Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Two More Scholars Censured by Rome. (World)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Two More Scholars Censured by Rome. (World)

Article excerpt

A German Benedictine who is also a Zen master has been ordered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's top doctrinal official, to cease all public activities, including lectures, courses and publications.

At roughly the same time, the Conventual Franciscans have relieved a theologian of teaching duties at Rome's Bonaventura faculty of theology. His writings have been under review by Ratzinger's office.

The action against Benedictine Fr. Willigis Jager, 76, also known by his Zen name of Ko-un Roshi, was made public Feb. 5 by the Wurzburg diocese, where Jager's Munsterschwarzach Abbey is located. Benedictine Fr. Nokter Wolf, the abbot primate of the Benedictine Order, confirmed in response to an NCR query that the decision came from Ratzinger.

Jager has been faulted for playing down the Christian concept of God as a person in his work as a spiritual guide, and for stressing mystical experience above doctrinal truths.

Meanwhile, Franciscan authorities say Fr. Josef Imbach, 56, has been assigned a year of "reflection," amounting to a suspension. Though a Franciscan spokesperson would not elaborate on the motive for the action, Imbach had revealed two years ago that Ratzinger was carrying out an investigation of his 1995 book on miracles.

Imbach said at the time that he was accused of not believing in the divinity of Jesus, of refusing the magisterium of the church, of describing the gospels as teaching texts rather than historically reliable accounts, and of excluding the possibility of miracles. He denied holding these views.

Imbach described the investigation in an October 2000 article published by the progressive Austrian journal Kirche Intern, under the provocative headline of "Joseph versus Josef."

For his part, Jager has indicated he will accept the verdict, which caps a yearlong investigation led primarily by his Benedictine abbot and the local bishop of Wurzburg. He has begun a period of silence in an abbey in Einsiedelei, Germany, expected to endure several months. He did not respond to NCR requests for Comment.

Jager is well-known in the German-speaking world as a spiritual teacher.

In 1972, he met the Japanese Zen master Yamada Roshi of the Sanbo Kyodan school. In 1975, he moved to Kamakura in Japan and spent six years studying Zen, a body of spiritual techniques derived from the Buddhist tradition. In 1981, Jager was authorized to train students in Zen.

In 1982, Jager began offering courses in Zen, using one wing of the Munsterschwarzach Abbey for his "St. Benedict's House." It offers a center for Zen study as well as a residential community where Jager lives with a group of lay students. …

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