Benedict XVI, Cardinal Jean Danielou, and a Modern World in Crisis
How the retired pontiff and his "scandalous" hero addressed false interpretations of Vatican II and "a false conception of freedom"
Rome, Italy, Feb 15, 2015 / 05:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Theological giants Benedict XVI and one of his heroes – the controversial Cardinal Jean Danielou – have been hailed for illuminating through their respective works the ever-relevant answer to a modern world in crisis: Jesus Christ.
“If you want to be modern, you have to look at Jesus,” Rome-based theology professor Father Giulio Masparo told CNA Feb. 13.
And through the writings of the late French cardinal in particular, he noted, the Christian claim in today's world is infinitely superior “than what you can find by thinking that everything is relative.”
Fr. Masparo, a professor in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome, helped to organize a Feb. 12-13 conference titled: “Study days: Danielou-Ratzinger before the Mystery of History.”
Held at the University of Santa Croce, the conference explored the great continuity between Cardinal Danielou and Benedict XVI, who are both known for placing a historical frame around their theological writings.
Originally from Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Cardinal Danielou was a Jesuit, and is considered one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. He is known for his clarity in explaining profound concepts in a comprehensible way for the unlearned reader.
Danielou was highly criticized following the Second Vatican Council, a false interpretation of which he faulted for the crisis in religious life and the increase in secularization which ensued.
In a controversial interview with Vatican Radio in 1972, the cardinal stressed that “Vatican II declared that human values must be taken seriously. It never said that we should enter into a secularized world in the sense that the religious dimension would no longer be present in society.”
“It is in the name of a false secularization that men and women are renouncing their habits, abandoning their works in order to take their places in secular institutions, substituting social and political activities for the worship of God,” he said.
Cardinal Danielou also faulted “a false conception of freedom” that devalued religious constitutions and “an erroneous conception of the changing of man and the Church” for many of the crisis that unfolded after the Vatican council.
However, despite the criticism directed at the French cardinal, then-Bishop Josef Ratzinger was an avid supporter of Danielou, and placed great value on his stance and writings.