I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Can an Intellectual be a Saint?

Can an Intellectual be a Saint?

The Mystery of Christ in the Fathers of the Church, Janet E Rutherford and David Woods (eds), Four Courts Press, 240 pp, €49.50, ISBN: 9781846823701 This book is a festschrift offered by scholars associated with the Maynooth-based Patristics Symposium to Father Vincent Twomey, emeritus Professor of Moral Theology in Maynooth. Twomey founded the Patristics Symposium in 1986. He is an interesting and important figure in his own right. He was a doctoral student under Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI, in the University of Regensburg in Bavaria before Ratzinger’s appointment as Archbishop of Munich in 1977 and, in the same year, cardinal. Ratzinger had moved to the newly founded University of Regensburg in 1969 from the University of Tübingen, which had been heavily affected by the disturbances of 1968. In 1981 he was appointed Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in this role he made many enemies, through his struggles with what he saw as distortions of traditional Catholic teaching by theologians such as Hans Küng, his former colleague in Tübingen, and the theorist of liberation theology, Leonardo Boff. Ratzinger’s opponents see his period at Regensburg, the period when Twomey was working with him, as the period when he switched from being a broadminded “liberal” theologian to being a conservative traditionalist. Or, to put it another way, from being a leading proponent of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council to being a “restorationist”, trying to return the Church to something more like what it had been prior to the council. Twomey is given a couple of pages in the broadly hostile account by John L Allen ‑ Cardinal Ratzinger, The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith ‑ as an example of the “second wave” of Ratzinger’s disciples, arguing the restorationist case both with regard to liturgy and to morality. Allen describes him in this context as a “street fighter”. Ratzinger’s reputation as an erstwhile “liberal” derives from his role as peritus (adviser) to Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, who led a revolt of the bishops against an attempt on the part of the papal curia to dictate the agenda of Vatican II. Vatican II, however, was far from being simply a confrontation between “liberals” and “conservatives”. Indeed one might question if liberalism in the sense in which it is understood these days ‑ after 1968, the pill, feminism, gay liberation ‑ was present at the council at…

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