Henri de Lubac, Catholics & politics, etc.

Straight to the Source

Henri de Lubac, SJ, was one of the most influential and prolific Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. Robin Darling Young (“An Imagined Unity,” September 14) catches some of the richness and the magnanimity of the man, but on the whole, her article tends more toward indictment than approbation.

Her contention is that de Lubac “sought a refuge from the corrosive modernity of the twentieth century.” He did so, in her reading, by imaging a Patristic world of unity and harmony that bears scant resemblance to the messy and conflicted reality of early Christianity.

Let me make three points by way of reply. First, de Lubac, with the best of the ressourcement theologians, realized that aggiornamento was an intrinsic element of their project. He writes in Catholicism: “We can revive the [church] fathers’ all-embracing humanism and recover the spirit of their mystical exegesis only by an assimilation which is at the same time a transformation.... We should gain nothing at all by breaking with an unhealthy individualism if in its place we dreamed of an impossible return to the past.”

Second, de Lubac’s committed (though not uncritical) advocacy of Teilhard de Chardin in books, articles,...

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