Yves Congar

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Yves Congar

OP
Cardinal Deacon of the Basilica of San Sebastiano al Palatino
Congar concile 1964.jpg
Church Latin Church
Appointed26 November 1994
Term ended22 June 1995
Orders
Created cardinal26 November 1994
RankCardinal Deacon
Personal details
Born(1904-04-13)13 April 1904
Sedan, Ardennes, France
Died22 June 1995(1995-06-22) (aged 91)
Paris, France
NationalityFrench
Denomination Roman Catholic
Coat of arms Coat of arms of Yves Congar.svg

Yves Marie-Joseph Congar OP (13 April 1904 – 22 June 1995) was a French Dominican friar, priest, and theologian. He is perhaps best known for his influence at the Second Vatican Council and for reviving theological interest in the Holy Spirit for the life of individuals and of the church. He was created a cardinal of the Catholic Church in 1994.

Dominican Order Roman Catholic religious order

The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega in France, approved by Pope Innocent III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans.

Friar member of a mendicant religious order in Catholic Christianity

A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.

Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Contents

Early life

Congar was born in Sedan in northeast France in 1904. His father Georges Congar was a bank manager. Congar's hometown was occupied by the Germans for much of World War I, and his father was among the men deported by the Germans to Lithuania. Upon the urging of his mother, Lucie Congar née Desoye (called "Tere" by Yves throughout his life), Congar recorded the occupation in an extensive series of illustrated diaries which were later published. [1] They provide a unique historical insight into the war from a child's point of view.

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Lithuania Republic in Northeastern Europe

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, the other being Latvian.

Military occupation effective provisional control of a certain power over a territory

Military or belligerent occupation is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. The territory is then known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. Occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature, by its military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.

Encouraged by a local priest Daniel Lallement, Congar entered the diocesan seminary. Moving to Paris in 1921, he had Jacques Maritain among his philosophy teachers and the Dominican theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange as a retreat master.

Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, in academics, or in Christian ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.

Jacques Maritain French philosopher

Jacques Maritain was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised Protestant, he was agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive Thomas Aquinas for modern times, and was influential in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor. The same pope had seriously considered making him a lay Cardinal, but Maritain rejected it. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics, the nature of education, liturgy and ecclesiology.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange French theologian

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange was a French Catholic theologian. He has been noted as a leading neo-Thomist of the 20th century, along with Jacobus Ramírez, Édouard Hugon, and Martin Grabmann. He taught at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome from 1909 to 1960. There he wrote his magnum opus, The Three Ages of the Interior Life in 1938.

Priest and POW

After a year of compulsory military service (1924–1925) which Congar spent in the Rhineland, in 1925 he joined the Dominican Order at Amiens where he took Marie-Joseph as his name in religion. Towards the end of his theological studies from 1926–1931 at Le Saulchoir, the Dominican theologate which at the time was located in Kain-la-Tombe, Belgium, and focused on historical theology, Congar was ordained a priest on 25 July 1930 by Luigi Maglione, nuncio in Paris. [2] In 1931 Congar defended his doctoral dissertation written at Le Saulchoir, on the unity of the Church.

France was the first modern nation state to introduce universal military conscription as a condition of citizenship. This was done in order to provide manpower for the country's military at the time of the French Revolution. Conscription continued in various forms for two hundred years until being finally phased out between 1996 and 2001.

Rhineland historic region of Germany

The Rhineland is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly its middle section.

Amiens Prefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Amiens is a city and commune in northern France, 120 km (75 mi) north of Paris and 100 km (62 mi) south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Hauts-de-France. The city had a population of 136,105 according to the 2006 census, and one of the biggest university hospitals in France with a capacity of 1,200 beds. Amiens Cathedral, the tallest of the large, classic, Gothic churches of the 13th century and the largest in France of its kind, is a World Heritage Site. The author Jules Verne lived in Amiens from 1871 until his death in 1905, and served on the city council for 15 years.

Congar was a faculty member at Le Saulchoir from 1931 to 1939, moving with the Institution in 1937 from Kain-la-Tombe to Étiolles near Paris. In 1932 he began his teaching career as Professor of Fundamental Theology, conducting a course on ecclesiology. Congar was influenced by the Dominicans Ambroise Gardeil and Marie-Dominique Chenu, by the writings of Johann Adam Möhler, and by his ecumenical contacts with Protestant and Eastern Orthodox theologians. Congar concluded that the mission of the church was impeded by what he and Chenu termed “baroque theology." [3]

Étiolles Commune in Île-de-France, France

Étiolles is a commune in the Essonne department in Île-de-France in northern France, twenty-seven kilometers southeast of Paris.

In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Christian Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its destiny, and its leadership.

Marie-Dominique Chenu French historian

Marie-Dominique Chenu was a progressive Roman Catholic theologian and one of the founders of the reformist journal Concilium.

In 1937 Congar founded the Unam Sanctam series, addressing historical themes in Catholic ecclesiology. These books called for a “return to the sources” to set theological foundations for ecumenism, and the series would eventually run to 77 volumes. He wrote for a wide variety of scholarly and popular journals, and published numerous books.

