Symposium on “St. Josemaría in Theology” (Rome, March 10 to 20, 2010)

From the 10th to the 20th of March a symposium was held at the central seat of Opus Dei in Rome. Its focus was the contribution to theology provided by the charism that God inspired in St. Josemaría on October 2, 1928. The symposium had two phases: the first took place from March 10 to 14, the second from the 16th to the 20th. Some fifty theologians, historians and students of the sacred sciences took part.

In a letter directed especially to the faithful of the Prelature who work in these areas, the Prelate, Bishop Echevarría, made reference to the spirit of Opus Dei in these terms: “This renewing influence, manifested initially in a new pastoral phenomenon, necessarily has to produce, over time, intellectual repercussions. This has happened already in canon law, and it is also taking place, although more slowly, in theology” (Letter, April 23, 2010).

Bishop Echevarría’s introductory conference (echoed in the letter of April 23 just cited) provided guidelines for the symposium. Afterwards, the question of the influence of the teaching of the saints in theology was addressed. Two professors from the School of Theology at the University of Navarra spoke on this topic: Fr. Josep-Ignasi Saranyana discussed the theme from an historical point of view, while Fr. Antonio Aranda developed it in a more systematic way.

Following this session, some core teachings of St. Josemaría were considered in broad terms: the universal vocation to sanctity, the role of the laity in the Church, sanctification of work, divine filiation, contemplative life in the middle of the world, the common and ministerial priesthoods, the centrality of the Mass in Christian life, unity of life, etc. These conferences were given by Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, Vicar General of the Opus Dei Prelature; Fr. José Ramon Villar, Ordinary Professor of Ecclesiology in the School of Theology at the University of Navarra; Father Paul O’ Callaghan, Professor of Theological Anthropology in the School of Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; and Msgr. Pedro Rodriguez, Professor Emeritus of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Navarra’s School of Theology.

Following this general overview, Msgr. Jose Luis Illanes, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at the University of Navarra, as well as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and Director of the St. Josemaría Escrivá Historical Institute, spoke about access to the oral and written preaching of St. Josemaría, the publication of which, in a critical-historical edition, is currently underway. The symposium concluded with a conference by Fr. Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. He spoke about the areas in theology where the influence of the Founder of Opus Dei’s message can be noted, and where one can expect it will have a greater resonance in the future.

In the letter cited above, Bishop Echevarría also said: “The spirit St. Josemaría transmitted to us through his preaching, his writings, and his example has deeply influenced the life of the Church. Many elements of his message were clearly reflected in the teachings of the last Council—the universal call to holiness, the sanctification of the world from within.” At the same time, the Prelate acknowledged that for the message of St. Josemaría to be fully incorporated into the various branches of theology, serious and diligent research is required. “I will not hide from you,” he wrote to the faithful of the Prelature, “the fact that this is a difficult task, in part because one has to overcome certain molds and mentalities that make it hard to capture and express the newness and richness of the call to Christian sanctity in the middle of the world. We will provide a great service to the Church (this is what spurs our concern) by helping make the lights God granted to St. Josemaría, and the doctrine contained there, to have a deep influence not only on spiritual theology, but also on aspects of dogmatic, moral, fundamental and sacramental theology as well.”

Romana, n. 50, January-June 2010, p. 140-142.

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