"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

March 30, 2021

Homily for Bernard Lonergan’s 70th Birthday

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: — komonchak @ 4:22 pm

I do not remember how it happened that I was asked to preach at the Mass celebrating the seventieth birthday of Fr. Bernard Lonergan, S. J. It was held at Regis College, Toronto, on January 4, 1975, and there were all manner of Jesuits and of other students of Fr. Lonergan more worthy to take on the task, first among them, perhaps, Fr. Frederick Crowe, S. J., faithful companion and disciple. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I have no memory of how I was invited, and I don’t believe I have any correspondence about it. Obviously, Fr. Lonergan must have either thought of me or agreed to the suggestion of me, for which I am now grateful and awed because in 1975 I was barely started on a theological career and still teaching at Dunwoodie. In any case, here is the homily I gave:

https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:c59eef1f-6696-430c-a533-0df6435e035c

January 30, 2021

Defending the Catholic Common Ground Initiative

The Catholic Common Ground Initiative promoted by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin turned out to reveal divisions within the hierarchy of the United States. The controversy soon involved theologians as well, two of whom, Fr. Avery Dulles and Prof. David L. Schindler, strongly criticized the notion of dialogue they believed to underlie the Bernardin proposal. Fr. Dulles’s essay was delivered as the McGinley Lecture at Fordham University on November 19, 1996, and then published as “The Limits of Dialogue” in Crisis (February 1997): 16-19, and then again, much later, in Church and Society: The Lawrence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007 (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008) 221-233. Professor Schindler’s critique was published as “On the Catholic Common Ground Project: The Christological Foundations of Dialogue,” Communio, 23 (1996): 823–5.

It may be that it was an article by Jim Cosgrove, “The Common Ground Project and the Art of Dialogue,” which appeared in the National Catholic Register, on April 6, 1997, that led me to get involved. I dimly recall that I communicated with the editor of the newspaper, Joop Koopman, who invited me to write about the controversy. The result was the following long essay which he published in full in the pages of a journal that had always been rather conservative editorially and in 1995 had been bought by the Legionaries of Christ. In my accompanying letter, dated April 25, 1997, I wrote to Koopman: “I thank you for the invitation to contribute this. I appreciate it that the Register is interested in this kind of ‘dialogue’.” It was not long afterwards that he was replaced as editor of the newspaper, and I wondered whether his publishing of my critique had anything to do with his departure.

JAK – In Defense of the Common Ground Initiative

June 20, 2020

Epistemology of Reception

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology, Uncategorized — komonchak @ 8:48 am

This is the talk I gave at the third Salamanca Conference held in 1996.  I re-read it recently and found that it sets out, in what I confess is a very dense argument, themes that have occupied me ever since I started work in ecclesiology in the late 1960s.  In fact, the central thesis was supposed to be the subject of a major book, something that I fear is never going to be written. One way of putting it is that if God wills that there be a Church, he wills that certain events take place in the subjectivity and inter-subjective relationships of human beings. Here I draw upon Bernard Lonergan’s theorem of divine transcendence and extrinsic denomination to make the point.

Comments very welcome!

JAK Epistemology of Reception

April 20, 2020

Who are the Church?

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology — komonchak @ 12:09 pm

In 2008 I was given the high honor of being asked to deliver the Père Marquette Lecture in Theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I decided to devote my talk to an exploration of the claim that anyone who makes a statement about the Church–what it is, what it is saying, what it is doing–should be prepared to say of whom the statement is true, in whom it is true. In this, as I indicate in the lecture, I am asking what St. Augustine asked when explaining the blessing the Psalmist says will come to those who walk in the ways of the Lord: “Your wife a fruitful vine on he sides of the house” (Ps 127[128]:3).  In whom, Augustine wanted to know, is the Church “a fruitful vine”?  It is the question that Yves Congar asked several times in his writings:  “To what, or to whom, does the word ‘Church’ refer?” The question may seem obvious, but I have found that many theologians seem not to have asked it, content to leave the subject of their statements about the Church and the subject of the actions they attribute to the Church unspecified,

JAK – Who are the Church

April 9, 2020

Triduum Homilies – 1972-1977

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 11:40 am

These are Holy Week homilies delivered while I was on the faculty at Dunwoodie and serving as chaplain to the Ursulines at the College of New Rochelle:

Triduum homilies – 1972-1977

March 24, 2020

The Early Work of John Courtney Murray

Around 1990 I was given access to the diaries of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton one-time professor and chair of the School of Theology at Catholic University. In the 1964 volume I found four propositions that, he wrote, were found to be erroneous. They concerned matters of Church and State and religious freedom, and I almost immediately surmised that they were the propositions that the Holy Office attributed to John Courtney Murray and condemned. To verify that this was the case, I embarked on a lengthy inquiry, which I can tell elsewhere, that led me into extensive research into the thought of the American Jesuit, some of which found its way into print.

I discovered that much of the secondary literature on Murray had been based upon his published work. Even most of the scholars who did some archival work confined that to Murray’s papers held at Georgetown University. Teaching at the time at Catholic University, I was able to expand my inquiry to include the CUA archives, the archives of the USCCB, the archives of the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists, and later I visited archives of the archdioceses of New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati. I discovered that there was a great deal of material that could be used to tell in much more precise detail the story of the development of Murray’s thought.

