A Personalist Vision

March 1989By James G. Hanink

James G. Hanink is Associate Editor of the NOR and Profes­sor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Are those of us gathered round the NOR personalists? It seems to me that we are — or ought to be — personalists, and that the NOR would do well to declare itself such. This journal’s Editor finds this suggestion of mine a “brave” one, given the NOR’s aversion to labels (see the Nov. 1987 editorial). In­deed, he invites a full discussion of this very propos­al.

There is, of course, no question that the NOR, in addition to being ecumenical in spirit, is also firm­ly Catholic. So the issue of personalism is one that we need to explore from the heart of the Church.

Broadly taken, personalism is a social vision based on the transcendent dignity of the human per­son. A rough statement of such a vision is easy enough: persons flourish only in community, and community exists only insofar as it reverences per­sons. There is no finer expression of the Church’s presence in the struggle for authentic community than Vatican II’s pledge:
The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especial­ly those who are poor or in any way af­flicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely hu­man fails to raise an echo in their hearts (Gaudium et Spes, No. 1).
Nearly 25 years after Vatican II, these words have become familiar to us.

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