Founded in 1992 by the Lubac-Balthasar-Speyr Association under the patronage of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Accademia Balthasar exists to make known the figure and the thought of Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Adrienne von Speyr. Located within the Casa Balthasar, it is open especially to university graduates seeking to integrate their studies within a broader formation rooted in Christian humanities.
“… If the Church is to impart her highest values to the modern world, she must not meet it as a stranger or as an adversary but rather encounter it from within... so that whatever is new would recall older treasures, treasures which have always been present, but were forgotten or which have not yet even been discovered.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Test Everything, Hold Fast to What is Good
Scope of the Accademia
The aim of the Accademia is to help its students know and live the bimillennial Christian faith and to foster a renewal of evangelical life and knowledge within the Church. In the spirit of the three authors of reference, it seeks to address the questions of the contemporary world by placing itself, as much as possible, at the center of Christian life understood in its organic totality.
By the study of great authors of yesterday and today, students develop their capacity to “judge everything” (1 Cor 2:15) in a secularized world. Integrating faith and life, cultural and spiritual formation, professional competence and sanctity, students thus become Christians capable of living a unity of docility and personal responsibility in their ecclesial existence.
The courses and seminars present these authors and their thought in relation to the milieux with which they were thoroughly engaged: classical antiquity, the patristic tradition, Ignatian spirituality, ancient and modern philosophy, modern and contemporary literature both Christian and non-Christian alike. A focal point of attention is the mission of the lay faithful in the world, including their state of life and responsibility, and the question of the relationship between faith and culture, personal sanctity and professional commitment.
The program addresses in particular young men and women who are seeking to integrate their own studies with a broader formation along the lines of Christian humanities. The program is structured to develop in each student, regardless of his academic background or field, a sense (both positive and critical) for the realities of the world, along with a deepening of his faith.
Themes dealt with in the past include: Sacred Scripture, Fathers of the Church, Theology, Philosophy and Culture. (For current courses and an archive of past course and session themes, click here.)
Method & Program
The activity of the Accademia, which roughly follows the European University academic year, includes regular courses and seminars, study sessions, conferences, public debates, and summer programs, always with the intention of bringing to the fore the doctrinal and existential, as well as the practical, application of these theological works.
Its seminar method, inspired by that found in certain universities especially in the United States, consists in reading, in an objective and existential way, a text of a great author, first alone, then in a group under the guidance of a qualified teacher. A list of past instructors of courses and sessions held by the Accademia can be found here.