XVII (1996)

Jossua J.P., Yves Congar. La vie et l’oeuvre d’un théologien, XVII, 1-12.

The author remembers Y. Congar only a few months after the latter’s death, tracing the most important biographical details step by step, including the main aspects of his theological formation and spiritual teaching, His contribution to Vatican Council debate, inside the theological commission, and to post-Vatican Council activity, rich in new interests and of a rare intellectual vivacity, are given especial prominence.

Stroumsa G.G., Dall’antigiudaismo all’antisemitismo nel cristianesimo primitivo?, XVII, 13-46.

If the roots of anti-semitism are undoubtedly Christian, the period in which this phenomenon originated in the Church is by no means certain. The author singles  out the earliest Christian centuries to show that in patristic literature, alongside anti-Judaic themes, anti-semitic features were already evident. In medieval times these same features will form the basis of the widespread demon image of the Jew. After having pointed out the limitations of the two main historiographical approaches to anti-Judaism in ancient Christian times, – the social dimension of the conflict between Jews and Christians in the Imperial cities, and anti-Judaism as a feature of Christian discourse per se – the author explains the anti-Judaism of primitive Christianity in the light of the dynamic character of religious identity in the Roman world, assuming that the religious revolution of the fourth century was a crucial turning-point in the attitude of early Christianity towards the Jews.

Marani A., Tra sinodi e conferenze episcopali. La definizione del ruolo degli incontri collettivi dei vescovi fra Gregorio XVI e Pius IX, XVII, 47-93.

From the eighteen-thirties Gregory XVI assumed control over the non-council collective meetings of bishops belonging to the same territory, which had been born of  the need of the individual episcopacies to coordinate their action, in order to exercise a role of guidance and control over the bishops of any particular geographical area. Other reasons were the restoration of the ancien régime and obtaining for the Church the greatest possible number of privileges. For Pius IX, – between 1848 and 1849, a time in which he reflected profoundly on the ways the Church could best be present in contemporary society – they became one of the instruments for spreading an intransigent ideology among the faithful, spreading it everywhere and on a religious basis, although they did not completely lose their previous functions. Then Mastai, while defining the overall characteristics and the aims behind the episcopal meetings clearly, demonstrated a substantial elasticity as far as their form was concerned. Indeed he used conferences and provincial synods interchangeably, having the former take on tasks which were strictly pastoral, and traditionally those of the provincial synods, and the latter the function of the defence, in relation to the political powers, of the privileges of the Church.

Fouilloux, Paradossi del cattolicesimo francese (1940-1945), XVII, 95-120.

This article focuses on some very complex problems concerning the history of French Catholicism during the Second World War, as well as its more recent historical memory insofar as it has been disturbed by what is called the ≪Vichy syndrome≫. The author clarifies in particular the terms of the Catholic Church’s attitude to the Vichy regime, consisting substantially of a conformism that the Catholics of the time did not find at all a contradiction of the effervescence on the religious and especially apostolic plane, in which they were protagonists. The realisation of a coexistence in French Catholicism in this period of political conformism and religious effervescence belongs rather to a later ≪historical memory≫. This latter, in its turn, has been slow to take into account another phenomenon associated with that peaceful coexistence of the two features in the conscience of those who lived through the war: and that is the fact that right after the war, despite the massive support that Catholics gave to Vichy, some of the latter returned in strength to take up prominent roles in French politics.

Kauchtschischwili N., La Russia e Roma. Alcune riflessioni sui rapporti ecumenici tra chiese cattolica e ortodossa, XVII,121-152.

The French Jesuit Michel d’Herbigny, vice-chancellor of the Pontificio Istituto Orientale and founder of the ≪Russicum≫, was one of the most important people in the twenties to be involved in ≪Roman≫ pro Russia activities. For a decade he was Pius Xl’s right hand man for everything concerning Russia and relations with the Orthodox Church, and then at the start of the thirties he was unexpectedly dismissed from all his official positions, sent away from Italy and even prevented from continuing his teaching activities in France. The author concentrates his analysis in particular on the mentality of the Jesuit, inclined to think of the relation between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches entirely in the sense of a conversion of the latter to the former, and on the consequent activity in favour of a ≪union≫, which, carried out on these terms, and with the blessing of the papal authorities, can be understood as one of the causes of the later difficulties in the dialogue between the two Churches and of the substantially diffident Orthodox attitude towards Catholic initiatives in eastern European countries.

Montero F., La historia de la ACNP desde la Universidad de Navarra, XVII, 153-158.

