Thursday 28 November 2013

The Gregorian Lonergan Conference 2013



The Gregorian Lonergan Conference "Revisiting Lonergan's Anthropology" began this afternoon, with registrations at 1600, the welcome by the Rector, P. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, SJ, and the keynote address by Fred Lawrence, "Lonergan's Quest for a Hermeneutics of Authenticity," followed by a drinks reception and dinner for the speakers at La Cabana, not far from the Greg, on via Mancini.

The Rector said that there were three reasons for the Conference: (1) it was the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and Lonergan was an expert to the Canadian bishops (something I did not know); (2) it was the 60th anniversary of Lonergan's coming to teach at the Greg (he came in 1953); (3) it was an occasion to push Lonergan's thought further. He used a nice phrase: a theology that was rigorosa and vigorosa. Among other things, Dumortier also said that he had been a student of Fred Lawrence's at Boston College, 32 years ago.

Fred's answers to questions were particularly wonderful, perhaps in the way he combined intelligere with diligere, something he had himself been talking about. When someone asked him whether he saw a link between Lonergan and Rahner's mystagogy, he said: of course. And then: I really don't understand why people feel compelled to choose one theologian and reject the other. You can love them all. Lonergan loved referring to Rahner, and he once said to Fred: Geist in Welt is wonderful. Isn't it wonderful that he and I came to the same insights quite independently? And he loved Balthasar too. So: we need to have friends who can help us, we need to be friends rather than competitors.

A good gathering, the Conference. Met Bryan Lobo, finally. And Joao Vila-Cha, Francisco Galan and his wife Genevieve, Hillary Mooney, Tim Healy, SJ, Massimo Pampaloni, who teaches at the Oriental Institute, and of course Cloe Taddei-Ferretti. Jeremy Wilkins and his wife are here too. Chae Young Kim, Neil Ormerod, Catherine Clifford (Ottawa, specialized in ecclesiology and ecumenical dialogue), Joseph Ogbonnaya. Peter Fleet from England. And, someone I am seeing after many years, Matthew Lamb, who will be on tomorrow, with "Lonergan's Gregorian Years: Deepening his Anthropology."

Fred was sharing a story about Ratzinger. Fred was in Basel, attending Karl Barth's classes there. Barth (I did not know this) had been an observer at the Council - he later wrote Ad limina apostolorum. After the Council, he would do Dei Verbum one semester, and Calvin the next; Gaudium et Spes one semester, and Luther the next, and so on. Once he invited the young Ratzinger to field questions, which Ratzinger did in a wonderful way, without being defensive or anything. Fred said that, as the only Catholic in this very Protestant university, he felt proud of Ratzinger's performance. He also said that, in many ways, Pope Ratzinger had prepared the ground and made possible what Francis was doing today.

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