Summer 2009

Introduction: Paternity

Jean-Pierre Batut, in “Calling Fathers ‘Father’:Usurping the Name of God?” explores the profound difference between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood. A human father must have been originated in order to become an originator: human fatherhood is, definitively, the fatherhood of a son. As the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ reveals the mystery of a Father who is the Origin without origin. At the same time, the teaching of the Council of Nicaea (325) confirms that God is not first he who is without origin, but he who gives origin, in others words, the Father. As Father, God is the Source who gives rise to other sources (cf. Eph 3:14–16).

Tony Anatrella, in “Disappearing Fathers, Destabilized Families,” shows how the family is the basic reference point that allows for the psychological development and education of a child. “The problem of the absence of the father,” Anatrella argues, “cannot be dissociated from the more general problem of the disintegration of the traditional family that allows a child to flourish.” The neglect of the family’s responsibility for educating the child is bound up with a denial that the father and mother have distinct tasks in the procreation and upbringing of a child.

Anthony Fisher, in “HIV and Condoms Within Marriage,” addresses the difficult question of whether Catholic agencies and professionals should distribute or promote the use of condoms as a preventative strategy for HIV-discordant married couples. Drawing on the work of Elizabeth Anscombe and John Paul II, Fisher concludes that “condomized intercourse of HIV-discordant spouses is non-marital because it is not apt for generation (proles), for marital union (fides) or for spiritual communion (sacramentum).”

Retrieving the Tradition returns to the theme of “paternity” with a selection from Marie-Joseph le Guillou’s book The Mystery of the Father. Le Guillou’s point of departure is the solidarity between theological thought devoted to the mystery of the Trinity and philosophical thought devoted to being. For the Christian, “the first and last reason for the creative communication of being is seen as grounded in the inner-trinitarian communication of being and in the pure generosity that characterizes it.” One who is able to name the absolute personal source of everything in God and in God’s creation “will be kept from all temptation to situate himself over against the real is if he were himself that source, whether as individual or as spokesman for humanity, or as engineer of the world or of history.”

Finally, Notes and Comments closes the issue with Juan de Dios Larrú’s “John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and His Roman Triptych,” which traces the close connection between John Paul II’s catechesis on human love in the divine plan and the poem that he composed in Polish in 2002. Both texts converge on the fundamental unity of creation and redemption: each man is called into being through love, and simultaneously called to love in response to God’s gift of communion.