Hans Urs von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar (12 August 1905 – 26 June 1988) was a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century.[1] On March 2018, together with the mystic and stigmatist Adrienne von Speyr, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chur formally opened their cause towards sainthood.[2]

Servant of God
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Theologian, cardinal-elect
Born12 August 1905
Lucerne, Switzerland
Died26 June 1988 (aged 82)
Basel, Switzerland
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church


Balthasar was born in Lucerne, Switzerland, on 12 August 1905, to a wealthy family. He was educated first by Benedictine monks at the abbey school at Engelberg in central Switzerland. Before finishing his secondary education, however, Balthasar was moved by his parents to the Stella Matutina College run by the Society of Jesus in Feldkirch, Austria. In 1923 he enrolled in the University of Zurich. His studies in philosophy and German literature led him to study subsequently in Vienna and Berlin and culminated in his doctoral work on German literature and idealism.[3]

In 1929, having submitted his thesis, he entered the Society of Jesus ("Jesuits") in Germany, since the Jesuits were banned in Switzerland until 1973. For three years he studied philosophy at Pullach, near Munich, and came into contact with Erich Przywara, whose work on analogia entis (the analogy of being) was very influential on him. In 1932, he moved to Fourvières, the Jesuit school at Lyon, for his four years of theological study. Here he encountered Jean Daniélou, Gaston Fessard, and Henri de Lubac. Daniélou and de Lubac were both to become notable from the 1940s onwards as members of the nouvelle théologie, a group of thinkers raising deep questions about the neoscholastic doctrine of grace and nature, with its suggestion that human nature could be conceived of in isolation from its relation to the vision of God. Both Daniélou and de Lubac, as part of their re-assessment of neoscholastic thought, were increasingly turning to studies of patristic thinkers. Balthasar received from these theological studies an enduring love of the Church Fathers, which was later to lead to his studies of Origen of Alexandria (1938), Maximus the Confessor, Kosmische Liturgie (1941), and Gregory of Nyssa, Présence et pensée (1942).

Having completed his training in seven years, because of his previous studies, Balthasar was ordained a priest in 1936. He then worked briefly in Munich, on the Jesuit journal Stimmen der Zeit. In 1940, with the Nazi regime encroaching on the freedom of Catholic journalists, he left Germany and began work in Basel as a student chaplain.[4]

While in Basel he met Adrienne von Speyr. She was a twice-married Protestant medical doctor in chronically poor health, who through her mystical experiences would have a huge impact on Balthasar's later thought. In 1940 he received her into the Catholic Church. In 1945, they founded a religious society, the Community of Saint John (Johannesgemeinschaft), for men and women. This became more widely known three years later when Balthasar produced a theology for secular institutes in his work Der Laie und der Ordenstand, the first book to be published by the Johannes Verlag, a publishing house established[5] with the help of a friend.

Because the Jesuits did not see running the institute as compatible with belonging to the Society, von Balthasar had to choose between remaining a Jesuit and his involvement with the institute. In 1950 he left the Society of Jesus,[6] feeling that God had called him to continue his work with this secular institute, a form of consecrated life that sought to work for the sanctification of the world from within the world. He accordingly remained without a role in the Church until in 1956 he was incardinated into the Diocese of Chur as a secular priest.

Balthasar was not invited to take part in any capacity in the Second Vatican Council but in later years his reputation as a theologian grew. In 1969 Pope Paul VI appointed him to the International Theological Commission, and in 1984 he was awarded the first Paul VI International Prize for his contributions to theology.[6]

From the low point of being banned from teaching as a result of his leaving the Society of Jesus,[7] his reputation eventually rose to the extent that Pope John Paul II named him to be a cardinal in 1988. He died, however, in his home in Basel on 26 June 1988, two days before the ceremony which would have granted him that position.[8] His remains were interred in the Hofkirche cemetery in Lucerne.[9]


Along with Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan, Balthasar sought to offer an intellectual, faithful response to Western modernity, which posed a challenge to traditional Catholic thought.[1]:262 While Rahner offered a progressive, accommodating position on modernity and Lonergan worked out a philosophy of history that sought to critically appropriate modernity, Balthasar resisted the reductionism and human focus of modernity, wanting Christianity to be more challenging toward modern sensibilities.;[1]:262 [10] Balthasar is very eclectic in his approach, sources, and interests and remains difficult to categorize.[1]:2 An example of his eclecticism was his long study and conversation with the influential Reformed Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, on whose work he wrote the first Catholic analysis and response. Although Balthasar's major points of analysis on Karl Barth's work have been disputed, his The Theology of Karl Barth: Exposition and Interpretation (1951) remains a classic work for its sensitivity and insight; Karl Barth himself agreed with its analysis of his own theological enterprise, calling it the best book on his own theology.[11]

