Ratzinger on Newman

From the Fall, 2010 Communio: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, On Conscience (1991 – Retrieving the Tradition).

From the text:

On the occasion of his elevation to cardinal, Newman declared that most of his life was a struggle against the spirit of liberalism in religion. We might add, also against Christian subjectivism, as he found it in the Evangelical movement of his time and which admittedly had provided him the first step on his lifelong road to conversion. Conscience for Newman does not mean that the subject is the standard vis-à-vis the claims of authority in a truthless world, a world which lives from the compromise between the claims of the subject and the claims of the social order. Much more than that, conscience signifies the perceptible and demanding presence of the voice of truth in the subject himself. It is the overcoming of mere subjectivity in the encounter of the interiority of man with the truth from God. The verse Newman composed in 1833 in Sicily is characteristic: “I loved to choose and see my path but now, lead thou me on!” Newman’s conversion to Catholicism was not for him a matter of personal taste or of subjective, spiritual need. He expressed himself on this even in 1844, on the threshold, so to speak of his conversion: “No one can have a more unfavorable view than I of the present state of Roman Catholics.” Newman was much more taken by the necessity to obey recognized truth than his own preferences, that is to say, even against his own sensitivity and bonds of friendship and ties due to similar backgrounds. It seems to me characteristic of Newman that he emphasized truth’s priority over goodness in the order of virtues. Or, to put it in a way which is more understandable for us, he emphasized truth’s priority over consensus, over the accommodation of groups. I would say, when we are speaking of a man of conscience, we mean one who looks at things this way. A man of conscience is one who never acquires tolerance, well-being, success, public standing, and approval on the part of prevailing opinion, at the expense of truth. Read full article.


Article on Cardinal Ouellet

From the June 2011 edition of The Walrus magazine: a profile and interview with Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

Click here to go to the article.


Cardinal Ouellet’s articles in Communio:

Paradox and/or Supernatural Existential (1991) The New Catechism: An Event of the Faith (1994) Woe to Me If I Do Not Preach the Gospel (1994) The Mystery of Easter and the Culture of Death (1996) Priestly Ministry at the Service of Ecclesial Communion (1996) Jesus Christ, the One Savior of the World, Yesterday, Today, and Forever (1997) Covenantal Justice (2000) Mary and the Future of Ecumenism (2003) Theological Perspectives on Marriage (2004)

Read more about Cardinal Ouellet here. See a complete list of his articles here.

Interview: Angelo Scola on John Paul II

Here is an interview with Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, a longtime editor and author of the Italian Communio, and currently the coordinator of the international editorial board of Communio.

From the text:

How did you draw near the personality of Karol Wojtyla, and how did your encounter with the teachings of John Paul II deepen over time?

I had the opportunity to meet Karol Wojtyla briefly in the international editing circle for Communio, but our relationship deepened after his election to the papacy. . . . Go to the full interview

Blessed John Paul II

From the archives:

John Paul II. Address to the Group Representing the Journal Communio (1992)

. . . As Archbishop of Cracow, I had occasion to encourage and promote the Polish edition [of Communio], which contributed to an understanding of the faith in a country where the intellectual investigation of truth has for a long time encountered many obstacles. At the present time, it is important that a vigorous exchange of views be established between Christians who have lived the experience of repression and persecution and Christians who have been able to express their faith in complete freedom. This will give a new thrust to theological research as well as to the expression and announcement of the Christian mystery in the contemporary world. Saint Paul recalled that the exchange of material goods and mutual aid are a fundamental expression of ecclesial charity and communion. Similarly, the sharing of spiritual and intellectual goods conveys the love that comes to us from the Lord. . . .

Telegram Upon the Death of Hans Urs von Balthasar  (1988)

Thomas Prufer on Brideshead Revisted

From the archives:

Thomas Prufer. The Death of Charm and the Advent of Grace. Waugh’s Brideshead Revisted. (1983). From the text:

Brideshead Revisited has been criticized for being lush, ornamental and sentimental in style,  on the one hand, and, on the other hand, for theological harshness. It could be said that the book oscillates between a surface romanticism and an intrusive eschatology or even that it falls apart into these two extremes. Has the earlier Waugh,  taut and funny, given way to a combination of gluttony and bigotry?

My concern is to make the case that this criticism is a distortion. It misses the heart of Waugh’s achievement: to have made a work in which the integrities of both art and faith are respected in their interaction. Indeed, they are respected precisely because of their interaction. The richness of the style and the stringency of the theology interact and thus intensify each other.  Full text (pdf)

Readings for Holy Week 2011

Marc Ouellet. The Mystery of Easter and the Culture of Death (1996)
Juan M. Sara. Descensus ad inferos. Dawn of Hope. Aspects of Holy Saturday in the Trilogy of Hans Urs von Balthasar (2005)
Christoph Dohmen. The Suffering Servant and the Passion of Jesus (2003)
José Granados. Toward a Theology of the Suffering Body (2006)
Jan-Heiner Tück. The Cross as the Locus of Truth: Joseph Ratzinger’s Meditations on the Way of the Cross (2006)
Hans Urs von Balthasar. Joy and the Cross (2004)
Jean-Pierre Batut. Does the Father Suffer? (2003)
José Granados. The New Hosannah in the New Temple: Jesus’ Entry Into Jerusalem (2009)
Robert Spaemann. When Death Becomes Inhuman (2006)
Jan-Heiner Tück. The Utmost: On the Possibilities and Limits of a Trinitarian Theology of the Cross (2003)

Adrian Walker on Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth

The current issue of Communio publishes an article by editor Adrian J. Walker, the English translator of the first volume of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth: Living Water: Reading Scripture in the Body of Christ with Benedict XVI (pdf).

