Jaeger David-M. A. ,
Antonianum, 82/1 (2007) p. 5-8
Content is not, of course, the only thing that matters in a periodical (or any other) publication. In an academic (not to say, general) environment, in which innumerable books and reviews compete with each other (and all together with the Internet) for the decidedly finite time that any potential “customer” has for reading – or even “skimming” – available content, the “physical” attractiveness, and user-friendliness, of published material, i.e. of material that is “out there” to be picked up, are critical. At Antonianum we are acutely aware of this, and are continually trying to increase the review’s “attractiveness” - understood as that which causes potential readers to notice it, and to wish to embark upon the often arduous task of “consuming” it – without thereby altering its proud tradition of uncompromising academic standards. In this first issue of the Year of Grace 2007, you may noticed our latest efforts to make it even easier on the reading eye, in typographical terms.. Have we done well? In this or in any other matter? Antonianum does not have a tradition of publishing “readers’ letters,” but we would be very grateful indeed if you took a moment out of your very, very busy lives to share your impressions with the editorial team, and not only of our typography. We promise to take your letters entirely as seriously as they deserve. After all, it is for your sake that we are engaged upon this (harrowing) enterprise! Content does, however, definitely have its place. And in this issue we have brought together yet again our trademark combination of original, informative, thought-provoking articles “in” (and sometimes “around”) the sacred sciences: Adriano Garuti, the noted ecclesiologist, opens with a characteristically robust, documented response to divergent readings of the omission from the Annuario Pontificio of one of the titles earlier ascribed to the Supreme Pontiff, the rather baffling one of “Patriarch of the West.” Martin Carbajo, a much younger yet already authoritative exponent of Catholic social doctrine, follows with a study of “work, finance and identity” in Franciscan thought, complementing his earlier general theological treatment of these matters – so central to the human experience, never more so than today – in the previous issue of Antonianum. Personally I hope that research and reflection in this vein may continue to remind us Franciscans, and the wider Church and society, that the Franciscan tradition of theological discourse is far from being self-involved, as it were, and has much that is truly valuable to contribute to the larger conversation. A priority issue for Catholic theology, especially since the Second Vatican Council, has been the proper evaluation of humankind’s many and various expressions of the religious dimension of being human. What does the plainly observable variety of religious experience mean in terms of our faith in God’s definitive Revelation being Dominus Iesus, and none other? Is it possible that “we” are the only ones of God’s human creatures to whom the Truth about God, and about all things in relation to God, has been vouchsafed? Is it even commensurate with the Infinity of the Godhead to hold that It has been exhaustively incarnated in a single human who lived in one particular place, and for one brief period of time, upon the Earth (itself but a speck of dust in the unimaginably vast universe)? Is it intolerably presumptuous - or even outright foolish - to think that God has completely uttered His Word to the world in that Jesus of Nazareth, and has nothing to add, nothing besides, to tell us? Or is it rather that this “scandal of particularity” is itself truly an essential and unrenounceable dimension of the Christian faith? Are we truly “sent out” to “teach” and “baptise” every human being whom we succeed in persuading to accept the Gospel? Or must we rather retreat humbly into our own preconstituted community and assume that others’ beliefs are just as objectively valid as our own, given the ultimate unknowability of the Divine, which could therefore (and did) manifest Itself in any number of equally true, and yet equally incomplete, ways? Are all “other religions,” as such, all false? Is there nothing good in them at all? Or if there is any good to be found in them, how is it, if it is, to be referred to God in Christ? There is, of course, no doubt as to the truths of faith involved, and as to the fundamental answers that must, therefore, be given by the Christian to any and all of these (and similar) questions. The Council itself – nay, the Gospel itself - is quite firm about the definitiveness, the absoluteness, the uniqueness, of the divinely uttered Word Incarnate, and therefore about the urgent call to all people to turn to Christ, believe, be baptised and become members of His Body, the Church, as being the very purpose for which the Church herself has been established, or rather “missioned,” by her Divine Founder. And yet the Church has always recognised the values, the germs of truth, the useful insights that