Schillebeeckx, Dominican Theologian, Dead at 95

Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., a theologian whose work had a huge impact on the Dutch church, died at the age of 95 on Dec. 23 in Nijmegen, Netherlands, where he lived since 1957. The Dominican taught in the department of dogmatic and historical theology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, now known as Radboud University Nijmegen, from 1957 until his retirement in 1983. He served as theological adviser to the Dutch bishops during the Second Vatican Council and was seen as the main inspiration behind the Dutch catechism for adults. The catechism was published in 1966 after approval by the country's bishops, who wanted the text to reflect the council's new approach to questions of faith. But the Vatican criticized the text, ordered a study of it and in 1972 insisted on its withdrawal from use in Catholic schools. In its obituary, Radboud University Nijmegen described Father Schillebeeckx as "as a pioneer who connected faith, church and theology with modern humanity in a secular society." But his efforts to "rethink the Christian faith in the light of contemporary culture"—as Vatican Radio described his work Dec. 27—led to three separate investigations by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith between 1968 and 1984. The last investigation was carried out under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. In 1986, concluding the investigation, the cardinal issued a notification on Father Schillebeeckx's book, "The Church with a Human Face: A New and Expanded Theology of Ministry," saying it was "in disagreement with the teaching of the church," particularly regarding ordination and the possibility of lay people presiding at the Eucharist. However, the doctrinal congregation did not apply any penalties to the Dominican, who already had retired from teaching.

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