Thursday, January 17, 2008

"When Küng and Von Hildebrand Came to Loyola"

Here is a truly amazing article on the respective visits by Hans Küng and Dietrich von Hildebrand to Loyola University of Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount University) in the 1970-71 academic year, as related by Michael Healy of Franciscan University, who was a student there at the time, "When Küng and Von Hildebrand Came to Loyola" (, January 17, 2008). What is particularly fascinating is the respective receptions the two guests received and the impressions they left. Influenced by the prevailing opinions at the liberal Jesuit Marymount at the time, Healy writes:
Imagine my surprise, then, when I happily went to see the great Küng -- before whom the red carpet had been unrolled, before whom the Jesuits bowed and scraped, hoping they were making a good impression, hoping that they would be seen as avant-garde as the leading European thinkers -- and instead had one of the most negative reactions to any person I have met in my life. The look on his face, the tone of his voice, the way he held himself, the manner of his response to questions, all combined to give me the most powerful impression of someone immensely pleased with himself, actually encouraging those around him to flatter him (and they happily obliged). The main point of his talk seemed to be that everything that ails either the Catholic or the protestant churches would be solved if they would only listen to Hans Küng.

By the end of Küng's talk, I was extremely suspicious of his view of the Church, and therefore of the prevailing "Jesuit" view at Loyola. I was beginning to think that my own insights might be worth something, compared with those of the crowd. For this important step toward maturity, I shall be forever grateful to Hans Küng.

However, it wasn't until I went to hear the von Hildebrands -- despite Jesuit disapproval -- that all of this really fell into place in a positive way....

[Dietrich von Hildebrand] stood up . . . and spoke passionately and lovingly of Christ and the Church, using phrases I had not heard since grammar school, like "the Holy Roman Catholic Church."

I was left several impressions that came together almost immediately.

First, here was someone who really believed, who humbly accepted revelation from God. He was not intent on figuring out how to get around Church teachings but on how to live them. Secondly, here was someone who really loved Christ and the Church with all his heart. He was full of gratitude for the Church, for its authority, its teachings, its sacraments. He was not resentful of the Church or her authority.

Third, here was a true apostle, proclaiming the truth -- rather than his own truth -- in season and out of season, ready to stand joyfully with Christ and the Church even when human opinion showered him with ridicule. . . . Finally, here was someone full of joy and hope, despite his deep sorrow over and reasoned critique of what was going on in the Church.

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