Academic journal article Ave Maria Law Review

Introductory Remarks

Academic journal article Ave Maria Law Review

Introductory Remarks

Article excerpt

It is a privilege to introduce Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo's article, The Nature of Marriage and Its Various Aspects, which forms the foundational study for this special issue of the Ave Maria Law Review devoted to the nature of marriage. It is a testament to the fecundity of the Cardinal's article that it has occasioned such thoughtful replies from the legal and cultural scholars convened by the editors for this symposium. My task is not to provide but one more response to the Cardinal's words, but rather, to introduce his article to an audience that might not be familiar with some of the assumptions underlying the Cardinal's theses. I begin with a few words about the man.

Born in 1935 in Colombia, Alfonso Lopez Trujillo pursued theological studies first in Bogota, and then in Rome, where he specialized in Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy and modern spirituality. After his ordination in 1960, Fr. Lopez Trujillo spent some ten years teaching in seminaries and secular universities in his native land. Throughout those years, he continued to expand his knowledge of world cultural conditions and often served as a consultant to members of the Latin American hierarchy.

In 1971, Pope Paul VI named Fr. Lopez Trujillo the coadjutor Bishop (with right of succession) to the crucial See of Bogota. After seven years of episcopal service there, the same Pope asked Archbishop Lopez Trujillo to transfer to the See of Medellin where he ministered for more than twelve years and was named a Cardinal in 1983. Significantly, throughout his two decades in archdiocesan governance, Cardinal Trujillo undertook many international ecclesiastical responsibilities and assignments, service that made him one of the most traveled prelates in the world. Finally, in 1991 Pope John Paul II asked him to come to Rome to serve as President of the Pontifical Council on the Family, a post where he has labored ever since. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI reappointed Cardinal Trujillo to the presidency of the Council on the Family.

As a result of his experience, Cardinal Trujillo is unusually well-qualified to bring to bear on the pressing questions of modern marriage and family life a rigorous philosophical and theological formation, many decades of direct pastoral experience, and the unique perspective of a man broadly familiar with the varied cultural conditions of the world. Indeed, more than once, English-language readers of his article will note his tantalizing references to important studies of marriage and the family that are not, as of yet, available in the English tongue, but which the Cardinal has already studied and appreciated. In short, Cardinal Trujillo is conscious of the unique perspective he is able to bring to marriage and family questions, and from the opening sentences of his article he makes clear his intention to place that perspective at the service of truth. We may now turn to his presentation.

Cardinal Trujillo divides his article into two main sections followed by some short concluding remarks. Throughout his article, the Cardinal follows a classical philosophical methodology: first, setting out the nature of marriage (including how that nature has been lifted up by Christ); and second, turning to an examination of how the natural and sacramental reality that is marriage has been distorted in society. He concludes with some suggestions for further reflection and positive action. The first of the two large sections, subtitled "The Nature of Marriage," is the lengthier and, in some ways, the more important. No serious discussion of marriage and the crisis it faces in the West can be profitably undertaken without a clear understanding of what marriage is in the first place. The patience with which Cardinal Trujillo sets out the ever-ancient, ever-new truth about marriage is, I suggest, a sign of the pastoral solicitude that a man with twenty years of diocesan leadership experience develops.

Of all the themes touched on in the Cardinal's opening section, asserting marriage to be a natural institution is perhaps the most important. …

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