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Post-Reformation Roman Catholic Theology

Post-Reformation and Contemporary Developments


Roman Catholic Theology

A.            Seventeenth-Century Developments

1.             Jansenism – The movement was named after Cornelius Jansen (d. 1638), bishop of Ypres, Holland, and professor at Louvain University. Jansen was a thoroughgoing Augustinian/Calvinist whose theology was incompatible with the semi-Pelagianism of the RCC (and especially the Jesuits). His views were condemned by Pope Innocent X in the bull Cum Occasione (1653). Blaise Pascal became a Jansenist.

2.             Quietism – Originated in the writings of Miguel de Molines (of Spain); advocated a posture of total passivity before God in prayer and a virtual elimination of all human desire.

3.             Establishment of the Trappist order of monks in 1664

3.             Gallicanism – a movement in France to create a French national Catholic Church in which the king ruled and the pope had virtually no authority (a similar movement later emerged in Germany). Those involved opposed papal centralization and wanted to restrict papal intervention in the affairs of national churches. Denied papal infallibility. Advocated a union of church and state with the former reduced to the junior partner.

B.            Eighteenth-Century Developments

1.             Suppression of the Jesuits (1773) – by Pope Clement XIV. They were regarded as too conservative theologically and as having failed to adapt intellectually to contemporary developments. Their missionary strategy entailed adapting the Catholic faith to local religious convictions, provoking opposition from the Franciscans and Dominicans who insisted they were conceding too much to paganism.

2.             The Impact of the French Revolution

C.            Nineteenth-Century Developments

1.             Reestablishment of the Jesuits by Pope Pius VII (1814)

2.             Catholicism and Theological Liberalism

3.             The Conversion of John Henry Newman (1801-90)

4.             Pope Pius IX (1846-78; known simply as “Pio Nono”)

a.              The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854) – “The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

b.             Marian Apparition at Lourdes, France (1858) – Mary is alleged to have appeared to Bernadette Soubirous and announced, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” which many took to be a divine confirmation of the dogma of 1854.

c.              The Syllabus of Errors (1864)

d.             The First Vatican Council (1869)

Dei Filius (focused on the authority of divine revelation and taught that nature and reason are subordinate to grace and faith)

Pastor Aeternus (focused on the primacy and infallibility of the pope; affirmed that when the pope speaks on matters of faith and morals ex cathedra or “from the chair” of Peter, that is, from his office as Peter’s successor and shepherd of the Church, he is granted by the Holy Spirit the gift of infallibility)

5.             Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903)

a.              Made John Henry Newman a Cardinal (1879)

b.             Declared the theology of Thomas Aquinas to be the standard for judging all Catholic theology and philosophy (1879)

c.              Sought to place the church on a new footing with modern secular culture and new intellectual developments

D.            Twentieth-Century Developments

1.             Pius X (1903-14)

Condemned the Modernists (such as Frenchman Alfred Loisy [1857-1940] and English Jesuit George Tyrrell [d. 1909]) in the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis (1910)

2.             Benedict XV (1914-22)

3.             Marian Apparition in Fatima, Portugal (1917) – Mary allegedly appeared to three children six times, always on the thirteenth day of the month; she predicted the end of WW I, the rise of Russia, and encouraged that the rosary be prayed daily. Confirmation of the authenticity of her appearances was allegedly given on October 13, 1917 when, in the presence of 100,000 people, the sun appeared to whirl and dance in the sky.

4.             Pius XI (1922-39)

5.             Pius XII (1939-58)

a.              The Vatican’s relationship to Nazi Germany

b.             Emphasis on Mary

·          In 1942 he consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

·          He declared Mary to be “Queen of the World”

·          The Dogma of Mary’s Bodily Assumption into Heaven (1950)

6.             John XXIII (1958-63)

Most famous for having convened Vatican II

7.             Vatican II (1962-65; the 21st in the history of the RCC)

·          aggiornamento (“bringing up to date) vs. ressourcement (“return to the sources”)

·          2,600 bishops attended together with invited guests from both Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism

·          met for four three-month sessions over four years

·          Lumen Gentium (lit., “the light of nations,” also known as “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”)

·          Sacrosanctum Concilium (“Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”)

·          Dei Verbum (lit., “word of God,” also known as “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation”)

Whereas there is one ultimate source of revelation, God, divine truth comes to the Church “through the unified and interdependent channels of sacred Scripture, sacred tradition (authentic Christian teaching affirmed as true and transmitted within the Church over the course of many centuries), and the magisterium (or teaching office of the Church), which is a servant of God’s word – listening to it, guarding it, and teaching it faithfully” (Schreck, 122).

