Pope Benedict XVI on Henri Cardinal de Lubac

Pope Benedict XVI on Henri Cardinal de Lubac April 2, 2008

It amazes me that there are some who actually label Henri de Lubac as a heterodox theologian. Bracketing out the debate between Rahner and de Lubac on the gratuity of grace, it would appear that such accusations could only come from someone who has either not read de Lubac or has read de Lubac but lacks a comprehensive view of the theological traditions of the Catholic Church. In anticipation of my next post on the Ressourcement movement, I thought I’d provide a couple of quotes from Pope Benedict XVI in an effort to assuage any concerns over de Lubac’s orthodoxy and catholicity.

This first quote comes from the Preface Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote for the 1988 edition of Henri de Lubac’s Catholicism. If you can get ahold of a copy, Ratzinger’s introduction is well worth the read.

(De Lubac) makes visible to us in a new way the fundamental intuition of Christian Faith so that from this inner core all the particular elements appear in a new light…Whoever reads de Lubac’s book will see how much more relevant theology is the more it returns to its center and draws from its deepest resources. (Joseph Ratzinger, Preface to the 1988 edition of Henri de Lubac’s Catholicism)

I was very surprised to see a direct reference to Henri de Lubac in Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical, Spe Salvi. It is rare, indeed, for a Catholic theologian to be directly quoted in a papal encyclical. It is rarer for a Catholic theologian to be quoted as an authority in a papal encyclical to argue a point.

Henri de Lubac, in the introduction to his seminal book Catholicisme. Aspects sociaux du dogme, assembled some characteristic articulations of this viewpoint, one of which is worth quoting: “Should I have found joy? No … only my joy, and that is something wildly different … The joy of Jesus can be personal. It can belong to a single man and he is saved. He is at peace … now and always, but he is alone. The isolation of this joy does not trouble him. On the contrary: he is the chosen one! In his blessedness he passes through the battlefields with a rose in his hand” (Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, no. 13)

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