Writings and thought

Balthasar's first major work, the three volume Apokalypse der deutschen Seele (1937–39) (Apocalypse of the German Soul) was an expansion of his dissertation and a study in German literature, theology, and philosophy. Published in Germany and Austria during the Third Reich, one scholar has argued that the work contains anti-Semitism.[12]

Balthasar was better known for his 15-volume systematics (Trilogy), published from 1961-1985, which is divided into three parts according to John 14:6 ("I am the way, the truth, and the life"), and therefore according to the transcendentals bonum, verum, and pulchrum (the good, the true and the beautiful).[13][14]

(1) The Glory of the Lord (7 volumes) a work on 'theological aesthetics'. One of the often quoted passages from the entire Trilogy comes from the First Volume (Seeing the Form) of The Glory of the Lord:

Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only 'finds' the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it.[1]:270

(2) Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory (5 volumes), a work on 'theodramatics', examines the ethics and goodness in the action of God and in the human response, especially in the events of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Balthasar's soteriology, christology, and eschatology, are here developed.

(3) The final group of volumes is titled Theo-Logic (3 volumes), describing the truth about the relation of the nature of Jesus Christ (christology) to reality itself (ontology, or the study of being). He completes the third part of his trilogy with a brief Epilogue.

A distinctive thought in Balthasar's work is that our first experience after birth is the face of love of our mothers, where the I encounters for the first time the Thou, and the Thou smiles in a relationship of love and sustenance.[1]:236

Balthasar also wrote of the lives of saints and Church fathers. Saints appear as an example of the lived Christian life throughout his writings. Instead of merely systematic analysis of theology, Balthasar described his theology as a "kneeling theology" deeply connected to contemplative prayer and as a "sitting theology" intensely connected to faith seeking understanding guided by the heart and mind of the Catholic Church.[1]:265

Balthasar was very concerned that his writings address spiritual and practical issues. He insisted that his theology never be divorced from the mystical experiences of his long-time friend and convert, the physician Adrienne von Speyr.[15]

Balthasar published varied works spanning many decades, fields of study (e.g., literature and literary analysis, lives of the saints, and the Church Fathers), and languages.

Balthasar used the expression Casta Meretrix to argue that the term Whore of Babylon was acceptable in a certain tradition of the Church, in the writings of Rabanus Maurus for instance.[16]

At Balthasar's funeral, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, said, speaking of Balthasar's work in general: "What the pope intended to express by this mark of distinction [i.e., elevation to the cardinalate], and of honor, remains valid; no longer only private individuals but the Church itself, in its official responsibility, tells us that he is right in what he teaches of the faith."[17]


The most comprehensive bibliography (223 pages, including translations up to 2005) now available of all of von Balthasar's writings is Capol, Cornelia; Müller, Claudia, eds. (2005). Hans Urs von Balthasar: Bibliographie 1925-2005. Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag. ISBN 978-3894110291.

Other Works

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1988) [1986]. In the Fullness of Faith. On the Centrality of the Distinctively Catholic. Translated by Graham Harrison of the German original Katholisch (1975). Ignatius Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0898701661.


In the 1970 book Theologie der Drei Tage (English translation: Mysterium Paschale) he explored the meaning of Holy Saturday, where Jesus Christ dies and descends to the dead, to be resurrected by God the Father and His own power. In the "Preface to the Second Edition", Balthasar takes a cue from Revelation 13:8[18] (Vulgate: agni qui occisus est ab origine mundi, NIV: "the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world") to extrapolate the idea that God as "immanent Trinity" can endure and conquer godlessness, abandonment, and death in an eternal super-kenosis.[19][20] Christ would deposit his divine knowledge with the Father before the Incarnation and, after it, he would literally be "made sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21), experiencing in Sheol after his death on the cross a state of abandonment from the Father worse than hell. In the words of Balthasar himself: "At this point, where the subject undergoing the 'hour' is the Son speaking with the Father, the controversial 'Theopaschist formula' has its proper place: 'One of the Trinity has suffered.'[21] The formula can already be found in Gregory Nazianzen: 'We needed a...crucified God'."[22]

His other controversial theological assertions were in favor of a rehabilitation of Origen and his soteriology. In a sort of conflict among the theological virtues, since "Love believes all things, [but also] hopes all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7), what for fides must be rejected, for spes must be accepted, in order to recover with the theology of hope what in 553 the dogmatic theology had condemned with the anathema of the fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople against the possibility of apocatastasis, i.e. of a universal salvation.[23][24][25] Universal salvation, if it happens, would be the result of the "utter abandonment the Son undergoes".[26] Balthasar cited the list of other Catholic thinkers who have agreed with such a perspective: Przywara, de Lubac, Fessard, Blondel, Péguy, Claudel, Marcel, Bloy, Ratzinger, Kasper, Greshake, Guardini, Rahner. "In summa: a company in which one can feel quite confortable."[27]

