Justice Beyond the Grave: The Vindication of Cardinal Danielou

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10).

It was forty years ago this May that the body of a dead Jesuit was found in an apartment in Paris owned by a prostitute whose husband needed money for a lawyer to get him out of jail. The victim, an eminent theologian and cardinal, had for years freely dispensed charity among the poor, doing so in secret and always with the intention of helping the most wretched and despised. This would be his final work of mercy, however, performed on behalf of a woman of ill-repute who, seeing him collapse from a heart attack, looked on in horror as he breathed his last. Later, to police and medical personnel, she added, “it was a good death, for a cardinal.”

Yes, it was. But due to the sly imputations of a number of his Jesuit confreres, this would not be the judgment of most people regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Jean Cardinal Danielou. Owing to their enmity, a great pall of silence and suspicion would fall upon his memory, leaving not just his books unread but his reputation in ruins. Until fairly recently, that is, when the rumors and lies swirling about his death in 1974 were finally laid to rest at a conference in Rome in 2012 held by the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. “Windows Open on the Mystery” was its theme, the happy outcome of which would at last lift the long embargo, leaving new generations of the faithful free to discover the richness of his writings, alongside the quiet heroism of his life, which together testify to a Jesuit vocation tirelessly spent in defending the Church he loved. “I love best of all,” he would say, “that Church mud-splashed from history.” Like his own mud-splashed history.

So why had it become necessary to discredit him in the first place? And why the cover-up? Especially when the results of an investigation undertaken by the Jesuits themselves, not to mention the witness of the woman to whom he had gone to give money, had clearly acquitted the Cardinal of any wrongdoing whatsoever. If everyone knew he was innocent, why not say so straightaway? Why did we have to wait nearly forty years to clear his name?

This last question, by the way, carries a special poignancy for those of us who, great admirers of his work and keenly aware and appreciative of his loyalty to the Church, were nevertheless shaken at the time by the stories of his death. Certainly the publicity widely generated at the time by a hostile Parisian press did nothing to disabuse the public of its fixation on the scandal. Corrupt cleric found dead in arms of mistress!   Conservative Prince of Church, pockets stuffed with cash, discovered dead in brothel! We know how headlines like those would play in Peoria. Well, they would not have played much differently in Paris. And, of course, far from allaying suspicions, such lurid details would furnish only another nail in the Church’s coffin.

Cui bono?   Who had most to gain from keeping the true story silent?   Worse still, by whose orchestration was a campaign of innuendo begun, designed to besmirch the good name of a man who had become odious to certain elements within the Society of Jesus and the larger French Church? The question is not terribly difficult. Clearly among the arch villains of the piece was a Jesuit named Bruno Ribes, powerful head of Etudes, the cutting-edge journal of cultural opinion owned by the Jesuits in France, whose pages were filled with copious and unseemly dissent from official Church teachings, including especially Humane Vitae, the 1968 encyclical issued by Pope Paul VI. It should scarcely come as a surprise for those who followed the trajectory of his career to know that Robes sought the destruction of Danielou. To be sure, the wretched Robes would, not long after, leave both the Society of Jesus and the priesthood; after which, he would finally abandon the Church he’d been baptized in as a child. And when last heard from, he was busy crafting legislation that would allow unrestricted abortion rights for the women of France. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

And Danielou? Well, in the year following 1968, that most tumultuous moment in modern Church history, a much-beleaguered pope would offer him a red hat, an honor he had refused twice already.   The third time around, one does not refuse. Besides, Pope Paul told him, sounding the prophetic note, “I need you to be a Cardinal so that you might suffer with me for the Church.”

That suffering would intensify when, two years before his death, Danielou sat down for an interview with Vatican Radio in which he declared that “there is now a very grave crisis of religious life,” and that in light of its spreading pathology, “one should not speak of renewal, but rather of decadence.” A storm of vituperation fell upon his head for unleashing comments like that.

And what did he think was the source of the crisis? Nothing less, he said, “than a false interpretation of Vatican II,” resulting in the most wide-ranging distortions of an experience of communio that God had intended for his Bride, the Church. Far from ushering us into a New Pentecost, not a few of the reformers had in fact betrayed the very Council to which they had so glibly appealed in order to justify a series of manipulations that would make a great wreckage of the Church.

