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César Izquierdo, Professor of the School of Theology at the University of Navarra

IN MEMORIAM - Professor Leo Elders (1926-2019)

Mon, 25 Nov 2019 12:32:00 +0000

On October 14, 2010, Prof. Leo Elders, SVD, died in Teteringen (Breda, The Netherlands) at the age of 93. With his death, the School of Theology of the University of Navarra is deprived not only of a prestigious visiting professor (he had been a visiting professor since 1989) but above all of a true friend.

Father Elders was a regular visitor to our School. In the first International Symposium of Theology of the University of Navarra, held in 1979, on Ethics and Theology in Contemporary Society, Professor Elders was already present and contributed with a paper entitled "The moral thought of Schillebeecks Justice et amour, grâce et liberation". From that year on, Leo Elders was a regular - and expected - participant in the Symposia of the School, up to fill in 33 of the 36 symposia held to date. His presence and participation at each enriched the input and dialogue. Elders was able to speak in depth on a wide variety of topics, and to do so in different languages without interruption. 

Professor Elders was a profound scholar of the thought of St. Thomas which kept him, as Benedict XVI wrote to him on the occasion of his 90th birthday, on a constant pilgrimage towards the truth. He was also a solid connoisseur of contemporary theology to which he contributed ideas and also critical reflection. He was always moved by a strong missionary conviction both during his stay in the Far East (Japan, mainly) and in the theological work he carried out in Rolduc (Holland) where he lived for so many years.

I remember him arriving in Pamplona from the Netherlands in his red Peugeot 205 for attend every year at our symposia. Elders was at home in our School , and for us he was a familiar figure whose presence was taken for granted. His kindness and simplicity, the friendship he had especially with some professors such as Gonzalo Aranda, Jutta Burggraf -who had worked with him in Rolduc- Elisabeth Reinhardt, José Luis Illanes, etc, made him a very dear and close figure. Leo Elders leaves behind an impressive theological and philosophical work and a fond memory for those of us who knew him.