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Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007

Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007

Foreword by Robert P. Imbelli
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 546
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  • Book Info
    Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007
    Book Description:

    One of the leading theologians of our time, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., has written and lectured on a wide range of topics across his distinguished career, and for a wide range of audiences. Integrating faith and scholarship, he has created a rich body of work that, in the words of one observer, is both faithful to Catholic tradition and fresh in its engagement with the contemporary world. Here, brought together for the first time in one volume, are the talks Cardinal Dulles has given twice each year since the Laurence J. McGinley Lectures were initiated in 1988, conceived broadly as a forum on Church and society. The result is a diverse collection that reflects the breadth of his thinking and engages with many of the most important-and difficult-religious issues of our day.Organized chronologically, the lectures are often responses to timely issues, such as the relationship between religion and politics, a topic he treated in the last weeks of the presidential campaign of 1992. Other lectures take up questions surrounding human rights, faith and evolution, forgiveness, the death penalty, the doctrine of religious freedom, the population of hell, and a whole array of theological subjects, many of which intersect with culture and politics. The life of the Church is a major and welcome focus of the lectures, whether they be a reflection on Cardinal Newman or an exploration of the difficulties of interfaith dialogue. Dulles responds frequently to initiatives of the Holy See, discussing gender and priesthood in the context of church teaching, and Pope Benedict's interpretation of Vatican II. Writing with clarity and conviction, Cardinal Dulles seeks to render the wisdom of past ages applicable to the world in which we live.For those seeking to share in this wisdom, this book will be a consistently rewarding guide to what it means to be Catholic-indeed, to be a person of any faith-in a world of rapid, relentless change.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4690-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword Avery Dulles, Vir Ecclesiasticus
    (pp. ix-xx)

    One of the most heartfelt accolades the early Fathers could bestow on a theologian was to praise him as avir ecclesiasticus: an ecclesial man. I can think of few theologians of our day who so merit the title as Cardinal Avery Dulles. He merits it not merely because of his rank as a “prince of the Church,” or even because his primary theological focus has been ecclesiology, the theology of the Church. Rather, his whole theological and priestly existence has been in service of the Church, dwelling in its midst, nourished by its tradition, seeking to extend that life-giving...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
    Avery Cardinal Dulles
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxx)
  6. 1 University Theology as a Service to the Church December 6–7, 1988
    (pp. 1-15)

    The title of this lecture could be an occasion for some surprise. University theology is not always considered a benefit to the Church. In the light of certain well-publicized cases of recent memory some might be inclined to repeat the proposition: “Universities, with their programs of study, their colleges, their degrees, and their professorships, are products of vain heathenism; they are as much good to the Church as the devil is.”¹ This proposition, taken from the writings of John Wycliffe, was condemned by the Council of Constance in 1415. The condemnation, approved by Pope Martin V in 1418, may be...

  7. 2 Teaching Authority in the Church March 16, 1989
    (pp. 16-26)

    In its full scope the problem of authority and freedom in the Church is much broader than what I propose to cover in this brief paper. Under the rubric of authority I shall limit myself to the teaching authority of those who hold pastoral office in the Church—the pope and the bishops in communion with him. Under freedom I shall consider the right of theologians to follow what they understand to be the requirements of their own discipline. I shall present a Catholic point of view, leaving it to my distinguished respondents to provide the ecumenical dimension.¹

    The problem...

  8. 3 Catholicism and American Culture: The Uneasy Dialogue December 5–6, 1989
    (pp. 27-42)

    After several centuries of increasing centralization, Vatican Council II set the Catholic Church on a course of inner diversification. It depicted Catholicism in terms that were pluralistic rather than monolithic, multiform rather than uniform.¹ The Church of Christ, said the council, should be incarnate in many cultures, all of which were in a position to enrich one another and to bring the wealth of the nations to the feet of Christ the King.²

    In the decade after Vatican II inculturation became a buzzword.³ Although popes have used the word only with caution, they have said on journeys to Asia and...