may be found in the “other” religions of humankind., whether arising simply from a more or less assiduous reading of the “book of Creation,” or – as some have hazarded to hypothesise – also assisted somehow (how exactly?) by the grace that is still, in any and every case, to be entirely referred to the Redeemer of Humankind. Maksym Adam Kopiec, whose field it is as a “fundamental theologian” at our own “Antonianum,” undertakes a detailed examination of these questions in a two-part article, as it were. The first part, in this issue of the review, casts its view over the history of their treatment in Christian theology up to the eve of the latest Council. It is, of course, in itself, a salutary reminder that the fact, and the awareness of the fact, of observable religious plurality is hardly new, either in itself or in the challenges to which it calls upon Christian theology to rise! Maurizio Faggioni, the distinguished physician-moral theologian, demands our attention for the incredibly complex problems (doctrinal and “practical”) involved in the expression of their sexuality by persons with “mental disability.” He does so knowledgeably and sensitively, as befits his reputation and his successive callings to be medicus corporum animarumque. In another of his fascinating travels through contemporary works striding the divide (?) between the Christian religion and today’s secular and scientific cultures, Lluis Oviedo too once more rescues us from being excessively self-referential, and recalls us, in effect, to an awareness that our missionary effectiveness may be only as great as our ability to interact meaningfully with those “other” cultures, which, through the prism of the authors whose writings he reviews, he helps interpret for us. The unforgettable master of all those of us who had the unique benefit of having been his disciples, Andrea Boni, quintessential Franciscan canonist of our times, is now among the “strong,” having just celebrated his eightieth birthday. In this issues Bio-Bibliographia, his star pupil, and the heir to his Chair of Religious and Franciscan Canon Law, Priamo Etzi, reviews his life and work, still very much a work-in-progress, of which we are now being given here a further “interim report”. Scire leges non est earum verba tenere sed vim et potestatem! With this priceless quote from Ulpianus , Fr. Boni opened the first course of canon law he ever taught me (to repeat it helpfully many times during our “years together” here), and if I never learnt anything else from him (and I did - I think…), making it the controlling principle of the study of law, would have been gift enough for me, reason enough to be such a lifelong fan. Is it simply Lokalpatriotismus, or mere campanilismo, to mention the pride one takes in the fact that all the authors listed so far teach and live at our own Pontifical University “Antonianum,” and do thus eloquently testify to the range of intellectual interests, and to the quality of scholarship, that are to be found at this our Alma Mater? Or is it simply giving the “Antonianum” its due? The latter, I believe! Yet we have always regarded it as of considerable importance to avoid being “incestuous” in this regard, and to encourage, invite and welcome contributions form far beyond our own resident academic community, whether from other Franciscans or indeed from any others who would honour us with entrusting to Antonianum the fruits of their labours. Thus, in this issue, we are happy to publish Biblical Scholar Anto Popovic’s article on the Genealogy of St. Luke’s Gospel. Beyond its “technical” aspect, the article opportunely puts us in mind of the huge theological significance of the genealogies in the Gospels; “opportunely” because one has the impression that it may be far from sufficiently adverted to in expounding the written Word of God, especially in preaching. Far from being simply tedious lists of “begetters” and “begotten” with unpronounceable names, the genealogies are of truly central importance for correctly understanding the mystery of salvation, that ineffable entry of God Himself into humankind’s own history, in time-space, and not simply as now an active subject of, and within, this history, but precisely as its fulfilment, redeeming its entire (often tortuous) course. Scarcely anything better serves as an antidote to the recurring temptation to reduce the Christian faith to some sort of coded idealism. Chronicles, reviews, lists of books received, all are also to be found in this (as expected) rich and varied issue. May one be permitted to mention just one book specifically, here presented under Libri Nostri: the one by Fr. Moacyr Malaquias Junior, the same who is a member of our editorial team, on the “vigilance” of the Holy See over the administration of the Church’s “temporal goods”; a timely treatment of a key topic in the Church’s life, precisely as an historical institution, which though not “of the world,” is very properly (as well as, of course, inevitably) “in the world” (full disclosure: I am proud to have been the “moderator” of this doctoral thesis).