The Flesh

David L. Schindler: In Memoriam

David L. Schindler: In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear friend and editor-in-chief of forty years, David L. Schindler (September 16, 1943–November 16, 2022).

Dr. Schindler was involved in the history of Communio: International Catholic Review since its inception in 1972, when, at the Roman café where the founders, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Joseph Ratzinger, Henri de Lubac, SJ, among others, met to discuss the new journal, Joseph Fessio suggested that the then-graduate student David L. Schindler spearhead a North American edition. Dr. Schindler worked as the North American edition’s principal assistant editor until he was appointed editor-in-chief in 1982, a position he held until his death. It was thanks to the profound thought and tireless work of Dr. Schindler that the English-speaking Communio became an important journal within the American Catholic landscape, remaining close to its founding mission to maintain a serene, non-polemic tranquility in the center that is the concrete presence of God’s redemptive love in history.  It is only from this center that Christians can live out the form of existence proper to the faith and can think through the questions of the modern age in a genuinely fruitful way.

Formerly a Weaver Fellow (1972–73) and a Fulbright Scholar (1974–75, Austria), Dr. Schindler taught at Mount St. Mary’s University (1976–79), where he received tenure in 1978, and in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame (1979–92), where he received tenure in 1985. Since 1992, he served as Dean Emeritus and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, DC. Dr. Schindler served as editor of the series “Ressourcement: Retrieval and Renewal in Catholic Thought” with Eerdmans Publishing Company. Dr. Schindler published over eighty articles (translated into nine languages) in the areas of metaphysics, philosophical issues in bioscience and technology, gender, and the relation between theology/philosophy and American culture. He was the author of Heart of the World, Center of the Church: Communio Ecclesiology, Liberalism, and Liberation (T&T Clark and Eerdmans, 1996); Ordering Love: Liberal Societies and the Memory of God (Eerdmans, 2011); Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity: The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom: A New Translation, Redaction History, and Interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae, with Nicholas J. Healy Jr. (Eerdmans and Humanum Academic Press, 2015); and The Generosity of Creation (Humanum Academic Press, 2018). His edited collections included Love Alone is Credible: Hans Urs Von Balthasar as Interpreter of the Catholic Tradition (Eerdmans, 2008); and Wealth, Poverty, and Human Destiny, with Doug Bandow (ISI, 2003). Other edited collections included Beyond Mechanism: The Universe in Recent Physics and Catholic Thought (1986); Act and Agent: Philosophical Foundations of Moral Education, with Jesse Mann and Frederick Ellrod (1986); Catholicism and Secularism in America (1990); and Hans Urs Von Balthasar: His Life and Work (1991). Dr. Schindler was appointed by Pope John Paul II as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 2002 to 2007.  He delivered the McGivney Lectures, the John Paul II Institute’s most prestigious public event, in September 2020, before retiring from teaching in the spring of 2022.

One of the most distinctive dimensions of Dr. Schindler’s thought was his insistence on going to the ontological roots of a given question and illuminating those ontological roots by the central mysteries of revelation. Particularly important in his writing and teaching was his trenchant critique of American liberalism, unmasking its pretentions to offer an empty political and juridical form, free of theological or metaphysical presuppositions, which individuals and private groups could ostensibly fill with whatever comprehensive view they might choose. His work exposed liberalism’s imposition of its own tacit anthropological outlook and standards for theological or metaphysical legitimacy. This decades-long work on the problematic of American culture bore fruit in a profound metaphysics of the person, freedom, love, and the nature of being as gift.

Dr. Schindler’s passion for the truth and his relentless efforts to keep the world awake to the memory of God made a lasting impression on all of those who met him.  He leaves behind countless colleagues and students who have learned from both his teaching and from his example that the Christian faith is not just a set of pious practices but an entire vision of reality.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.