06 January 2014

Canonize Dietrich von Hildebrand

George Weigel has described Pope Blessed John Paul II’s 129 Wednesday General Audiences from September 1979 to November 1984 as “one of the boldest reconfigurations of Catholic theology in centuries.” He goes on to say it is a “kind of theological time bomb set to go off with dramatic consequences, sometime in the third millennium of the Church.” Weigel believes that it has barely begun to “shape the Church’s theology, preaching, and religious education” but when it does “it will compel a dramatic development of thinking about virtually every major theme in the Creed.”

Pope John Paul II based this work on the work of Dietrich von Hildebrand, having most, if not all of his books, some of which were published before Karol Wojtyła (Pope John Paul II) had even been ordained a priest.  Pope Venerable Pius XII informally referred to Dietrich von Hildebrand as “the 20th Century Doctor of the Church."  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “When the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time.” And, Pope John Paul II said to Alice von Hildebrand  in a private audience towards the beginning of his pontificate, “Your husband is one of the great ethicists of the twentieth century.”

Given his exceptional example of holiness, sanctity and virtue, should not the possibility of Dietrich von Hildebrand being canonized a saint be more than legitimate? Given his great influence in every aspect of the Faith, should not the words of Pope Pius XII be considered possibly prophetic in declaring Dietrich von Hildebrand a Doctor of the Church?

Incidentally, Pope John Paul II’s words to the widow of Dietrich von Hildebrand were in regard to her question regarding the suppression of the Tridentine Mass. Regarding the Novus Ordo Missae, Dietrich von Hildebrand said, “Truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better.”