Danielou’s indictment was not short on specifics. “The evangelical counsels,” he charged, “are no longer considered as consecrations to God,” with the lamentable result that “all regularity of the life of prayer is abandoned.” In the wake of such confusions, there would predictably follow “the disappearance of vocations among the young,” whose formation had been shamefully neglected, along with “numerous and scandalous desertions of religious.” And why not? Having broken their promises to God, why should they feel honor bound to the People of God?

This wrenching apart of a people from the God to whom they were ineluctably joined, and not just by bonds of grace, but by nature as well, became the great theme of Danielou’s life. The urgency of it would animate everything he did, whether the books he wrote or the acts of charity he performed.   His every exertion became an ongoing crusade to combat a secularism that threatened not only the natural religiosity of human beings, leaving them alone and bereft without God, but the sovereign right of God himself to a place at the table of men. Here he would cite the example of a wonderful mayor of Florence, who shrewdly said that the true city was a place where men owned their homes and God owned his, which meant that only by making provision for God within the city would we have fashioned a truly human city.

“The idea of a completely secular society is one that to me seems profoundly anti-human,” declared Danielou, “and in this sense I feel it is totally impracticable.”   It is not to be permitted, in other words, nor is it even possible, to exclude God from the city of man. And so he saw secularism in all its forms and mutations as something virulent and unnatural.

“One of the greatest dangers which the Church must face,” he argued to the very end, “is just this diminishing of a feeling for God and of God’s place in the human experience.” Neither the goods of technology, nor the flourishing of fraternal life, never mind how encompassing the satisfactions they provide, will ever be enough to assuage the need of the human heart for God. There must always be room for adoration, yes, even amid the affairs and arrangements of this world.   Otherwise we should all be left in a state of “spiritual asphyxiation,” which he described with chilling precision as a situation in which men are “left literally gasping for breath.”   It would be a most fearful state of destitution, in which human beings are thrown back on themselves, deprived of the breath of God. Shorn of all sense of the sacred, of those times and places men choose in order to kneel before God, they simply could not go on living and would thus die of despair.

How deeply Jean Danielou thought about such things. And how empty the world has become without his wise and brave counsel. May his rehabilitation help bring to life a great springtime of renewal in the Church’s apostolate to bring Christ to our world.

Regis Martin


Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar's Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, also published by Emmaus Road, is called Witness to Wonder: The World of Catholic Sacrament. He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

  • FernieV

    Each of the quotes is pure gold to meditate upon. We need to pray for strong men and women who, like the late Cardinal, would be faithful and be ready to face the attacks from the enemies of God’s Church with the same courage and Faith. Thank you for your article.

  • RufusChoate

    I am struck by the vileness of the defamation of the deceased Cardinal Danielou in spite of testimony to his innocence but I observe that much of the worse dissent has come from people who are so fundamentally flawed in both Theology and Morality that to them the ends always justify means.

    Every Human failing and error by their opponents are broadcasted and condemned before the whole world but when their Laissez Faire approach to Priest Continence in Celibacy robbed the poor and the Church of Billions, it is the sane moral teachings of the Church, (that were ignored), that are responsible not their guiding principle.

    That is why Cardinal Danielou is forgotten while William Lori, Edward Egan, Rembert Weakland, Theodore McCarrick and Rodger Mahony are feted and praised.

    I will pray to Cardinal Danielou for his intercession is purging this evil from the Church.

    • bill b

      But Rufus, do know of any quote against Danielou by anyone at all….from any quarter? Where are the defaming cites? The above piece gives none. Where is the evidence at all that there was defamation?

      • JP

        I think anyone who knows anything about Cdl Danielou and his death needs no further citations. It would be akin to Nixon and his detractors. Why cite sources when everyone is aware of them?

        However, I can understand your point. Cdl Danielou was French, his death was 40 years ago, and the scandal has been long forgotten by most people.

        • bill b

          Above in another post, you said the Cardinal found comfort in the defamation of his character which means you were referring to pre death defamation. The above article is about post death defamation with not even a link to actual post death defamation. I’m leaving. We now have a poster above seemingly calling the sitting Pope at the time…gay. Crisis Magazine needs moderation…of everything.

      • RufusChoate

        Yes, I actually troubled my self to research his story before I post my observation and found that the story is borne out clearly by other reports. I am also familiar with the operation of the Arrupe re-idealized Jesuits which was always heavy handed and repressive with orthodox theologians and thinkers.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Never having been to the South Pole, I am also not quite convinced it is as cold as the rest of humanity claims.

