Symposium at the University of Münster, Germany, 12-14 December 2018. Beyond Dogmatism and Innocence. Hermeneutics, Critique, and Catholic Theology
At the kind invitation of Professor Norbert Hintersteiner of Münster University, Germany, Professor Declan Marmion and doctoral student Ann Guinee attended seminars at the Institute for Missiology and the Study of Theologies Beyond Europe, Münster, from 12th– 14thDecember 2018. The seminars were part of a week-long series of events marking the visit to Münster of Dr Bradford Hinze, Karl Rahner SJ Professor of Theology at Fordham University, New York, and centredon two of Professor Hinze’s recent books: Prophetic Obedience: Ecclesiology for a Dialogical Church, (New York: Orbis, 2016) and Beyond Dogmatism and Innocence: Hermeneutics Critique and Catholic Theology(edited by Bradford E. Hinze and Anthony J. Godzieba, New York: Liturgical Press, 2018).
On the topic of Prophetic Obedience, Professor Hinze spoke about the role of prophet both in the biblical tradition and as a charism of the Holy Spirit granted to all the faithful. He noted the dual requirement of the prophet to receive the word of God and to hear and respond to the laments of the people of God. This role can involve conflict in the public sphere and Professor Hinze wisely asked us to reconsider conflict for the potential grace it affords as a catalyst of structural reform in favour of the marginalised, which is a marker of the Kingdom of God.
The seminar on Beyond Dogmatism and Innocenceencouraged thought on what kind of Church we can become now, in light of recent negative events in the Church and the challenge set by Pope Francis to fully realise the spirit of Vatican II in the Church today. The book calls for dialogue at all levels of Church, dialogue which importantly incorporates honest and challenging critique while retaining the spirit of hope that is fundamental to our faith. Through the work of many eminent theologians including Sandra Schneiders, Judith Gruber and Ormond Rush, it draws on the work of continental philosophy and phenomenology and on the Frankfurt school for its ideas.
Professor Marmion summarised Ormond Rush’s chapter entitled “A Synodal Church” which finds in the Sensus Fidei (spiritually gifted sense of all of the faithful to discern the truths of faith) a model for a hermeneutic dialogue between doctrine and Christian life which allows for development and growth within the pluralised contexts of Church in historical life. This spiritually enriched dialogue brings the mountain-top perspective of the hierarchical Church in contact with the many Christian “villages” on the ground in a mutually conditioning way which prefers, as Pope Francis encourages, realities to ideas. As one Ormond Rush puts it, ‘dialogue is the means through which the Spirit communicates,’ while an underlying epistemological assumption is the search for truth is best undertaken together. Ann Guinee supported Professor Marmion’s presentation, noting the challenges to be faced in trying to accomplish such a dialogue of truly equal voices. She informed the participants about the 2016 Synod that took place in Limerick Diocese, suggesting that it provided an evidence-based model for dialogue and change, including structural reform, that could transfer to the wider Church.
The visit facilitated lively dialogue and new ideas and understandings for all. It was such a pleasure to be in Münster at this time of year and to experience university life in a city which is home to over 40,000 students, the majority of whom cycle to classes! We were lucky to be able to visit the city’s beautiful cathedral, Christmas markets (with Glühwein and traditional German dishes) and to avail of the exceptional hospitality of our hosts throughout our time there. Einen herzlichen Dank an Professor Hintersteiner und an Dr Haila Manteghi für die groβzügige Gastfreundschaft und wir freuen uns auf ein Wiedersehen in Münster oder in Maynooth!
Ann Guinee and Declan Marmion
Professors Declan Marmion, Bradford Hinze (Fordham University, New York) and Norbert Hintersteiner (Symposium coordinator, University of Münster) in front of the Castle building, University of Münster – December 2018.
Left to Right: Prof. Norbert Hintersteiner, Dr Haila Manteghi, Prof. Declan Marmion and Doctoral candidate, Ms. Ann Guinee at the Münster Christmas markets.