Friday, January 29, 2010

De unione ecclesiarum: Sententia synodalis

"Below is presented a translation of a formal declaration made by a synod held in Constantinople on Friday, May 3rd, 1280 under the presidency of Patriarch John Bekkos. The synod dealt with the case of the referendarius Michael Eskammatismenos, who had erased the word ἐκ (“from”) from a theologically-significant passage of St. Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Lord’s Prayer."
American Papist: Photo: Professor with large family awarded $30k by Pontifical school and meets pope
James Chastek, Is analogy a lot simpler than the controverises over it?

I’m starting to wonder whether the reason St. Thomas never wrote a separate question on analogy is because he saw it as much more simple and unobjectionable than we do, and that our confusions are based on a convoluted and over-dramatic notion of what analogy is. Why not say that analogy is a second imposition, and that’s it? As second, it is known only in relation to a first. So taken, when we say “being is said analogously of God and creatures” what we mean is “The meaning of the word ‘being’, when it includes God, can only be a secondary imposition of the word, and the first imposition of the word is not said of him” or “when we consider what the word being first means, it cannot include God, though a second meaning can”. St. Thomas gives various reasons why this is so (God is a cause while we first know effects, etc, see ScG I 32-34) We might even, for all I know, have a meaning of the word being that can be said of God and creatures- but all St. Thomas insists on is that the first meaning can’t include God.

Why this order in impositions or meanings? Because there is an order in our knowing. That is all. Contemporary English speakers figure that a word can mean whatever we want it to, whenever we want it to, and so we find it odd when St. Thomas insists there must be an order in meanings. In fact, our tone-deafness about order in meaning is probably founded on our general tone-deafness about any order of knowing- or maybe even of hierarchies altogether.

The first meaning cannot include God, but somewhere down the line it might be possible to have meaning that can be univocally applied to both God and creatures? What do the Scotists say to that? See the comments to the post for more clarification.

Dr. McInerny's Introduction to Moral Philosophy for ICU

Part 2,3,4, 5

International Catholic University

Dr. Ralph McInerny has passed away.

Joseph Bottum, Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)

Please say a prayer for this great American Thomist.

Center of Ethics and Culture

Zenit: Pope Remembers Seminary Days in Freising

Pope Remembers Seminary Days in Freising

"We Knew That Christ Was Stronger Than the Tyranny"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2010 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the German-language address Benedict XVI delivered extemporaneously Jan. 16 upon being made an honorary citizen of the south German city of Freising at a ceremony at the Vatican. He spoke of the time he spent there as a seminarian, and the day of his ordination.

* * *

Dear Mayor,
Your Eminence, Dear Archbishop,
Dear Auxiliary Bishop,

Dear Citizens of Freising,
Dear Friends,

It is a moving moment for me to have now legally become a citizen of Freising and thus belong in a new and deeply profound way to the City to which I feel I intimately belong.

For this reason I can only say from the bottom of my heart "Vergelt's Gott" (may God reward you). My joy at this moment will stay with me.

In my life biography in the biography of my heart, if I may the City of Freising has played a very special role. In this City I received the formation that has marked my life ever since. Thus, in a certain way, Freising is always present in me and I in it. And as you noted, Mr Mayor the inclusion in my coat-of-arms of the Moor and Bear of Freising shows the whole world how closely I belong to it. Then the fact that I am also now legally a citizen of Freising, is the crowning point and I am profoundly glad.

On this occasion a whole horizon of images and memories wells up within me. You have mentioned some of them, dear Mr Mayor. I would like to take up certain points.

To start with there is 3 January 1946. After a long wait, the time came at last when the Seminary of Freising could open its doors to all who were returning home. Indeed, it was still a hospital for former prisoners-of-war, but we were then able to begin. That moment marked a turning point in our lives: being on the path to which we felt called.

In today's context we lived in a very "old-fashioned" way without comforts. We were in dormitories, study halls and so forth, but we were happy and not only because we had at last escaped the wretchedness and threats of war and Nazi domination, but also because we were free and, especially, because we had set out on the path to which we felt called.

We knew that Christ was stronger than the tyranny, than the power of the Nazi ideology and its mechanisms of oppression. We knew that time and the future belong to Christ and we knew that he had called us and that he needed us, that there was a need for us.

We knew that the people of those changed times were waiting for us, they were waiting for priests to arrive with a new impetus of faith to build the house of the living God. On this occasion I must also raise a small hymn of praise to the old athenaeum to which I belonged, first as a student and then as a teacher.