      • James Henning

        How old are you?
        I clearly remember gleeful newspaper articles written by Giod’s enemies. They gloated over Danielou’s death & implied that he died of heart failure as a result of lewd exertion.
        Robes led the charge of the Anti- Danielou brigade.
        Reseach the newspapers of the time for yourself.

  • bill b

    The author needs to detail the bad things Bruno Ribes actually did in respect to the post death period of Danielou. What did he write and where and when? Without detail, we’re left with innuendo also…but about Ribes. And…was there no one else in the Catholic circuit that affected this silence on the death. How is it that the Vatican and the sitting Pope did not get involved immediately for a Cardinal and clear him in weeks and declare in his favor? Pope Paul VI was Pope for four more years after the death of this Cardinal he appointed. Why didn’t he clear his man by having the prostitute questioned. These short essays on complex problems bring more questions than answers.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      The point of the article is not to give Bruno Ribes yet another opportunity to slander Danielou, this time in Crisis Magazine. If you really believe that salacious accusations deserve a fair hearing, you should have no difficulty locating the writings of Bruno Ribes. As Shakespeare reminds, the evil men do live long after them.

      • bill b

        We don’t know without citations if Ribes defamed Danielou at all. It’s insinuated but not proved. Scholarship means producing evidence. The 8th commandment means we can’t even accuse Hitler of sodomy or drunkeness simply because he was a murderer.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Please spend five minutes with Google, and don’t embarrass yourself further.

          • bill b

            I’m reading here. An essay indicting a man without producing one quote is bizarre. I shouldn’t have to research whether there is any cite by Ribes elsewhere on Danielou after…after the death and on the nature of the death.

            • JP

              I think you can find the articles from Etudes (behind either paywall or offline archives); however, they will be in French. Sandro Magister wrote some articles about the late Cardinal and his detractors. One of the rumors that floated around was that the Cdl sought suffering and found it in the defamation of his character. Think of the frothing that surrounded his death: A highly respected and Holy Bishop found dead in a brothel with his pockets filled with cash!!! It is almost too good to pass up.

              I cannot answer for the Vatican’s silence all of these years. But, if one can suffer slander from the grave, Cardinal Danielou surely suffered.

            • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

              You require no such documentation regarding the calumnies hurled at the FFI, yet for the poor Jesuits, they are innocent until proven guilty… over, and over, and over again. You know, you really belong on the National Catholic Reporter website.

              • bill b

                You actually know that your above slime attempt is absurd..given my position told to you recently against sect.42 of Verbum Domini …ie I believe that the massacre of the Canaanites was ordered by God. You my friend ought to review the 8th commandment.

                • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                  The members of the FFI with whom I have spoken personally could hardly be described as “anonymous sources.” As for the rest of your post, I am afraid I have no idea what you you are talking about. And I’m fairly certain you don’t either.

                  • bill b

                    LOL….here’s the interchange…11 days ago:

                    Dr. Timothy J. Williams bill b • 11 days ago
                    Ah! The “trads” versus “normal folk.” I’m afraid it is you who now require debunking, as you have just shown your true colors. You belong on the NCR website, my friend, along with the others drinking the “new springtime of the Church” cool-aid.
                    2 • Reply•Share ›

                    bill b Dr. Timothy J. Williams • 11 days ago
                    So… no non anonymous blogs who debunked Vatican Insider from non anonymous sources?
                    I’ve been promoting the death penalty for ten years on the net and
                    I therefore would not fit at the left NCR and I was banned at the more right NCR for ? criticizing Pope Benedict in his sect.42 of Verbum Domini contention that the herem or massacres of the OT were sins and not ordered by God. They were ordered by God and only after that wonderful God appealed for over four hundred years to the Canaanites by lesser punishments as we know from Wisdom 12:10. I studied Latin for six years but I don’t want it in Mass.

                    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                      Yes, well, the passage of eleven days has not rendered your thought process any more intelligible.

                    • bill b

                      Dr. Timothy,
                      You relate manipulatvely apparently through only two similar initialed publications National Catholic Register and National Catholic Reporter…using the former 11 days ago against me and today using the latter against me…poles opposite in most minds.
                      If you are sliming people on the internet as part of debate by association to either of these two web publications and incorrectly to boot, then your family is enduring a variant of this manipulative relating. Try giving up this part of your persona for them. Their sainthood should come from enduring something else in life. Trust me…they’ll never tell you until a crisis.

