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Henri de Lubac
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Henri-Marie de Lubac, SJ (February 20, 1896 – September 4, 1991) was a French Jesuit priest who became a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, and is considered to be one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. His writings and doctrinal research played a key role in the shaping of the Second Vatican Council.
Early life and ordination
Henri de Lubac was born in Cambrai to an ancient, noble family of the Ardèche. He was one of six children; his father was a banker and his mother a homemaker. A born aristocrat in manner and appearance, de Lubac joined the Society of Jesus in Lyon on October 9, 1913. Owing to the political climate in France at the time, the school relocated to St. Leonard’s on Sea, East Sussex, where de Lubac studied before being drafted to the French army in 1914. Following a head wound received at Verdun during the Great War, de Lubac returned to the Jesuits and continued his philosophical studies, first in Canterbury and then in St. Helier, Jersey in 1920. In 1924, following a year’s teaching at the Jesuit College at Mongré, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, de Lubac returned to England and undertook his theological studies at Ore Place in Hastings, East Sussex. In 1926, the theologate was relocated back to Fourvière in Lyons, where de Lubac completed the remaining two years of his theological studies before, in 1929, giving his first lecture at the Theology Faculty of Lyons. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 22, 1927.
Professor and theologian
De Lubac served as a professor of fundamental theology at the Catholic University of Lyon from 1929 to 1961, with two interruptions; the first during World War II, when he was forced underground because of his activities with the French Resistance and the second, from 1950 to 1958, when the Jesuit order, under pressure from Rome, removed him from his teaching responsibilities and sent him away from the Jesuit residence at Fourvière.
His first book, the now-classic Catholicisme (English title of the current edition: Catholicism: Christ and Common Destiny of Man) was published in 1938, before the war. Several other works begun before 1940 were published together as soon as paper became available again in 1945, including Surnaturel, etudes historiques, and three works on Buddhism. In 1940, he founded the series Sources Chrétiennes ("Christian Sources"), co-edited with fellow Jesuit Jean Daniélou, a collection of bilingual, critical editions of early Christian texts and of the Fathers of the Church that has reinvigorated both the study of Patristics and the doctrine of Sacred Tradition. His pioneering study Exégèse Médiévale (1959–65) revived interest in the spiritual exegesis of Scripture and provided a major impetus to the development of Covenantal Theology (Roman Catholic).
World War II and spiritual resistance
During the Second World War, de Lubac joined a movement of "spiritual resistance," assisting in the publication of an underground journal of National socialist resistance called Témoinage chrétien, or Christian Witness. It was intended to show the incompatibility of Christian belief with the philosophy and activities of the National socialist regime, both in Germany and also under the cover of the Vichy government in southern France, which was theoretically independent of the Reich. De Lubac was often in hiding from the Germans and several of his co-workers on the journal were captured and executed. Even in hiding, he continued to study and write.
"The dark years"
In June 1950, as de Lubac himself said, "lightning struck Fourvière." De Lubac, who resided at Fourvière but had actually taught only one course there, between 1935 and 1940, and four Fourvière professors were removed from their duties (in de Lubac's case these included his professorship at Lyon and his editorship of Recherches de science religieuse) and required to leave the Lyon province. All Jesuit provincials were directed to remove three of his books (Surnaturel, Corpus mysticum, and Connaissance de Dieu) and one article from their libraries and, as far as possible, from public distribution. The action came through the Jesuit Superior General, Father Jean-Baptiste Janssens, under pressure from the curial office, and was because of "pernicious errors on essential points of dogma."
Two months later, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Humani generis, widely believed to have been directed at de Lubac and other theologians associated with the nouvelle théologie, an intellectual movement characterized by renewed attention to the patristic sources of Catholicism, a willingness to address the ideas and concerns of contemporary men and women, a focus on pastoral work and respect for the competencies of the laity, and a sense of the Catholic Church as existing in history and affected by it.
What de Lubac called "the dark years" lasted nearly a decade. It was not until 1956 that he was allowed to return to Lyon and not until 1958 that the University got verbal approval from Rome for de Lubac to return to teaching the courses he previously taught. Although everything de Lubac wrote during these years was subject to censorship in Rome, he had never ceased to study, write, and publish.
Second Vatican Council
In August 1960, Pope John XXIII appointed de Lubac as a consultant to the Preparatory Theological Commission for the upcoming Second Vatican Council. He was then made a peritus (theological expert) to the Council itself, and later, by Pope Paul VI, a member of its Theological Commission (as well as of two secretariats). Although the precise nature of his contribution during the council is difficult to determine, his writings were certainly an influence on the conciliar and post-conciliar periods, particularly in the area of Ecclesiology where one of his concerns was to understand the Church as the community of the whole people of God rather than just the clergy. De Lubac's influence on Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, and Gaudium et spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, is generally recognized.