Catholic ecclesiology

Catholic ecclesiology is the theological study of the Catholic Church, its nature and organization, as described in revelation or in philosophy. Such study shows a progressive development over time. Here the focus is on the time leading into and since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

During World War II Congar was drafted into the French army as a chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant. He was captured and held from 1940 to 1945 as a prisoner of war by the Germans in Colditz and Lübeck's Oflag, after repeated attempts to escape. Later he was made a Knight (Chevalier) of the French Legion of Honour, and awarded the Croix de Guerre. [4] In addition he was awarded the Médaille des Évadés for his numerous escape attempts. [3]

Scholar and ecumenist

After the war, Congar continued to teach at Le Saulchoir, which had been returned to France, and to write, eventually becoming one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century on the topic of the Catholic Church and ecumenism. [5]

Congar was an early advocate of the ecumenical movement, encouraging openness to ideas stemming from the Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestant Christianity. [6] He promoted the concept of a "collegial" papacy and criticised the Roman Curia, ultramontanism, and the clerical pomp that he observed at the Vatican. He also promoted the role of lay people in the church. Congar worked closely with the founder of the Young Christian Workers, Joseph Cardijn, for decades.

From 1947 to 1956 Congar's controversial writing was restricted by the Vatican. One of his most important books True and False Reform in the Church (1950) and all of its translations were forbidden by Rome in 1952. Congar was prevented from teaching or publishing after 1954, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, following publication of an article in support of the "worker-priest" movement in France. He was subsequently assigned to minor posts in Jerusalem, Rome, Cambridge and Strasbourg. Eventually, in 1956, Archbishop Jean Julien Weber of Strasbourg assisted Congar in returning to France. [7]

Congar's reputation recovered in 1960 when Pope John XXIII invited him to serve on the preparatory theological commission of the Second Vatican Council. Although Congar had little influence on the preparatory schemas, as the council progressed his expertise was recognized and some would regard him as the single most formative influence on Vatican II. He was a member of several committees that drafted conciliar texts, an experience that he documented in great detail in his daily journal. The journal extended from mid-1960 to December 1965. Following his direction, his journal was not released until 2000, and was first published in 2002 as Mon Journal du Concile I-II, présenté et annoté par Éric Mahieu (two volumes). A one-volume English translation appeared in 2012. Congar also wrote a diary during his years of trouble with the Holy Office entitled "Journal d'un théologien 1946-1956, édité et presenté par Étienne Fouilloux." An English translation appeared in 2015; there is a prior Spanish translation.

After the council, Congar said "respecting many questions, the council remained incomplete. It began a work which is not finished, whether it is a matter of collegiality, of the role of the laity, of missions and even of ecumenism." Congar's work focused increasingly on the theology of the Holy Spirit, and his 3-volume work on the Spirit has become a classic. [8] He was also a member of the International Theological Commission from 1969 to 1985.

Congar continued to lecture and write, publishing work on wide-ranging topics including Mary, the Eucharist, lay ministry and the Holy Spirit, as well as his diaries. His works include The Meaning of Tradition and After Nine Hundred Years which addresses the East-West Schism.

In 1963, Congar was diagnosed with a "diffuse disease of the nervous system" which caused weakness and numbness in his extremities. [9] In 1985, the diagnosis was changed to a form of sclerosis which increasingly affected his mobility and writing ability, and made his scholarly research difficult. He became a resident at the Military Hôpital des Invalides in Paris from 1986.

Cardinal and death

In November 1994 he was named a cardinal deacon by Pope John Paul II, shortly before his death on 22 June the following year. [10] His remains were buried in Montparnasse Cemetery. [11] [12]

Media portrayal

Selected works

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References

  1. Congar, Yves (2012). My Journal of the Council (English Text Copyright ed.). Collegeville, MN: A Michael Glazer Book by Liturgical Press. pp. iv, 303, 416, 465, 468, 469, 746, 841, 852, 853. ISBN   978-0814680292.
  2. Reinhardt, Mary (26 July 2015). Awakening Liturgical Spirituality in the Royal Priesthood of the Laity with Performance Theory. St. Norbert College. pp. 15–17.
  3. 1 2 Groppe, Elizabeth T. (24 August 2007). "Yves Congar". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  4. Saxon, Wolfgang. "Yves Congar, French Cardinal, Is Dead at 91; Vigorous Ecumenist and Promoter of the Laity". New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  5. Doyle, D.M., 'Journet, Congar, and the Roots of Communion Ecclesiology' Theological Studies 58 (1997): 461–479; John Anthony Berry, “Ecumenical formation: Yves Congar’s Personal Testimony”, Melita Theologica 59 (2008): 3–19.
  6. Hastings, Adrian, Modern Catholicism (1999, Oxford University Press)
  7. John Anthony Berry, "Yves Congar. Ecumenism and the Changing Face of Roman Catholicism", Ökumenische Begegnungen / Ecumenical Encounters (Beihefte zur Ökumenischen Rundschau 100) (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2015) pp. 158–169
  8. Congar, Yves (1 November 1997). I Believe in the Holy Spirit: The Complete Three Volume Work in One Volume. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. ISBN   9780824516963.
  9. Congar, Yves (2012). My Journal of the Council (English Language Translation ed.). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. p. 469. ISBN   978-0814680292.
  10. Sicari, Giovanni. "Short biographies of all the Cardinals from 1198 to 2010 -- Ivo Congar +1995 June 22". Vatican Heraldry. Library of Congress: Minerva Web Preservation Project. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  11. "Congar, Ivo". Araldica Vaticana (in Italian).
  12. Yves Congar at Find a Grave.
  13. Recommended by P. R. Reid in his memoir of Colditz Castle, The Latter Days, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1953, p. 9.