“Analecta Gregoriana” 322
2013, pp. 254
This book begins: ”Bernard Lonergan’s social concern took root in 1930 and remained a key factor guiding his intellectual career until he died in 1984”. Succeeding chapters offer a biographical overview of Lonergan’s intellectual development and his interest in articulating how we are called to collaborate with God’s plan to redeem history. The author also suggests that there are two reasons why many students of Lonergan’s thought are not aware of this social concern. First, early in his career Lonergan made a strategic decision to address foundational questions in philosophy and theological method that constituted what he understood to be a “withdrawal from practicality for the sake of practicality”. This decision would lead him to write two books that would make him famous. Insight: A study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972), but in which his social concern is not immediately evident. Second, by the end of Lonergan’s life his exploration of foundational questions was not complete; it would fall to his disciple, Robert Doran, to both develop this foundational reflection and to make explicit how it should be applied to issues of social concern. The author concentrates on Doran’s Theology and Dialectics of History (1990) and notes how Doran enters into a nuanced engagement with theologies of liberation of Latin America, offers an innovative explanation of an option for the poor; and explains how the “situation” should be a source of systematic theology. The final chapter offers examples of Doran’s theological method being applied in different ways, including by the author when he was pastor of a poor parish in Nairobi. The book concludes with comments on convergences between the thought of Lonergan, Doran, and Pope Francis.
Gerard Whelan is an Irish Jesuit who teaches fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He holds an MA in economics and a PhD in systematic theology. He is currently the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO). Before moving to Rome he lived for fourteen years in Africa, mostly in Kenya. There his ministries included: teaching practical theology at Hekima College, the Jesuit School of theology; being an advisor to the delegation of the Holy See to the United Nations organization, UN-HABITAT; and being pastor of a poor parish on the outskirts of Nairobi.