Some were very erudite, and some were even known internationally, but what, to my mind, was most important was that they were not only scholars but also teachers, people who not only offered the first-fruits of their specialization but were concerned to give the students the essential, the healthy bread they needed in order to receive faith from within.

And it was important that we if I may now say we did not feel like individual experts but rather that we were part of a whole, that each one of us was working for theology as a whole; that our work had to make visible the logic of faith as unity and thereby increase our ability to account for our faith, as St Peter said (cf. 1 Pt 3: 15), so as to pass it on in a new epoch with new challenges.

The second image that I would like to mention is the day of my ordination to the priesthood. The Cathedral was always the centre of our life, just as at the seminary where we were one family. And it was Fr Höck who made us a real family. The Cathedral was the centre of it and for our entire life represented the unforgettable day of our priestly ordination.

Three moments are particularly deeply impressed within me.

First of all, lying stretched out on the ground during the litany of the saints. In lying prostrate on the ground, one becomes newly aware of all one's poverty and asks oneself: am I truly capable of it? And at the same time the names of all the saints of history and the entreaty of the faithful ring out: "Hear us; help them".

In this way the awareness grows that, yes, I am weak and inadequate but I am not alone, there are others with me, the entire community of the saints is with me. They accompany me and thus I can make this journey and become a companion and guide for others.

The second moment, the imposition of hands by the elderly, venerable Cardinal Faulhaber who laid his hands upon me, upon all of us, in a profound and intense manner and the knowledge that it was the Lord who was laying his hands upon me and saying: "you belong to me, you do not simply belong to yourself, I want you, you are at my service"; but also the awareness that this imposition of hands is a grace, that it does not only create obligations, but above all is a gift, that he is with me and that his love protects and accompanies me.

Then there was also the old rite in which the power to forgive sins was conferred at a separate moment. It began when the Bishop, pronouncing the Lord's words, said: "No longer do I call you servants... but... friends". And I knew we knew that this is not only a quotation from John 15 but a timely word that the Lord is addressing to me now. He accepts me as a friend; I am in this friendly relationship; he has given me his trust and I can work within this friendship and make others friends of Christ.

You have already alluded to the third image, Mr Mayor: I was able to pass a further unforgettable three and a half years with my parents at Lerchenfeldhof. Thus once again I could feel completely at home. These last three and a half years with my parents were an immense gift to me and truly made Freising my home. I am thinking of the celebrations, of how we celebrated Christmas, Easter and Pentecost together; of our walks through the fields together, of how we would go to the woods to gather fir-tree branches and moss for the crib, and of our outings to the fields on the banks of the Isar. Thus Freising became a real homeland to us, and as a homeland it lives on in my heart.

Today Munich airport is located at the gates of Freising. Those who land or take off from there see the towers of Freising Cathedral, they see the mons doctus, and can perhaps understand a little of its past history and of its present.

Freising has always had a sweeping view of the chain of the Alps. By means of the airport it has become, in a certain sense, also global and open to the world.

And yet I want to say: the Cathedral with its towers points upwards to heights that are loftier by far and very different from those we reach in airplanes; the true heights, the heights of God from whom comes the love that gives us authentic humanity.

Yet the Cathedral does not only indicate the loftiness of God who forms us and shows us the way, but also indicates an expanse, and this is not only because the Cathedral embraces centuries of faith and prayer, because it contains, so to speak, the whole community of saints, of all those who went before us who believed, prayed, suffered and rejoiced. It indicates, in general, the great host of all believers of all time. Thus it also shows a vastness which goes beyond globalization, because, in diversity, even in the different cultures and origins, it gives the strength of inner unity, in other words it gives that which can unite us: the unifying power of being loved by God. Thus for me Freising also continues to point out a path.

In closing, I would like once again to thank you for the great honour you have conferred on me, and to thank the band, which evokes here the true Bavarian culture. My desire my prayer is that the Lord may continue to bless this City and that Our Lady of the Cathedral of Freising may protect it, so that in the future too it may be a place of human life, faith and joy. Many thanks.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vivificat: Orthodox and Catholics Seriously Discussed the Role of the Roman Primacy back in 2008
(via Rorate Caeli)
US Lay Theologian Wins Pontifical Academy Prize

ROME, JAN. 26, 2010 ( A lay theologian from the United States has been selected for a €20,000 ($28,189) prize for his doctoral thesis, "Understanding St. Thomas on Analogy."

