Fr. Pagola has written a lovely open letter thanking his fellow priests for this support (translation below). Meanwhile, he has also picked up a brief public statement of support from Javier Oñate, director of the Bilbao Institute of Theology. The future of the Spanish edition of Fr. Pagola's book, Jesús, aproximación histórica, is still up in the air. The Web site of the former publisher PPC is presently down. The Basque version is a best seller and the work has also been published in Catalan, English, and Portuguese.
by José Antonio Pagola English translation by Rebel Girl)
published by Diario Vasco
Dear friends: First of all, I want to tell you that I am moved. If I am breaking the silence that I have been keeping about my book about Jesus, it is to thank you for your embrace of solidarity, so unanimous and sincere. I will never forget it. At the same time I want to express my gratitude to those -- believers and nonbelievers -- who have come to me to show their unconditional agreement and support. My thanks to all. While reading your names one by one, I have been remembering all the efforts and work, so many pastoral programs and projects shared with you over many years to answer, with passion and even enthusiasm, the call of the Council [Vatican II] that invited us to a deep renewal of our ministry and evangelizing action.
It wasn't easy for us. We had to bring our theology up to date, learn to celebrate the faith with the people, revive the joint responsibility of the laity, and share from within the problems, conflicts and suffering of our people. All this work has not been in vain. The great theologian Karl Rahner has said that the Council was only "the start of the beginning".
Thanks to the journey along which we have come, we are now able to understand that at this time when unprecedented sociocultural change is taking place, the Church needs an unprecedented conversion. This conversion has a name: a return to Jesus, the Christ and Lord, to focus the Church more truly and faithfully on His person and His plan of God's kingdom.
From this perspective, writing a book about Jesus is important, but it is still a passing episode. The crucial thing is to join forces to go back to basics, to what Jesus lived out and spread. To not let His Spirit be extinguished within us by our cowardice, laziness of heart or lack of awareness. We can all contribute to making the Church more one of Jesus and its face more like His.
We do not know the future that awaits the Christian faith among us. Christianity is only twenty centuries old, and surely Jesus has not yet given the best. You ended your letter by encouraging me to "keep hoping against hope in Him who has sustained my life." It's the best thing that you could have wished me. I will continue walking and working with my eyes fixed on Him. I could no longer live otherwise. A big hug for your friendship. And know one thing: you have now given me back my smile.