Thursday, June 21, 2007

John Paul II

On Tuesday, I had a meeting at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. It was my first visit to the Center, which is in the throes of reorganization. Be that as it may, I had a most enjoyable meeting with the deputy director of the Center.

The next day, yesterday, in between two other meetings near the Catholic University campus, I took the opportunity to recollect myself in the Crypt chapel of the National Shrine, a place I love to visit. On leaving, I noticed a Pope John Paul II Cultural Center kiosk, so I wandered over. On the kiosk was this quotation from John Paul:
"... Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, is the center of human history and the key which unlocks the mystery of man and reveals his sublime calling."
Striking as this statement is, it is little more than a paraphrase of what I think is the heart and soul of the Second Vatican Council, namely paragraph #22 of Gaudium et Spes:
“Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light ... by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, [Christ] fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”
The challenge is to account for this claim. As I recently wrote in a proposed paper for a conference at Notre Dame:
At the moment this extraordinary and often quoted passage was being promulgated, René Girard was laying the groundwork for its anthropological defense. Grateful though we must be for the philosophical inheritance on which Christian theologians and philosophers have so fruitfully drawn, if this spectacularly Christocentric declaration is to be made intelligible to post-Christian post-modernity, on the one hand, and to Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and so on, on the other, it will require the kind of intellectually robust and anthropologically multicultural exposition that René Girard has provided.

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