Category Archives: Theology

Philosophy and theology are important in the Church’s dialogue with the contemporary world

Brian Daley Ratzinger Award Alan Holdren CNA.jpgThe Ratzinger Prize is getting a whole currency these days: it is the second year that’s been bestowed on worthy scholars. What’s novel of me is that it’s not everyday that you get a prize for serious work from the man the prize is named after, and that he’s the Supreme Pontiff! The 2012 Ratzinger Prize was given to a French philosopher and American theologian on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Pope Benedict said that “Father Daley and Professor Brague are exemplary for the transmission of knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and passion for man, so that man might discover the [true] ‘art of living.'” Chris Altieri has the Vatican Radio report here.

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Two new Doctors of the Church

procession-of-st-hildegards-relics-2012Today, the Holy Father proclaimed two new Doctors of the Church, the highest honor for saints because of their exemplary lives and insightful doctrine.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is the fourth woman Doctor of the Church. Saint Hildegard was a 12th century German  Benedictine nun, writer, composer, philosopher, polymath, and mystic. The sainted abbess was also the founder of several monasteries. On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict formally proclaimed her a saint by an equivalent of canonization, and therefore added her to the Church’s roster of saints (Roman Martyrology) extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.

Pope Benedict also proclaimed Saint John of Avila (1500-1569), a Doctor of the Church. He’s known as the Apostle of Andalusia, priest, reformer, educator, mystic, author, and patron of the early Carmelite Reform and the Jesuits.

May Saints Hildegard and John of Avila bless the work of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

Mediums and Christian Faith –incompatible?

Angels BiccideLorenzo.jpgSince today is the feast of the Guardian Angels there are some in the secular world, especially on TV, who are speaking on the feast trying to give an aire of respectability to an already firmly established belief in the existence of the Guardian Angels. However, so much in the public forum forget key points in Catholic teaching: the angels look, in glory, upon God’s face and sent by Him to man and woman in manner that is unseen by man. Angels help us, and are in pure contemplation of God; they obey God’s holy and uncontestable will.

The 12:30 interview of Phil Quinn of Guilford, CT by Teresa LaBarbera of WTNH today on the theme of “Guardian Angel Day” was grossly misguided and plainly gave false information to the public. Now, LaBarera and her WTNH team are not aiming at promoting Catholic teaching; she did, however, abscond with Catholic and Jewish teaching, manipulated it for their own purposes, and promoted many falsehoods. Let me be clear, mediums are consummate self-promoters; they are false teachers. Instead of consulting a validly ordained Catholic priest or even a rabbi, WTNH consulted a medium. How trite! How tempting! How irresistible for the weak of heart!

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Ratzinger Prize 2012

The “Ratzinger
Prize” is also known as the “Nobel of Theology.” The Prize is sponsored by the
Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) Vatican Foundation, whose aim is to “promote
the publication, distribution and study of the writings of former university
professor Joseph Ratzinger.” The Prize, though, recognizes excellence in theological study and teaching and not the echoing Ratzinger’s thought. Vatican Radio explains more here.

In 2010, the Holy Father established, in consultation with other, a
Prize in Theology noting three areas: Sacred Scripture, Patristics and
Fundamental Theology.


  • Rémi Brague, Professor emeritus of medieval and
    Arabic philosophy, University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and professor of
    Philosophy of the European religions (Romano Guardini Chair), Ludwig-
    Maximilian University
  • Father Brian E. Daley, SJ, Professor of Theology,
    University of Notre Dame


  • Professor Dr.
    Manlio Simonetti, Professor of Ancient Christian Studies and Patristic Biblical
    Interpretation, La Sapienza University
  • Father Dr. Olegario González
    de Cardedal
    , Professor of Dogmatic and Fundamental Theology, Pontifical
    University of Salamanca
  • Father Dr. Maximilian Heim, OCist, Abbot of
    Heiligenkreuz Monastery, Austria, Professor of Dogmatic and Fundamental
    Theology, University of Heiligenkreuz.
The Ratzinger Prize will be conferred on Brague and Daley on 20 October 2012, during the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.


I am delighted that Father Brian won the prize not merely because I know him (lived with him when I was in studies at Notre Dame) but he is a generous man, a faithful priest, and terrific scholar and teacher. 

Father Brian is a New York Province Jesuit, studied at Fordham, Frankfurt and Osford, and he is an avid runner.

What is a theologian? What purpose does the work of a theologian have? To be “In the Communion of the Church”

The public has been bombarded with the media’s assessment of nuns, church, the sexual abuse crisis, fidelity to the Lord, and the like. In some ways the media looks at the life of the Church and picks out the obvious problems of coherence. No doubt we have matters of concern that we have to work to correct; the adage: “the Church always needs renewal” is very true today. We rely on the Holy Spirit and the good work of Pope Benedict. The other day I found this review of a document written by members of the International Theological Commission (ITC), a group of theologians organized by the Pope to advise him on certain questions of theological questions of importance. Even the Pope needs advice! The ITC group is made up of a diversity of peoples from around the world. The ones I know personally are fine men and women, credible witnesses of the Lord. The review of Theology Today that follows is written by Father Paul McPartlan in which he synthesizes the document giving us the broad view of the work of Catholic theologian. What he highlights sits in contradistinction to what we’ve heard about the recent work of Sr Margaret Farley and other theologians who see themselves in a different light. I prefer to put my money the ITC and not on “envelop pushing, agenda driven” theologians. You?

Following its examination, in Chapter One, of the fundamental nature of theology, as the rational exploration of that faith which is a response to the proclamation of the Word of God, and prior to its extended reflection, in Chapter Three, on significant aspects of the rationality of theology, the new International Theological Commission (ITC) text, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria, carefully considers the ecclesial context of theology in Chapter Two. “The ecclesiality of theology is a constitutive aspect of the theological task, because theology is based on faith, and faith itself is both personal and ecclesial”, it says, emphasising that “it is through the Church that theologians receive the object of their enquiry” (n.20). Theological enquiry is therefore properly conducted within the living and life-giving milieu of the leiturgia, martyria and diakonia of the Church (cf. n.7). In short, as the chapter’s title indicates, it is necessary for theologians to abide in the communion of the Church.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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