liberation theologians.