Dogma’s Terrible or Radiant Tomorrow

A Book Review of Enrico Maria Radaelli’s book, Il Domani Terribile o Radioso? del Dogma. 261 pp., Edizione Pro Manuscripto, Aurea Domus, 2013. Italian. 35€ (to acquire seen End of Article)

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Introduction

To those in the English-speaking world, the name Enrico Maria Radaelli is not a familiar one.  Therefore, some introduction is necessary.

One of the most famous Italian philosophers of the last century was Romano Amerio.  Born in Lugano, Italy on January 17, 1905, he graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the Università Cattolica di Milano in 1927, and again in Classical Philology in 1934.  He taught Latin and Greek and Philosophy from 1928 to 1970 in the Cantonal High-school of Lugano.

AmerioHis intellectual acumen and loyalty to the faith was such, that he was a consultor for Msgr. Angelo Giuseppe Jelmini, Apostolic Administrator of Lugano, Switzerland, from 1935-1968 A.D..*

Amerio, was a Catholic intellectual with a mind ennobled by the faith.  His criticism of the events of the Council was founded, not upon his personal sentiments, but upon his adhesion to the Magisterium of Bl. Pope Pius IX (Quanta Cura) who condemned masonic-liberalism, of Pope St. Pius X (Lamentabile Sane Exitu), who condemned modernism, and of Venerable Pope Pius XII (Human Generis), who condemned neo-modernism.

Cast aside by the progressivist movement in Italian ecclesiastical circles during the pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, he was “rehabilitated” as a thinker of note, during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, by no less than the widely influential but very liberal, Jesuit journal, La Civiltà Cattolica, in 2007.

His most famous book, is easily recognized by many in the English-speaking world was  Iota unum (1985), the subtitle of which in Italian translates, A Study in the variations in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century.  In it, by means of a philosophical analysis of the relations between Truth and Life, Amerio strongly criticized the destabilizing changes introduced into ecclesial life by the means adopted to implement the reforms advocated by the documents of the Vatican Council.

When, at the close of his life, Amerio, by then half-blind, sought someone to help him publish the sequal to Iota unum, Stat Veritas (which was published only postumously in 1996), he sought the assitance of Enrico Radaelli.

Enrico Maria Radaelli, the author

Dr. Enrico M. RadaelliLike Amerio, Radaelli is a philosopher in the tradition of St. Thomas, though the latter has devoted his studies in particular to the relations between Truth and Beauty.  Professor of Aestetic Philosophy, and Director of the Dept. of Æstetic Philosophy at the Associazione Internazionale “Sensus communis” (Rome), he collaborated in the chair dedicated to the Philosophy of the Conscience:  Antonio Livi, at the Pontifical Lateran University.  He is the editor of the Opera Omnia of Romano Amerio, and has published several articles in L’Osservatore Romano on the relations of Beauty and Sacred Art. (for a complete list of his publications, see his website).

Il Domani Terribile o Radioso? di Dogma, the Book

Radaelli’s book is prefaced by the English Philosopher Roger Scruton, and by commendatory letters from the Most. Rev. Mario Oliveri, Bishop of Albenga, Italy, Alessandro Gnocchi, Mario Palmaro, and Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, one of the most prestigious Roman theologians of the last 40 years.

You can read Gherardini’s introduction to Radaelli’s book, in an unofficial English translation at http://centreleonardboyle.com/Radaelli.html

Having myself labored for the last decade on an English translation of Bonaventure’s Commentaries on the Sentences of Lombard, I found Radaelli’s book to be a delightful and yet, extremely profound meditation on the nature of Holy Mother Church.

Though a philosopher, Radaelli has recaptured, in my opinion, the ethos of the theology of the High Middle Ages, by his philosophical analysis of what the Church is and must be.

For Radaelli it is not insignificant, but absolutely essential, to Her Nature, to be a spouse, and Her relationship with Her Creator and Redeemer, Christ Jesus, characterizes every aspect of Her being, whether that of the primum esse (the first act, in which essence and existence conjoin) or that of secundum esse (the second act, in which all that is implicit in the first act, is manifested).

As the immaculate Spouse of Him who is the one Master of All, Radaelli argues throughout that it is the inherent and perennial quality of Holy Mother Church to speak in dogmatic language, and that this constitutes the fundament of the beauty of that form of language which is proper to Her.

The scope of the book is to seek an approach to the problem of the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council which would go to the roots of its novelty and explain in principle the necessary consequences of the effects its implementation.

He calls his approach a metaphysical one, or more exactly an estetical one, in the metaphysical sense.  In this analysis, he begins and returns, in a cyclical movement from the transcendentals of being, the good, the true and the beautiful; remarking that the modern habit among intellectuals of glossing over the third transcendental of being, has had a profoundly negative effect on their ability to appreciate the first two.

For Radaelli, as for any philosopher or theologian in the Scholastic tradition, there is no divorcing of the consideration of the transcendentals of being, without dire consequences in the development of human thought, action, or societal organization.

It is for this reason, that the beauty of the Church’s own proper and obligatory manner of speaking, must be a dogmatic one.  Form for Radaelli is the both the language of substance and the substance of language; and hence the form of language both reflects and molds the substance of those who employ it.

From this profound metaphysical principle, Radaelli draws out the deleterious effects which necessarily must follow, if the Church would abandon Her unique, perennial and exclusive devotion to dogmatic language.  And having expounded upon this, he applies his considerations to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, considering them in the light of the effect of the implementation of the reforms as that implementation was enacted and conceived by those who formed their minds and judgements upon an a-critical reading of the documents.

Finally, Radaelli closes his book with an impassioned admonition to the Sacred Hierarchy: if the Church does not return to speaking dogmatically, She will in short time cease to exist in the hearts and minds of men. The “wooden” language of the Council, as Radaelli characterizes it, is one deprived of beauty, and hence of vivifying, truth. A dead thing, which when implemented, must necessarily include some destructive effect in the Church, founded by and wed to Life Himself.

In my opinion, with Il Domani Terribile o Radioso? del Dogma, Radaelli has made the most significant contribution to Ecclesiology in the 21st century, and has mapped out intellectually, the road to resolve all the conflict which the implementation of the Second Vatican Council has been the occasion for engendering in the Church universal.  Radaelli has made an eloquent argument which can serve well both theologians and members of the Hierarchy and Roman Curia in their work of reconciling faith and reason, and ecclesiastical discipline with faith.

The book is a delightful read; uniquely coherent to its own principles, in that it is printed in a form equated to the golden dimension of proportions, famously employed by artists and architects of the ancient world, and rediscovered in the Renaissance. While reading its pages you will taste and hear intellectually the conviviality of faith and reason and how beautiful indeed is their marriage in the mind of one of Italy’s pre-eminent Thomistic philosophers.

Finally, The book is served by a very useful index of persons and places, and a list of Radaelli’s other published works.

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To acquire a copy of this book: Goto Hoepli Bookstore, Coletti Bookstore, or Ebay Italy

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* Many thanks to Enrico Raedelli, for his help in correcting the historical error, found in the online biography, regarding Amerio’s participation at the Council. He was not a peritus, but was a consultor to Msgr. Jelmini. Also, he was never officially condemned, and so “rehabilitated” is only used above, in the sense of being un-blacklisted by the liberal, ecclesiastical press.

Finally, I am honored, that Raedelli, on his own initiative, posted an Italian translation of this review at his own website. You may click here to read it. Thank you, Doctor!

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