Monday, February 7, 2011

Vatican opens process against theologian Jose Antonio Pagola for his book about Jesus

Jesús Bastante of the Spanish newspaper, El Público (2/5/2011), reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has opened a process against Basque theologian José Antonio Pagola. Again, we would like to remind English-speaking readers that Pagola's book Jesus: An Historical Approximation is available from Convivium Press. The best way you can speak out against censorship is to continue buying and reading this book. Here is our English translation of Bastante's article:

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 (Editorial PPC - the Spanish edition) 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 But none of this has kept the Bishops' Conference from achieving the intervention and getting the text withdrawn, and a process opened against Pagola.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.


  1. "Podemos decir sin temor a equivocarnos que la gran revolución religiosa llevada a cabo por Jesús es haber abierto otra vía de acceso a Dios distinta de lo sagrado: la ayuda al hermano necesitado" pp. 193-194

  2. The Vatican Council's document Dei Verbum sets the role of the Church's pastors and teachers firmly in the context of the work of the WHOLE body of the Church.When will non-ordained theologians and the body of the faithful challenge openly the abrogation of its role and rights in the proclamation of the Gospel by the hierarchy ?The Pope and bishops should look over their shoulders at the unrest in the Middle-Eastern countries where human rights of all kinds have been ignored.They have enough work to do to win back our trust as a result of their handling of rhe abuse scandals !!

  3. Het boek Jesus van José Antonio Pagola, heeft mij duidelijk gemaakt dat Jezus God's Zoon is. Jezus navolgen is mee leven en compassie tonen aan de mensen die je ontmoet. Dat spreekt uit alle evangeliën maar vooral nu het zo duidelijk wordt toegelicht en samengebracht met de geschiedsschrijving uit die tijd. God heeft ons allen een vrije wil gegeven en de kans om deel te nemen aan het Leven na de dood. Niet dat de wetten en regels van de Kerk navolgen dit Leven aan ons schenkt, nee we ontvangen dat leven wanneer wij ons best doen Jezus na te volgen. En hoe we dat kunnen helpt dit boek ons daarbij. Het boek heeft mij optimistisch gemaakt en mijn Godsvertrouwen versterkt. Ik hoop dat dit boek vertaald wordt in het Nederlands, ik heb het in het Engels en Portugees gelezen.

  4. Jose pagola should be awarded the highest honours in The catholic Church for his presentation of Jesus . He allows us to judge for ourselves on alternative interpretations of Biblical accounts of jesus teachings. Traditionally as catholics we are not allowed to be critical thinkers but obedient servants of the absolutism of the C.D.F.However the tide has turned and theologians like Pagola must be defended and vindicated by us the people of God.Instead he is led to his calvary by the 21st Century Church.

  5. I am reading this for the first time in July 2013. Does anyone have an update, especially after the change in the Papacy?

  6. thanks for having posted the update.