International Dehonian Theological Commission

An image of the members on Google Meet: Arthur Sanecki, Stefan Tertünte, Michael Augustin (Ind), Joseph Kuate (Cam), Manuel Antonio Texeira (Ven), Stephano Zamboni (It) and Jakub Bieszczad. Absent: John van den Hengel (Can)

On December4 -6 the International Dehonian Theological Commission met by Google Meet. Present were the Coordinator of Centro Studi in Rome, Fr. Stefan Tertünte, Fr. Artur Sanecki, General Councilor, and the coordinators of the commissions of the five continents. The Commission meets once a year.

Fr. General Carlos Luis gave a brief introductory statement, encouraging the commission to help the Congregation to walk in the way of our charism today in this world – so different from even a year ago.

The meeting began with a review of the activities of each of the continental theological commissions. Each commission has its own theological agenda for their meetings throughout the year, such as Asia who has begun to examine the meaning of reparation in the Asian context or Europe who has undertaken a study of Dehon’s Couronnes d’amour. This exchange of information is valuable because it allows the Commission members to see the broad range of interest of the continental commissions.

Also Centro Studi gave an overview of its activities. Some of the information of Centro Studi:

  1. The papers of the Sacred Heart Congress held at the Generalate in November 2019 have now been published in a volume with the title Sacred Heart Devotion. It has just been published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, Germany. The academic papers were read by mainly historians and theologians. The cost of the volume is 70 euro.
  2. The book of David Neuhold on Fr. Dehon has now been translated into Italian (Stepano Zamboni), English (John van den Hengel), and Spanish (Juan José Arnaiz Ecker). The English version will also appear in digital form on the website of Centro Studi.
  3. The website of Centro Studi will also publish the biography of Fr. Dehon by Bishop Joseph Philippe, the second Superior General. The biography is noteworthy because it provides a perspective of Fr. Dehon by someone who was very close to him. As Stefan Tertünte remarked: “The last years have shown the value of the writings of Fr. Dehon. Dehon displayed a deep spiritual method.”
  4. The website has also updated the publication of the letters of Fr. Dehon. Centro Studi has uncovered more than 10.000 letters and has transcribed them. Currently his letters up to 1901 have been edited and can be found on the Congregational website.

Other topics of discussion on the agenda of the International Commission meeting were:

The Constitutions are under discussion again. A number of members of the Congregation have indicated a desire to re-read and revitalize the constitutions. They have found that the text of the Constitutions reflects too strongly the optimism of the church after Vatican II and insufficiently the contemporary way of reading our spirituality. The Commission proposed to the General Administration that a committee be set up to undertake this rereading and revitalization of the Constitutions.

The Theological Seminar on Sint Unum

The Commission also did an evaluation of the Theological Seminar on Sint Unum of last July. As a first experience of a virtual meeting, most found that the Seminar was successful. It certainly reduced the cost of holding such a seminar. Although the final statement of the seminar was highly praised, the commission found that the results of the meeting were not sufficiently practical. As a consequence, the commission asked that each member to write a 4-10 page submission on how he would apply the results of the seminar in his own area, to assess the obstacles to Sint Unum in his continent, and to consider ways of resolving the obstacles. These papers would be circulated among the members of the International Commission. The results would be presented to the General Council by June 2021.

COVID 19

Since it is the aim of the Theological Commission to promote a theological and cultural reflection on urgent, current issues, the Commission discussed each member to reflect on the impact of COVID 19 upon our lives. What have learned this past year? The result of the reflections will be passed on to the General Administration.

General Conference 2021

The General Administration also asked for input in the determination of the topic of the 2021 General Conference. Our General Directory says that during the course of the mandate of a Superior General he is to call a General Conference “of a consultative nature” (Const. 139). The Conference next year will be held in 2021 and will probably be virtual. The topic is not yet fully determined but the General Administration is thinking of having a discussion on the teaching of Pope Francis as found in Laudato si, Fratelli tutti, Evangelii Gaudium and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Christus vivit and how it might impact our understanding of the D ehonian charism. Originally a General Conference was to slated for Manilla in 2018 but with the appointment of the previous Superior General as Bishop of Hildesheim, the Conference was replaced with a General Chapter. Much has happened since 2018 and the Congregation is finding itself in a different place today. The Commission encouraged the exploration of the topic and is asking the Continental Theological Commissions to become involved in the discussions on the topic and the modality of the General Conference.

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