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 journals Editor finds this suggestion of mine a brave one, given the NORs 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 Churchs presence in the struggle for authentic community than Vatican IIs 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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