Monday, April 16, 2012
In 2007, Fergus Kerr wrote a scholarly book titled "Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians" in which he ably portrayed the contributions of major Catholic Theologians in the Twentieth Century. One of the most illustrious such theologians is the Jesuit Henri de Lubac, made Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II a couple of years before the former's death. I learned much from the book, but particularly I learned about the enormous work of Fr. Henri de Lubac, known for his outstanding achievements in the "Ressourcement" (i.e. going back to the resources of the Bible, the Fathers and Scholastics), "New Theology" and the Liturgical Movement. Henri de Lubac was invited to participate in Vatican II as an expert and here his contribution shines all the way in the major documents the Council issued particularly in Dei verbum where the Council speaks explicitly about the development of doctrine. Was it in the development of doctrine that his contribution was mostly pronounced? I am afraid that I cannot point to one thing he did, but his spirit of obedience to the Church led him to be appointed to the most celebrated Council in Church history. His approach to dogmas was at one and the same time balanced by recourse to Tradition as developed in the Fathers of the Church. In that vein he was able to retrieve the works of Origen the outstanding Biblical scholar of the Church of Alexandria in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. Although de Lubac does not subscribe to Origenism (the idea of Apocatastasis rejected by the Church) he nevertheless opens up the hope for a world entangled in sin to the unconditional love of God and accordingly in de Lubac, as in Karl Rahner, we find an optimistic view that God is always present in every human person ever conceived. Salvation is possible to everyone and not only to Christians officially baptized in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church remains the sign and instrument of Christ in the world which requires her to continue to preach the salvific message and sacraments of Christ to the end of the world.Yet those who have not received Christ (for example through a distorted presentation of the Gospel or forced conversion, I would think) are not rejected. For God loves all.