The Lasting Legacy of Cardinal Daniélou | Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J. | Catholic World Report
Reviled by his more progressive contemporaries, Jean Daniélou accurately diagnosed many of the problems that continue to trouble the Church today.
In the National Catholic Reporter on August 6, 2012 Alice Popovici wrote of the LCWR keynote speaker: “Barbara Marx Hubbard, an evolutionary thinker who is to speak this week before the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, is not Catholic or part of any mainstream religion. But she says she has faith in the future.”
By sharp contrast, Daniélou warned in an interview on Vatican Radio on October 23, 1972:
One of the greatest threats to religious life today is the mass of disputable theological opinions. In minimizing the supernatural aspect of God’s gift, in minimizing everything that pertains to the action of the Spirit, it destroys the very base on which the religious life is built. That is why it is important today to seek out spiritual directors and theologians from those who represent the true thinking of the Church. There must be a care to have a deep unity with the sovereign Pontiff and with the orientations given by him the Sovereign Pontiff, in particular those which concern religious life.
As to a union with the Sovereign Pontiff, the LCWR rejected even the presence of the canonical pontifical delegate:
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been charged by the Vatican with responsibility for supervising a reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), has been told by the group’s leaders that his presence ‘would not be helpful’ at the LCWR’s annual assembly this week.
On the subject of the crisis in religious life, again in 1972 Daniélou spoke thus:
Vatican II declared that human values must be taken seriously. It never said that we were entering in to a secularized world where the religious dimension would be no longer present in civilization. It is in the name of a false secularization that religious men and women give up their religious habit and abandon the adoration of God for social and political activities. And this is, furthermore, counter to the spiritual need manifested in the world of today. (Why the Church?, p. 166-167)
Robert A. Connor succinctly summarizes the cardinal’s lifetime work:
After his short spell as a military chaplain ended with the fall of France in 1940, he devoted himself to the study of the Fathers of the Church, and with Fr. Henri de Lubac was one of the founders of Sources Chrétiennes, a popular yet scholarly series of key writings from the patristic period. Over the years, Daniélou produced a flow of books and articles on the worship and theology of the Early Church. Such was his reputation and influence that Blessed Pope John XXIII named him as a theological expert for the Second Vatican Council. In 1969 he was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, and elected to the Académie Française.
Why would a patristics scholar of Daniélou’s stature get involved in current Church events at such a popular level?