August 31, 2022

Last interview with Hans Urs von Balthasar


Hans Urs von Balthasar (12 August 1905 – 26 June 1988) was a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest who is considered an important Catholic theologian of the 20th century. He was announced as his choice to become a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, but died shortly before the consistory. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) said in his funeral oration for von Balthasar that "he is right in what he teaches of the faith" and that he "points the way to the sources of living water".

Balthasar's major writings have been translated into English, and the journal he co-founded with Henri de Lubac, Karl Lehmann, and Joseph Ratzinger, Communio, currently appears in 12 languages. In delivering his eulogy, Ratzinger, quoting de Lubac, called Balthasar "perhaps the most cultured man of our time". In March 2018, together with Adrienne von Speyr, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chur formally opened their cause towards canonisation.

An excerpt from, "Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Primer" By Tom Gourlay, October 13, 2017:

Born on 12 August 1905 in Lucerne, Switzerland, to an incredibly gifted family of considerable wealth, Hans Urs von Balthasar is a luminary in the history of twentieth-century Catholic theology, and “widely regarded as the greatest Catholic theologian of the century.” He was educated firstly by Benedictine monks at the abbey school at Engelberg in central Switzerland, but prior to completing his secondary education, he was moved by his parents to the Stella Matutina College run by the Jesuits in Feldkirch, Austria.

After completing his high school education, he went on to study German literature and idealism, achieving a doctorate in this field. A man of considerable culture, he could have been a professional pianist. This literary and artistic training was to serve his theological imagination in later years, such that for many of those involved in theology following him found literature as a locus theologicus. This literary and artistic influence early in his life also served to inspire his option for Goethe over Kant, which was to significantly colour his theological output—becoming a significant point of distinction from his theological rival, the German Jesuit, Karl Rahner.

Video Title: Last interview with Hans Urs von Balthasar. Source: Ignatius Press. Date Published: January 19, 2017.