JESUITICA: Bishop? No. Cardinal? Maybe
Some of the most inspiring stories of 20th century theology are about theologians who maintained an obedient silence in face of ecclesiastical censorship. In the early 1950s Karl Rahner SJ was said to have ten books of theology in a trunk under his bed, which Roman censors would not allow him to publish. During the 1950s Henri de Lubac, the much-loved and revered French Jesuit, came under suspicion from the Vatican for his teachings about the supernatural and grace. He eventually had to stop publication of his works because of doctrinal objections against his controversial book, Surnaturel. He served in silence till the second Vatican Council, when the pope and theologians began to savour the treasure they had in de Lubac and Rahner. But making amends for past follies proved complicated. Read more. In 1969 Pope Paul VI, an admirer of de Lubac’s works, 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”. A bishopric after all is a pastoral responsibility, not a decoration to handed out as a reward. Pope John Paul II, who had the highest esteem for de Lubac, stopped his address during a major talk and acknowleged the presence of de Lubac saying, “I bow my head to Father Henri de Lubac.” In 1983 he offered de Lubac the cardinalate, 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, and from May 24, 1990 to his death the following year, he was the oldest living Cardinal.