                    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                      You really need to take a vacation somewhere, bill b.

                    • bill b

                      Dr. Timothy,
                      Or God is using a clay vessel like me to reach you by rebuke so that He never has to reach through great pain of some sort. And if He needs it as a last resort, come it will.

                    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

                      Goodness! Church historian, exegete, journalist, Latinist, psychoanalyst, family counselor… and now, latter-day Prophet and Messenger. How do you find time for it all?

                    • Phil Steinacker

                      Sorry, Bill. I just came in on this thread and I have to agree; you don’t make much sense. As for citations, don’t be lazy. If you suspect the charges are false do your own research. The point of the post is about the cardinal’s defamation, which I’ve read about various times over the years.

                      If I thought it was not credible, I would (and have in other instances) conduct my own research. In fact, I have seen comments by folks who’ve challenged other posts and articles with the research they undertook on their own initiative.

                      Go ye and do likewise, please.

                • Sign


  • Bro- Rob

    Good article about an obviously very good and true man of God. It also amazes me that even he thought that the decadence and spiritual destruction wrought by Vatican 2 was somehow just a result of some “misinterpretations” of that council, as opposed to valid interpretations of the fundamentally flawed and heretical rulings of it. Clearly the smoke of Satan had blinded more or less EVERYONE to seeing correctly what they were doing…even the good. This also helps explain why Pope Paul VI failed to step in and clear his name. Paul VI was privately up to his eyeballs in Freemasonry and modernist compromises of all sorts (and a homosexual), so how could he ever defend righteousness with all of his strength? And now we have the “destroyer” Francis to usher in the final phase of V2 apostasy in the name of “unity”, “charity”, “the holy spirit” and “peace”… Come Lord Jesus!!

    • bill b

      What means your phrase: “and a homosexual”.

      • Bro- Rob

        It is not an ambiguous statement, it means what it says. Do some research if you dare. Pope Paul VI was both a known and practising homosexual as well as a Freemason. I am not “slandering” him nor the Catholic Church (my Church) by stating it openly. Those are simply the facts about the man…facts which are too unpleasant and contraversial to have ever been admitted in public or to ordinary lay Catholics of course. But nevertheless they are well documented facts if you do some research of your own. What does it mean? It means that Pope Paul VI wasin fact canonically invalid or otherwise known as an “antipope”, sad to say. As was his predecessor also of V2 fame, Pope John XXIII…also a known and documented Freemason since 1935 in the Rosicrucian Order of satanic occult Freemasonry, and therefore NOT canonically viable as Pope, or “antipope” as they say… Again, if you don’t believe me, do some research yourself and survey the compelling evidence. Sorry to offend or burst anyone’s bubble…but these are the plain facts of the matter, so why deny them??

        • bill b

          Go to a contemplative monk of your choice and show him your posts and ask his counsel as to whether you have ventured into evil tongue territory. You may be living in an isolated Bible belt situation that is tempting you into an unhealthy fortress mentality.

          • Bro- Rob

            When those in authority lie and outlaw the truth, it makes those who speak the truth look like outlaws…even to be condemned and persecuted as such. But they are not. Just as Christ Himself was not…but still He was counted among them, as was St Stephen and many other martyrs for the truth… I don’t live in some Bible belt land… I live in modern “progressive” corrupt society like everyone else… And what is my “progressive” so-called “holy father” doing about it?? He’s embracing it all and trying to make it work “for peace” and unity…. Contemplative monk, you say? Maybe…I don’t know… In times like these, nothing and no one can be trusted too much…

            • Bruno

              Bill has a point bro. This is a matter of either trusting the accused and all which he represents (the Pope, the Church and ‘everyone else’) or trusting the accuser (grave and obscure online claims). You trust the accuser more than the accused, why is that?

              I know you’re hurt. I am too. But God has not abandoned His Church before, He won’t do it now.

              In times like these you trust who you have always trusted, God. Heed Bill’s advice. Pray that you find a man who is of God to look into your soul, and God will not send you a deceiver. We are not Calvinists and God’s pleasure is not in torturing us and causing us to sink in gnostic knowledge disguised as orthodoxy.

    • KLM

      Throwing mud! I ignore anything said by a person that sinks to such attacks.