Balthasar provided a glowing testimonial, published on the back of the jacket of the first (hardback) English-language edition, for Valentin Tomberg's major work of Christian occultism, Méditations sur les 22 arcanes majeurs du Tarot (initially attributed only to an anonymous author, as Tomberg wished, and later published in English as Meditations on the Tarot); an Afterword attached to the more recent English paperback edition notes "Cardinal Urs von Balthasar" on the front cover.[28]


Balthasar's Theological Dramatic Theory has influenced the work of Raymund Schwager.[29]

Balthasar's major writings have been translated into English, and the journal he co-founded with Henri de Lubac, Karl Lehmann, and Joseph Ratzinger, Communio, currently appears in twelve languages. In delivering his eulogy, Ratzinger, quoting de Lubac, called Balthasar, "perhaps the most cultured man of our time,"[30] a tribute to Balthasar's immense erudition.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Edward T. Oakes, S.J.; David Moss, eds. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1-13982680-8. ISBN 978-1-139-82680-8.
  2. ^ "1988". newsaints.faithweb.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  3. ^ The doctorate was entitled "History of the Eschatological Problem in German Literature". It appeared, considerably rewritten, as Apokalypse der deutschen Seele, 3 vols, (Salzburg, 1937-9)
  4. ^ While, as stated above, Jesuits were banned from running schools or parishes, student chaplaincy did not fall under the ban on Jesuits. This was because the anti-clerical laws of the 1840s which had banned the Jesuits had not envisaged this type of institution.F Kerr, Twentieth Century Catholic Theologians: From Neoscholasticism to Nuptial Mystery, (Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), p122
  5. ^ Aidan Nichols, The word has been abroad: a guide through Balthasar's aesthetics, Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar 1, (1998), p. xviii.
  6. ^ a b Munro, André (21 January 2014). "Hans Urs von Balthasar". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  7. ^ Leaving the Society meant that Balthasar was without a position, a pastorate, a place to live, or an income. Because he had left the Jesuit order, the Catholic Congregation for Seminaries and Universities had banned him from teaching. But he eventually found an ecclesiastical home under a sympathetic bishop and was able to live by a grueling schedule of lecture tours. "Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)" Radical Faith The Society of the Sacred Mission, retrieved 1 February 2009.
  8. ^ On 29 May 1988 Pope John Paul II announced his intention to nominate von Balthasar as cardinal at the next consistory, held 28 June 1988; see Salvador Miranda, "Consistories for the creation of Cardinals: 20th Century (1903-2005)," retrieved 9 May 2013. One is not a cardinal until the Pope formally announces the new cardinal in a consistory with the existing members of the college of cardinals; see Code of Canon Law (1983), canon 351.
  9. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar at Find a Grave.
  10. ^ John Anthony Berry (2012). "Tested in Fire: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Moment of Christian Witness" (PDF). MELiTA THEoLoGiCA. 62: 145–170. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  11. ^ Colón-Emeric, Edgardo Antonio (31 May 2005). "Symphonic Truth: Von Balthasar and Christian Humanism". The Christian Century. 122 (11): 30–. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  12. ^ See "Chapter Seven: The anti-modern anti-Semitic complex" in Paul Silas Peterson, The Early Hans Urs von Balthasar: Historical Contexts and Intellectual Formation (2015).
  13. ^ Mathijs Lamberigts; Lieven Boeve; Terrence Merrigan, eds. (2007). Theology and the Quest for Truth. Historical- and Systematic-theological Studies. In collaboration with Dirk Claes. Leuven: Peeters Publishers. p. 79. ISBN 9-04291873-X. ISBN 978-9-042-91873-3.
  14. ^ Aidan Nichols, O.P. (2011). A Key to Balthasar. Hans Urs von Balthasar on Beauty, Goodness, and Truth. Ada Township, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group. ISBN 0-80103974-6. ISBN 978-0-801-03974-4.
