Father René Laurentin (RIP – October 19, 1917 – September 10, 2017). See his wiki. His doctoral work, a collection of the comments of the Fathers of the Church throughout the early centuries throughout the ancient world in whatever ancient language specifically on Genesis 3:15, duly received a footnote in my own thesis on Genesis. We both have our publications on the shelves of the PBI. I thank him for his dedication and patience in putting such an opus together. No small feat. A real treasure.
I first got to know Father Laurentin in the 1990s at a world wide get-together of exorcists across the crater from Castel Gondolfo. We had quite the discussion about the title to a paper I wrote for the occasion on exorcism legislation in Canon Law. The title was in Greek, citing Mk 5:7: ὁρκίζω σε τὸν θεόν. It’s actually Satan who, incredibly, makes brave to speak those words, attempting stupidly to put Jesus under an exorcism in the name of God the Father. Father Laurentin couldn’t wrap his mind around the double accusative in the Greek. To my shame, I admit that I decided on that title on purpose, knowing it was tricky. I’m evil and bad. Sorry Father. Please forgive me. I was young and rambunctious. Father Laurentin has also written on exorcism, as one might have predicted from his work on Genesis 3:15. Good for him.
There were other occasions for us to have a good chat, such as when I was a permanent chaplain at Lourdes. It was his practice to stay with the chaplains when he came to Lourdes. I asked him about his equivocation of religion and nationality for those in the former Yugoslavia, saying that, instead, the locals knew the difference between the two, with the upshot being that his publicized and controversial rationalization for apparent religious indifferentism proposed by the “apparition” in Medjugorje was illegitimate and that the “apparition” was wrong to have such a laissez-faire ecclesiology. I know he was already older at that time, but I wanted to give him a chance to recant. Pope Francis did the right thing.
Then there was the time I met Father Laurentin at the very top of the tower of “Vatican Bank”, and before that, up in the Apostolic Palace, a number of times…
Father is a complex figure. We are all that, complex. Some of his writings I didn’t much like, others I did like, a lot. Apart from that…
Father Laurentin was always the gentleman, always the scholar, always sincerely devoted to Our Lady and to making known in his own way heaven’s care for us, just what you might expect from a good priest. I wish there were more like him.
So, here’s the words of the Rector of Lourdes: Continue reading