Saturday, April 01, 2006

Answering Catholic creationists: an article in Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Homiletic & Pastoral Review has been a mainstay for our marriage's Catholic intellectual life. Although we have subscribed to many other good Catholic magazines, HPR is the only one we have uninterruptedly subscribed since the early days of our family life. Having lived in seven different American dioceses in the past 20 years, the consistently high quality content of the monthly sermons alone has been worth the price of the subscription. A few years ago Ignatius Press took over the publisher and has recently launched a website with sample articles and contents of the current issue among other things. On my last visit I noticed that a most timely article is available here.

The article is entitled “Reading Genesis with Cardinal Ratzinger”, written by Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, who earned a Ph.D. in biology from M.I.T. in 1996 and a S.T.L. from the Dominican House of Studies in 2005. In the first part of the article, the author states his purpose:

“In this essay, I respond to the Catholic creationist movement by arguing that contemporary exegetes have sufficient reason to move beyond a literalist reading of the Genesis text. I will begin by summarizing the three hermeneutical principles employed by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in his non-literalist interpretation of the six-day account of Genesis, traditionally called the Hexaemeron. I will then show that his method is faithful both to the teaching of the Catholic Church most recently articulated in Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council, and to the teaching of his predecessor, Leo XIII, in Providentissimus Deus. Thus, I propose that Cardinal Ratzinger’s approach to reading Genesis, as a particularly noteworthy example of the hermeneutical method endorsed by Vatican II, should be paradigmatic for the contemporary Catholic exegete seeking to be faithful to the Catholic tradition.”

While this article may pose a somewhat challenging read for the layperson, I was still able to grasp its basic points and I was encouraged by the appearance of one more excellent piece to engage in a public dialogue on one of the more confounding issues debated within Catholic homeschooling circles.

1 comment:

ScienceMom said...

The average lay reader may find then-Cardinal Ratzinger's book "In the Beginning" itself an easier read. Available from Eerdmans. My one complaint about it is that the translation is annoyingly gender-neutered, to the point of a significantly negative effect on readability in some places.

Also, my article (post about it here) may be an easier starting point on this topic.