Mike Aquilina reports that, in his Wednesday audience, Pope Benedict XVI effectively “rehabilitated” Origen, that maverick third-century theologian, commending Christians to learn from him and emulate his theological method:
I invite you to welcome the teachings of this great teacher of the faith into your hearts. He reminds us that in the prayerful reading of Scripture and in a coherent way of life, the Church is renewed and rejuvenated.
This is big. You may or may not recall that Origen was posthumously condemned for heresy back in the sixth century. Some church leaders were interpreting him in a heretical direction, and Origen came to be seen as something of a bad influence. From everything I have read, he always wanted to do theology within the bounds of the consensual teaching of the church; it’s just that he tended to ask provocative questions?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùand reach provocative answers?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùwhere later the church tended to move in a different direction.
Origen’s rehabilitation is welcome news for a number of reasons. I have long wanted to add a “feast day” for Origen to my personal and blatantly non-canonical sanctoral calendar but was at a loss to determine a proper date. I would jump at April 25, the date of Pope Benedict’s remarks, but I prefer not to have Origen compete with St. Mark! Perhaps some further developments from Rome may offer me some guidance?