When, after having returned to her senses, the Catholic Church begins the work of digesting and cataloging the events of what will be known as the Modernist Crisis so as to immunize herself against future outbreaks of this most pernicious of diseases, it will do well to remember the important role played by one particular actor: Heinrich Fries.
|Cardinal Kasper and Heinrich Fries|
Heinrich Fries (1911-1998) was professor of Fundamental and Ecumenical Theology at the University of Munich, collaborated with both Karl Rahner and the young Joseph Ratzinger, and served as something of a mentor to his one-time student, Walter Kasper. An evaluation of the work of Heinrich Fries allows us to understand the Modernist's plans for Catholic ecclesiology - not to mention anything and everything Pope Francis says on the subject. Observe:
To believe in and understand the Church as work of the Spirit means to be mindful of its life and vitality, to protect it from narrowness and inflexibility, and from fear and faintheartedness as well as from dissolution and lack of orientation. It means, in addition, that its own renewal in the Church's constant task, a task that is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit as the soul of the community of believers. To believe in and understand the Church as work of the Spirit means to make a place in it for the new, the unexpected, the future, according to the injunction, "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thess. 5:19); it means, further, to acknowledge that the Spirit of God blows when and where and how it wills, that it cannot be preordained, or chained, or manipulated and regimented. Among the signs of the activity of the Spirit of the Church are the prophets in the Church, the charismatics, often too the uncomfortable critics who understand criticism as faithful engagement, the ones who push towards new turning points and leave their mark on history. (Heinrich Fries, Fundamental Theology, p. 502)
One could be forgiven for assuming that the above is a quote from Pope Francis. Indeed, the harmony between the thoughts of Pope Francis and the words of Heinrich Fries is so great that, under a different set of circumstances, the former could be accused of having plagiarized the latter. As it stands, we have to wonder whether Fries' Fundamental Theology has a place of honor in Pope Francis' personal library.