Jaeger David M. ,
Antonianum, 83/1 (2008) p. 5-7
Few subjects have exercised both Catholic and non-Catholic theologians in the Conciliar and post-Conciliar period as has the doctrine of the Church, and specifically the Catholic theological understanding of the historical reality of the non-Catholic Christian bodies of both East and West, considered in their relationship to the Catholic Church. So much of the debate has centred on the Second Vatican Council's choice, in "Lumen gentium' 8, to affirm that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, rather than simply saying that she is in the Catholic Church, and on what precise signfiicance, if any, is to be assigned to this choice of one verb rather than another. Has the Church abandoned her belief that she is the Church founded by Christ, together with its reputed consequence that all other Christian bodies are simply epiphenomenal aggregations of baptised individuals whose proper place is rather within herself? Indeed, has the Catholic Church too adopted the "branch theory" of Christendom? Or has she simply found a way to re-affirm her constant belief about her own identity, only somewhat more subtly, in a more nunaced fashion that allows for the salutary persistence of "elements of the Church" in the other Christian bodies, to which some positive corporate significance is attached? And if so, what precisely is that corporate reality: Is it that of analogous "Churches", or something more than that - true Churches - or perhaps something less, "ecclesial communities", i.e. communities that are not mere contingent assemblies of varying numbers of baptised persons, but that nonetheless are not to be designated "Churches", not even analogously. Sometimes the treatment of these questions, even to some extent within the Conciliar documents themselves (particularly in "Unitatis redintegratio"), but much more so after the Council, both by the teaching Church and especially by many theologians, has seemed to be of enormous complexity, occasionally marked by apparent contradictions, and overlaid by the finest distinctions, requiring heroic feats of mental agility — to the point where even scholars, and not only the "simple faithful," could understandably either find it too bewilderingly opaque or else fall into greater or lesser error. The courtesies of ecumenical diplomacy, so to speak, have also contributed their own share to fudging the issues, or so it has sometimes seemed to some.
Against this background, the periodic interventions of the Church's highest teaching authority, intended to set the record straight, to re-assert the true sense of the Council's teaching, to correct more or less widespread misreadings of the key doctrinal documents in this matter, to clarify, above all, that the Catholic Church is precisely this, the Church, the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, have not failed to arouse controversy, or even indignation, on the part of those who thought that such "pretensions" had long ago been left aside. Or else their actual "language" has been lamented as being inopportunely explicit, gratuitously hurtful to the partners in ecumenical dialogue. Typically in recent times the "inopportunists" have focused much more on the explicitation by the documents of the consequences of Catholic ecclesiology in terms of the status of the separated "Churches" and "ecclesial communities" (e.g. "deficient", "wounded"), than on the doctrine affirmed in recto, as it were. Even as many have exulted, breathed a sigh of relief at restored clarity, others have protested, demanded rectifications, called for - or made - apologies, and so on.
In this issue of Antonianum, the first of 2008, the noted professor of ec-clesiolgoy at our own Pontifical University "Antonianum," as well as at the nearby Pontifical Lateran University, previously himself a senior official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he now serves as Con-suitor, Father Adriano Garuti, OFM, expounds the sense of the latest document issued by the Congregation on this very question, precisely in relation to the reception given it thus far, specifically in the context of the Church's ongoing ecumenical endeavours. His background, his experience, and his on-going role in the service of the Church's Magisterium, in addition to his scholarship and academic credentials, endow his text with particular value, and lend it a special authoritativeness within the academy.
In this issue too, it is a delight to read Christopher Begg's latest on Josephus's reading of the Hebrew Bible, both as meticulously researched and as fascinating as always, crammed with learned references and minute analysis, yet most satisfyingly readable — not a mean achievement in the field. Philosophical research is well served by Antonio Martino's "re-visitation" of Heideggerian themes, exploring in depth the influential thought of the personally controversial philosopher.
Two of our Order's scholars in the field, Father Cristobal Solares and Father Christian Gostecnik dedicate their articles to facets of the multilay-ered and far-from-simple relationship between the Christian religion and the sciences of the human mind, psychology and psychotherapy. Far from the dangerous simplicities of "Christian psychology" or "Christian psychotherapy" so popular in some circles elsewhere, theirs are sophisticated attempts to integrate the knowledge and values made available by Christian faith with the state of knowledge and understanding achieved through the study of, and concern with, actual humanity.
Two as well are the "academic reports" offered in this issue. A review, by Maurilio Guasco, of the still evolving positioning of women in relation to Church and society (or vice versa, rather) is followed by a timely evocation of the extraordinary figure of the late Father Karlo Balic, by Scotist Commission member Father Josip B. Percan, OFM. Father Balic, the first president of the Scotist Commission, charged with the the critical edition of the extant testimonies to the thought and teaching of the Subtle Doctor, and of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, is recounted here in the specific context of the Scotist flowering in twentieth century Croatia.
A particular^ rich section of book reviews in this issue makes up for the relative paucity of reviews in some recent issues, filled to overflowing as those were with so many other items. Antonianum is particularly grateful for the generosity of our book reviewers, conscious as we all are of the irreplaceable role of reliable reviews at at time when perhaps the undersigned is not the only one who finds himself needing to rely so much more on trustwothy reviews than on the reading of books themselves. And then reviews are truly priceless in helping one to choose how best, how most profitably, to employ what all too limited time is left from other things for the reading of books, a key tool of our academic profession. "Chronicles" — carefully selected from among the many more submitted (and worthy of publication, if only we had many more pages available), and the customary list of books received bring up the rear, as it were.
Available now also at our University bookshop, as well as - universally — by subscription, Antonianum has entered this new year with a sure step, seeking more than ever to arouse and satisfy interest, to reflect the range of intellectual passions and scholarly endeavours among the faculty of the Pontifical University "Antonianum," to take its place on your bookshelf and in the library of any institution at which you labour. I hope you find this issue as rewarding a read as my editorial team colleagues and I have.