Thursday, April 24, 2008

Impact of Papal Trip

“In the short term, the trip was an enormous success, probably beyond anyone’s expectations, including those of the pope himself,” said Russell Shaw, a Catholic writer and former spokesman for the U.S. bishops’ conference. “Whether the trip is going to have a significant outcome regarding the large problems facing American Catholicism, that’s anyone’s guess.”[1]

Let me try. Since the major crisis - that may not be that evident - is the eclipse of God, the absolutely primary task of Benedict XVI is the recovery not of the “knowledge” of God, but the experience of God. I would hazard to say that that was the prime objective of the trip, the most repeated theme that was coming under the radar, and the last one to be discovered by the media, even the “good” media.

In one minute (that’s all I’ve got) let me transcribe one sentence of Benedict that I think says it all:
“With regard to the educational forum, the diakonia [service] of truth takes on a heightened significance in societies where secularist ideology drives a wedge between truth and faith. This division has led to a tendency to equate truth with knowledge and to adopt a positivistic mentality which, in rejecting metaphysics, denies the foundations of faith and rejects the need for a moral vision. Truth means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her entirety, inviting us to respond with our whole being. This optimistic vision is found in our Christian faith because such faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, God’s creative Reason, which in the Incarnation, is revealed as Goodness itself. Far from being just a communication of factual data – ‘informative’ – the loving truth of the Gospel is creative and life-changing – ‘performative’ (cf. Spe Salvi, 2). With confidence, Christian educators can liberate the young from the limits of positivism and awaken receptivity to the truth, to God and his goodness. Inthis way you will also help to form their conscience which, enriched by faith, opens a sure path to inner peace and to respect for others.”[2]

This point has to be cross-referenced throughout the other talks of the pope. I suggest that this raising of consciousness from objectified “fact” which is “knowledge” to the truth that is Person and persons - in consciousness - wherein freedom takes place, is the point of all the talks and the goal of the trip itself - and of the pontificate!!

[1] Eric Gorski, “Benedict Praised as Candid, But Visit’s Impact Unclear,” Posted Mon. Apr. 21, 2008.
[2] Benedict XVI, To Catholic Educators of the United States.

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