  15. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar (1993) [1990]. My Work. In Retrospect. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 153. ISBN 1-68149347-0. ISBN 978-1-68149347-3.
  16. ^ Casta Meretrix: The Church as Harlot Archived 2010-02-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ John L. Allen Jr. (November 28, 2003). "The Word From Rome". National Catholic Reporter. 3 (15).
  18. ^ See occurrences on Google Books.
  19. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar (2000) [1990]. "Preface to the Second Edition". Mysterium Paschale. The Mystery of Easter. Translated with an Introduction by Aidan Nichols, O.P. (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 1-68149348-9. ISBN 978-1-681-49348-0.
  20. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar (1998). Theo-Drama. Theological Dramatic Theory, Vol. 5: The Last Act. Translated by Graham Harrison from the German Theodramatik. Das Endspiel, 1983. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 1-68149579-1. ISBN 978-1-681-49579-8. it must be said that this "kenosis of obedience"...must be based on the eternal kenosis of the Divine Persons one to another.
  21. ^ Latin: unus de Trinitate passus est. DS 401 (Pope John II, letter Olim quidem addressed to the senators of Constantinople, March 534).
  22. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar (1992). Theo-drama. Theological Dramatic Theory. Vol. 3: Dramatis Personae: Persons in Christ. Translated by Graham Harrison from the German Theodramatik: Teil 2. Die Personen des Spiels : Die Personen in Christus, 1973. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 1-68149577-5. ISBN 978-1-681-49577-4. Quote.
  23. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar (1988). "Epilogue. Apokatastasis: Universal reconciliation (pp. 137ff.)". Dare We Hope "that All Men be Saved"? With a Short Discourse on Hell ["Was dürfen wir hoffen?" (1986) and "Kleiner Diskurs über die Hölle" (1987)]. Translated by Dr. David Kipp and Rev. Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-207-0. ISBN 978-0-898-70207-1.
  24. ^ Oakes; Moss, eds. (2004). p. 261. Quotation: "Balthasar does not deny the possibility of salvation outside the boundaries of explicit Christianity - in fact he is probably more emphatic than Rahner in maintaining the legitimacy of Christian hope for universal salvation."
  25. ^ Morwenna Ludlow (2000). Universal salvation: eschatology in the thought of Gregory of Nyssa p. 5. "Von Balthasar hopes for universal salvation and warns against asserting it outright (e.g. Mysterium Paschale, 177–8, 262–6; Dare We Hope . . ., 148–57, 236–54)
  26. ^ Alyssa Lyra Pitstick (2007). Light in darkness. Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent Into Hell. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 0-80284-039-6. ISBN 978-0-802-84039-4.
  27. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar (1988). p. 101.
  28. ^ Anonymous (2002-06-01). Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism. Translated by Powell, Robert. Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Putnam. ISBN 9781585421619.
  29. ^ The influence is reflected in some of Schwager's titles, i.e.: Jesus in the Drama of Salvation. Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption (German: Jesus im Heilsdrama. Entwurf einer biblischen Erlösungslehre), New York: Crossroad 1999, and: Banished from Eden: Original Sin and Evolutionary Theory in the Drama of Salvation (Duits: Erbsünde und Heilsdrama: Im Kontext von Evolution, Gentechnik und Apokalyptik), Londen: Gracewing 2006.
  30. ^ "Hans Urs von Balthasar Eulogy - Cardinal Henri de Lubac -A Witness of Christ in the Church -Welcome to The Crossroads Initiative".
  31. ^ Volumes 4 and 5 of The Glory of the Lord span all of Western philosophy, literature, and theology. Balthasar translated many authors, from Peguy to Ignatius of Loyla and Augustine to Calderon de la Barca and Claudel's "Satin Slipper". He was an incredible musician, with a particular affinity for Mozart.

