WHY BOTHER?
If Everyone Is Saved...

January 2001By Dale Vree

Dale Vree is Editor of the NOR.

In "The Public Square" section of First Things (June/July 2000), Fr. Richard John Neuhaus expressed dismay that the NEW OXFORD REVIEW would contest Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar on the issue of Hell. Fr. Neuhaus was referring to the article, "The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar" by Fr. Regis Scanlon (NOR, March 2000).

Neuhaus said: "Balthasar was held in highest esteem by Cardinal Ratzinger, and, shortly before his death in 1988, the Pope announced that he would be made a cardinal. I don't know what NOR is up to by attacking Balthasar. Whether one can be more orthodox than the Magisterium is doubtful. Why one would want to be is puzzling." In other words, the NOR was presuming to be more orthodox than the Magisterium when it published Fr. Scanlon's article.

On the matter of Balthasar, Fr. Neuhaus apparently has a more expansive understanding of the Magisterium than the Magisterium has of itself. Look! Just because Cardinal Ratzinger holds a theologian in highest esteem and the Pope announces that that theologian is to be made a cardinal does not mean that everything -- or anything -- that theologian wrote before being raised to the episcopate is part of the Magisterium.

Fr. Neuhaus also noted that he had just published a book pertaining to the question of Hell, Death on a Friday Afternoon (Basic Books). I, as Editor of the NOR, took that as a nudge, and read it.


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