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Pro Ecclesia Vol 22-N3

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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Margaret O’Gara† 1947–2012

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Margaret O’Gara† 1947–2012

David M. Thompson

It is an honor to be invited to write this tribute to Dr. Margaret O’Gara. I first saw (but did not meet) her in the Basilica of San Marco, Venice, Italy, at Mass, before the opening of the second round of the Catholic-Disciples International Dialogue in 1983, without realizing the extent to which our lives would be related for almost thirty years, regardless of the North Atlantic Ocean. Our last meeting was in June last year in Toronto, a little more than six weeks before her untimely death. When we parted, we each knew, without saying so, that we would not see each other again in this life. We worked as principal co-drafters for the Catholic-Disciples International Theological Dialogue, initially under the careful tutelage of Fr. J.-M. Tillard, OP, and after his death with ourselves in the lead role. During that time I came to know and appreciate her lifelong commitment to dialogue and the search for Christian unity. Jean-Marie Tillard taught us both to emphasize points of agreement, while not disguising those where difference remained. Margaret’s thorough knowledge of the conciliar documents, principally but not exclusively those of Vatican II, could always be relied upon. As a modern church historian, I came early on to appreciate her own work on the minority French bishops at Vatican I in her book Triumph in Defeat (1988), which I was invited to review. They left Rome early, rather than stay for the final vote on Pastor Aeternus in 1870, and I had always wondered what happened to them. Similarly I delighted in her later book, The Ecumenical Gift Exchange (1998), which demonstrated the conviction of every true ecumenist that he or she has something to receive as well as to give. This was well described by another ecumenical colleague of mine, in writing about the process that drew the Churches of Christ in Great Britain (my own tradition, as Disciples in Britain were called) and the United Reformed Church into a single united church in 1981. He said that each group was able to stand back from its own position sufficiently to envisage the possibility of any of the outcomes as a theological option. Neither group was required to conceal or minimize its conviction; rather, each group was liberated “to express itself fully and freely, without pre-supposing that one of them must ‘win’”.1 Margaret was a genuine listener and possessed a remarkable capacity for seeing elements in the traditions of other churches that they had scarcely been aware of themselves. She and I were responsible for the final drafts of the reports of the second, third, and fourth rounds of our dialogue (The Church as Communion in Christ, 1992; Receiving and Handing on the Faith: The Mission and Responsibility of the Church, 2002; and The Presence of Christ in the Church, with Special Reference to the Eucharist, 2010). She was also responsible for the idea that will shape the fifth round of that dialogue, indicated by her original suggested title, “Formed and Transformed at the Table of the Lord,” and she participated in the two planning meetings of 2011 and 2012. Thanks to her I can look back upon those meetings as some of the most enjoyable of my ecumenical life.

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Ralph Del Colle† 1954–2012

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Ralph Del Colle† 1954–2012

D. Stephen Long

Ralph Del Colle’s theology cannot be separated from his life. Perhaps that is true of every theologian, but it is especially true of him. For Ralph, theology emerged from a profound prayer life and an earnest desire to embody the perfection to which Christ calls his disciples in the Holy Spirit. He waited upon the Spirit with an attentiveness few achieve. Those of us who knew him, knew at times he could be rigorous in his striving for Christian perfection. The few trips I made with Ralph to conferences always required time for praying the Liturgy of the Hours, which he prayed daily, along with daily Mass. When Rodrigo Morales interviewed for a position at Marquette, Ralph was late for the interview because he had been lost in prayer. Anyone who prayed with Ralph knew this was a possibility; he readily got lost in rapture, especially in silence. For those of us less disciplined by prayer, that silence could seem interminable. My wife Ricka and I participated in the SEEDS Ignatian Spirituality group Ralph often led. When he would lead prayer, the silence tended to go on longer than normal. We often found our minds wandering. Ricka and I visited Ralph several days before he died, when he no longer had the ability to focus and pray as he could before his health failed. We prayed together, and she told him that at least she could now match him in focus. He laughed. As his health failed, others had to do his prayers for and with him. He learned to accept the simplicity of that gift.

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Epistemological Monophysitism in Karl Barth and Hans Frei

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Epistemological Monophysitism in Karl Barth and Hans Frei

Katherine Sonderegger

Remarkably, the year 2013 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Hans Frei.1 It does not seem that long since he was with us. Frei remains a persistent force in English-speaking theology. He was not only one of the premier interpreters of Karl Barth of his generation, but also a remarkable, innovative dogmatic theologian in his own right. The following brief essay is an attempt to grapple with a particular set of issues that have puzzled and intrigued me about Frei, especially—though not only—as he relates to Barth. My hope is that these musings may help re-introduce readers of Pro Ecclesia to Frei and encourage continued engagement of his thought.

In college I was much improved—though I would bet not she by me!—by a classmate and friend with whom I shared a house. I don’t think I had ever met someone as startlingly intelligent as Susie: it was not that she thought faster or deeper or more conceptually than I, though to be sure that was true; it was rather that her thinking differed in quality from mine, and it was not this “more” but rather this “other” that taught me so much about the human intellect. To listen to Susie think or comment or even tease all of us was to catch sight of a quicksilver mind—a state of being, really—that differed in kind from the way I thought, the way many of us thought. She made everything fresh. Her mind was an invitation into something startling and new. It was intimidating for an eighteen-year-old from the rural Midwest, but it was also beautiful and in just that way, I suppose, inviting to us all.