Further reading

Introductory studies

  • Peter Henrici, SJ, "Hans Urs von Balthasar: a Sketch of His Life", Communio: International Catholic Review 16/3 (fall, 1989): 306–50
  • Rodney Howsare, Balthasar: a guide for the perplexed, (2009)
  • Karen Kilby, Balthasar: A (Very) Critical Introduction, (2012)
  • Aidan Nichols, The word has been abroad: a guide through Balthasar's aesthetics, Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar 1, (1998)
  • Aidan Nichols, No bloodless myth: a guide through Balthasar's dramatics, Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar, (2000)
  • Aidan Nichols, Say it is Pentecost: a guide through Balthasar's logic, Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar (2001)
  • Aidan Nichols, Scattering the seed: a guide through Balthasar's early writings on philosophy and the arts", Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar, (2006)
  • Aidan Nichols, Divine fruitfulness: a guide through Balthasar's theology beyond the trilogy, Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar, (2007)
  • John O’Donnell, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Outstanding Christian Thinkers, (2000)
  • Ben Quash, "Hans Urs von Balthasar", in David F. Ford, The Modern Theologians, (3rd edn, 2005)

In-depth studies

  • Lucy Gardner et al., Balthasar at the end of modernity, (1999)
  • Mark A McIntosh, Christology from within: spirituality and the incarnation in Hans Urs von Balthasar, Studies in spirituality and theology; 3, (2000)
  • Aidan Nichols, A key to Balthasar: Hans Urs von Balthasar on beauty, goodness and truth, (2011)
  • Paul Silas Peterson, The Early Hans Urs von Balthasar: Historical Contexts and Intellectual Formation (2015)
  • J. Riches, ed, The Analogy of Beauty: The theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (Edinburgh, 1986)
  • Gordon, James. 2016. A holy one in our midst. Minneapolis: Fortress Press
  • Denny, Christopher. 2016. A generous symphony. Minneapolis: Fortress Press
  • O'Regan, Cyril. 2014. The Anatomy of Misremembering: Von Balthasar’s Response to Philosophical Modernity, Volume 1: Hegel. Chestnut Ridge: Crossroad Publishing
  • O'Regan, Cyril. Forthcoming. The Anatomy of Misremembering: Von Balthasar's Response to Philosophical Modernity, Volume 2: Heidegger. Chestnut Ridge: Crossroad Publishing

External links

Heiligenkreuz 2014, ISBN 978-3-902694-64-5, S. 26-58

1988 in philosophy

1988 in philosophy

Adrienne von Speyr

Adrienne von Speyr (20 September 1902 – 17 September 1967) was a Swiss Catholic physician, writer and theologian. She was the author of over 60 books of spirituality and theology, and a mystic and stigmatist.

Aidan Nichols

John Christopher "Aidan" Nichols (born 17 September 1948) is an English academic and Catholic priest.

Nichols served as the first John Paul II Memorial Visiting Lecturer at the University of Oxford for 2006 to 2008, the first lectureship of Catholic theology at that university since the Reformation. He is a member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and is former Prior and current Sub-Prior of the Priory of St Michael the Archangel in Cambridge.

Balthazar (given name)

Balthazar (also spelled Balthasar, Balthassar, or Baltazar), from Akkadian 𒂗𒈗𒌑𒀫 Bel-shar-uzur, meaning "Bel protects the King" is the name commonly attributed to one of the Three Wise Men, at least in the west. Though no names are given in the Gospel of Matthew, this was one of the names the Western church settled on in the 8th century, based on the original meaning, though other names were used by Eastern churches (for more information see Biblical Magi). It is an alternate form of the Babylonian king Belshazzar, mentioned in the Book of Daniel.

People with the nameBalthazar Alvarez (1533–1580) Spanish Catholic mystic

Balthasar Bekker (1634–1698) Dutch philosopher

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Baltasar Corrada del Río, Puerto Rican politician

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Balthazar Getty, American actor and great grandson of J. Paul Getty

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Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988), Swiss Roman Catholic theologian and priest

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Balthasar Ferdinand Moll (1717–1785) Baroque sculptor

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McLeod John Baltazar Bethel-Thompson, American Football Quarterback

Brendan Leahy

Brendan Leahy (28 March 1960– ) is an Irish prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been the Bishop of Limerick since his appointment on 10 January 2013 by Pope Benedict XVI.Born and raised in Dublin in Crumlin and Rathfarnham, his father was a school teacher; Leahy himself went to school at Coláiste Éanna. He was further educated at University College Dublin where he studied law from 1977-1980, Mater Dei Institute of Education 1980-1981, and Clonliffe College 1980-1983, King's Inns. He studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from 1983-1986. He began studying for professional qualifications to be a barrister in 1981, graduating in 1983 and was ordained to the priesthood on 5 June 1986 for the Diocese of Dublin. From 1983-1991 he studied for an STD degree in theology from the Gregorian entitled The Marian Principle in the Church According to Hans Urs Von Balthasar.An author of a number of publications and books, and a von Balthasar scholar. For eight months, he was curate at Clonskeagh, then was appointed Professor at Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin in 1992 serving until 2006. He was concurrently professor at the diocesan seminary of Holy Cross College, Clonliffe from 1992-1999. In the years 1999-2004 he served as curate in the parish of Lusk.

From 2006 until 2013 he served as a professor of systematic theology at the Pontifical University and National Seminary in St. Patrick's College in Maynooth. Leahy served as chairman of the Diocesan Commission for Ecumenism of the Archdiocese of Dublin and Secretary of the Ecumenical Commission of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference.

He was ordained a bishop on 14 April 2013 by Archbishop Dermot Clifford.


Communio is a federation of theological journals, founded in 1972 by Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper, Marc Ouellet, Louis Bouyer, and others. Communio, now published in fifteen editions (including German, English and Spanish), has become one of the most important journals of Catholic thought. The journals are independently edited, but also publish translations of each other's articles.

It is often considered to be the sister publication and theological rival to the journal Concilium, which was founded in 1965 intending to keep the "spirit of Vatican II" in the church after the sessions of the Second Vatican Council had ended and the council fathers returned to their respective dioceses.