  9. 4 Faith and Experience: Strangers? Rivals? Partners? March 14, 1990
    (pp. 43-50)

    Philosophers cannot agree about what “experience” is, and theologians differ widely regarding the meaning of “faith.” Since the very terms are matters of debate, I can hardly be expected to settle the relationship between experience and faith in the time at my disposal. Nevertheless I welcome this opportunity for proposing my own understanding of the two terms and their connection. Because the subject is highly complex, my presentation this afternoon will have to be compact and wide ranging. For this I beg your indulgence.

    Experienceoriginally meant the process of testing or trial. It has gradually come to mean actual...

  10. 5 Newman, Conversion, and Ecumenism December 4, 1990
    (pp. 51-67)

    The centenary of Cardinal Newman’s death, on August 11, 1890, has occasioned a large number of conferences and studies dealing with various aspects of his work. The present lecture is intended as a part of this commemoration. As one who came to the Catholic faith in adult life, Newman reflected long and deeply about his own religious pilgrimage and became the adviser of many companions and followers. He therefore deserves to be remembered as one of the great theologians of conversion. Because of his comprehensive vision of Christianity as a whole and his lifelong concern with overcoming Christian divisions, he...

  11. 6 The Uses of Scripture in Theology April 10, 1991
    (pp. 68-86)

    Over the centuries, the Catholic Church has accumulated a vast body of official teaching on the interpretation of Scripture.¹ The Council of Trent, warning against the dangers of private interpretation in matters pertaining to Christian doctrine regarding faith and morals,² declared that it is for the Church to decide on the true meaning and interpretation of Scripture and that Scripture is never to be interpreted contrary to the unanimous consensus of the Fathers (EB62,SD5).³ Vatican Council I repeated the same warnings (Dei Filius,EB78,SD17).

    The popes in their biblical encyclicals reiterated the same restrictions...

  12. 7 John Paul II and the New Evangelization December 4–5, 1991
    (pp. 87-102)

    The majority of Catholics are not strongly inclined toward evangelization. The very term has for them a Protestant ring. The Catholic Church is highly dogmatic, sacramental, and hierarchical in character. Its activities are primarily directed toward the instruction and pastoral care of its own members, whose needs and demands tax the institution to its limits. Absorbed in the inner problems of the Church, and occasionally in issues of peace and justice, contemporary Catholics feel relatively little responsibility for spreading the faith.

    The Catholic Church has, of course, a long history of missionary involvement. In the early Middle Ages the Benedictine...

  13. 8 Historical Method and the Reality of Christ April 2, 1992
    (pp. 103-115)

    After a period of relative quiescence the quest of the historical Jesus has again become a center of controversy. Two major contributions to the theme—John P. Meier’sA Marginal Jew¹ and John Dominic Crossan’sThe Historical Jesus²—appeared just before Christmas 1991 and were widely reviewed. They have provoked criticisms and counter criticisms, focusing primarily on issues of method.

    The quest of the historical Jesus is not an idle pastime. It began in the eighteenth century as a fierce attack on the Christ of faith. Throughout the nineteenth century its aim was to establish another Christ to replace the...

  14. 9 Religion and the Transformation of Politics October 6, 1992
    (pp. 116-128)

    In an election year more often than at other times questions are raised about the part that religion plays, or ought to play, in politics. Should the Church attempt to influence the political outlook of its members and that of the larger society? Should the leadership of the Church endorse certain legislative proposals, political platforms, parties, or candidates as deserving of support by the faithful? Should faithful Christians look to the Church for guidance on political matters? Do Catholics in public life in fact take positions that reflect their religious allegiance?

    The separation between Church and State does not require...

