The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine November – December 2011

Objective Values Needed in England
9 September, Castel Gandolfo, welcoming the new UK Ambassador

... As you pointed out in your speech, your Government wishes to employ policies that are based on enduring values that cannot be simply expressed in legal terms. This is especially important in the light of events in England this summer. When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others.

... The sustainable development of the world's poorer peoples ... is why I remarked in Westminster Hall last year that integral human development, and all that it entails, is an enterprise truly worthy of the world's attention and one that is too big to be allowed to fail ...

Rediscovering Existence of God Through Science
18 September, TV message to the German people

It is, indeed, true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch Him or pick Him up like an ordinary object. We must rediscover our capacity to perceive God, a capacity that exists within us. ... We can use the world through technology because it is made in a rational manner. In the great rationality of the world we can intuit the creator spirit from which it comes, and in the beauty of creation we can intuit something of the beauty, of the grandeur and also the goodness of God.

Developing Beyond Positivism
22 September, Berlin, to the Bundestag

The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term. Let me outline briefly how this situation arose. Fundamentally it is because of the idea that an unbridgeable gulf exists between "is" and "ought". An "ought" can never follow from an "is", because the two are situated on completely different planes. The reason for this is that in the meantime, the positivist understanding of nature has come to be almost universally accepted. If nature - in the words of Hans Kelsen - is viewed as "an aggregate of objective data linked together in terms of cause and effect", then indeed no ethical indication of any kind can be derived from it.

... The same also applies to reason, according to the positivist understanding that is widely held to be the only genuinely scientific one. Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason strictly understood. ...

Where positivist reason dominates the field to the exclusion of all else - and that is broadly the case in our public mindset - then the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law are excluded. This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary. Indeed, an essential goal of this address is to issue an urgent invitation to launch one.

The positivist approach to nature and reason, the positivist world view in general, is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with. But in and of itself it is not a sufficient culture corresponding to the full breadth of the human condition. ...

Developing Beyond Modern Philosophy of Science
24 September, Freiburg, to seminarians

Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. This scientific spirit, this spirit of understanding, explaining, know-how, rejection of the irrational, is dominant in our time. There is a good side to this, even if it often conceals much arrogance and nonsense. The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to. Rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn. Naturally in 20 years' time, some quite different philosophicaltheories will be fashionable from those of today: when I think what counted as the highest, most modern philosophical fashion in our day, and how totally forgotten it is now ... still, learning these things is not in vain, for there will be some enduring insights among them. ...

Faith Magazine

November - December 2011