Honorary Doctorates from the University of Navarra in 2011

On October 27, the University of Navarra celebrated the award ceremony investing three outstanding scholars as honorary doctors. Those receiving the degree were the Hungarian Cardinal, Péter Erdö, Archbishop of Budapest; the Law Professor at New York University, Joseph H. H. Weiler; and the painter Antonio Lopez, who could not be present at the ceremony due to illness.

More than 450 officials and academics took part in the event celebrated in the Auditorium of the University and presided over by the Chancellor, Bishop Javier Echevarría. Another 370 people followed the ceremony from classrooms and halls in the Main Building.

The Prelate of Opus Dei emphasized that the three new doctors, each in his own specialty, shared “a deep bond” to the university institution.[1]

In regard to Antonio Lopez, one of the leading representatives of contemporary realism in Spain, and considered the father of the Madrid school of hyper-realism, he said that “his work is marked by an acute sense of being a researcher of reality, an attitude which enables him to readily recognize the imprint of God in creatures.”

Turning to Cardinal Péter Erdö, the Prelate emphasized his deep formation as a canonist and theologian and his close ties to academic life. “He has been, and is, an erudite historian and a great teacher of life.”

Finally he referred to Professor Joseph Weiler as one of the most prominent experts on the law of the European Union. “Currently he is a full Professor at New York University, as well as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the author of numerous thought-provoking publications.”

The search for knowledge

After the presentation of the sponsors and the granting of the honorary doctorates, each of the new doctors delivered an address. In the case of Antonio Lopez, honored by the School of Architecture, a video produced for the occasion was shown and Juan José Aquerreta, an artist in conjunction with whom the new doctor gave the Painting Workshop at the University of Navarra, read his discourse.

In it he referred to the search for knowledge, which he saw as a shared commitment in his task as an artist and in the work of the university: “This search has been a constant and noble aspiration in mankind’s history. Goodness, beauty, intelligence, health: these ‘great gifts’ are granted by God in an unequal measure that we can never fully understand. But it is moving to see the effort of so many people to improve their life through knowledge.”

With respect to painting, he said: “it is there I have found people who have accompanied me and made me improve, and a kind of work that has connected me closely to the world.”

Inmaculada Jiménez, professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Navarra and the sponsor of Antonio Lopez, remarked that, although the artist was not an architect by profession, the School wanted to grant him its first honorary doctorate because he had taught professionals from this discipline “to view the city in a special way.” And she emphasized “the deeply ‘university’ personality of Antonio Lopez, who himself has said that he dedicated his work to the knowledge of the truth of reality.”

A singularly complete canonist

After receiving the honorary doctorate from the School of Canon Law, Cardinal Erdö (Budapest, 1952) gave a discourse entitled “The Principle of Primacy and its Technical Formulation in Canon Law,” in which he carried out a survey of the canonical expressions of the Petrine primacy. He stated that “this is a constant and fundamental element of the Church’s structure, whose juridical timeliness has not been diminished in any way by the Second Vatican Council.”

The sponsor of the new doctor, Professor Eduardo Molano from the School of Canon Law, presented his biography and noted that it included “a long history of service to the Church, in which his excellent theological and juridical preparation has contributed to making him a great pastor and leader.”

Professor Molano emphasized the Cardinal’s many contributions to Canon Law: “He is a singularly complete canonist, whose juridical production covers all the fields of canon law.”

The relation between law and holiness

For his part, the New York University Professor Joseph Weiler, who received an honorary doctorate from the School of Law, referred in his address to the relationship between law and holiness. “All of us view the ‘rule of law’ as a constitutive element of our paradigm of democratic values. Nevertheless, it is difficult for us to grasp its spiritual value and understand how it can be integrated into the idea of holiness.”

“The perspective of holiness is all-inclusive, it covers all spheres of life. Holiness embraces the family and the rhythms of work; it is central to religious fidelity and to charity in daily life.... The idea of the holy that we find in Leviticus is almost the opposite of Rudolf Otto’s concept of ‘the numinous.’ The Levitical idea is a juridical one. One lives in accord with the Divine by obeying His Law, in which the rational and ethical harmonize with the ineffable and ritual. It is an all-encompassing reality, a project for life.”

Joseph Weiler was praised by his sponsor, Professor Rafael Domingo, who outlined his prestigious professional career marked by “an itinerant and cosmopolitan spirit.” “His is a living synthesis, totally genuine and atypical, combining Jewish tradition, British scholarship, Italian genius and American innovation, put at the service of the university in the most genuine sense of a community of seekers.” He added that “his supra-national constitutionalism has played a key role in the process of the European Union’s integration,” and that “he has transcended the science of Law, to become a true theologian of justice.”

[1] His complete address can be found in the “From the Prelate” section of this issue of Romana.

Romana, n. 53, July-December 2011, p. 286-288.

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