Follow Christian truth
Agnieszka Dziarmaga talks to Fr Prof. Stanislaw Cardinal Nagy, SCJ
Agnieszka Dziarmaga: - Why have you taken to fundamental theology in your scientific research?
Cardinal Nagy: - My decision to focus on fundamental theology is connected with the person of Father Professor Marian Morawski, Krakow scholar of fundamental theology, who simply charmed me. With all his great knowledge he was simple and easy to understand. He popularised his knowledge at the University and from the pulpit. During the war, when I was a seminarian, he delivered homilies that contained obvious elements of fundamental theology. I was certainly influenced by that outstanding figure. I wrote my Master's thesis on fundamental theology under his supervision at the Jagiellonian University. Since then I have been faithful to that line of my 'love' and I have followed that way. Although I must admit that I like dogmatic theology as well. The continuation of this interest was my doctoral dissertation at the Catholic University of Lublin. It was about the functioning of the Teaching Office in the early Church. Then I became a lecturer in this field, which I have never regretted. Being in the environment of scholars dealing with fundamental theology at the University in Lublin, I experienced the crisis of fundamental theology together with them, but I have never felt discouraged at my beloved field.
- When you were learnt about your nomination did you think that one of the reason the Holy Father nominated you cardinal was to acknowledge your efforts in developing theology and popularising its truths?
- In fact, you can accept such an assumption in my reasoning. I think I have not become cardinal of the Catholic Church in recognition of my merits in pastoral ministry or great organisational endeavours. There must have been another reason and it could have been fundamental theology, which I shared with the Holy Father. It was especially connected with the period when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla participated in the Second Vatican Council and the subjects of fundamental theology were many a time on his way. I have the impression that the Holy Father noticed me as a convinced theologian, a theologian who did not narrow his research only to that field but also spoke about dogmatic theology. I am thankful to the Holy Father that he so highly evaluated me.
- What is your opinion about the present achievements and research in fundamental theology?
- Poland has rendered great, historical services to that field, commencing with the times of the Counter-Reformation when such eminent figures as Cardinal Stanislaw Hozjusz or Fr Stanislaw Sokolowski made the Polish thought concerning fundamental theology play an outstanding role in the whole Church. Unfortunately, this golden period is rather gone forever. However, there was some revival at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century, with such eminent fundamental theologians as Szydelski, Kwiatkowski and Bartynowski. We can speak about the peak development of fundamental theology in the post-conciliar period, connected with the priests: Myskow, Kubis, Kopec, Rusecki and Hladowski. They contributed considerably to theology, taking for example their monumental work 'Leksykon teologii fundamentalnej' (Lexicon of Fundamental Theology). The environment of Kielce is proud of many excellent representatives, for example Bishop Jaroszewicz, Fr Zuberbier, Fr Kudasiewicz, 'the star in the sky' of Polish theology. No wonder, fundamental theology, represented by Fr Chat and today his successor Fr Borto, must have had a suitably high level.
- Can one mention concrete challenges, which the Church faces today, in the light of the evaluation of the knowledge in fundamental theology?
- This is an extremely essential issue. I think that for the first time in Poland's history there is a great need for intellectual activity and emphasis on the role of reason in faith because for the first time Christianity has been attacked in such a frontal way on its fundamental assumptions, especially concerning the existence of God, of Christ and the divine origin of the Church. Apart from the lack of knowledge of our believers, needed to justify these three fundamental theses, there are just intentional activities to undermine these theses and to fight against them. Therefore, today fundamental theology is particularly needed. The Holy Father John Paul II spoke about that very strongly. Moreover, we need the branch of fundamental theology, which is apology. It aims at showing intellectual values that can be acknowledged in the whole Catholic dogma. To follow the Christian truth step by step and show its content in its whole beauty and usefulness. Briefly speaking, this is how I understand the exercise of true fundamental theology today, both for the use of believers and for the use of non-believers.
- Thank you very much for the conversation.
The symposium entitled 'The Christological-fundamental Inspiration of John Paul II' was held in Kielce on 19-21 September 2005. There were 60 specialists in fundamental theology. The Association of Polish Fundamental Theologians, chaired by Father Professor Marian Rusecki, PhD, organizes annual meetings. This year the venue was in Kielce. Talks were delivered by eminent specialists and representatives of various academic centres in Poland. One of the wonderful moments of the meeting was the conferral of the Honorary Membership on outstanding and meritorious personalities in this field. There were: Fr Prof. Dr. Stanislaw Cardinal Nagy, Fr Prof. Dr. Jozef Kudasiewicz, Fr Prof. Dr. Adam Kubis, Fr Prof. Dr. Wojciech Tabaczynski and Fr Dr. Edward Chat. The Society also conferred its Honorary Membership on Fr. Prof. Dr. Kazimierz Ryczan, Bishop of Kielce, as the expression of gratitude and recognition of his achievements.
Fundamental theology is a branch of theology dealing with bases (fundamentals) of faith, such issues as God's revelation, ways to discern it, reasons to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, his historical existence, death on the death and resurrection, supernatural character of the Church, its divine origin and mission as well as issues concerning Christian understanding of other religions. This is the branch of theology, which gives rational foundations of faith and can justify them.
Specialists in the field of fundamental theology use interchangeably the term 'fundamentalistics'. The very term sometimes causes funny misunderstandings, which result from the association with fundamentalism. Fundamental theology has nothing to do with fundamentalism.