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Von Balthasar:
The Prostitute is the Symbol of the Church

In the 1950s Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar published the work Casta Meretrix [The Chaste Prostitute], in which he tried to prove that the blasphemous affront made by Luther, Zwingli and Huss - who called the Catholic Church a prostitute - would be objective. For this perfidous purpose, he used many sophistic arguments and deceitful interpretations that were refuted elsewhere. *

* See the series of six articles by Atila S. Guimaraes refuting Balthasar's book Casta Meretrix in Catholic Family News, January to June 2000

Leaving aside the refutation of such an absurd and offensive thesis, we present to our readers the fundamental passage from his book in which he clearly affirms that the figure of the prostitute defines the Catholic Church.

In 1988 Fr. von Balthasar was made Cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

At right is pictured the frontispiece of Sponsa Verbi, a collection of works that includes Casta Meretrix; at right below, is a photocopy of the Italian text. Below, we present our translation of the lines highlighted in yellow.

The figure of the prostitute [forma meretricis] is so appropriate for the Church .... that it .... defines the Church of the New Covenant in her most splendid mystery of salvation. The fact that the Synagogue left the Holy Land to go and be among the pagans was an infidelity of Jerusalem, the fact that 'she opened her legs in every road in the world.'

But this same movement, which brings her to all the peoples, is the mission of the Church. She must unite and merge herself with every people, and this new apostolic form of union cannot be avoided.

(Hans Urs von Balthasar, Casta Meretrix, in Sponsa Verbi, Brescia: Morceliana, 1969, p. 267).

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Posted on March 4, 2006

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