Concilium (journal)

Concilium is an academic journal of Roman Catholic theology. It was established in 1965 and is published five times a year. The journal was established by Anton van den Boogaard, Paul Brand, Yves Congar, Hans Küng, Johann Baptist Metz, Karl Rahner, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Edward Schillebeeckx. Three of these major players resigned, and later founded Communio, the rival journal of Concilium, the three being Balthasar, de Lubac, and Ratzinger.

It is published in six languages: Croatian, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Concilium aims at promoting theological discussion in the "spirit of Vatican II" from which it was born. It is a Catholic journal, but is open to other Christian theological traditions and non-Christian faiths.

Concilium was awarded the Herbert Haag Prize for 2015 by the Herbert Haag Foundation for Freedom in the Church.


An epitome (; Greek: ἐπιτομή, from ἐπιτέμνειν epitemnein meaning "to cut short") is a summary or miniature form, or an instance that represents a larger reality, also used as a synonym for embodiment. Epitomacy represents, "to the degree of." An abridgment differs from an epitome in that an abridgment is made of selected quotations of a larger work; no new writing is composed, as opposed to the epitome, which is an original summation of a work, at least in part.

Many documents from the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds survive now only "in epitome", referring to the practice of some later authors (epitomators) who wrote distilled versions of larger works now lost. Some writers attempted to convey the stance and spirit of the original, while others added further details or anecdotes regarding the general subject. As with all secondary historical sources, a different bias not present in the original may creep in.

Documents surviving in epitome differ from those surviving only as fragments quoted in later works and those used as unacknowledged sources by later scholars, as they can stand as discrete documents but refracted through the views of another author.

Epitomes of a kind are still produced today when dealing with a corpus of literature, especially classical works often considered dense and unwieldy and unlikely to be read by the average person, to make them more accessible: some are more along the lines of abridgments, such as many which have been written of Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a work of eight large volumes (some 3600 pages), often published as one volume of about 1400 pages

Some are of the same type as the ancient epitome, such as various epitomes of the Summa Theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas, originally written as an introductory textbook in theology, and now accessible to very few except for the learned in theology and Aristotelian philosophy, such as A Summa of the Summa and A Shorter Summa. Many epitomes today are published under the general title, "The Companion to...", such as The Oxford Companion to Aristotle or "An Overview of" or "guides", such as An Overview of the Thought of Immanuel Kant, How to Read Hans Urs von Balthasar, or, in some cases, as an introduction, in the cases of An Introduction to Søren Kierkegaard or A Very Short Introduction to the New Testament (many philosophical "introductions" and "guides" share the epitomic form, unlike general "introductions" to a field).

Erich Przywara

Erich Przywara (12 October 1889, Katowice – 28 September 1972, Hagen near Murnau) was a Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian of German-Polish origin, who was one of the first Catholics to engage in dialogue with modern philosophers. He is best known for synthesizing the thought of prominent thinkers around the notion of the analogy of being, the tension between divine immanence and divine transcendence, a "unity-in-tension".

John Saward

John Saward (born in 1947) is a Roman Catholic priest. He is a fellow of Greyfriars and associate lecturer at Blackfriars at the University of Oxford in England. He previously held the posts of lecturer in dogmatic theology at St Cuthbert's College, Durham (1980–1992), Professor of Systematic Theology at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1992–1998), Professor of Dogmatic Theology in the International Theological Institute, Gaming, Austria, and Visiting Professor in Systematic Theology and Christology in the same institute.Saward completed a BA in (philosophy and psychology) (St John's College) and a postgraduate diploma in theology (St Stephen's House) at the University of Oxford in 1969. In 1973 he completed MA and M.Litt. degrees, also at Oxford, the latter for a thesis on "The Theology of Death". Ordained an Anglican priest in 1972, he was chaplain and a Junior Research Fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford. He was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1979. He was later ordained in the Roman Catholic Church under papal dispensation which accepted his marriage to his wife Christine (they have three daughters). He is parish priest of Saint Gregory & Saint Augustine's near Oxford, England.Saward's published works include The Mysteries of March: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Incarnation and Easter (1990), Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus Living in Mary (1993), Christ is the Answer: The Christ-centred teaching of Pope John Paul II (1995), The Beauty of Holiness (1996), The Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of Age (1999), Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (2002) and Sweet and Blessed Country: The Christian Hope for Heaven (2005). He has been responsible for the English translations of works by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.Saward has been described by Father Aidan Nichols as "the Balthasar of the English-speaking world". However, in recent years, Saward appears to have come to share the growing unease among some Catholics about the nature and origin of Balthasar’s theology. In his 2005 work, The Sweet and Blessed Country, he describes Balthasar’s theory of universal hope as “a kind of blasphemy”. Alyssa Pitstick, one of the Swiss theologian's critics, studied under Saward at the International Theological Institute.

Saward’s work has been evolving not only in content but also in method and style towards a form which combines "ressourcement" with the rigour of scholasticism. Sacred art also plays a prominent role in this method.

