We do not frequently hear much about Saint Bonaventure. However, he is a noted Doctor of the Church and a pupil in the schools of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Francis of Assisi. His writings have influenced the Scholastic age of the Church and perhaps the thoughts and pontificate of Benedict XVI. Today the ZENIT news agency announced a new translation of then Joseph Rat zinger’s treatise on Saint Bonaventure. From the early introductions, it seems the evolving papacy of Pope Benedict XVI is incorporating insights from Bonaventure into our modern Church, while at the same time emphasizing the need to develop global harmony.

If we consider the ministry of Benedict XVI since his canonical election, perhaps the phrase used to describe Saint Bonaventure by St. Francis of Assisi is most appropriate,”O buona ventura!“.The good fortune exclaimed by Francis regarding Bonaventure is indeed good fortune for the life of the Universal Church. In Bonaventurian, theology there is a great appreciation of the desire to achieve harmony and unity among disparate peoples, Christian’s contra Judaism, Platonists contra Neo-Platonist, and so on. In all of his writings and actions, Bonaventure maintained the notion that there is an evolution constantly developing in terms of human harmony. Benedict XVI it seems also advocates such a cosmology of thought.

In the pastoral activities of Benedict, the Church has witnessed the nascent dawn of the age of reconciliation and harmony, while rooted in Catholic tradition. However, it seems the papal epistemology of harmony concentrates very heavily on the teachings and lifestyle of Saint Francis of Assisi and the interpretations of Saint Bonaventure. So far, in the Benedictine papacy the movement towards ideological harmony and theological compromise is far from what was expected of Cardinal Ratzinger.

Benedict XVI has exhibited a paternal call to the great religions of the world to seek out and discuss common beliefs, called for restored conversations on Christian/Jewish and Christian/Islamic dialogues and has even sought to heal the great schism between East and West within our own Catholicism. His theological demeanor is a truly welcome approach to religious harmony and global peace and sanctification through a spiritual foundation based upon the transcendent law of Christian love as compared to an institutional formality of rites and rituals. Even in permitting the restored use of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Father seems to be indicating that there is indeed a sacramental unity that transcends ritual and that fact is what is critically important.

In the Bonaventure thought there is a stage of harmony and universal peace that takes place in the life of the Church. Truly, in our Catholic world we are experiencing a definitive message from the Successor of Saint Peter that calls the Catholic world, and indeed all peoples to an era of cooperation and understanding. O buona ventura! Benedict XVI indeed is a herald of the new age of restored humanity in the Holy Spirit.

Hugh McNichol writes on Catholic topics. He writes a daily blog that deals with Catholic issues. http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com

He can be contacted at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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