      • Bro- Rob

        Not mis, KLM, but real facts and truths, some of which are indeed unpleasant and deeplt challenging to look at…but facts and truths nevertheless.

        • Arriero

          What a pity that the most RATIONAL religion – that is Catholicism -allows such profoundly irrational statements full of anti-Catholic pseudo-calvinist rethoric and dangerous anglo-protestant spirit.

          In millenarian Catholic Nations we used to burn people who dared to say such things. Because in millenarian Catholic Nations we have always known what is Catholic and what is not. The anti-Catholics – mainly from the anti-Catholic anglo world who for centuries fiercely fought the Greatest Catholic Empire in history – are unable to cheat the Authentic Catholics.

          Blas de Lezo, the greatest strategist in the history of the Spanish Army, once said: «Every good Spaniard [back then just a synonym of «good Catholic»] has always to piss looking to England». This phrase summarizes what we, Authentic Catholics, do with those who go against the Church.

          A pseudo-calvinist from the anglo-protestant world critizing the Latin Pope – mixture of Spain and Italy, the two Catholic Lands par excellence – who has not touched – and will not touch – a single comma from the Cathecism. Is that a joke?

          Do you need another defeat, again?


    • RufusChoate

      Vatican II is a recognized and legitimately constituted Ecumenical Council of the Church and you can invent any absurd theories about why our entire civilization went off the rails of moral sanity in the mid-twentieth century but it had nothing to do with the beauty and truth of the Council. The moral depravity of the inner war years and the explosion of evil and nihilism took place in spite of Vatican I and the Council of Trent so why don’t you start there first?

    • Arriero

      – «This also helps explain why Pope Paul VI failed to step in and clear his name. Paul VI was privately up to his eyeballs in Freemasonry and modernist compromises of all sorts (and a homosexual), so how could he ever defend righteousness with all of his strength? And now we have the “destroyer” Francis to usher in the final phase of V2 apostasy in the name of “unity”, “charity”, “the holy spirit” and “peace”… Come Lord Jesus!!»

      You speak like a protestant.

      And don’t insult the Latin Pope, the one who comes from the only True Catholic Tradition that fought fiercely the rise of protestantism, from which you are an intellectual heir.

      Luther also hated the Catholic Church. Never forget it. You’re playing the same game of the anti-Catholics; feeding them; giving them force.

      There are no worse enemies of the Church than those who criticize it from within. Those have always been the real threat to the Church, and not the «evil outsiders».

      Finally, remember one thing: ROME DOES NOT PAY TRAITORS.

      • Bro- Rob

        Arriero, me and my points here are NOT “Protestant” any more than the weather is “Catholic” or “Protestant”! And I myself am a Catholic I can assure you…and my comments do not come from “hatred” nor any desire or intent to merely “insult”. I am speaking of FACTS and truths which, though unpleasant deserve to be known, I believe, yes, and in DEFENCE of true Catholicism which today hardly anyone knows what it is any more… Ironically, some (not all) of the information about those things are being made known by certain well-researched Catholic websites and NOT antiCatholic Protestant websites at all! On the contrary, most Protestants loved Paul VI and indeed helped him to redefine the Novus Ordo Mass…so that it now conforms much more to Protestant ideas and tastes than to the previous Catholic traditional liturgy. Thus Paul VI, like Francis, was a great FRIEND of Protestants…(and Communists)!! By the way, the Catholic sources I mention are ultratraditional “Sedevacantists”…which I am not. I disagree with some of their analysis. But as for Basic research material…they are VERY thorough! As a catholic, I had to admit that they are right about some of their PRO-Catholic criticisms of the post V2 Church…however, unlike them, I believe that Popes (St) John Paul II and Benedict XVI WERE genuine valid Popes. Francis, “Bishop of Rome” also can NOT be considered a canonically valid Pope, according to Canon Law, because he TOO is a known Freemason…having been made an “honorary member” of the Rotary Club freemasonic Association, condemned by the Holy See in 1932. Therefore, I rest my case… Houston, we have a problem, and no amount of pathological denial or Catholic tub-thumping is going to make it go away. And oh yes, have you SEEN how far the Jesuits have come these days from their anti-Protestant crusade roots?? These days the leadership is all about “rainbow unity” ecumenism… Talk about going from one extreme to another!