Two books, by J.M. Ordovas and M. Montero, have appeared recently on the history of the Asociacion Catolica Nacional de Propagandistas from 1923 to 1945; both derive from Navarra University graduate theses supervised by Gonzalo Redondo. The volumes are subject to limitations as far as their methodology and theoretical premises are concerned. For example, there is insufficient contextualisation from a wider political and historical-religious perspective, despite numerous recent publications in this area. The interpretative framework of the two works creates even greater reservations. The various Catholic components are all grouped together under the label ≪traditionalism≫, which prevents the authors from realising or even admitting the importance of the ACNP as a real precursor of a future Catholicliberal position.

Paiano M., Il Vaticano II visto dalla Russia. Convegno di studi: Mosca, 29 marzo-2 aprile 1995, XVII, 159-172.

The volume contains concise descriptions of the most important contributions to the congress held in Moscow from March 29th to April 2nd 1995. The fruit of the collaboration between the Universal Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian cultural association for exchange and cooperation with Italy, the Institute for Religious Sciences of Bologna and scholars of the patriarchate, the meeting aimed at the clarification of aspects of a political-diplomatic and ecumenical nature connected to the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Vatican II. Beside the interventions of a critical-historical kind can be found contributions that reflect the political and religious tensions that Russia has been experiencing over these last few years. Overall, however, the congress was an interesting opportunity for a meeting with a cultural reality in ferment; the recent easier access to state archives renders this reality even more interesting for historical research, religious-historical research not excluded.

Potest. G.L. – Rusconi R., Lo statuto della profezia nel Medioevo, XVII, 243-250.

Despite the invaluable studies by J.P. Torrell, which are however limited to the debates on the scholars working in thirteenth century universities, an overall picture of medieval prophecy is still lacking. The plan of the present monograph issue is to answer to the need to enlarge and go more deeply into the field, focusing the analysis especially on the theological produced, paying particular attention to the discourse of theologians who already in their own time were considered prophets.

McGinn B., Prophetic Power in Early Medieval Christianity, XVII, 251-270.

Building on the patristic view of prophecy, especially that of Augustine, thinkers of the early medieval period (500-1100 A.D.) used prophecy in three ways. First, prophecy fulfilled was employed apologetically as an argument for the truth of Christianity against Judaism and, to a lesser extent, against Islam. The most important use of prophecy, however, understood it as hermeneutical insight into the Bible and homiletic skill in preaching the biblical message. This view was both expressed and exemplified in Gregory the Great. Finally, prophecy as prediction of the future was associated with new apocalyptic texts, often coming from Eastern Christianity, as well as with the ability of many early medieval saints to foretell the fate of individuals.

Maier C., Ildegarda di Bingen. Profezia ed esistenza letteraria, XVII, 271-304.

The article contains Hildegard of Bingen’s most important statements concerning her prophetic activities, and at the level of interpretation, presents a critical synthesis of the research carried out in the field over the last few decades. The following aspects are dealt with (in order): Hildegard’s vocation for the public office of prophecy; the condition of prophetess, characterised by Hildegard by the declaration of her own incapacity and by the illumination originating in divine grace, which intervenes to cancel out weaknesses in favour of a renewed perfection; the position of the prophetess within the history of salvation; the world of the vision; the prophetic work; prophecy as doctrine of salvation, a criticism of the present time and interpretation of the future.

Potest. G.L., Progresso della conoscenza teologica e critica del profetismo in Gioacchino da Fiore, XVII, 305-334.

Believed to be a prophet, Joachim da Fiore has long been considered an unwelcome guest in the house of exegesis (the definition is B. Smalley’s). An examination of his entire literary output, however, demonstrates the way historical hermeneutics is the defining figure of his doctrinal profile; he too understood himself to be an exegete, aiming in the first place to interpret the mystery of history in the Bible. For Joachim the age of prophecy terminated with the coming of Jesus Christ; the silence of the prophets moreover creates better conditions for a freer reading of the Scriptures and for a more open confrontation with its interpreters. The clear distinction that he makes at the theological level between intellectus and opinio allows him to relate in both critical and original ways to the tradition and to go different ways with respect to Jerome and Augustine on ≪opinions≫ of considerable importance. Such divergences, for him, are to be understood and explained by taking account of the fact that knowledge increases in the course of time, growing both in scope and clarity as the last days approach. His vision of knowledge is thus closely connected to his apocalyptic conception of history, itself also destined to progress, after the imminent coming of Antichrist, towards the brief earthly age of sabbath fullness.

Laras G., La dottrina di Maimonide sulla profezia, XVII, 335-348.