For more on Jesus of Nazareth see:

Denis Farkasfalvy. Jesus of Nazareth and the Renewal of New Testament Theology (2007) and
Roch Kereszty. The Challenge of Jesus of Nazareth for Theologians (2007)

Also by Adrian Walker:

On ‘Rephilosophizing’ Theology (2004) | ‘Rejoice always.’ How Everyday Joy Responds to the Problem of Evil (2004) | Personal Singularity and the Communio Personarum: A Creative Development of Thomas Aquinas’ Doctrine of Esse Commune (2004)  | Benedict XVI: A Co-Worker of the Truth (2005) | Love Alone: Hans Urs von Balthasar as a Master of Theological Renewal (2005) | ‘Sown Psychic, Raised Spiritual’: The Lived Body as the Organ of Theology (2006) | ‘Clouds of Witnesses’: Introducing Why We Need. . . (2007) | The Gift of Simplicity. Reflections on Obedience in the Work of Adrienne von Speyr. (2007)

Jörg Splett: The Evangelical Counsels in Marriage?

Jörg Splett (bio). The Evangelical Counsels in Marriage? (2004).

From the text:

We can formulate the following universal principle: for the “I,” his hunger, thirst, desire, pleasure, and so forth are first a “physical” matter, while those of the “Thou” are first a “moral” one. (I am to give to others of what is mine, but not take what is theirs; the others are “widows and orphans,” not I. Conversely, I am the one who has to turn the other cheek, not they. And, in the extreme case: I may never sacrifice another—certainly not for myself; but perhaps I not only may, but must sacrifice—myself.) All of this, moreover, I have to do for the neighbor who is, literally, right next to me.

Poverty for the married consists, first of all, in generous sharing of common income and possessions. This does not exclude “private property,” by the way, but rather expressly includes it. In other words, each one can take from the common “petty cash”—so as to have the means to give the other (and others) a gift. (The right to have is ancillary to the ability to give to the point of giving even oneself. This holds for the possession of things, of one’s own bodiliness, and even of the preserve of one’s person and its mystery.)

Poverty does not concern only I and Thou, but transcends them. It becomes an affair of the couple as such in their relation to children. No one lives for himself. . . . (full text).

See more articles from the Fall 2004 issue devoted to “Consecration and the States of Life.”

Feast of St. Joseph: Massimo Camisasca on Fatherhood

From the Fall 2010 issue:

Massimo Camisasca, FSCB (more):  The Father, a Source of Communion: Fatherhood as the Generation of Life, Fatherhood, and Love (pdf).

From the text:

Today we are aware that the lack of a father figure makes the child insecure and lacking in vigor. Because the child was not spurred on toward life, it has a greater difficulty in expressing itself creatively. A young person without a father does not know how to take on responsibility in the face of everyday choices and regards reality as hostile, as a stage filled with challenges that cost too much psychic, spiritual, and affective energy. Without a father, life is populated by enemies.  . . . A father must never give up proposing his own reasons for living and his own values, but he must always offer these in a positive manner, as a path toward happiness that he and his child must verify together. He makes himself present to his children, showing them the reasons that move him and the pathways that lead him to his decisions; in doing so, he involves them in his life. The more they are involved and dependent, the more the paradox is realized: they rise up whole, fully aware, capable of willing, of courage, of initiative, and of accompanying others. In other words, free.  (full text)

Introduction to Communio, The Unity of the Scriptures

 The Fall, 2010 issue of Communio is devoted to “The Unity of the Scriptures.” In the words of St. Augustine, ‘novum in vetere latet, vetus in novo patet’ — the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New. There is, then, a reciprocal relationship between the two Testaments: “The New Testament demands to be read in the light of the Old, but it also invites a ‘re-reading’ of the Old in the light of Jesus Christ (cf. Lk 24:45).” The interpretation of Scripture in the Church involves a passage from letter to spirit that both presupposes and discovers anew the deepest ground of the unity of Scripture—the Word made flesh and communicated in the Holy Spirit. “The central Word which God speaks,” writes Hans Urs von Balthasar, “and which comprises as their unity and end all the manifold words of God is Jesus Christ, the incarnate God . . . . His life is a fulfilling of Scripture. Therefore he incorporates the written words into his own life, making it live and there take flesh.” The present issue explores the unity of Scripture both as a theological mystery and as an abiding source for the renewal of exegesis and theology.