Teilhard de Chardin
Just before and during the conciliar years, with the blessing of his order, de Lubac also began to write and publish books and articles in defense of the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, his older friend and fellow Jesuit, who had died in 1955. Teilhard’s ideas had influenced several of the theologians of the nouvelle théologie and had also met with extreme disfavor in Rome.
In 1969 Pope Paul VI, an admirer of de Lubac's works, had proposed making him a Cardinal, but de Lubac demurred, believing that for him to become a bishop, as required of all cardinals by Pope John XXIII in 1962, would be "an abuse of an apostolic office". Paul VI instead elevated de Lubac's junior colleague Jean Daniélou in that consistory, having committed to grant the cardinalate to a Jesuit theologian.
In 1983 Pope John Paul II offered de Lubac the cardinalate, this time with a dispensation from being consecrated a bishop. De Lubac accepted, and became the first cardinal after 1962 who was not a bishop. In the consistory of February 2, 1983, Pope John Paul II raised de Lubac, at 87, to the College of Cardinals. He was created Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica. Since May 24, 1990, de Lubac was the oldest living Cardinal. He died in Paris in 1991.
|Oldest living cardinal
24 May 1990 – 4 September 1991
| Succeeded by|
Ferdinando Giuseppe Antonelli
- de Lubac, H. (1993) At the Service of the Church, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, p. 67.
- de Lubac, H. (1993) At the Service of the Church, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, p. 68.
- Grumett, D. (2007) De Lubac: A Guide for the Perplexed, London, T & T Clark, p. 51-52.
- O'Malley, J. W. (2008) Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?, New York, Continuum, p. 75.
- Catholicisme: les aspects sociaux du dogme, 1938, translated as Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man. trans. Sheppard, L. & Englund, E. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1988.
- Corpus Mysticum: L'Eucharistie et l’Église au moyen âge, 1944, translated as Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages, 2006
- De la Connaissance de Dieu ('The Discovery of God'), 1945–48
- Surnaturel, 1946
- Exégèse médiévale, 1959, 1961, 1964
- Teilhard de Chardin: the man and his meaning. Translated by Rene Hague. 1st American ed. New York:Hawthorn Books, 1965.
- The religion of Teilhard de Chardin. Translated by Rene Hague. New York: Desclee Co.,1967.
- Teilhard explained. Translated by Anthony Buono. New York: Paulist Press,1968.
- The Eternal Feminine; a study on the poem by Teilhard de Chardin. Translated by Rene Hague. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Harper & Row,1971.
- A Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace. trans. Richard Arnandez. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1984.
- The Mystery of the Supernatural. trans. Rosemary Sheed. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company. 1998
- The Drama of Atheist Humanism. trans. Riley, M., Nash, A. & Sebanc, M. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.1995
- Paradoxes of Faith. trans. Simon, P., Kreilkamp, S., & Beaumont, E. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1987
- The Christian Faith: an essay on the structure of the Apostles' Creed. Translated by Richard Arnandez. San Francisco: IgnatiusPress,1986.
- Three Jesuits speak: Yves de Montcheuil,1899-1944, Charles Nicolet,1897-1961, Jean Zupan, 1899-1968. Presented by Henri de Lubac. Translated by K.D. Whitehead. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987.
- More Paradoxes. trans. A. Nash. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2002.
- John Milbank. 2005. The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate concerning the Supernatural. Cambridge: William B Eerdmans
- Hans Urs von Balthasar. 1991. The Theology of Henri de Lubac. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
- David Grumett. 2007. De Lubac: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: T&T Clark
- Bryan C. Hollon. 2009. Everything is Sacred: Spiritual Exegesis in the Political Theology of Henri de Lubac. Eugene, OR.: Cascade/Wipf & Stock
- Rudolf Voderholzer. 2008. Meet Henri de Lubac: His Life and Work. San Francisco: Ignatius Press
- Susan Wood. 1998. Spiritual Exegesis and the Church in the Theology of Henri de Lubac. Edinburgh: T&T Clark
- Fergus Kerr. 2007. Henri de Lubac. In: Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians. pp. 67–87. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
- Jérôme Ducor. 2007. Les écrits d'Henri de Lubac sur le bouddhisme; Les cahiers bouddhiques, n° 5 (Paris, Université Bouddhique Européenne, déc. 2007; ISSN 1777-926X), p. 81-110.