Jaeger David M. ,
Antonianum, 83/4 (2008) p. 553-556
With this issue another year of Antonianum, another volume, the eighty third, comes to a satisfying dose. The artides we publish here should ali be of interest, we believe, not only to scholars specialised in the respective disciplines, but also to those who do — as scholars must — take a genuine interest in what their colleagues are doing in other disciplines, and in that whole of human knowledge and thought that reflects our culture and forms it at the same rime. Pài Otto Harsànyi, ofm, who teaches moral theology at our own University, opens this issue with the first instalment of a two-part article on the sadly topical matter of "euthanasia." Just as we are putting this issue to bed, the subject has acquired a new and terrible urgency upon the unappeal-able ruling of a major Western country's Court of Cassation that the decision of a lower court to permit the father of a young woman in "persistent vegetative state," to require away her assisted "nutrition and hydration" for as long as it may take to end her life - i.e. to make her die of hunger and thirst - was not a matter of public interest, but instead an exquisitely private question, and so not open to challenge. Among other things, past casual remarks by the young woman had been stretched beyond breaking to the point of being interpreted as a manifestation of her unchangeable will to have her life thus extinguished in the present — ali in the interest of the "freedom and dig-nity ofthe person." In Newspeak, of course. Indeed certain other countries had already gone much farther, mudi earlier, in authorising the putting to death ofthe ili and suffering - directly, by way of withdrawing sustenance or through "assisted suicide." The variety of these manifestations ofthe "culture of death," and the inability of some to distinguish them clearly from the refusai or cessation of extreme and useless forms of active medicai interven-tion, cali for ever greater clarity on the moral laws and ethical criteria pro-posed instead within the "culture of life." To achieve this, the need is, first of ali within the household of faith, and then in the broader community, for careful reasoning and orderly argument from first principles. Now confu-sion, even among some believers and other persons of good will, is due, at least in great part, to unfamiliarity with the very terms ofthe debate — which is threatening to overshadow ali others regarding the inviolability of human life. Fr. Harsànyi's knowledgeable, patient, systematic unpacking of this intricate and multifaceted subject should, therefore, be welcome to ali.
The teaching of the Blessed John Duns Scotus has on occasion been charged with having somehow given cause or occasion to nominalism, positiv-ism, fìdeism, protestantism, and ali that followed therefrom. Following a little-noticed obiter dictum, as it were, by a most authoritative Catholic intellec-tual, in the course of a major speech on religion and reason, which suggested that such prejudice might yet be more difficult to eradicate than previously thought, Antonianum specifically invited the renowned Oxonian Scotus schol-ar, Richard Cross, now at No tre Dame University (Indiana), to contribute an article on faith and reason in Scotus, on the harmony in the Subtle Doctor's thought of Philosophy and Theology. We are delighted to publish this article in this issue. It is not often that Antonianum has actually "commissioned" an article, as it were, so it is an especial source of pride for us that precisely this author has accepted our invitation to share the fruits of his own research and study of this essential dimension of Scotus's thought with our readers. As is well known, our Order and our University are themselves heavily invested in the legacy of Duns Scotus, which is why at this junction we set such sto re by the independent scholarship of a highly distinguished "outsider" - though one from whose published research we have much benefited over the years.
Professor Claudio Gallotti's article on usury and interest, i.e. on fi-nance, itself appears here at a rime that positively cries out for a vigorous renewal of theological reflection on its subject matter; "renewal" as in "tak-ing up again." As I write, the world is reeling from the flnancial disasters and economie aftershocks that have been roiling the developed, emerging and even developing economies, in the wake of the bursting of the "subprime mortgage bubble," better described perhaps as a giant Ponzi scheme, or else as a particularly nefarious global sleight of hand. In the years that imme-diately preceded this particular crisis there had been, on the whole, rather little theologising on the exponentially growing distance between the world of finance and that of the real economy, which ali form of finance should be meant to serve. Instead of being always means to real economie develop-ment, finance had become in many ways ever more remote from economie — or any other - reality, taking the form of increasingly elaborate gambling, not only on the economie future, but on future gambling itself... Professor Gallotti's article, while directly concerned with the past, is a powerful re-minder that the Christian theological and canonical tradition did centuries ago demonstrate a readiness to engagé with the issues, and should therefore, in effect, be a persuasive invitation to tap once more the ampie resources of this tradition in facing up to contemporary challenges.