John of Scythopolis

John Scythopolita (ca. 536–550), also known as "the Scholasticus", bishop of Scythopolis in Palestine, where Beit She'an is today, was a Byzantine theologian and lawyer adhering to neo-Chalcedonian theology.He's famous for several works (lost) against Monophysite heresy: his major one's a treatise written ca. 530, defending the theory of "dioenergism", against his contemporary Severus of Antioch. Another work attacked the heretic Eutyches, one of the founders of Monophysitism.

We have some data about him by Photius, learned bishop of Byzantium.Hans Urs von Balthasar suggested than John was the author of much of Maximus the Confessor's scholia.

Knowledge of Christ

The knowledge of Christ refers to one of two possible, and at times related, topics in Christology: one addresses how Christians come to know Christ, the other focuses on the knowledge of Christ about the world. Discussions regarding the knowledge of Christ have had a central place in Christology for centuries. In the 20th century, the interplay between the two concepts was epitomized in the title of a book by Hans Urs von Balthasar: "Does Jesus Know Us? Do We Know Him?"

Christian teachings on what it means to "know Christ" effectively gave rise to the field of Christology, beginning with Apostle Paul's discussion in Philippians 2:5-6 about the relationship between Christ and God.Different Christian traditions have recommended varying paths for gaining a better knowledge of Christ. While some traditions focus on sharing in Christ's sufferings, others emphasize the importance of scripture; while others suggest that the reading of scripture should be accompanied by specific spiritual exercises and contemplations.

Approaches to discussing "Christ's knowledge" generally have used two separate methodologies: one which relies solely on the analysis of the New Testament text itself, the other based on theological reasoning to infer further principles beyond the text. These two approaches, as well as the methods of interpreting specific Gospel passages have given rise to differences among Christians on this topic.

Mauro Jöhri

Mauro Jöhri (born 1 September 1947 in Bivio, Graubünden, Switzerland) is a Swiss Roman Catholic friar and theologian. He was the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, having served from 2006 to 2018 (following re-election in 2012). He is also a Professor of Theology.

Father Jöhri is fluent in German, Romansh, French and Italian, the four languages of Switzerland. He joined his order in 1964 as a novice, and studied Theology at the order's seminary in Solothurn. He was ordained a priest in 1972, and continued his studies in Fribourg, Tübingen and Lucerne, where he earned a doctorate with a dissertation on the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

In the following years, he lived in the monastery of Madonna del Sasso in Locarno, where he was active as a teacher. Subsequently, he taught dogmatic theology and fundamental theology at the theological seminary in Chur, and served as a Professor of Theology at the University of Lugano.

He became the minister provincial of the Swiss branch of his order in 1995. He also undertook studies at the Institut de formation humaine intégrale in Montreal, Canada, before returning to his post as provincial superior, eventually being elected as minister general in 2006.

Meditations on the Tarot

Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism (French: Méditations sur les 22 arcanes majeurs du Tarot) is an esoteric Christian book originally written in French with the date of 21 May 1967 given by the author at the end of the last chapter, and published posthumously and anonymously in 1980. This was followed by translation into German (Die großen Arcana des Tarot : Meditationen, ISBN 978-3906371054). An English translation was then published in 1985, with Robert A. Powell basing his rendering on the author's original French manuscript, whereas the published French edition (ISBN 978-2700703696) does not always follow the French original manuscript.

The author is known, but has requested to remain anonymous. It is included in the bibliography of books ascribed to Valentin Tomberg.

The Afterword states that "The author wished to remain anonymous in order to allow the work to speak for itself, to avoid the interposition of any kind of personal element between the work and the reader--reasons that we respect."The author is clearly a Roman Catholic, although the ideas expressed are often not commonly associated with Catholic dogma.

The body of the work is divided into 22 Chapters, called "Letters", with a Foreword by the author and an Afterword by Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian nominated to be a Cardinal. Each chapter is centered on a card from the Major Arcana of the Tarot of Marseilles.

Each card is taken as an "arcanum," which the author defines in part in Letter I: The Magician as "... that which it is necessary to 'know' in order to be fruitful in a given domain of spiritual life. ... a 'ferment' or an 'enzyme' whose presence stimulates the spiritual and the psychic life of man." He writes that they "are neither allegories nor secrets ... [but] authentic symbols ... [which] conceal and reveal their sense at one and the same time according to the depth of meditation." The symbolism of the cards is taken as a springboard for discussing and describing various aspects of Christian spiritual life and growth.

