On the evening of May 11, 2011 Mgr Joseph DORÉ, p.s.s., Archbishop Emeritus of Strasbourg and a well known theologian in France and abroad, was promoted by the French Ministry of Culture to the level of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters at a ceremony held in Paris. Among the attendees was the Superior General of the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice, M. Ronald D. WITHERUP, p.s.s., the Provincial of France, M. Bernard PITAUD, p.s.s., several Sulpician confreres, the Archbishop of Strasbourg, Mgr Jean-Pierre GRALLET, and various representatives from Alsace.
The President of the Regional Council for Alsace, M. Philippe RICHERT, presided. Mgr Doré had already received the distinction of induction into the Legion of Honor as a “Knight” on 23 May 1996 and as an “Officer” on 12 November 2004.
This honor is just the most recent distinction achieved by Mgr Doré. This year 2011 also saw the completion of a 100-volume project published by Mame-Desclée, titled “Jésus et Jésus-Christ,” which Mgr Doré initiated in 1977 when he was on the faculty of L’Institut Catholique de Paris. The goal of the series was to explore in depth the historical Jesus and the various aspects of his recognition by the Church as the Messiah and Son of God. This highly successful series includes books by such famous authors as Pierre GRELOT, Yves CONGAR, Michel QUESNEL, Albert VANHOYE, Ignace de la POTTERIE, Karl RAHNER, Hans Urs von BALTHASAR, Pinchas LAPIDE, Michel DUPUY, and many others. A signal honor accorded to this series was the recent colloquium held at the Institut Catholique de Paris March 24-25, 2011 to honor the collection and its founder for the impact they have had on Christological discussions for the last thirty-four years.
Although the series concluded with the appearance of the 100th volume, there will also be a supplementary volume that brings the scope of the series together in a summary fashion. In addition, Mgr Doré has kept busy with other intense publishing projects, including a multi-volume “Manual of Theology” (Desclée), titled “Christianity and the Christian Faith” (eight of which have appeared), and a multi-volume series on “The Theological and Religious Sciences” (Beauchesne), of which ten volumes have already appeared.
More recently, Mgr Doré’s creative interests led into a new arena with the establishment of a series of books intended to highlight the great cathedrals of France. The series, envisioned in 2007 after his resignation from the Archdiocese of Strasbourg for health reasons, is entitled “La Grace d’une Cathédrale” (La Nuée Bleue). It recounts the history, architecture, and life of these unique monuments built to give honor and glory to God. Each book, which is collectively written by numerous participating authors, is introduced by the (arch)bishop of the local diocese and is beautifully illustrated. Mgr Doré himself produced the first volume (2007) dedicated to the cathedral of Strasbourg. A second volume, devoted to the cathedral of Rheims, has also appeared.
In addition, his latest work, a memoir of his experiences as a Catholic, a priest, an educator, and a bishop, was just published. Titled À Cause de Jésus! Pourquoi je suis demeuré chrétien et reste catholique (Plon, 2011), this book is very different in tone and style from his other, more technical works. It takes its place among numerous books that have given personal testimony to the importance of the Christian and Catholic faith. It also chronicles his multiple experiences as a professor, theologian, formator, priest, and bishop, not hesitating to address some of the most sensitive theological and ecclesiastical questions of our day.
Among Mgr Doré’s many other distinctions was his service from 1992-1997 on the International Theological Commission in Rome, which was at the time under the direction of then Cardinal Joseph RATZINGER, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now Pope Benedict XVI. Another sign of respect for his wisdom and expertise is Mgr Doré’s service for twenty years as a consultor for the Pontifical Council on Culture.
In 2002 Mgr Doré was also honored by the publication of a nearly 900-page collection of essays by various scholars and dignitaries, titled La Responsabilité des théologiens. Mélanges offerts à Joseph Doré (Desclée), which also contains an extensive bibliography of his many publications over the years.
By any estimation, Mgr Doré has truly given great witness to the Christian and Catholic faith by his multiple contributions to the life of the Church. His brother Sulpicians are very proud of him and offer him sincere congratulations on this latest achievement of being named Commander in the French Ministry of Culture’s Order of Arts and Letters. Ad multos annos!