      • Bro- Rob

        Correction – sorry – Pope “Emeritus” Benedict XVI still IS the Canonically validly elected true Pope. Various experts Canon law have analysed Benedict’s statements about his resignation and various accompanying signs – and conclude that he has only resigned from the outward daily duties and public exercise of the Petrine ministry, but in private he remains still the Pope. As unprecedented and uncanonical as this is – it is actually true. Onlt the Pope can wear white. Benedict still has the same coat of arms as before, with the keys of Peter and the Pallium on it…both symbols of Peter’s unique authority. While “Pope” Francis on the other hand does NOT have these symbols on his coat of arms…and merely calls himself, “Bishop of Rome”…and is consistently ANTICLERICAL in everything that he does and says. Therefore I submit that, for all the above reasons, we now have TWO Popes – a real one who claims to be retired, and a FALSE one who is getting EXTREMELY popular and yet is NOT legally elected and is actually more of a SOCIALIST and SECULAR HUMANIST than a Holy Pope… And if you don’t believe me, just you wait and see what he’s going to do next…!! (in October 2014 & 15)…

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Rumors of homosexuality are not facts. Paul VI publicly denied these “insidious allegations.” I am not aware of anyone coming forward with anything other than gossip. I don’t like the Mass of Paul VI either, and I too think he was a very weak pope. But that is not relevant. Be careful what you say.

      • Bro- Rob

        Well of course he denied it…! What else would you expect? But don’t assume his denials to have been infallible…

        • Phil Steinacker

          And charity demands that we accord to his denials the equal likelihood that they are true. Your word choices and tone suggest a desire to believe such allegations, even without sufficient proof.

          BTW, the sin referred to by ForChristAlone is called detraction. Look it up.

    • ForChristAlone

      You do realize that it is a grave sin to slander another man. Even if you have proof that what you say about Pope Paul is true, it would be sinful to even repeat it. You might try getting together with hombre11 and going to confession.

    • Led

      Well, I agree with the sentiment of the last sentence…Come Lord Jesus! As for the rest – it would be nice if Crisis would moderate comments just a bit. I mean, just to keep their pages from becoming a morass of conspiracy theories and paranoia.

  • Sign

    Thank you, Dr. Martin, for another fine essay.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Cardinal Jean Daniélou will always be principally remembered for Sources Chrétiennes, which he founded 1942 with Claude Mondésert SJ and Cardinal Henri de Lubac, SJ and which included critical editions of Origen, Clement of Alexandria and the Cappadocians. It was a seminal moment for Ressourcement Théologie and a salutary reminder that the faith was well understood and faithfully expounded long before the rise of the Scholastics

  • hombre111

    Mmm, to ask us believe that the Good Man was on a mission of mercy in a brothel seems like a stretch. I think Danielou vilified himself. A prominent but aging cleric should stay out of houses of ill repute, because of the high chance that he might die in the arms of his lover, much to the delight of the enemies of the Church.

    That said, when I was in the seminary, Danielou was another author we were forbidden to read. Of course, we bought our bootleg copies and tried to understand what he was saying. I just ordered a selection of his books and will give them a read again, after all these years. If I remember correctly, it was tough going, and I think the only reason for his resurgence today is his connection to Pope John Paul, not the sterling character of his theology and praise from those who probably have not read him. But the author’s point is correct: The unfortunate circumstances of his passing should have nothing to do with the truth of what he was saying.

    • ForChristAlone

      You’re a disgrace to the priesthood by spreading lies about a man who is dead. Haven’t you been reading what the Holy Father has been saying about slandering your neighbor? Get your mind out of the gutter.

      • hombre111

        I wasn’t the one who brought it up, reminding me of the scandal of a Cardinal’s passing. I had actually forgotten the incident, and so have most of us who read the headlines back then. We all have our weaknesses. Thanks to his books, most of us have a good opinion of Danielou.

        • ForChristAlone

          “His explanation about a mission of mercy seems a little thin and deserves a response…” And that is your lame excuse for adding your bit of slander to the mix? Shame on you.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      You just couldn’t resist, could you?

      • hombre111

        Blame the author. I had completely forgotten about the incident until he asked me to bend my capacity for credibility and believe that a cardinal, a member of academia and not a priest in a parish, could have some kind of noble mission in the house of a woman of doubtful reputation. I consider this manipulation based on our desire to think well of the dead. But it was a fishy story then, and it is now.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          I see what you mean. Any decent Christian would have shunned a filthy prostitute, just like Jesus was known to do…

        • Phil Steinacker

          Still up to your old tricks, I see, sliming by suspcion and innuendo anyone not progressive enough for your taste. I remember your absurd claim that St. John XXIII would be remembered long after St. John Paul had slipped from popular memory. As if.

