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Journet, Charles


Swiss cardinal and theologian; b. Vernier near Geneva, Jan. 26, 1891, d. Fribourg, April 15, 1975. After classical studies in Geneva and Mariahilf College, Schwyz, and St. Michael's College, Fribourg, he entered the diocesan major seminary in Fribourg. Ordained to the priesthood on July 15, 1917, he was appointed professor of dogmatic theology in the same seminary on Sept. 25, 1924, and remained on the faculty until 1970. In 1926 he founded with F. Charrière the theological journal Nova et vetera, of which he remained the editor for most of his career. In 1965 he was named titular archbishop and cardinal. He was a member of the preconciliar theological commission for vatican council ii and made several significant interventions during the council. In addition to his theological teaching and writing he was also active in other pastoral activities in both Geneva and Fribourg, where he is remembered for his humility and gracious wit. He maintained a lifelong friendship and correspondence with Jacques Maritain.

Journet is customarily identified with the thomism practiced by J. maritain, E. gilson, and the French Dominicans generally. Indeed, he describes his masterwork as "a comprehensive work in which I hope to explain the church, from the standpoint of speculative theology, in terms of the four causes from which she results efficient, material, formal and final. This work is to be in four books" (The Church of the Word Incarnate. An Essay in Speculative Theology, v. 1, The Apostolic Hierarchy, tr. by A. H. C. Downes [New York 1955] xxv). Unfortunately only this first volume appeared in English. The original French, L'Église du Verbe incarné was published in Paris by Desclée de Brouwer et Cie. in 1941, 1951, and 1969. While remaining deeply indebted to St. Thomas, he posed significant challenges to the neo scholasticism of his time. Although ecclesiology was his speciality, Cardinal Journet's works indicate his other interests: L'Esprit du Protestantisme (Paris 1925) and L'Union des Églises (Paris 1927); mysticism and the knowledge of God, The Dark Knowledge of God, tr. J. F. Anderson (London 1948) and Introduction à la Théologie (Paris 1947); and The Primacy of Peter from the Protestant and from the Catholic Point of View, tr. John Chapin (Westminster, Md., 1954); and the Christian-Muslim dialogue, Théologie de l'Église (Paris 1958) and "Qui est membre de l'Église," Nova et vetera, 36 (1961) 199203; and The Meaning of Evil, tr. Michael Barry (New York 1963), which are still significant. Journet and Yves Congar carried on a prolonged discussion about the status of the sinner in the holy Church from 1953 when Congar reviewed v. 2 of La Théologie du Verbe incarné. These reviews and other remarks by Congar have been collected in Journet's Sainte Église (Paris 1963) 618669. According to Journet, as late as 1965, "the church is indeed not without sinners, but it is without sin. " See his "Il carattere teandrico della Chiesa fonte di tensione permanente," in G. Baraúna, ed., La Chiesa del Vaticano II (Florence 1965) 361. Congar, on the other hand, expressed what is today the more commonly accepted view that the Church itself is sinful, thus avoiding awkward distinctions between sinful member and holy Church, which end up making the Church not a real, historical People of God, but an imaginary construct.

Cardinal Journet will be justly remembered for his contributions to the theological model of the Church as the mystical body of christ. His Thomistic background enabled him to maintain the balance between the Church's visible and invisible dimensions, which had been so severely sundered in previous theology. Likewise, his Thomistic sacramental insight enabled him to understand that the ecclesial institution and structure form the sacramentum of the more mystical inner life of grace of the Church. His ecclesiology was a significant contribution to the spirit and theology which matured at Vatican II.

Journet is perhaps found by the generation after his death to be too conceptualist, too "scholastic," too beholden to abstract thought. His true spirit, however, is better indicated by the dedication of his masterwork not only to the Doctors Augustine and Thomas but also to the Virgin Catherine of Siena, and especially by a quotation from the Persian Bisthami, which concludes his The Dark Knowledge of God (122): "For thirty years I travelled in search of God, and when, at the end of this time, I opened my eyes, I saw that it was He Who sought me. A voice cried to me: O Abu Yazid, what is it you desire? I replied: I desire to desire nothing, for I am the desired and You are He Who desires!"

Bibliography: s. jaki, Les tendances nouvelles de l'écclésiologie (Rome 1957). d. m. doyle, "Journet, Congar, and the Roots of Communion Ecclesiology," Theological Studies, 58 (Sept. 1997) 461479. p.-m. emonet, "Le Cardinal Journet: Portrait intérieur (Chambray-les-Tours 1983). l. mÉroz, Le Cardinal Journet, ou La sainte théologie (Lausanne 1981). p. chenaux, ed., Charles Journet (18911975): Un théolgien en son siècle: Actes du colloque de Genève, 1991 (Fribourg 1992).

[r. kress/

d. m. doyle]

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