The find gentleman Sandro Magister has a very good piece today on his site about the return to view of two volumes by Italian-Swiss author Romano Amerio, namely Iota Unum and Stat Veritas.
These are very good books. It is very interesting that these volumes seem to be coming back into view.
Iota Unum is available in English and it is an important read, especially now that we have been as a Church refocused through a hermeneutic of reform and continuity, rather than of rupture.
Here is the first part of Magister’s piece. Go to his place for the rest.
My emphases and comments.
Grand Returns. "Iota unum" and "Stat veritas" by Romano Amerio
Two outstanding works of Catholic culture are returning to the bookstores. And the taboo on one of the greatest Christian intellectuals of the twentieth century is crumbling definitively. The question he highlights is also at the center of Benedict XVI’s pontificate: how much can the Church change, and in what way?
by Sandro Magister
ROME, July 15, 2009 – As of tomorrow, two volumes that have taken their place among the classics of Catholic culture will return to Italian bookstores, published by Lindau. Their content is in striking harmony with the title and foundation of Benedict XVI’s third encyclical: "Caritas in Veritate." [I must go back and reread, I think.]
The author of the two volumes is Romano Amerio, the Swiss scholar, philosopher, and theologian who passed away in 1997 at the age of 92. One of his great admirers, the theologian and mystic Don Divo Barsotti, summed up their contents as follows:
"Amerio essentially says that the gravest evils present today in Western thought, including Catholic thought, are mainly due to a general mental disorder according to which ‘caritas’ is put before ‘veritas’, without considering that this disorder also overturns the proper conception that we should have of the Most Holy Trinity." ["caritas" out of harmony with "veritas"…]
In effect, Amerio saw precisely in this overturning of the primacy of Logos over love [and who knows what some people think "love" is these days] – or in a charity separated from truth – the root of many of the "variations of the Catholic Church in the 20th century": the variations that he described and subjected to criticism in the first and more commanding of the two volumes cited: "Iota unum," written between 1935 and 1985; the variations that led him to question whether with them, the Church had not become something other than itself. [Folks, in the English speaking world it might be hard to imagine what sort of reaction there was to Iota Unum in the Italian speaking environment of Rome.]
Many of the variations analyzed in "Iota unum" – although just one of them would suffice, one "iota," according to Matthew 5:18, from which the book’s title is taken – would lead the reader to think that there has been an essential mutation in the Church. But Amerio analyzes, he does not judge. Or better, as the fully formed Christian that he is, he leaves the judgment of God. And he recalls that "portae inferi non praevalebunt," meaning that for the faith, it is impossible to think that the Church could lose its way. There will always be continuity with Tradition, even if it is amid turbulence that obscures it and leads one to think the contrary. [Timely.]
There is a close connection between the questions posed in "Iota unum" and Benedict XVI’s address to the Roman curia on December 22, 2005, a fundamental address in terms of the interpretation of Vatican Council II and its relationship with Tradition. [And talks with the SSPX?]
This does not change the fact that the state of the Church as described by Amerio is anything but peaceful.
In the address on December 22, 2005, Benedict XVI compared the babel of the contemporary Church with the upheaval in the fourth century after the Council of Nicaea, described at the time by Saint Basil as "a naval battle in the darkness of a storm."
In the afterword that Enrico Maria Radaelli, a loyal disciple of Amerio, publishes at the end of this revised edition of "Iota unum," the current situation is instead compared to the Western Schism, meaning the forty years between the 14th and 15th centuries before the Council of Constance, with Christianity leaderless and without a sure "rule of the faith," divided between two or even three popes at one time.
In any case, republished now years later, "Iota unum" reasserts itself as a book that is not only extraordinarily relevant, but "constructively Catholic," in harmony with the Church’s magisterium. In the afterword, Radaelli demonstrates this in an irrefutable way. The conclusion of the afterword is presented further below. [You will want to check that out.]
As for the second book, "Stat veritas," published by Amerio in 1985, it is in linear continuity with the previous one. It compares the doctrine of Catholic Tradition with the "variations" that the author identifies in two texts of the magisterium of John Paul II: the apostolic letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," November 10, 1994, and the address at the Collegium Leoninum in Paderborn on June 24, 1996.
The return to the bookstores of "Iota unum" and "Stat veritas" brings justice both to their author and to the de facto censorship that for long years bore down on both of these consummate books of his. In Italy, the first edition of "Iota unum" was reprinted three times for a total of seven thousand copies, despite the fact that it ran to almost seven hundred pages of demanding reading. It was then translated into French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch. It reached tens of thousands of readers all over the world. But for official Catholic bodies and Church authorities it was taboo, as of course it was for its adversaries. [It sure was.] More of a singular case than a rare one, the book was an underground "long seller." Requests for it continued when the bookstores ran out of copies.
The breaking of the taboo is recent. Conferences, commentaries, reviews. "La Civiltà Cattolica" and "L’Osservatore Romano" have also woken up. At the beginning of 2009, a first reprinting of "Iota unum" appeared in Italy, published by "Fede & Cultura." But this new edition of the book produced by Lindau, together with that of "Stat veritas," has the added value of the editorial work of Amerio’s greatest student and intellectual heir, Radaelli. His two extensive afterwords are genuine essays, indispensable for understanding not only the profound meaning of the two books, but also their enduring relevance. Lindau intends to publish Amerio’s "opera omnia" in the next few years, with Radaelli as editor.
The following is a tiny sample of the afterword to "Iota unum": the final considerations. …