Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, 85 years old, Canon of St. Peter's Basilica and renowned Thomist, has been called the last living theologian of the pre-Conciliar "Roman School". His book "Concilio Ecumenico Vaticano II: Un discorso da fare" has been praised as one of the most important books of recent years to attempt to study Vatican II in the light of Catholic Tradition. Strangely enough, relatively little has been written about his work in the English-speaking Catholic blogosphere. Rorate published a note about him last year, and the Anglo-Catholic blogger Fr. John Hunwicke has recently devoted a series of blog posts to him (see here, here and here.) A selection of quotes from the book is available on DICI.
From the Una Fides blog:
Catholic Culture has also published a brief article on the Monsignor.
Catholic Culture has also published a brief article on the Monsignor.
Soon to appear: the new book by Monsignor Gherardini: Quod et Tradidi Vobis. The Tradition, Life and Youth of the Church.
Interview with Monsignor Brunero Gherardini
Aletheia n° 153 – March 20 2010
Interview by Yves Chiron, Editor of Aletheia, Lettre d’informations religieuses
(the publication is no more available at Internet, please write to Yves Chiron, 16 rue du Berry, F - 36250 Niherne firstname.lastname@example.org)
March 20 2010
If you permit me to say so, Monsignor, the year 2009 has been “the Gherardini year”. You have published, one after another, the following works: Il Concilio Vaticano II. Un discorso da fare, in March 2009, then Quale accordo tra Cristo e Beliar? in April of 2009, on the “problems, misunderstandings and compromises” in interreligious dialogue. Then in September 2009 you wrote Ecumene tradita, on “the ecumenical dialogue, between misunderstandings and false steps”. Is this pure coincidence or a wish to draw attention to the necessity of a good “hermeneutics” of the Second Vatican Council?
A dear friend, professor Roberto De Mattei, Director of Radici Cristiane, in October of 2009 succeeded in making an interview with me – this is a genre from which I have always distanced myself. And here I find another friend succeeding in this enterprise…
Far from thinking that there has been a “Gherardini year”, I recognize that the publications to which you refer – and to which today we may add Quod et tradidi vobis. La Tradizione, vita e giovinezza della Chiesa – are not a simple coincidence but a simple attempt to create an answer and an objective content to the “hermeneutics of the continuity”, which – as everybody knows – has been the hope of the Holy Father.
Do you consider that the Report on the faith (better known in English as "The Ratzinger Report" -- CAP) published in 1985 by the then Cardinal Ratzinger was a turning-point in the reflection of the Church on herself? Was it the sign of a “prise de conscience”?
Maybe more that than in the reality, it was a new understanding in the intentions of eminent writers and in the hopes of various theologians, among them myself. The dangers and the misunderstandings were dimly seen; the causes were however not discussed and even less there was the least intention to eliminate them. Consequently one was always standing at the same departing point.
It is said that you are the last representative of the school of “Roman theology”, which was made famous by Cardinal Palazzini or by the dear and regretted Monsignor Piolanti. Is your voice as a theologian an isolated voice in Italy, or do you see in some university, some magazines, theologians who share your preoccupations and your analysis of the situation?
I do not know how far I may be considered as an epigone of the glorious Roman School. Even the illustrious names which you refer to belong to a descending stage of this school. After the Second Vatican Council, the voice of this school, increasingly weak, could still be heard through two Roman academies (the Pontificia Accademia di Teologia and the Pontificia Accademia San Tommaso d’Aquino), the reviews Divinitas and Doctor Communis, and the Thomistic Congresses. Today, if risking oneself still to be aware of it, it is just an isolated voice, admired by some, but more often despised and scorned. This is how I perceive the situation. However, listened to or not, it still resounds, and if you recognize the timbre of the Roman school in my voice, I am pleased.
Fortunately (?? It must be “Sfortunadamente” = unfortunately, CAP), this glorious school today is deprived of university or episcopal chairs. However, also from this point of view, things are beginning to change: On the 25th of this month, I am invited by the academic authorities to hold a conference – in the Lateran university – on the subject of “Thomism and the Roman School of the 20th century” (Il tomismo e la Scuola Romana del XX secolo) and L’Osservatore Romano has already asked for my text to this conference.
If I am not mistaken, you were asked by the Holy See to participate in the “theological discussions” which were initiated in 2009 with the Priesterly Fraternity of St. Pius X. Why did you not accept this invitation?
I am sorry, but discretion prevents me from answering this question.
Is there a possibility that there will be a doctrinal agreement between the Holy See and the FSSPX? And if so, in which form will it be?
Undoubtedly, and I wish it – and also the Church wishes it – for the good of the souls there will soon be an agreement. I would like to reply in an adequate manner, but would not like to go down into details. The Pope has already done a lot in order to find a solution, this we must understand. However, it is also necessary to discuss the “doctrinal framework” to which he himself refers. Nevertheless, this framework will not lead to any result if one permits – as it seems one will do – only the interminable confrontation of one point after the other: the two parties have each one of them appropriate arrows to put to their bow and the dialectics may present in evidence the reasons of the party that is at fault.
In my opinion, there is only one argument to discuss: and John Paul II suggested it when, during the famous excommunication in 1988, he reproached the Fraternity of St. Pius X for having “an incomplete and contradictory view of the Tradition”. Personally, I am of a quite different view, but it is just for this reason that I see in Tradition the only subject to be discussed in depth. If one would succeed in clarifying the concept of Tradition, without taking refuge in the subterfuge of the living Tradition, but also without closing one’s eyes to the internal movement of the apostolic-ecclesial tradition “eodem tamen sensu, eademque sententia” [even with the same sense, and with the same reasoning], the problem would cease to exist.
Objectively the Fraternity of St. Pius X ought not to cease to exist. It could become – in the firmament of the Church – a “society of priesterly life”, a family of “oblates” or just a “Prelatura nullius”, as it already has a number of bishops. But, please, let us abandon all dreams.
Translation from the Italian by Natasja Hoven of Katolsk Observator and slightly edited by Fr. Emmanuel Marfori and Carlos Antonio Palad. The original Italian can be found on the Una Fides blog