The prophetic state is brought about through the linking of the Universal AgentIntellect-tenth and final emanation in the hierarchy of spiritual entities which God makes use of to act as mediator on the empirical world – with the human intellect; on condition that the subject has been graced with the gifts of moral and intellectual perfection to the highest degree. Starting with a very high level of intellectual perfection, the Agent Intellect bathes the subject in his light, and such an illumination may involve either the human intellect alone or the imaginative faculty alone. In the first case, this will result in a philosopher, and in the second case, in a legislator or diviner. Unlike the Arab philosophers (Al-Farabi, in particular) who see in prophecy a sort of natural phenomenon which can’t fail to appear where the necessary moral and intellectual conditions are present, Maimonides introduces a new basic element into his prophetic doctrine: God can deny prophecy also to those who possess the necessary moral and intellectual qualities. By assuming that prophecy has the character of divine gift, independent of any natural necessity, the idea of the supernatural mission of the prophet is strengthened, and Biblical revelation placed at a level of unrepeatable uniqueness.

Ghisalberti A., Il lessico della profezia in s. Tommaso d’Aquino, XVII, 349-368.

Through a systematic and comparative analysis of Thomas Aquinas’ two basic texts on prophecy (De Veritate, q. 12; Summa Theologiae, IIa-IIae, qq. 171-176) two methodological demands emerge: on the one hand the Augustine and high-medieval tradition is at work, underlining the uniqueness of the prophetic charisma in the life of the Church and in dogmatic theology, which is a completely original position when compared to any other religious or cultural tradition; and on the other hand, Aquinas shows that the presence of prophetic grace in man occurs through the psychical and noetic structure of the subject, setting this out according to the model of Aristotelian anthropology. Only the contents of the visio prophetica are above nature, which however has forms available to contain them without being overwhelmed or annihilated. The prophetological vocabulary of Aquinas thus arrives at a series of basic reference points, on an extremely complex terrain; prophecy is a charisma which is not natural, but given by God; it is connected to meta-individual ends, it can never be activated at man’s initiative and it is accompanied by a selfevident manifestation of its own divine matrix.

Burr D., Olivi on Prophecy, XVII, 369-392.

Olivi’s understanding of prophecy was in many ways typical for his time. Like others he considered whether the prophet received his knowledge by looking into the speculum aeternitatis; whether prophecy was a habitus; and whether prophetic visions were intellectual, imaginary or corporeal. He differed sharply from others, however, in the way his notion of prophecy was influenced by his interpretation of the Apocalypse, by the writings and personal experience of Joachim of Fiore, and by Olivi’s contact with contemporary mystics. The result was a general theory of contemplative experience that united biblical prophecy, contemporary mysticism, and contemporary exegetical practice.

Morisi Guerra A., Il silenzio di Dio e la voce dell’anima. Da Enrico di Langenstein a Gerson, XVII, 393-414.

In the age of the Great Schism prophecies abounded; sometimes they were tools of political strife, but more often they were symptoms of a profound sense of disturbance, widespread at every level of society, owing to the anguished expectancy of traumatic events. Theologians’ reflections seem to concentrate on the possibility of discriminating between what is true and what is false. According to Henry of Langenstein the row of the little prophets of his time obscures the great silence of God, a terrible sign of his wrath; Peter from Ailly seeks certainty in the unchanging events of the stars; Jean Gerson brings the problem back to the conscience of each individual, to the care over the movements of the spirit of each in view of a judgement which is above all individual.

Ruggieri G., La storia della tolleranza e dell’intolleranza cristiana come problema teologico, XVII, 463-484.

Despite what is often claimed, an idea of tolerance is really extensively present in the ancient Church, finding its orientation in the mystery of the cross. This sometimes coexists in the tolerators themselves with a practice of intolerance towards pagans and heretics and seems to disappear steadily during the Middle Ages. However it is true that, starting from the divisions of the sixteenth century, it is the politiques and not the Churches which work out a doctrine of tolerance which, putting  the religious convinctions of groups between parentheses, is concerned above all with peace in civil society. The Catholic Church has largely taken over this conceptions of the politiques, in its declaration on religious liberty in the Second Vatican Council. But in doing so, it implicitly recognises in the state the supreme guarantee of peace, and seems not to recognise, above all within itself, all the wealth of the mystery of communion which it proclaims in its faith. Theologically, therefore, the task of rethinking the complex of problems seems far from over.

Meier J., Die Kirche in Spanisch-Amerika um 1800 nach den Reiseschilderungen Alexanders von Humboldt, XVII, 485-516.

