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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pope praises work of Hans Urs von Balthasar

In his message-- which was read to the seminar by Bishop Rino Fisichella, the rector of the Lateran University-- Pope Benedict writes of his treasured friendship with von Balthasar, and says that the Swiss theologian's work "still retains a profound relevance today."

Hans Urs von Balthasar, the Pope writes, "was a theologian who put his work at the service of the Church," because he was convinced that theology is useful only within the context of Catholic practice. "I can testify that his life was an authentic search for truth," the Pope adds. Pope Benedict says that he hopes the 100th-anniversary observance will stimulate a revival of interest in the work of von Balthasar, recalling Henri de Lubac's claim that the Swiss theologian was "the most cultured man of our century."


Pope Benedict XVI today recalled his great friendship of more than 50 years with Hans Urs Von Balthesar, Swiss theologian who the Pope says he "had the joy of knowing and passing time with". The Pope refers to their friendship as "sincere" and recalled the work they did together over the years most notably on the 'Communio' after Vatican II, "which remains the most obvious sign of our common effort in theological research." The Pope went on to eulogise his former friend who he said "tried always to find the truth, everywhere." The Pope also said that the theologian's work remained "very up to date" and that he had been "a theologian that put his research into the service of the church, because he was convinced that theology could only be reconciled through the church." The Pope went on to say that Balthesar's scientific approach brought him to a "profound existential reading, understanding that theology can only develop through prayer in the presence of god and entrusting oneself obediently to him. This is the road that is worth perusing till the end." He concluded: The example left to us by Von Balthesar is that of a true theologians who in his contemplation discovered the coherent way to give witness to Christianity throughout the world." [source]

I must admit that I have not read a lot of von Balthasar, though I did find his work Mysterium Paschale very profound. In the little I have read about him I know that I am somewhat more sympathetic to his theology from above and his focus on resourcement than I am to Karl Rahner's theology from below and focus on aggiornamento. This may inspire me to take a closer look at his works especially on Maximus the Confessor.


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