·          Nostra Aetate (“The Declaration on Non-Christian Religions”)

·          Latin replaced by the vernacular at Mass

·          Emphasis on the church as “the people of God” rather than a hierarchy of those governing and those governed; the priesthood of the laity

8.             In the Aftermath of Vatican II

a.              departure of thousands of priests and members of religious orders (28,000 priests left the church in the years 1965-85)

b.             a new spirit of experimentation in the church

c.              loss of sense of the sacred and mysterious in worship and the Mass

d.             emphasis on collegiality vs. papal authority

e.              crisis in Christian education

f.              undermining of traditional Catholic moral teaching

g.             loss of urgency in Christian mission

h.             the case of French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (excommunicated in 1988)

i.               abolition of The Index of Forbidden Books in 1966 (by Paul VI)

9.             The Catholic Charismatic Renewal

“Renew in our day, O Lord, your wonders, as in a new Pentecost” (John XXIII’s prayer at the beginning of Vatican II

It first emerged in the late fall of 1966 and early spring of 1967 with several laymen on the faculty of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh (Ralph Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois, among others). Similar events occurred at Notre Dame (under the leadership of Edward O’Connor, Bert Ghezzi, and Kevin Ranaghan), the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (led by Ralph Martin and Stephen Clark), and elsewhere. In 1967 the first annual National Catholic Pentecostal Conference met on the campus of Notre Dame University and in 1975 10,000 Catholic charismatics attended the International Charismatic Conference at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Paul VI gave his official approval to the renewal in 1975

Principal figures: Cardinal Leo-Josef Suenens (Belgium); Ralph Martin, Stephen Clark, Kevin Ranaghan. It is estimated that there were by the late 90’s some 72 million Catholic charismatics in 120 nations.

10.          Paul VI (1963-78) and the encyclical Humanae Vitae (lit., “of human life”; 1968)

The case of Father Charles E. Curran (professor at Catholic University, Washington, D.C.), dismissed from his teaching position in 1987.

11.          John Paul II (1978 - )

12.          Appointment of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (1927 - ) as prefect of the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith (1981 - )

·          Hans Kung (b. 1928) and papal infallibility (Infallible? An Inquiry) – The missio canonica was withdrawn in 1979 (this is the license that a Catholic theologian must hold to teach at a pontifically recognized institution)

·          Leonardo Boff (b. 1938) and liberation theology – He was formally silenced by Ratzinger on April 26, 1985 (Boff left the priesthood in 1992)

·          Hubertus Halbfas (b. 1932) – The missionary purpose of the church is not to make converts but to help “the Hindu to become a better Hindu, the Buddhist a better Buddhist, and the Moslem a better Moslem” (he left the priesthood in 1970 to marry)

·          Richard McBrien (professor of theology at Notre Dame and author of Catholicism)

·          Matthew Fox and “creation spirituality” (was dismissed from the Dominicans in 1992, eventually left the Catholic church and was ordained as an Episcopal priest)

13.          Marian Apparition at Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia (1981)

14.          Publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992; first English edition 1994)

E.             Prominent 20th Century Roman Catholic Theologians, Philosophers, Biblical Scholars

· Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1877-1964; Dominican)

· Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955; Jesuit)

· Karl Adam (1876-1966)

· Jean Danielou (1905-74; Jesuit)

· Henri de Lubac (1896-1991; Jesuit)

· Yves Congar (1904-95; Dominican)

· Bernard Lonergan (1904-84; Jesuit)

· Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-88; died one day before receiving his cardinal’s hat)

· Karl Rahner (1904-84; Jesuit)

· Edward Schillebeeckx (b. 1914; Dominican)

· Hans Kung (b. 1928)

· Raymond Brown (1928-1999)

· Joseph Fitzmyer (b. 1920)

· Charles E. Curran (b. 1934)

· Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (b. 1935)

· Joseph Ratzinger (b. 1927)