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REVIEW by Sandro Magister


« LA CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA »
B
REAKS THE SILENCE
ON ROMANO AMERIO.


Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaHe was the most authoritative and erudite representative of criticism of the Church in the name of Tradition, but for decades the discussion of his thought was barred. The magazine of the Rome Jesuits has broken the taboo. Authorized from on high.


L’articolo di Sandro Magister sulla recensione fatta da « Civiltà Cattolica »
al libro di E. M. Radaelli su Romano Amerio si trova in
http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=135061


Romano amerio

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaROMA, April 23, 2007 – In “La Civiltà Cattolica,” the magazine of the Rome Jesuits printed with the prior scrutiny and authorization of the Vatican secretaiat of state, a review has been published that signals the end of a taboo.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe taboo is the one that has obliterated from public discussion, for decades, the thought of the most authoritative and erudite representative of criticism of the twentieth century Church in the name of the great Tradition: the Swiss philologist and philosopher Romano Amerio (in the photo), who died in Lugano in 1997, at the age of 92.

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaAmerio, although he was always extremely faithful to the Church, condensed his criticisms of it in two volumes: “Iota unum: Studio delle variazioni della Chiesa cattolica nel XX secolo [Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century],” begun in 1935 and finalized and published in 1985, and, and “Stat Veritas. Séguito a Iota unum [Stat Veritas: Sequel to Iota Unum],” released posthumously in 1997, both issued by the publisher Riccardo Ricciardi, of Naples.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe Latin words in the title of the first volume, “Iota Unum,” are those of Jesus in the sermon on the mount: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter [iota] or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5: 17-18). The iota is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet.

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaIota Unum,” 658 pages, was reprinted three times in Italy, for a total of seven thousand copies, and was then translated into French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch. It thus reached many tens of thousands of readers all over the world.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaBut in spite of this, an almost complete blacklisting fell upon Amerio in the Church, both during and after his life.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe review in “La Civiltà Cattolica” thus signals a turning point. Both because of where and how it was published – with the authorization of the Holy See – and because of what it says.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaStrictly speaking, the review concerns a book about Amerio published in 2005 by his disciple Enrico Maria Radaelli. But without a doubt it is the great Swiss thinker who is at the center of the reviewer’s judgments.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaAnd the judgments are largely positive, both on “Amerio’s intellectual and moral stature,” and on “the importance of his philosophical-theological vision for the contemporary Church.”

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe reviewer, Giuseppe Esposito, is a psychologist who is well read in theology. Although he does not agree with Amerio in everything, he maintains that his thought “deserves more extensive discussion,” and “without prejudice.”
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaIn particular, he writes, “it seems simplistic to relegate his reflection – and that of Radaelli – to the sphere of nostalgic traditionalism, as a position now irrelevant, incapable of comprehending the new movements of the Spirit.”
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaOn the contrary, the reviewer maintains, Amerio’s thought “confers a form and a philosophical framework upon that ecclesial component which, following in the path of Tradition, reaches out to safeguard Christian specificity and identity.”

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaFor Amerio, this form and philosophical framework are found in “the primacy of the truth about love.”
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaAs is well known, the link between truth and love is at the center of Benedict XVI’s teaching.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaHere, then, is reproduced the review that appeared in “La Civiltà Cattolica” on March 17, 2007, n. 3772, pages 622-623.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe reviewed book, the first one systematically dedicated to Romano Amerio’s life and thought, is the following:
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaEnrico Maria Radaelli, “Romano Amerio. Della verità e dell’amore [Romano Amerio: On Truth and Love]”, Marco Editore, Lungro di Cosenza, 2005, pp. XXXV-340, 25 euro.

“In love with the truth and with the Church...”

by Giuseppe Esposito

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaA passionate devotee of Romano Amerio (1905-97), Enrico Maria Radaelli presents his life, word, and thought, placing the reader before an intellectual production that unfolded over a period of about 70 years.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaAnd so here is Amerio as philosopher, philologist, historian, and also theologian, with his important contributions on Descartes, Giacomo Leopardi, Alessandro Manzoni, but above all on Tommaso Campanella.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe author’s primary intention is that of bringing back to light the figure of his master after the ostracism that followed the publication, in 1985, of his “Iota Unum.” This is the text that synthesizes Amerio’s thought, and, for the author, it is a true “metaphysical compendium of Catholic knowledge” (p. 135), capable of furnishing convincing and solid arguments in support of the faith.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe book, translated into seven languages, was not received well in Italy, and Amerio was branded as a traditionalist, preconciliar, Lefebvrist. But according to Radaelli, it is an error to reduce all of Amerio’s thought to his position on Vatican Council II.