  15. 10 The Church as Communion March 31, 1993
    (pp. 129-141)

    I gratefully dedicate this essay to the memory of Father John Meyendorff, one of the outstanding ecumenists of our time. Four years ago, on March 16, 1989, he responded to my spring McGinley lecture, and in so doing made very impressively the point that in spite of our differences, and perhaps partly because of them, we Roman Catholics and Orthodox need each other. I have greatly profited from reading some of Father Meyendorff’s observations relating to the theme of the present lecture, the Church as communion. In an important paper that I heard him deliver at Louvain in 1971, he...

  16. 11 The Prophetic Humanism of John Paul II September 28, 1993
    (pp. 142-156)

    For some time I have been asking myself whether there is a single theme or rubric under which it might be possible to summarize the message of the pontificate of John Paul II. I have thought about the pope’s concern for the inner unity of the Catholic Church, for the new evangelization, for the dialogue between faith and culture, and for the reconstruction of the economic order. All these themes are clearly important to John Paul II, but no one of them permeates his teaching as a whole. In seeking a more comprehensive topic I have hit on the idea...

  17. 12 The Challenge of the Catechism October 20, 1994
    (pp. 157-174)

    TheCatechism of the Catholic Churchis the boldest challenge yet offered to the cultural relativism that currently threatens to erode the contents of Catholic faith. According to a widely prevalent view, religious truth consists in an ineffable encounter with the transcendent. This encounter may be expressed in symbols and metaphors, but it cannot be communicated by propositional language, since it utterly surpasses the reach of human concepts. All statements about revelation, moreover, are said to be so culturally conditioned that they cannot be transferred from one age or one cultural region to another. Every theological affirmation that comes to...

  18. 13 Crucified for Our Sake: Love, Violence, and Sacrifice April 10, 1995
    (pp. 175-190)

    When I was a college student, I took a course on the painting of the North Italian Renaissance. At one point the professor showed us a slide projection of an immense canvas of the crucifixion by Tintoretto. Pointing to it he declared, “This is the greatest painting ever made of the greatest event in the history of the world.” These words made a deep impression upon me, and the more I ponder them the more convinced I become that the cross of Christ constitutes the very center of world history.¹

    Each year in Holy Week we are invited to enter...

  19. 14 John Paul II and the Advent of the New Millennium November 16, 1995
    (pp. 191-204)

    The Church celebrates different aspects of her relationship to God by recalling different events in the history of salvation. Every Sunday, for example, is a little Easter, a remembrance of the resurrection, and every Friday a recollection of the Passion. On a larger scale, the liturgical year is arranged so as to provide occasions to ponder various phases of God’s redemptive work, such as the birth of Christ, his suffering and death, his resurrection and ascension. Two weeks from now we shall be entering the season of Advent, in which we seek to dispose ourselves to receive more abundantly the...

  20. 15 Priesthood and Gender April 10, 1996
    (pp. 205-220)

    The most controversial statement that has come from the Holy See during the pontificate of John Paul II concerns the priestly ordination of women. On Pentecost Sunday, 1994, Pope John Paul II issued a brief letter,Ordinatio sacerdotalis, which concluded with the words, “In order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all...

  21. 16 The Travails of Dialogue November 19, 1996
    (pp. 221-233)

    Before the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church was polemically arrayed against other groups, including the non-Christian religions, non-Catholic Christianity, and the modern world. John XXIII deserves the credit for having seen that this posture was interfering with the mission of the Church. Following his lead, Vatican II renounced anathematization and espoused dialogue. The new stance of the Church was expressed during the council by Paul VI’s first encyclical,Ecclesiam suam(1964).¹ God, he maintained, initiated a dialogue of salvation by turning to the world in love, making himself accessible through revelation, and appealing for the free response of faith....

  22. 17 The Ignatian Tradition and Contemporary Theology April 10, 1997
    (pp. 234-247)

    In this academic year we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Jesuits at Fordham in 1846. Father Joseph A. O’Hare and Dr. John W. Healey have suggested the topic and the title of this lecture, and I have gratefully accepted their suggestions. I shall not be speaking about the Jesuits of Fordham, but at the end of the talk you will probably have your own opinions as to whether they are true to what I am calling the Ignatian tradition.