          Then I remembered I’d seen your anonymous handle over at the other ncr – that worm-infested nest of phony catholic dissenters assuming pseudo-authority over truth and reason.

          As St. Patrick allegedly told the snakes in Ireland, “Go away.”

          • hombre111

            Actually, I serve a sacred function. It is my anointed task to remind the readers of an inch-wide perspective that there is another large, large world out there.

            Pope St. John Paul is already moving into the rear view mirror. The papal saint with the greatest effect on last century’s Church will always be John XXIII, because the Vatican Council still has its impact. But, fear not, ours is basically a conservative Church, and should be, so there will be other conservative popes. I just hope enough moderates and liberals come along to keep Peter’s Barque from turning into a stone lawn ornament.

    • C.Caruana

      Yes, just as a prominent and young rabbi by the name of Jesus should have stayed out of the houses of publicans, prostitutes and sinners. Your own words are the best judgment on you, hombre111.

      • hombre111

        If that’s what you want to believe, then believe away.

  • cenobite1986

    When I was in Graduate School of Theology/Seminary at Saint John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1982, our Professor of Patristics was the great Father Godfrey Diekmann who was an advisor to the 2nd Vatican Council. He and the late Cardinal were contemporaries. The Cardinal himself was a Patristic Scholar and with Father Godfrey and other Benedictine scholars helped in the research and formulation of the Missal that would be presented during the various meetings of the Council.

    Father Godfrey, in 1982, told us, in class, of Cardinal Danileou’s scholarship but also of his great works of charity that started when he was a simple priest . He (Father Godfrey) said that Danileou would take surplus food from the refractory and anything he could lay his hands on (besides money) and bring it to these often impoverished women, many of whom had starving children. It grieved Father Godfrey that the Cardinal’s memory was tainted by these false allegations.

    • Sign

      Thank you for such a wonderful insight.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    The death of Cardinal Daniélou was thoroughly investigated both by the French Jesuits and the French police, and his conduct was exonerated by both. There are many sources online – in English, French and Italian – that recount the events. Daniélou, as part of his chaplaincy to a group of nuns serving the most destitute and marginalized, was bringing money to a prostitute so that she could hire an attorney to help get her husband out of jail. But such a story of charity and compassion is not nearly so entertaining as an article in the leftist “Canard enchaînée.” For those who can read Italian, I recommend starting with this article:

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  • woodyjones

    I am very glad to see this article and a little surpirsed, too, that Dr. Martin did not mention one of Cardinal Danielou’s books in particular, “Prayer as a Political Problem”, a great favorite of the “Triumph” magazine group, including I believe one of Dr. Martin’s own teachers, Fritz Wilhelmsen, and L. Brent Bozell, Jr. I remember Fritz reading a paper that Brent had done, at the Steubenville conference on J.C. Murray, in about 1991, and the book was prominently mentioned. Having read the first half of it, I can attest to its prophetic insight, and it was certainly liked by the right group of intellectuals here in the US. It would be great if Dr. Martin or someone else would resurrect the book and give us a good summary at least.

    • Regis Martin

      God willing, I certainly intend to do so. (My editor also will need to pass on this project, but it is near and dear to my heart.) Thanks for reminding me of its importance….

  • DavidLakeview

    Leaving his good books unread? Cardinal Danielou’s The Bible and the Liturgy was REQUIRED reading for the Master of Arts in liturgical studies at Notre Dame in the 1980s. Just because Opus Dei didn’t discover him until their 2012 conference doesn’t mean no one else was reading him!

  • Harry Flynn

    Recently there was an article that was published about correspondence between Danielou (or was it Journet?) and the guy who wrote the article in L’Osservatore Romano that accompanied (or appeared shortly thereafter) Humanae Vitae. Does anyone have the scoop on this? I read the article about 2-4 years ago and I forgot what book had the correspondence.
    Thanks in advance.

  • I_M_Forman

    I read and loved two of his books. When I tried to learn a little more about him I came across the story of his death. After reading the profound thoughts of this man on God’s Salvation History and Angels I couldn’t find myself believing that a man like this was doing nothing other than an act of charity. I hold him in high esteem and a wonderful theologian. Thank you for this article as well.