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThis is, in the first place, because “Iota Unum” did not originate directly from the Council, nor from esteem for the schismatic bishop Marcel Lefebvre (whom Amerio criticizes for his separation from ecclesial communion), but is instead a collection of reflections begun thirty years earlier, and pertaining to more general topics.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaIn the second place this is because dwelling on controversy trivializes the important fundamental question Amerio raises, well represented by the author in the title: “On Truth and Love.”
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThis is the nucleus of Amerio’s thought: the primacy of truth over love. Subverting this order, and thus producing a “metaphysical dislocation of essences,” for Amerio is inevitably translated into an attack against Christ, the Word of God, the Logos. It is for this reason that he wrote “Iota Unum,” and, presenting it to Augusto Del Noce, defined it as an attempt to “defend essences against the waywardness and syncretism of the spirit of the age” (p. 231). And to Del Noce, who was fascinated by his argument, it seemed that “the ultimate philosophical problem for the ‘Catholic restoration’ that the world needs is that of the order of essences” (p. 233).

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaIn love with the truth and with the Church, preoccupied with the secularization of Christianity, with its reduction to morality and works at the expense of the primacy of Christocentrism, Amerio criticizes “fundamentalist ecumenism,” the dissolution of the Christian identity in religious relativism, the renunciation of the Truth in favor of respect for other-truths, the reduction of the one true religion to one of the various possible religions.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaIt is decisive to pose the absolute centrality of the Word: “The absolute value attributed to the divine reality of the Word (Logos), as well as of the facts that religion derives from it, [...] shelter man from the disorientation of relativism” (p. 19).
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThis is a reminder not to undervalue the risks inherent in naturalism, and in any “conception of the Spirit cut down from the supernatural to the natural, [...] from the religious to the cultural, from the spiritual to the intellectual” (p. 130).
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaFor Radaelli, what happened in the end was precisely what his master feared: “The subversion of the principles according to which reason is replaced in its first causality by love, plans by realization, intellect by freedom, ideas by praxis, [...] the classical values of religious naturalism seem to have the upper hand against the supremacy of the supernatural” (p. 206).

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe author, with carefully chosen and deliberately apologetic language, highlights Amerio’s intellectual and moral stature, and clarifies the importance of his philosophical-theological vision, for the contemporary Church as well. The result is certainly a defensive, impassioned harangue that is sometimes grating, but it is above all a provocation to engage Amerio’s “powerful thought.”
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaOf course, it is not possible to share the negative judgment extended to the Council in its entirety and to all the positive things it produced.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaFurthermore, there is a questionable attempt to explain all of Christianity’s current difficulties as if they were almost entirely the result of a deviation from the dogma of the Logos, of the demotion of Truth to second place after love. The reality is more complex, and one cannot trace everything back to just one aspect: in this case, there is the risk of philosophical reductionism.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaAnd yet the Amerian hypothesis deserves more extensive discussion, and it seems simplistic to relegate his reflection – and that of Radaelli – to the sphere of nostalgic traditionalism, as a position now irrelevant, incapable of comprehending the new movements of the Spirit, if it is not in fact – with allowances for due caution – almost an obstacle to His action.

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaBut if one frees oneself from fundamentalist prejudice, the nucleus of Amerio’s reflection becomes a stimulus for thought.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaAnd this is not a matter of an isolated metaphysical view of Christianity: it confers a form and a philosophical framework upon that ecclesial component which, following in the path of Tradition, reaches out to safeguard Christian specificity and identity.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaIn this perspective, the work of Radaelli, by reproposing the deep Amerian theoretical questions, invites one to confront these without prejudice, in a more serene way.
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe text, knowledgeably introduced by Antonio Livi, dean of the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University, is also accompanied by interviews with Amerio and reviews of “Iota Unum,” as well as by a small glossary to aid the reader. Together with the list of Amerio’s works, the indices of names, persons, places, and topics are complete and very useful.
_____
Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaThe book:

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaEnrico Maria Radaelli, ROMANO AMERIO. DELLA VERITÀ E DELL’AMORE, Marco Editore, Lungro di Cosenza, 2005, pp. 344, euro 25,00.

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolicaOn www.chiesa.espressonline.it, on Amerio:

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolica> The End of a Taboo: Even Romano Amerio Is “A True Christian” (6.2.2006).

Aurea Domus - Metafisica e teologia cattolica> A Philosopher, a Mystic, and a Theologian Sound an Alarm for the Church (7.2.2005)

Sandro Magister, on www.chiesa.espressonline.it

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