    Where would contemporary theology be except for the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Henri de Lubac,...

  23. 18 Mary at the Dawn of the New Millennium November 19, 1997
    (pp. 248-261)

    For John Paul II, Mary is the primary patroness of the advent of the new millennium. As the mother of Christ she is preeminently an advent figure—the morning star announcing the rising of the Sun of Righteousness. Like the moon at the dawn of a new day, she is wholly bathed in the glory of the sun that is to come after her. Her beauty is a reflection of his.

    The glories of Mary have only gradually been discovered by the Church in the course of nearly two thousand years of study and contemplation. The basic lines of Catholic...

  24. 19 Should the Church Repent? April 15, 1998
    (pp. 262-275)

    In his apostolic letter “On the Coming of the Third Millennium,” dated November 10, 1994, Pope John Paul II said that while the great jubilee of the year 2000 is to be a time of joyful celebration, the joy should be based on forgiveness and reconciliation. It is therefore appropriate that the Church should prepare herself by recalling the sinfulness of her children. The Church, he said, cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without encouraging them to repent and purify themselves of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency, and slowness to act. He went on to speak...

  25. 20 Human Rights: The United Nations and Papal Teaching November 18, 1998
    (pp. 276-290)

    On December 10 of this year, the world will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted with unanimous approval by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.¹ The cornerstone of the Declaration was article 3, proclaiming the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. Articles 4–21 went on to specify other civil and political rights. Articles 22–27 dealt with a series of economic, social, and cultural rights. All these rights were laid down as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

    The Universal Declaration...

  26. 21 Can Philosophy Be Christian? The New State of the Question April 7, 1999
    (pp. 291-305)

    The possibility of a Christian philosophy was fiercely debated in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, especially in France, where several distinguished historians of philosophy, including Émile Bréhier, vigorously denied that there had been, or could be, any such thing.¹ It was, Bréhier said, as absurd as a Christian mathematics or a Christian physics.² Genuine philosophy, in his opinion, had been suffocated by Christian dogma in the Middle Ages, and did not reemerge until the seventeenth century, when Descartes picked up about where the Greeks had left off.

    The Catholic medievalist Étienne Gilson led the counterattack. He opened his...

  27. 22 Justification Today: A New Ecumenical Breakthrough October 26, 1999
    (pp. 306-317)

    One of the central themes of the New Testament, if not the central theme, is the way to obtain salvation. To be on the right road is, in New Testament terminology, to be justified. The corollary is that unless we are justified, we are unrighteous and are on the road to final perdition. In other words, justification, as a right relationship with God, is a matter of eternal life or death. If it is not important, nothing is.

    According to Christian faith, justification is a gift of God, who grants it through his Son and the Holy Spirit. Fifteen hundred...

  28. 23 The Papacy for a Global Church March 22, 2000
    (pp. 318-331)

    Until the late nineteenth century, the Catholic Church was predominantly geared to traditional societies that were stable and agrarian. To be a Catholic, in most cases, meant to be the heir of longstanding traditions that had been handed down from generation to generation in local communities. As a result of urbanization, which was intensified by the Industrial Revolution, all of this began to change. In increasing numbers, Catholics flocked to the cities and became involved in industries and professions. With better means of travel, they began to migrate to new countries where the Catholic faith had not as yet taken...

  29. 24 The Death Penalty: A Right-to-Life Issue? October 17, 2000
    (pp. 332-347)

    Among the major nations of the Western world, the United States is singular in still having the death penalty.¹ After a five-year moratorium, from 1972 to 1977, capital punishment was reinstated in U.S. courts. Objections to the practice have come from many quarters, including the American bishops, who have consistently opposed the death penalty. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1980 published a predominantly negative statement on capital punishment, approved by a majority vote of those present though not by the required two-thirds majority.² Pope John Paul II has at various times expressed his opposition to the practice, as...

