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Foto Jaeger David-M. A. , Ad lectores, in Antonianum, 84/4 (2009) p. 637-638 .

Christianity is all about Christ. This seems to be a somewhat fatuous statement, not even a truism but pure tautology, a superfluous restatement of the wholly obvious and self-evident. And yet unhappily this is not necessarily so. “Christianity” is made to stand for so many diverse things that the “Christ” in it is sometimes fatally made to vanish, or almost. In recent years a famous public intellectual (sit venia verbo!) even declared that she was upholding“Christianity” even while being an atheist. I know I wrote about this before now, but the phenomenon has hardly died with the otherwise highly respected author of that particularly stark way of expressing it. Christianity is now being made to stand in for “values” or various “moralisms” or the middleclass way of life or this or that struggle for liberation from this or that kind of oppression. And so on. All in the spirit of de-mythologising the Christ out of Christianity, whether deliberately or not. Blessed John Duns Scotus would have had none of it. Rediscovering the full extent of his heritage of thought and teaching is, next to the New Testament itself, probably the best way of keeping Christianity firmly focused on Christ. And it is starting from Christ and, like St. Francis himself, keeping his gaze unwaveringly on Him that the Subtle Doctor treats of everything else, everything having its origin and its fulfillment in Christ. The seventh centenary celebrations of this consummate Doctor Ordinis, observed “back to back,” as it were, with the eighth centenary of the founding of the Order of Friars Minor, served as the propitious occasion for a good number of learned conferences and publications concerned with increasing knowledge and understanding of his work. A notable two days on these themes were held also, naturally, at our own Pontifical University “Antonianum” earlier this year. Three papers with aspects of Scotus’s teaching for their subjects are being published in this issue of Antonianum, with a common foreword by our Rector Magnificus, Fr. Johannes Baptist Freyer ofm. Franciscan themes, predominate also elsewhere in this issue. Our own Fr. Pal Otto Harsányi ofm, one of several professors of moral theology at our Theology Faculty, and an assiduous contributor to Antonianum, publishes here the first part of his extensive theological treatment of the relationship between human beings and the rest of creation according to Catholic doctrine.

There were profound reasons for the Papal declaration of St. Francis of Assisi as the Patron Saint of Ecology, and there are urgent reasons indeed for considering the relationship of humans to the rest of creation to be a very high priority indeed for philosophers and theologians at this time. Unrelenting reports of on-going damage to the terrestrial environment on a massive scale are still meeting here and there with scepticism, and occasional legitimate disagreements over such or such details threaten sometimes to derail the overall discussion. Governments and politicians appear to be held back from making imperative choices by short-term considerations, while international institutions seem to be fairly powerless to substitute truly global perspectives for narrowly national ones. Yet beyond, or else before, concrete debates on specific issues, there is certainly need for a sure frame of reference for environmental discourse. What, after all, are the rules that must govern humanity’s stewardship a.k.a. “dominion” of the rest of the created universe? How might these emerge more precisely from both natural rational discourse and the truths of Revelation? Fr. Harsanyi’s article – to be continued and concluded in the next issue of Antonianum – is, this “lay” reader submits, certain to be viewed as a significant contribution to this (re)search.

Dr. Paolo Pieraccini, the highly respected historian of the Church in the Holy Land, publishes here the second – and concluding – part of his fascinating and very illuminating article on the late Fr. Girolamo Golubovich and his monumental Bio-Bibliographical Library of the Holy Land and the Franciscan East, which Dr. Pieraccini himself is engaged upon extending and updating. Like all other works on the Christian history of the region that saw the birth of Christ and of the Church, the Golubovich corpus, and the fruits of Dr. Pieraccini’s own research, do more than simply enlarge our knowledge of the past; they stand, of necessity, as a challenge to our own and future generations to continue making history in those truly blessed lands, even in the midst of seemingly unending difficulties and trials.

Book reviews, chronicles and lists of books received at our offices are joined, as in every fourth annual issue, by the Indices of this year that is passing, affording the reader a view of the contents of the entire “volume.”

I trust it would not be wholly presumptuous of the editorial team to hope that this volume too offers our readers further validation of our enterprise, a multidisciplinary vehicle for research and learned opinion, centred on this Pontifical University “Antonianum” but willingly inclusive of the contributions of others from far afield.

And even as I am writing these words, we are already hard at work on the next issue and the next “volume”, with a number of valuable and interesting contributions (im)patiently waiting their turn to appear on our pages.


 
 
 
 
 
 
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