Professor Jorge Horta, ofm, of our own Canon Law Faculty, contributes an article that deals, apart from authorial rights, with two manifestations of the same issue: The Catholic Church's right to her own "brand name," as it were. Few matters have been the subject of such massive misunderstanding over the past few decades as the "censorship" exercised by the Church's authorities over speech and publications purporting to represent her beliefs. It is surely high time for observers to take into account the total change of circumstances from a time when ecclesiastical censure meant necessarily, in effect, the curtailment of the civil right to free speech, to freedom of opinion. Nowadays, in free societies, the Church does not have, and does not seek, to control or suppress the free exercise of these human and civil freedoms, even when used to give voice to views diverging from her own — in the wider community. But precisely in this context, of a multiplicity of voices vying for attention from the public, of competing opinions and Weltanschauungen, it is surely necessary for there to be "truth in advertising," for the Church to be able to advise "consumers" as to who and what genuinely represent her beliefs; surely it is the right of the public to be so advised? And obviously, when purporting to represent the Church's belief are the Church's own "officials," or "mandated representatives," is it not the right and duty of Church author-ity to vet their representations in advance, to verify their authenticity, to take suitable measures concerning those who make such representations mislead-ingly? Can it be that every one else can take whatever measures are possible to protect their "brand name," while the Catholic Church alone may not do likewise without bringing upon herself the disapprovai of "right-think-ing persons"? Professor Horta expounds on the provision made by canon law for such protection of the authenticity and integrity of whatever is put belo re the public with the appellation "Catholic," implicitly or explicitly as the case may be. It is interesting to note that he first addressed the sub-ject in the course of the 2008 Study Day of our Faculty of Canon Law, on which occasion other speakers dealt innovatively with the complex question of an author's - or any artistic creator's — moral right to the integrity of his handiwork, a concept definitely distinct from the simpler one of his property rights in his creation.
In our relationes academicae section, two papers concerned with fe-licity and beauty, thus calculated to brighten up this winter for our readers: In a second paper we publish from our Theology Faculty's study encounter on "the human person and the human person's felicity,"1 Celina A. Lértora Mendoza shares with us the fruits of her study of "beatitude" in John Duns Scotus. As it happens, her paper happily (pun intended) complements Richard Cross's article on faith and reason in the teaching of the Franciscans' foremost scholastic philosopher-theologian. But, as remarked in this space on previous occasions, Antonìanum eschews any temptation to become closed in upon "our own" faculty or subjects, and seeks to be open to a wider va-riety of disciplines and perspectives. Thus we are pleased to move from this "academic report" on happiness, rooted in our own intellectual tradition, to Chinese Professor Paul H.C. Chow's essay, inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas's aesthetics, as reflected not only by some of the most originai of contemporary theologians in that tradition, but also by more surprising others. Prof. Chow - the immediate past chairman of the English Department at the National
Chi-Nan University in centrai Taiwan - has dealt originally before with the intersection of literature and theology, as when for his doctoral dissertation, at Jerusalem's Hebrew University (to add to the range of backgrounds and
influences!), he chose to trace the development of John Dryden's religious opinions precisely through his poetry, showing his progress through evolving forms of Protestant persuasion to wholehearted embracing of the Catholic faith (and of the sacrifices that that entailed for him). His contribution to this issue of Antonìanum, a very rare one from "so far away" (as unrepentant Eurocentrists might put it, the sanie ones who coined the insufferable "Far East", or the "Middle East", for the matter of that, and who remain unconvinced by the reproaches of the late Edward Said), is located precisely at that intersection. It is not as such a dissertation on the Angelic Doctor, or else on the contemporary scholars it cites. Although it might quite possibly be help-
ful in seeking to gain further insights into their works. Essentially, I propose, it is best read as an originai essay by a literary scholar, disclosing ways in which the theological tradition may be fruitfully and delightfully perceived and assimilated in a formally wholly different context.
Book reviews, "chronicles", a list of books received, and, as with every closing issue of each year, an "index" for the whole year, bring this issue too - and this year - to a dose.
In a later issue of Antonìanum we expect to publish a more fitting tribute to our celebrated Confrère, Father Michele Piccirillo, ofm, possibly the best known of any of us, and more than amply deserving of tJhe devotion and grati-tude shown him by so many, if only for his biblica! archaeological endeavours in the Holy Land. Father Piccirillo, of our University s Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology, the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem, died, aged 64, on 26 October 2008. A report of the presentation, shortly before, of his then new book, appears now in our chronica section.