  30. 25 Religious Freedom—a Developing Doctrine March 21, 2001
    (pp. 348-359)

    According to John Henry Newman, whose two hundredth birthday we celebrated exactly a month ago, Christianity came into the world as a single idea, but time was necessary for believers to perceive its multiple aspects and spell out their meaning. The Christian idea has gradually taken possession of minds and hearts in such a way that its significance is more precisely grasped as the centuries pass.¹ For this reason the doctrine of the faith undergoes a process of development through time. The Second Vatican Council, endorsing the insights of Newman, devoted an important paragraph of its Constitution on Divine Revelation...

  31. 26 Christ Among the Religions November 7, 2001
    (pp. 360-372)

    The relations between the various religions of the world have often been hostile, and in many places they remain so today. When we pick up the daily newspaper, we can hardly avoid reading about conflicts between Jews and Muslims, between Muslims and Hindus, between Hindus and Sikhs, or between Sunnis and Shiites. All of these faiths have at one time or another clashed with Christianity, which, for its part, has contributed more than its share to interreligious tension and warfare. Christians have persecuted Jews and have fought holy wars against Muslims. Within Christianity there have been internecine wars, especially between...

  32. 27 When to Forgive April 10, 2002
    (pp. 373-386)

    In his contribution to a recent volume on forgiveness, Martin Marty hazards the opinion that if there were a single word that expressed the very heart of the Christian message, it might well be “forgiveness.” Christians, he says, are called to experience both forgiveness from God and forgiveness among fellow human beings inspired by that divine forgiveness. Marty goes on to observe that forgiveness is not an exclusively Christian concept. It figures prominently in many other religions and, indeed, functions beyond every religious context.¹

    Pope John Paul II has made forgiveness one of the pillars of his program for the...

  33. 28 The Population of Hell November 20, 2002
    (pp. 387-400)

    Sometimes the complaint is heard that no one preaches about hell any longer. The subject of hell, if not attractive, is at least fascinating, as any reader of Dante’sInfernoor Milton’sParadise Lostcan testify. Since our time this evening is too short for a full exploration, I shall limit the scope of my inquiry to the question of numbers: how many of us may be expected to go there?

    As we know from the Gospels, Jesus spoke many times about hell. Throughout his preaching, he holds forth two, and only two, final possibilities for human existence: the one...

  34. 29 True and False Reform in the Church April 23, 2003
    (pp. 401-413)

    The long experience of the Catholic Church has included many seasons of decline and renewal. Throughout the centuries, the Church has striven by preaching and exhortation to help individual Christians reform their lives. At various times reformers have arisen to make the consecrated life a more authentic school of perfection. One thinks in this connection of the Cistercians and Trappists as reformed branches of the Benedictine order, and of the Discalced Carmelites, who conducted a thoroughgoing reform of their order in sixteenth-century Spain. The universal Church likewise has undertaken major institutional reforms; for example, the Gregorian Reform of the eleventh...

  35. 30 John Paul II and the Mystery of the Human Person October 21, 2003
    (pp. 414-429)

    As the literary output of Pope John Paul II has accumulated, expanding almost beyond the assimilative powers of any one reader, and as he celebrates the silver jubilee of his pontificate, I have been asking myself, as I am sure that many others have: What lies at the very heart of his message? Is there some one concept that could serve as a key to unlock what is distinctive to this pope as a thinker? My thesis will be: the mystery of the human person. As pope, he is of course bound to the whole dogmatic heritage of the Church,...

  36. 31 The Rebirth of Apologetics March 2, 2004
    (pp. 430-442)

    For the Christian it is axiomatic that faith is a gift of God, a grace. Since the Council of Orange in the sixth century, the Church has consistently taught that even the first beginnings of faith depend on the working of the Holy Spirit.¹ But the councils of the Church assure us that even so, faith is not a blind leap into the dark but an act fully consonant with reason.²

    Over the centuries, Christian theology has exerted itself to keep the proper balance. Faith, besides being a gracious gift of God, is also a free and responsible decision on...

