The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine May – June 2011

14th March: The Cultural Priority of Reason

Father Olegario Gonzalez de Cardedal, a Spanish theologian and friend of Pope Benedict, made the below comments when presenting the second volume of the Pope's "Jesus of Nazareth".

"He is an authority who, before giving us something to obey, gives us something to think about... Man wants to be enlightened in his intelligence and this is the great debt of gratitude we owe the Pope."

24th March: Need for Synthetic, Catholic Metaphysics

From the Congregation for Catholic Education's Decree on philosophy studies. Among other things it increases the years required to obtain a Baccalaureate from two to three. It uses numerous quotes from John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical Fides et Ratio, [F&R].

1. In her work of evangelising the world, the Church follows attentively and discerningly the rapid cultural changes at work, which influence both her and society as a whole. ... In fact, there is often mistrust in the capacity of human intelligence to arrive at objective and universal truth - a truth by which people can give direction to their lives. Furthermore, the force of the human sciences, as well as the consequences of scientific and technological developments, stimulate new challenges for the Church.

A New Synthesis

3. ... patristic and medieval thought... identified] the cosmos as the free creation of a God who is wise and good (cf. Wis 13,1-9; Acts 17, 24-28). ... "The metaphysical element is the path to be taken in order to move beyond the crisis pervading large sectors of philosophy at the moment, and thus to correct certain mistaken modes of behaviour now widespread in our society."[F&R 83]...

5 ... "I wish to reaffirm strongly the conviction that the human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge. This is one of the tasks which Christian thought will have to take up through the next millennium of the Christian era." [F&R 85]

7. That is why philosophy nurtured within the Universitas is called upon ... "to link theology, philosophy and science between them in full respect [...] of their reciprocal autonomy, but also in the awareness of the intrinsic unity that holds them together."[Pope Benedict, Regensburg, Sept 2006]... to rediscover "this great logos".

An Orthodox Synthesis

10.... "only a sound philosophy can help candidates for the priesthood to develop a reflective awareness of the fundamental relationship that exists between the human spirit and truth, that truth which is revealed to us fully in Jesus Christ."[Pastores Dabo Vobis, 52]...

11.  ... the teaching of philosophy ... [includes some] fundamental truths ... particularly relevant today: [below are from F&R & Veritatis Splendor]:

• the capacity to reach objective and universal truth as well as valid metaphysical knowledge;
• the unity of body and soul in man;
• the dignity of the human person;
• relations between nature and freedom;
• the importance of natural law and of the "sources of morality,”...
• and the necessary conformity of civil law to moral law.

12. The philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas is important... He knew how to place "faith in a positive relation with the dominant form of reason of his time."[Pope Benedict 22.12.05]... Thomas' realism was able to recognise the objectivity of truth
... The Church's preference for his method and his doctrine is not exclusive, but "exemplary" [Pope John Paul II, 14.9.80].

25th March: Openness to Wisdom from the World

The first gathering of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" was in various prominent cultural locations in Paris. This papal-inspired project, led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi aims to hold cultural meetings involving theists, agnostics and atheists who share the common belief in and search for truth, justice and peace. Initial fruits have been:

The prominent agnostic philosopher Jean Luc Ferry has asked to write a book on the Gospel of John with Cardinal Ravasi.
The rector of the Sorbonne has asked Ravasi for reflections on secularism.
Michel Onfray, who has been called the French Dawkins, has asked for the opportunity to show that he is not one of those who ridicules theism.
The Bulgarian humanist Julia Kristeva has taken an active and respectful part.

Future locations include Tirana, Stockholm, Chicago and Quebec. In these last two there will be a greater focus upon science and technology. Ravasi commented that such a Courtyard "should be a fixture of the pastoral activity of every diocese."

Below are some words from the Pope's video message to young people gathered outside Notre Dame.

...Those of you who are non-believers challenge believers ... by your rejection of any distortion of religion which would make it unworthy of man. Those of you who are believers long to tell your friends that the treasure dwelling within you is meant to be shared, it raises questions, it calls for reflection.... discover, deep within your hearts and with serious arguments, the ways which lead to profound dialogue.

... Religions have nothing to fear from a just secularity, one that is open and allows individuals to live in accordance with what they believe in their own consciences. If we are to build a world of liberty, equality and fraternity, then believers and non-believers must feel free to be just that, equal in their right to live as individuals and in community in accord with their convictions; and fraternal in their relations with one another.

Faith Magazine

May - June 2011