Sources cited in the work are many; the most common one is the Bible, followed by an array of saints, theologians, mystics, philosophers, occultists, and other writers, notably including Henri Bergson, Buddha, Goethe, Jung, Kant, Eliphas Lévi, Nietzsche, Fabre d'Olivet, Origen, Papus, Joséphin Péladan, Philip of Lyons, Plato, St. Albertus Magnus, St. Anthony the Great, St. Augustine, St. Bonaventura, St. Dionysius the Areopagite, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Ávila, St. Thomas Aquinas, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Laozi, Hermes Trismegistus, and Oswald Wirth (major entries taken in alphabetical order from the index).

Mysterium Paschale

Mysterium Paschale. The Mystery of Easter (German: Theologie der Drei Tage) is a 1970 book by the Swiss theologian and Catholic priest Hans Urs von Balthasar. It offers an account of the death and resurrection of Christ, and their significance for the Christian life. Balthasar discusses the "bodiliness" of the Resurrection from the "radical" death of Jesus, involving his descent into the place of the dead on Holy Saturday. Balthasar's willingness to assume the nature and the consequence of his sin makes him, as well as the reader, extrapolate that God can endure and conquer godlessness, abandonment, and death. In the 1972 "Preface to the Second Edition", Balthasar takes a cue from Revelation 13:8 (Vulgate: agni qui occisus est ab origine mundi, NIV: "the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world") to explore the idea that, from the "immanent Trinity" up to the "economic" One, "God is love" consists in an "eternal super-kenosis". In the words of Balthasar himself: "At this point, where the subject undergoing the 'hour' is the Son speaking with the Father, the controversial 'Theopaschist formula' has its proper place: 'One of the Trinity has suffered.' The formula can already be found in Gregory Nazianzen: 'We needed a...crucified God'."The 1970 original German edition was published by Benzinger Verlag, Einsiedeln. In 1983 it was reprinted by St. Benno-Verlag, Leipzig, including additions made to the second French edition Pâques le mystère, copyright 1981 by Les Edition du Cerf, Paris. The first English translation with an Introduction by Aidan Nichols, O.P., was published in 1990.


Perichoresis (from Greek: περιχώρησις perikhōrēsis, "rotation") is a term referring to the relationship of the three persons of the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to one another. Circumincession is a Latin-derived term for the same concept. It was first used as a term in Christian theology, by the Church Fathers. The noun first appears in the writings of Maximus Confessor (d. 662) but the related verb perichoreo is found earlier in Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 389/90). Gregory used it to describe the relationship between the divine and human natures of Christ as did John of Damascus (d. 749), who also extended it to the "interpenetration" of the three persons of the Trinity, and it became a technical term for the latter. It has been given recent currency by such contemporary writers as Jürgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf, John Zizioulas, and C. Baxter Kruger, and others.

Modern authors extend the original usage as an analogy to cover other interpersonal relationships. The term "co(-)inherence" is sometimes used as a synonym.Since humans are made in the image of God, a Christian understanding of an adequate anthropology of humans' social relations is informed by the divine attributes, what can be known of God's activity and God's presence in human affairs. Theologians of the Communio school such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, and Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) locate the reciprocal dynamism between God and God's creatures in the liturgical action of sacrament, celebrating the sacred mysteries in Eucharistic communion, in a hermeneutic of continuity and apostolic unity.

Peter Henrici

Peter Henrici (born 31 March 1928) is a Swiss Jesuit priest, Blondelian philosopher and professor (1960–1993) at the Gregorian University. He was Auxiliary Bishop of Chur from 1993 to 2007.

Teachings of Pope John Paul II

The teachings of Pope John Paul II are contained in a number of documents. It has been said that these teachings will have a long-lasting influence on the Church.Pope John Paul II's philosophical and theological teachings and writings were characterised by explorations in phenomenology and personalism. He was influenced by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, his predecessors as Archbishop of Kraków Eugeniusz Baziak and Adam Stefan Sapieha, and his predecessors as Pope - John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul I. His closest theological adviser was Cardinal Ratzinger, who succeeded him as Pope. Stanislaw Dziwisz was his personal secretary for forty years and one of his closest friends and advisers, and became Archbishop of Kraków, John Paul's former post, and Cardinal. John Paul met regularly with the Cardinal prefects and presidents of Curial congregations and councils, and outlived many of them.

Werner Kaegi

Werner Kaegi (1901–1979) was a Swiss historian. He is best known for a single work, a biography of Jacob Burkhardt. This appeared in seven volumes, from 1947 to 1982.

He was recipient of the Gottfried-Keller-Preis and the Erasmus Prize.

He had for wife the catholic mystic and stigmatist Adrienne von Speyr (1902–1967). Her spiritual director and friend, the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, kept a journal during many years about her life in which details regarding her relationship with Werner Kaegi can be found. This journal was later edited in 3 volumes under the name "Erde und himmel" ("Earth and heaven").

Kaegi became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1948.

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