  37. 32 A Eucharistic Church: The Vision of John Paul II November 10, 2004
    (pp. 443-454)

    Karol Wojtyla has always had a deep eucharistic piety. Each year since becoming pope he has written a letter to priests for Holy Thursday. In 2003 he released his most recent encyclical,Ecclesia de Eucharistia, emphasizing the bonds between the Eucharist and the Church. Last spring he announced the beginning of a eucharistic year, which began a month ago, on October 7, and which will culminate in the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in October 2005. The theme for this assembly is to be “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the...

  38. 33 How Real Is the Real Presence? February 15, 2005
    (pp. 455-467)

    Last fall, at the beginning of this year of the Eucharist, I devoted my McGinley Lecture to the subject “The Eucharist and the Church.” Because a number of the questions had to do with the real presence of Christ in this sacrament, I promised to take the real presence as the topic for my next lecture. There have been moments when I almost regretted the promise, because the subject is very profound and mysterious. It taxes the human mind to the utmost. In the end we have to exclaim that we have here an ineffable mystery, which only the mind...

  39. 34 Benedict XVI: Interpreter of Vatican II October 25, 2005
    (pp. 468-484)

    Like his predecessor John Paul II, Benedict XVI was present at all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Whereas Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul, took part as a bishop, the young Joseph Ratzinger did so as a theological expert. During and after the council he taught successively at the universities of Bonn (1959–63), Münster (1963–66), Tübingen (1966–69), and Regensburg, until he was appointed archbishop of Munich in 1977. In 1981 he became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a post he held until the death of John...

  40. 35 The Mission of the Laity March 29, 2006
    (pp. 485-496)

    In some past centuries it might almost have seemed that the laity had no mission. The Lord, it was said, had assigned the mission to evangelize the world to the apostles and their successors. Since the wordapostlemeans someone sent, a herald, an emissary, it might seem that persons not in the apostolic succession could not be sent. Throughout the Middle Ages and early modern times, laypeople were active in the world, but ordinarily played a rather passive role in the Church. Saints like King Louis IX and Thomas More applied their faith admirably to the world of politics,...

  41. 36 The Ignatian Charism at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century November 29, 2006
    (pp. 497-508)

    This lecture is intended to complete a series of four on the Jesuit founders whose jubilees are being celebrated this year. At Fordham we have had in 2006 one lecture on Saint Ignatius, one on Peter Faber, one on Francis Xavier, and now, to complete the series, a lecture on the Ignatian charism today.

    The notion of the Ignatian charism requires some explanation. A charism is a gift of grace, conferred not for one’s personal sanctification but for the benefit of others. Saint Paul has a famous list of charisms in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. They include the...

  42. 37 Evolution, Atheism, and Religious Belief April 17, 2007
    (pp. 509-521)

    During the second half of the nineteenth century, it became rather common to speak of a warfare between science and religion.¹ In the course of the twentieth century, the hostility gradually subsided. At the beginning of his pontificate, John Paul II, following in the footsteps of the Second Vatican Council, established a commission to review and correct the condemnation of Galileo at his trial of 1633. In 1983 he held a conference celebrating the 350th anniversary of the publication of Galileo’sDialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, at which he remarked that the experience of the Galileo case had led the...

  43. 38 Who Can Be Saved? November 7, 2007
    (pp. 522-534)

    Nothing is more striking in the New Testament than the confidence with which it proclaims the saving power of belief in Christ. Almost every page confronts us with a decision of eternal consequence: Will we follow Christ or the rulers of this world? The gospel is, according to Paul, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (Rom 1:16). The apostles and their associates are convinced that in Jesus they have encountered the Lord of life and that he has brought them into the way that leads to everlasting blessedness. By personal faith in him and by...

  44. McGinley Lectures Previously Published
    (pp. 535-538)
  45. Index
    (pp. 539-546)