In God's Image - Peter A. Comensoli
Author: Peter A. Comensoli
Publisher: CASCADE BOOKS
In God's Image: Recognizing the Profoundly Impaired as Persons is a bold Catholic argument in defense of the profoundly impaired. While a range of theological voices can now be heard speaking up on behalf of those who live their lives at the extremes of the human condition, few voices have been explicitly Catholic. Comensoli draws on the irreplaceable contribution of St. Thomas Aquinas to forge an engagement with one of the leading thinkers in the theology of the disabled, Professor Hans Reinders. While recognizing the crucial contribution that Reinders has made, Comensoli situates our perception of the cognitively impaired within the horizon of God's own image, refusing a reduction of the substantialist position the Catholic tradition has always valued. This is linked to the fresh and countercultural community life pioneered by Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche communities. For Comensoli, the profoundly impaired are persons whose personhood cannot be recognized outside of the condition of their impairment, and through which God's Image is perceived in all its paradoxical implications.
"In this groundbreaking study, Bishop Comensoli turns the usual question about being in the image of God on its head. Drawing on St. Thomas Aquinas, he argues that the profoundly cognitively impaired are in the image of God by nature. There is thus no need to prove that they bear the image of God. It is we, the 'rationally capacious, ' who have the capacity to mar the image of God by conscious opposition to God's grace. Comensoli's book is a must-read for anyone interested in theology and intellectual disability." --Medi Ann Volpe, Lecturer in Theology and Ethics, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University
"In this important book, Peter Comensoli lets the Catholic voice be heard loud and clear: just like all other human beings, people with profound disabilities are persons because 'person' is the answer to the question of how a human being is who he or she is. In honoring the humanity of people with profound disabilities, this book makes a significant contribution to the retrieval of the Christian anthropological tradition, and in recognizing that inclusion is something to be discovered not attained, this book is critical for us all." --Pia Matthews, St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London, author of Pope John Paul II and the Apparently Non-Acting Person, and God's Wild Flowers; Saints with Disabilities
"Comensoli's In God's Image is a major intervention in contemporary Christian theological discourse on the nature, dignity, and destiny of the human being. Through disciplined and charitable engagement with the most influential theological work from the past thirty years on these themes of intellectual disability, mental illness, and profound cognitive impairment, Comensoli shows why contemporary Catholic theologians must take seriously the challenges raised under the heading 'disability.' Pastorally sensitive and passionately argued, Comensoli maps a way forward for Christian theologians working on the topic of disability. In God's Image should be required reading in any theology course focused on the topic of disability and would be an excellent addition to courses on Christian theological anthropology." -- Miguel J. Romero, Assistant Professor, Religious and Theological Studies, Salve Regina University
Peter A. Comensoli is Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. He is a moral theologian who has worked and studied in Wollongong, Rome, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and Sydney. Nigel Zimmermann (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is Associate Director, Church Policy at Australian Catholic University (ACU) and author of Facing the Other: John Paul II, Levinas, and the Body (2015).