AUTHORS/ de Lubac, Henri
Henri-Marie de Lubac, SJ (February 20, 1896-September 4, 1991) was a French Jesuit priest who became a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, and is considered to be one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. His writings and doctrinal research played a key role in the shaping of the Second Vatican Council
EARLY LIFE AND ORDINATION
Henri de Lubac was born in Cambrai to an ancient, noble family of the Ardèche. His father was a banker. A born aristocrat in manner and appearance, de Lubac joined the Society of Jesus in Lyon on October 9, 1913. Owing to the political climate in France at the time, the school located to St. Leonard's on Sea, East Sussex, where de Lubac studied before being drafted to the French army in 1914. Following a head wound received at Verdun during the Great War, de Lubac returned to the Jesuits and continued his philosophical studies, first in Canterbury and then in St. Helier, Jersey in 1920. In 1924, following a year's teaching at the Jesuit College at Mongré, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, de Lubac returned to England and undertook his theological studies in Hastings, East Sussex. In 1926, the theologate was relocated back to Fourvière in Lyons, where de Lubac completed the remaining two years of his theological studies before, in 1929, giving his first lecture at the Theology Faculty of Lyons. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 22, 1927, and obtained a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome
PROFESSOR AND THEOLOGIAN
De Lubac served as a professor of fundamental theology at the Catholic University of Lyon from 1929 to 1961, except during World War II, when he was forced underground because of his activities with the French Resistance. He declared to the Abbé Pierre (1912-2007) on the day of his ordination in 1938, "Ask to the Holy Spirit that he grants you the saints' anti-clericalism"
His first book, the now-classic "Catholicisme," was published in 1938 and was followed by numerous others. In 1940, he founded the series Sources Chrétiennes ("Christian Sources"), co-edited with fellow Jesuit Jean Daniélou, a collection of bilingual, critical editions of early Christian texts and of the Fathers of the Church that has reinvigorated both the study of Patristics and the doctrine of Sacred Tradition. His pioneering study Exégèse Médiévale (1959-65) revived interest in the spiritual exegesis of Scripture and provided a major impetus to the development of Covenantal Theology (Roman Catholic).
In 1950, he was forbidden by his Jesuit superiors to teach or publish, after doctrinal objections were raised against his book Surnaturel. This ban was lifted in 1959. His theology had become controversial after he showed that Francisco Suárez, favorite authority of neo-Thomists, had actually commented on some works by Aquinas which were now known to be spurious.
SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
In August 1960, Pope John XXIII appointed de Lubac as a consultant to the Preparatory Theological Commission for the upcoming Second Vatican Council. He was then made a peritus (theological expert) to the Council itself, and later, by Pope Paul VI, a member of its Theological Commission (as well as of two secretariats). Although the precise nature of his contribution during the council is difficult to determine, his writings were certainly an influence on the conciliar and post-conciliar periods, particularly in the area of Ecclesiology where one of his concerns was to understand the Church as the community of the whole people of God rather than just the clergy.
In 1969 Pope Paul VI, an admirer of de Lubac's works, had proposed making him a Cardinal, but de Lubac demurred, believing that for him to become a bishop, as required of all cardinals by Pope John XXIII in 1962, would be "an abuse of an apostolic office". Paul VI instead elevated de Lubac's junior colleague Jean Daniélou in that consistory, having committed to grant the cardinalate to a Jesuit theologian.
In 1983 Pope John Paul II offered de Lubac the cardinalate again, this time with a dispensation from being consecrated a bishop. De Lubac accepted, and became the first cardinal after 1962 who was not a bishop. In the consistory of February 2, 1983, Pope John Paul II raised de Lubac, at 87, to the College of Cardinals. He was created Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica. At his death he was the oldest living Cardinal.