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John XXIII: Pope of the Conciliar Breakthrough

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John XXIII: Pope of the Conciliar Breakthrough

Hermann J. Pottmeyer (Translated by John Jay Hughes)

I still remember vividly my first glimpse of Pope John XXIII at a solemn liturgy in St. Peter’s.1 As was then customary, he was carried aloft on the sedia gestatoria, swaying above the heads of the packed crowd, surrounded by all the pomp of the papal court: prelates and chamberlains in their various vestures, officers of different ranks in their elaborate uniforms with halberds and swords; and towering over the pope two gigantic fans of peacock feathers. What I still recall most clearly, however, is the contrast between all this pomp and glory and the central figure. With his peasant simplicity he radiated humor and friendliness. I saw two utterly different worlds: the symbols of power, and the warm humanity of this pope.

His pontificate lasted only five years: 1958 to 1963. People still judge it differently today, according to how they view the Council. Those who are unhappy with the Council view Roncalli as a theologically unsophisticated and politically naïve pope, unable to understand the significance of his actions. Cardinal Siri is supposed to have said that forty years would be insufficient to repair the damage that Pope John had done to the church in four years. On the other side are those who project their own wishes and expectations onto John XXIII, and celebrate him as a reforming pope in ways that have little to do with his actual intentions. In one respect, however, all agree: he was a warm-hearted pastor, without guile, and deeply pious.

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Necessary Transformation? The Reformation and Modernity in Controversy over Freedom

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Necessary Transformation? The Reformation and Modernity in Controversy over Freedom

Oswald Bayer (Translated by Piotr J. Malysz)

1. Posing the Question1

The Lutheran Church understands itself as the “Church of Freedom.” It does so, at any rate, according to the 2006 “Discussion Paper of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany,” which bears the subtitle “Perspectives for the Lutheran Church in the 21st Century.”2 The concept of freedom plays a decisive role in the self-understanding of Protestantism. Even if it is not the decisive role, the concept, like no other, seems to safeguard the identity and historical continuity of Protestant churches and their theology, and in particular to overcome the fracture between the old and new Protestantism. In his 1520 treatise, Luther made freedom into the foundation of “the whole of Christian life,”3 while Melanchthon, in his 1521 Loci, captured the reformational self-understanding in the pointed thesis that lets itself be heard as a clarion call: “libertas est christianismus [Christianity is freedom].”4 For many this call seems to harmonize well with the modern call to freedom, such as the one issued, for example, by the French Revolution (“Liberty!” together with “Equality!” and “Fraternity!”). According to Hegel, the political understanding of freedom in his own day was but an outcome of the religious understanding of freedom in the Reformation. In view of that, as the story goes,5 he would raise a glass twice a year in order to drink to freedom: on 31 October, and on 14 July, the day of the capturing of the Bastille. For Hegel, there exists no conflict between the reformational and modern understanding of freedom; there is rather complete harmony.6

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Half a Lifetime with Luther in Theology and Living

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Half a Lifetime with Luther in Theology and Living

Jared Wicks, SJ

Martin Luther has been for me, during more than forty years, a source of engaging theological insights. These left their mark on my teaching in Chicago and Rome from 1967 to 2004, and they percolate through my essays and reviews to this day. More personally, notions I find in Luther enhance my preaching, especially in Lent, and give me points of spiritual nourishment that combine in unexpected ways with my own formation in the school of St. Ignatius Loyola.

This story of a Jesuit’s theological and personal “affair” with Luther will unfold in three steps, beginning with what I gained during concentrated study of Luther’s early works in Münster in the mid-1960s, when my mentor was Erwin Iserloh. A second phase began with new perceptions during postdoctoral work in Mainz in 1969 with Joseph Lortz. Part of this new beginning was exchanges with other Luther scholars, especially Oswald Bayer in Tübingen and Kurt Victor Selge in Heidelberg. What I grasped then, on Luther’s conception of fides sacramenti, has resonated through many years of telling both Lutherans and Catholics about Luther’s understanding of the gospel word in its sacramental actuality and its pastoral impact. Around 1980 a third engagement began, as I turned to the realized form of the Reformation in Lutheran territorial churches that took their stand on the Augsburg Confession. This led naturally to study of Luther’s pastoral pamphlets and especially his catechesis of the creed, with his emphatic teaching on the church’s constitutive practices of both receiving and handing on Christ’s gifts through the Spirit. This major dimension of Luther’s legacy is now highlighted in Part 2 of the Lutheran-Catholic study document, The Apostolicity of the Church (2006).

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Retrieving Luther?

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Retrieving Luther?

Mickey L. Mattox

Franz Posset

The Real Luther: A Friar at Erfurt and Wittenberg (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2011), xxii + 195 pp.

William J. Wright

Martin Luther’s Understanding of God’s Two Kingdoms: A Response to the Challenge of Skepticism (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 208 pp.

Christine Helmer and Bo Kristian Holm, eds.

Transformations in Luther’s Theology: Historical and Contemporary Reflections (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2011), 286 pp.

As Jared Wicks, SJ, recently reminded readers in these very pages, the year 2017 marks the five hundredth anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s “ninety-five theses,” and with it the supposed beginnings of the Reformation/s of the sixteenth century.1 As the much-anticipated anniversary year draws near, scholars and publishing houses alike are increasingly busy making their arguments and pushing their products. The anniversary is being made much of in Germany, including plans for a celebratory international Luther Congress in the now fully post-DDR city of Lutherstadt-Wittenberg in 2017, an event that promises to be as much concerned with Protestant identity as with the Luther of faith and history. By comparison, preparations on this side of the Atlantic have been relatively quiet thus far. As the three books reviewed here suggest, however, the relative quiet will soon be replaced by a good deal of scholarly conversation and argument about the man Martin Luther, his theology, and his historical impact, as well as his potential to contribute to theology today. If these volumes are any indication, moreover, interesting, indeed paradigm-shattering, times indeed lie ahead.

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