Alexander von Humboldt, the ≪second discoverer of America≫, had a lot of contact with the Catholic Church of his time in the course of his journey of discovery across Venezuela, Cuba, the countries of the Andes and Mexico (1799-1804). In his descriptions of the journey there is a great deal of evidence of this; until now, however, research has not sufficiently brought this aspect of the expedition to light. The impression that Humboldt had of the Catholic Church in Latin America in 1800 seems to be ambivalent. On the one hand there is the positive contribution of the Church as a civilising influence (the construction of towns, education, and works of charity); among the members of the clergy, especially the lay clergy, he is able to appreciate a number of people for their enlightened thinking and for their progressive actions; even his most important interlocutor was of the clergy: don Jose Celestino Mutis, who was in charge of the ≪Espedicion botanica de Nueva Granada≫, at Bogota. On the other hand Humboldt often showed how far away he was from Catholicism, especially in its popular manifestations, in the descriptions of which he incidentally testifies to a considerable intercultural openness and a tendency of the ecclesiastical life of the time to be absorbed into native social and cultural patterns. Humboldt rejects the system of closed Indian missions that he saw in the Venezuelan interior. If he recognises the work and the hospitality of the missionaries, he still sees the missions on a level with the ≪theocracies≫, comparable to the system of serfdom of Eastern Europe. He doesn’t give sufficient weight however, to the fact that the missions, over and above their limitations, have a protective function for the indios in relation to the creole privileged classes.

Aubert R., Il cardinal Mercier. Un prelato d’avanguardia, XVII, 517-540.

The text of the article corresponds to that of a lesson held on the occasion of the ceremony of homage to Cardinal Mercier which accompanied the presentation of the volume of essays dedicated by Aubert to the Cardinal, held at Louvain-la- Neuve in June 1994. The author traces the main events of Mercier’s life, summing up the results of his previous and more analytical research. In particular, he focuses on Mercier’s role in the renewal of studies in Thomism pressed for by Leo XIII in the Aeterni Patris and later as Archbishop of Malines. Mercier was given the Chair dedicated specifically to the philosophy of St. Thomas at the Catholic university of Louvain in 1882. Furthermore, it is to his initiative, in the same university, that we owe the creation of an institute of philosophy centrally concerned with the study of Thomism, and which gave rise to the ≪Revue néo-scolastique de philosophie≫ from 1894. Of Mercier’s activities as Archbishop of Malines on the other hand emerges the impulse given to the development both of Catholic works and of the liturgical movement, as well as the promotion of the ecumenical cause with the Conversations at Malines. But the role he played during the First World War is also remembered, when after the retreat of king, government and army into France, he remained the only authoritative representative figure for the occupying forces, even arriving at personally undertaking peace negotiations. This activity and this presence in the public eye in the war years gave him great international prestige, which he made good use of in some subsequent interventions in Belgian political life in the early years after the war.

Morozzo della Rocca R., Benedetto XV e il nazionalismo, XVII, 541-566.

Benedict XV sees in nationalism the ≪enemy≫ of his pontificate and of the Church of which he is the head. He is not a Pope especially fond of doctrinal niceties, theoretical definitions and sensational condemnations, and so he doesn’t condemn nationalism, just as he doesn’t proclaim anathemas against any of the political doctrines of his time. Instead he clashes with nationalism in a real, historical sense, in the events that occur in his short but intense papacy: the First World War, the difficult peace that follows, the imperialism of the European powers, the falling back on the idea of nation in the countries of the eastern Churches. The present essay enquires into the confrontation between Benedict XV and nationalism both in the states and public opinion and in personalities and internal currents of the Catholic Church.

Paiano M., Approcci alla liturgia in Francia tra le due guerre, XVII, 567-610.

The article makes a selective enquiry into three different ways of relating to liturgical prayer in France in the years between the wars: that of the Bishop of Chartres Raul Harscouet, that of the Jesuit and assistant to the French scouts Paul Doncoeur, and that of the ≪Jeunesse ouvrière chrétienne≫ = (JOC). Through the study of the relevant texts produced by these three and in the environments examined, the connections between the ways in which they thought of liturgical prayer and the more general perspectives on the relation between Church and contemporary society are brought to light. One result in particular is that the attention they paid to the liturgy, moreover urged on by the influence of the Belgian and German centres of the international liturgical movement (and in particular of the Benedictine monasteries of Mont César and Maria Laach), was part of a wider attempt at the revaluation of spirituality and redefinition of the lines of religious formation and intuition, with the overall plan of the contemporary Catholic Church of the Christian “reconquest” of society in mind.

Ferrari L., Riforma cattolica e controriforma nei territori austriaci, XVII, 611-630.

The volume contains the proceedings of a congress which took place in 1992, in four stages, in Italy, Austria and Slovenia. The many interventions illustrate various phases in the work of ≪reCatholicising≫ a significant part of the Habsburg domains – inner Austria (Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Trieste and Gorizia) – in which Protestantism had become widespread. The role played by the ruling family and by the ecclesiastical world at various levels (bishoprics, religious orders, and nunciatures), as well as the relations between the two, are at the centre of the work. The wealth and complexity of the materials presented allow us to reconsider critically the distinction between ≪Counter-Reformation≫ and ≪Catholic Reformation≫, put forward sometimes a little rigidly by the editors.