French bishops have voted to open the sainthood cause of 20th-century theologian Henri de Lubac.

The French bishops’ conference announced on March 31 that the opening of de Lubac’s cause for beatification was approved during the bishops’ plenary assembly in Lourdes.

De Lubac is considered by many to be one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. The French Jesuit priest was a leading thinker in the ressourcement school of thought that encouraged a return to the writings of the Church Fathers in Catholic theology. He also founded the Communio journal together with Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Some of his best-known books are “The Splendor of the Church,” “The Christian Faith,” “Catholicisme,” “The Drama of Atheist Humanism,” and “The Motherhood of the Church.”

Born on Feb. 20, 1896, in the northern French city of Cambrai, de Lubac grew up in a traditionally Catholic family with five siblings. After his family moved to Lyon, de Lubac studied at a Jesuit school before making the decision to enter the Jesuit order in 1913.

His novitiate studies in England were interrupted by World War I the following year when he was drafted into the French army. He served in the army from 1914 to 1919, sustaining a head injury that caused him pain for the rest of his life.

De Lubac was ordained a priest in 1927 and began teaching theology at the Catholic University of Lyon.

During World War II, he resisted the ideologies of Nazism and anti-Semitism. He co-founded “Sources Chrétiennes,” a collection of patristic texts published in Greek or Latin with a French translation.

In 1950, de Lubac was banned from teaching at his Catholic university for a period of eight years. He continued to write and was named a member of the Institut de France in 1958.

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Pope John XXIII appointed de Lubac as a member of the Second Vatican Council’s preparatory commission in 1959. De Lubac later participated in the council as a “peritus,” or theological expert, his writings are seen as having been influential in the texts that emerged from the council.

Pope John Paul II named de Lubac a cardinal in 1983 at the age of 86. He died nine years later in Paris on Sept. 4, 1991.