Adrian J. Walker, in “Living Water: Reading Scripture in the Body of Christ With Benedict XVI,” suggests that Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth exemplifies a new form of exegesis that incorporates aspects of historical-critical scholarship while approaching Scripture as an organic whole that coalesces into a unity around the figure of Christ. Of decisive importance is the action of the Holy Spirit, who “(co-)creates Jesus’ body and then (co-)resurrects it from the tomb on the Third Day.” To read Scripture in the same Spirit in which it was written “is to receive Holy Writ as an icon displaying the features of the Incarnate Son—and to receive the impress of those features by the workings of the Holy Spirit.”

Paolo Prosperi, in “Novum in vetere latet. Vetus in novo patet: Toward a Renewal of Typological Exegesis,” begins with a survey of the contemporary debate over the relation between the two Testaments and the claim that Christ “fulfills all the Scriptures.” Drawing on the theology and typological exegesis of Origen, Maximus the Confessor, and Dionysius the Areopagite, Prosperi brings to light a complex and dynamic understanding of the novelty of Christ as the “fulfillment” of the letter and types of the Old Testament. “Thus,” he writes, “while it is right to say that the New Testament involves a spiritualization of that which had been ‘carnal,’ we must immediately offer this clarification: this means a passage to the total fullness of meaning contained in the figure. This fullness involves not only its transformation in the direction of interiorization, but also its opposite: a greater incarnation of that which previously had been metaphorical or spiritual.”

Scott W. Hahn, in “The Symphony of the Old and New Testaments in the Biblical Theology of Benedict XVI,” presents a synthetic account of the biblical theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. Hahn shows how for Pope Benedict, “the unity of the Old and New Testaments is more than a literary (canonical) or historical (economic) phenomenon; indeed, faith grasps the nature of that unity as a theological mystery—as something theandric — namely Christ.” In Benedict’s theology, “worship, law, and ethics are inseparably interwoven” within a biblical vision of the covenant whereby “God binds himself irrevocably” to his creation.

Ricardo Aldana, in “The Triune God as the Unity of Scripture,” reflects on the unity of Scripture as a mystery that reaches into God’s own being. Drawing on the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr, Aldana suggests that “the unity of Scripture . . . has its foundation, not only in trinitarian love, but also in created freedom’s loving participation therein. In particular, the Holy Spirit, who unites in himself the loving will of the Father and the Son, also incorporates the sacred writer’s loving reception of the Word into this unity.”

Mary Healy, in “The Hermeneutic of Jesus,” develops an argument in support of a christological reading of the Old Testament, or what ancient tradition calls the “spiritual sense.” The guiding question is, “What implicit hermeneutical assumptions and principles can be gleaned from Jesus’ own manner of interpreting the Old Testament as presented to us in the gospels?” Focusing on two passages in the gospel of Mark in which Jesus refers to David, Healy shows that “Jesus’ citations of the Scriptures . . . entail not merely a reinterpretation of texts but the claim that Israel’s kingship, worship, priesthood, and sabbath all belong to a divinely orchestrated plan, hidden within history, that is fully revealed and brought to fruition only in him.”

Michael Maria Waldstein, in “Constitutive Relations: A Response to David L. Schindler,” responds to the questions and critical remarks outlined in Schindler’s 2008 Communio article, “The Embodied Person as Gift and the Cultural Task in America.” After distinguishing Aristotelian substance together with its “proper” or “per se” accidents from the modern idea of substance as an unrelated and static block of being, Waldstein addresses the disputed question of “constitutive relationality.” “[I]n a human being,” he writes, “the proper subject of the relation of the creature as created to the Creator as origin is the person.” It follows that “the substance is ontologically prior to relation.”

Retrieving the Tradition presents two essays in honor of the beatification of John Henry Newman on 19 September 2010. The first is a selection, “On Conscience,” from John Henry Newman’s “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,” which concludes with the famous words, “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing), I shall drink — to the Pope, if you please, — still to Conscience first and to the Pope afterwards.” According to Newman, “conscience” is the supreme authority precisely because it is “the internal witness of both the existence and the law of God.”

In his essay “Conscience and Truth,” Joseph Ratzinger reflects on the place of conscience in the whole of Newman’s life and thought. Ratzinger suggests that for Newman, “the middle term that establishes the connection between authority and subjectivity is truth . . . . [T]he centrality of the concept of conscience for Newman is linked to the prior centrality of the concept of truth and can only be understood from this vantage point.”

Notes & Comments concludes the issue with a reflection by Massimo Camisasca on “The Father, the Source of Communion: Fatherhood as the Generation of Life.” After describing some of the historical roots of the crisis of fatherhood, Camisasca meditates on the challenge of human fatherhood in relation to the divine origin. “Every form of fatherhood, if it is to remain faithful to its task, must lead to the unique and true, heavenly fatherhood, that of God the Father. Every form of fatherhood has the task of introducing the child to the mystery of Being, of accompanying him into the depths of existence, all the way to the origin of all things.”


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