The result was a whole set of essays that were supposed to become a very large book on Murray. For a variety of reasons, I have not been able to assemble them into a grand narrative–the first publisher whom I approached about the project asked me, “What is your story? Which left me almost speechless, because I had not imagined that I needed a story with a plot, but that it would be enough to set out individual pieces. In any case, it is now unlikely that I am going to be able to turn all this into a book, and so I have decided to send it out on the Internet to be of whatever interest it may be in general and of whatever help it can be to other scholars.

Please note that much of this research was done some twenty to thirty years ago and that in the meantime I have not kept as close a track of recent scholarship as I would have liked to. Here and there, as I would come upon some relevant books or articles, I would include them in a footnote, but I do not have time now to do the updating that may be required.

A few readers who looked at my stuff said that I had too many quotes and especially too many long quotations; but that is how I have worked, preferring to put too many original sources in my text than too few, and thinking some day I might prune them. But I set out many things that have not been adverted to before, and perhaps the essays could be considered as a mine of information. (I remember fondly that the publisher Michael Glazier, of beloved memory, read it all and said that, if he were still publishing, he’d publish every word of it. He thought it would be an indispensable reference-work.) In any case, here it goes.

The first batch of essays tells of the early writings of John Courtney Murray soon after he returned from Europe after having completed his doctoral studies in Rome. He was already intensely interested in what he would come to call “the spiritual crisis in the temporal order.” This is evident in two sets of lectures he gave in the early 1940s in which he lay out the doctrinal and theological grounds for the Church’s mission and activity in society and culture. The crisis was rendered more acute by the outbreak of the Second World War, and Murray was among those who thought it possible, indeed necessary, for Catholics to engage in inter-religious cooperation for believers to meet the crisis and to be able to take part in the restoration of order once the War was over. This proposal was not welcomed by many Catholic churchmen and theologians, and Murray had to engage in lengthy conversations, in published articles and in private conversations, to defend his position against the charge that it would lead to religious indifferentism. Many Protestants also were reluctant to cooperate with Roman Catholics who were, as they believed, ready, should they become a majority, to deprive them of their religious freedom.

From both sides, then, Catholic and Protestant, the issue of religious freedom became critical, and this explains why, beginning in the mid-1940’s, Murray turned his attention to that subject and began the series of publications that would lead him again into controversy, make him subject to high Roman censure, and end with his vindication at the Second Vatican Council. Whereupon, as he put it right after the Council, Catholics could “get on to the deeper issue of the effective presence of the Church in the world today”–which was, of course, the passion that first inspired him.

So here are five “chapters” as well as the transcribed text of the two set of lectures that Murray gave early In his career.

Comments, corrections, etc. are, of couse, very welcome.

1 – JCM -Early texts

2 – Initial Debate

3 – Theological Debate

4 – US Bishops Respond

5-LaterDebates

JCM – Loyola Lectures 1940

Jewish Theological Seminary Lectures – 1942

November 14, 2019

Culture and history in a theology of the local Church

I have been working on the theology of the local Church since at least 1981.  When I first approached the question, I took local cultures to be the decisive element in defining the local character of a local Church.  For reasons set out in the first of the essays found here, I began to move away from culture to history, or historical moment and challenge, as better identifying what makes a local Church local.  The two essays, you will find, have whole sections that are identical.

JAK – Culture and history as conditions

JAK – Catholicity & Redemption

September 8, 2019

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Five homilies, with essentially the same theme…

Sunday 23 – 1992

Sunday 23 – 1995

Sunday 23 – 2001

Sunday 23 – 2007

Sunday 23 – 2010

August 31, 2019

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 3 homilies

Sunday 22 – 1992

Sunday 22 – 2004

Sunday 22 – 2007

August 30, 2019

Episcopal conferences

Filed under: Essays, Foundations in Ecclesiology, Uncategorized — Tags: , — komonchak @ 5:04 pm

The Final Report of the 1985 Synod of Bishops called for a clarification of the theological and canonical nature of episcopal conferences. Even though the Report could be taken to be calling for theologians and canon lawyers to undertake that task, the Vatican took this to mean that they should appoint a committee to do the clarifying.  The result of this was an “Instrumentum laboris” (working paper) sent out to the bishops of the world.  It would receive severe criticisms from many episcopates, including that of the USA for which I wrote a lengthy critique which was adopted by the bishops.

A symposium on episcopal conferences was held at Georgetown University, the results of which were published in a book. I was asked to write an introduction explaining what the controversies were that surrounded the institution and then to offer a theological assessment of the working paper. Both essays are available here: JAK – Two essays on episcopal conferences .

The official text that came out of the Vatican effort is entitled Apostolos suos. It will be seen that the critiques of the draft had little effect, and this text presented a very narrow vision of the conferences which are basically seen as threats to the pope or to diocesan bishops, or to both.

Pope Francis has asked that the question of the role and authority of episcopal conferences be re-opened. These essays, then, if of little effect forty years ago, may have some pertinence today.

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