John Mortensen, a Wyoming Catholic College professor, was selected to receive the prize given by the Coordination Council of the Pontifical Academies. This was announced today by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Archbishop Ravasi, also president of the coordination council, added that Mortensen will receive the award Thursday at an audience the Pope will have with representatives of the academies.

The archbishop explained that the prize recognizes "young investigators, artists or institutions that have distinguished themselves in the promotion of Christian humanism."

Mortensen earned his doctorate from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome in 2006.

From 2002 to 2007 he was assistant professor at the International Theological Institute, an institute of papal right in Gaming, Austria, teaching courses in logic, natural philosophy, metaphysics, fundamental theology, and Trinitarian theology.

The prize given by the Coordination Council of the Pontifical Academies was instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

Wyoming Catholic College

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Archbishop Bruno Forte on Theology

From Part 2 of his interview by Zenit. (Part 1)

How will we respond today to the developments of theology, but also of modern epistemology? I would answer by referring to the great 20th century philosophical and theological conquest, which is the powerful rediscovery of hermeneutics, that is, of the science of interpretation. When many years ago, as dean of the faculty of theology in Naples, I invited Hans Georg Gadamer, the father of contemporary hermeneutics, author of "Truth and Method," to a quaestio quodlibetalis. A first year [student] asked him this question: "What is hermeneutics?" To which Gadamer, without being ruffled, said, after a moment of reflection: "Hermeneutics means that when you and I speak we make an effort to reach the vital world that is behind the other's words, and from which they proceed."

Therefore, epistemology illumined by hermeneutics means not only to understand what is immediately perceptible, the visible, the phenomenalistic, the rational, but to also understand, or at least to try to reach, those vital worlds from which these expressions stem. In this context, one discovers that science is not only that of phenomena, but that there is an ensemble of sciences, which are the sciences of the spirit, which make an effort to reach what is not said, what cannot be said, what cannot be wholly divided into parts, but which is the vital world in which human processes, historical processes, etc. are situated. And there is a further level that points to that experience of the mystery of life and of the world and that all of us have and which cannot be referred to a mere linguistic or rational formula, that is, an excess of the Mystery that surrounds the world, that surrounds the life of each one of us and that we continually perceive with surprise, with wonder, which we can reflect in words only up to a certain point.

However, a science that takes wonder seriously in face of this Mystery, the possibility that the latter be said without betraying oneself, that is, the possibility of Revelation, and that one make it the subject of one's thought, becomes an absolutely precious science. In a similar hermeneutical dimension, interpretative of reality -- which does not stop at the immediate but always seeks the ultimate, the profound connections -- it seems to me that theology is presented with full dignity as a science of which man is in need to live and to die, as he needs God and the meaning of life to live and to die.

Is theology that takes the modern subjective turn seriously doomed to failure? Is a realist theology better suited to the task? If we are confined by our words, and words are not signs of reality but only of our thoughts, then how can we attain the real? I do not think Gadamer is a (naive) realist, but what sort of understanding of the relationship between language and reality does he offer to replace realism?

Disagreements over the nature of papal actions.

The preparatory document prepared by the Joint Coordinating Committee of the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church of the First Millenium is supposed to be the starting point for discussion about the office of the pope and how it was exercised during the first millenium of our Lord. If some sort of common vision can be reached concerning the papacy of the first millenium, then it may serve as a basis of reconciliation of Catholics and Orthodox. I recall that Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger?) said that the Orthodox should only be held to an understanding of the papacy as it was exercised during this period. So both sides will look at the historical data, and the relationship between the pope and the general synod, the college of all the bishops -- how much authority does he have apart from a synod, and what consent is required by other bishops, and so on. Will there be any substantial disagreement about papal documents and actions, and how they are to be interpreted? If there cannot be a common (interpretation of) history, then can Catholic and Orthodox dogma on the papacy be harmonized? It seems that would not be possible...

A postscript was published today for the article by Sandro Magister:
POSTSCRIPT - The day after the publication of this article on www.chiesa, January 26, 2010, the pontifical council for Christian unity issued the following statement:

"The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has learned with disappointment that a media outlet has published a test currently being examined by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

"The document published is a draft text consisting of a list of themes to be studied and examined in greater depth, and has been only minimally discussed by the said commission.

"In the last meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held in Paphos, Cyprus, last October, it was specifically established that the text would not be published until it had been fully and completely examined by the Commission.

"As yet there is no agreed document and, hence, the text published has no authority or official status."
Is there anything within the document that would be a cause of controversy for either side?