Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Theology

Editor-in-Chief: Taliaferro, Charles

1 Issue per year

Open Access
Online
ISSN
2300-6579
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Bergoglio among the Phenomenologists: Encounter, Otherness, and Church in Evangelii gaudium and Amoris laetitia

Kristóf Oltvai
Published Online: 2018-08-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2018-0024

Abstract

Because Jorge Bergoglio’s (Pope Francis’s) pontifical texts depart from his predecessor’s Thomistic vocabulary, critics claim his works deploy an “improvisational” style. Closer analysis reveals, however, that Francis deploys the terminology of French phenomenology after the “theological turn.” In fact, Evangelii gaudium and Amoris laetitia frame the event of interpersonal encounter using three concepts drawn from Emmanuel Levinas’s and Jean-Luc Marion’s philosophical projects: the gaze, the face, and the other. Without ruling out a direct textual influence, I argue that Bergoglio’s theology of encounter highlights recent phenomenology’s implications for Catholic moral theology and ecclesiology. Faith is born of an encounter with the merciful gaze of a specific other - Jesus Christ. The Church, as the community that bears witness to this gaze, is thus called to eniconize this same gaze for “the least of these” (Matt 25:40). Not obviating the need for moral precepts, the encounter with the particular other becomes the condition of their possibility; moral norms only cohere within the context of the pastoral “face-to-face.” The main ecclesiological consequence of the “pastoral turn” Bergoglio initiates is thus a “kerygmatic hermeneutic” of the Church: the community of believers turns outward to encounter the other in mercy, evangelizing by example and charity.

Keywords: accompaniment; ecclesiology; face; Pope Francis; kerygma; Emmanuel Levinas; Jean-Luc Marion; moral theology; pastoral theology; theological turn

References

  • Bergoglio, Jorge (Francis). Amoris laetitia. Post-synodal apostolic exhortation. March 19, 2016. Boston: Pauline Books, 2016.Google Scholar

  • Bergoglio, Jorge (Francis). Evangelii gaudium. Apostolic exhortation. November 23, 2014. Erlanger, Ky.: Dynamic Catholic, 2014.Google Scholar

  • Finnis, John, and Germain Grisez. “The misuse of Amoris laetitia to support errors against the Catholic faith” (open letter). November 21, 2016. <http://www.twotlj.org/OW-MisuseAL.pdf>Google Scholar

  • Lévinas, Emmanuel. “Ethics as First Philosophy.” In The Lévinas Reader, edited by Seán Hand, 75-87. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989.Google Scholar

  • Lévinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969 [1961].Google Scholar

  • Marion, Jean-Luc. In Excess: Studies of Saturated Phenomena. Translated by Robyn Horner and Vincent Berraud. New York: Fordham University Press, 2002 [2001].Google Scholar

  • Marion, Jean-Luc. Givenness and Revelation. Translated by Stephen E. Lewis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.Google Scholar

  • Marion, Jean-Luc. Prolegomena to Charity. Translated by Stephen E. Lewis. New York: Fordham University Press, 2002 [1986].Google Scholar

  • Ratzinger, Joseph (Benedict XVI). Caritas in veritate. Encyclical letter. June 29, 2009. Vatican website <http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate.html>Google Scholar

  • Reno, Russell Ronald. “Francis’s Improv Theology.” First Things, June 17, 2016. <https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/06/franciss-improv-theology>Google Scholar

  • Reno, Russell Ronald. “Theology After the Revolution.” First Things, May 2007. <https://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/05/theology-after-the-revolution>Google Scholar

  • Zizioulas, John. Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church. Edited by Paul McPartlan. New York: T&T Clark, 2006.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2018-06-08

Accepted: 2018-08-02

Published Online: 2018-08-25


Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 316–324, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2018-0024.

Export Citation

© by Kristóf Oltvai, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in