Doran, Robert (2006) Why Lonergan? Transcript of his talk at the Launch of the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute at Seton Hall University.
Thus, as we celebrate the opening of the Lonergan Center at Seton Hall, perhaps we can focus as well on the formalized networking of the various Centers, on a planned coordination of collaborative projects, and on an electronic linking of both written documents and recorded lectures, conferences, and workshops. I hope it is not inappropriate to close my remarks by asking the Center at Seton Hall to reflect on its own participation in this networking. And perhaps I can suggest some ways in which you might do this.
I would currently identify three major ongoing projects along the lines of developing and implementing Lonergan’s work: the collaborative construction of a contemporary Catholic systematic theology, the development of Lonergan’s macroeconomic theory, and the work of interreligious understanding and dialogue. I can envision the work of Professor Ranieri contributing to the third of these, for it is becoming increasingly clear that the central problem emerging in the field of interreligious understanding has to do with the relation of religion and violence, and no one has made a more profound contribution to unpacking the dynamics of that relation than René Girard. And obviously, the work of Professor Martin would be central to the work of developing Lonergan’s macroeconomic theory. And the very establishment of this Center in this area of the United States, with your easy access to large metropolitan environments – that is, the work of Monsignor Liddy – is what makes it possible for this institution to play a vital role in the international networking of something that is far bigger than any of us considered singly and in isolation from the rest.
In one of his most important papers, ‘Natural Right and Historical Mindedness,’ Bernard Lonergan focused on the issue of collective responsibility. He makes the rather startling statement at the beginning of the paper that “collective responsibility is not yet an established fact.” But, he suggests, “it may be a possibility. Further, it may be a possibility that we can realized. Finally, it may be a possibility that it is desirable to realize.” Let my final words, then, be an exhortation to Seton Hall University and its newly established Lonergan Center to be part of the dream of realizing this possibility of collective responsibility for our world, for our Church, for the future of humankind, the possibility that the work of Bernard Lonergan has done so much to promote.