“In light of this, I think that "hermeneutic of continuity" is more widely, and more plausibly, interpreted to mean that doctrines that appear to have been changed by the Council were not, in fact, changed in any substantive way from what has traditionally been taught by the Magisterium. This seems to be the sense in which Weigel. Since the expression "hermeneutic of continuity" is Benedict's, and not JPII's, it seems better to interpret it in light of what he (Ratzinger) thinks it means, rather than in terms of what JPII might have thought it meant, and it seems to me that he takes it in the sense in which Weigel reads it.”
Good to hear from you. Let me offer a little something for the “plausibility” of the “Neo-Continental lingo” I deploy to give an account of the continuity of the pre-Council lingo and the Council lingo. And I dare to submit that BXVI is totally into the arena of the “subject” in that his deepest and most persistent insight is in the horizon of the person. That the “person” is in a distinct epistemological dimension than “thing” for Ratzinger is evident in the “constitutive” relationality that characterizes it. When he talks about “person” in the Trinity, he is talking about “substance” with relation as “accident,” as in Greek Metaphysics. He is talking about “constitutive” relationality whereby the Father is the act of engendering the Son, and not already constituted Father and then engenders Son. This epistemological shift is the paradigm shift of Vatican II. The meaning of man, then, is not taken “from below” (as in Aristotle) but “from above” and the continuity with the source of Revelation – the Person of Christ – is enhanced in the Council.
“Populorum Progressio” and “Humanae Vitae” are two encyclicals that immediately flow from that epistemological shift that is conceptualized in #24 of “Gaudium et spes:” “man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of self.” This is the anthropological shift from man as “individual substance of a rational nature” to man as “self-gift” that is a work of relationality-gift in progress. This shift from the objective-reductive way of knowing to the experiential consciousness of self-transcendence is the of Vatican II. Both Wojtyla and Ratzinger were steeped in this. Trust me. Read Ratzinger’s account of the meaning of faith in his habilitation thesis in “Milestones…” p. 108-109, and its rejection by Schmaus as “modernist” to get a feel for the subject-relation content of the deepest mind of Ratzinger.
And it was crossing this threshold from object to person-in-relation that preserves the continuity with the faith of always in the Council.
Weigel does not seem to understand this. He accuses the change in the terminology as “rupture.” But he is missing the “continuity” of Person which demands a shift to a different epistemological level of experience.
My offering is the persistence of the pope in challenging the Church and the world to a “broadening of reason” which is precisely this shift. The reference-link that you gave me [that I had posted here in its 2005 moment and in the last few days] from BXVI’s December 22, 2005 address to the Roman Curia seems to be saying what I have suggested above, to wit:
“The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council's conclusion on 7 December 1965.
“Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". And he continues: "Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...". It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...", retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).
“It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.”
* * * * * * * * *
Broadening Reason (Again)
European Professors I
1) “Widening the Horizons of Rationality” (June 7, 2008):
At the Sixth European Symposium of University Professors
Pope Benedict XVI
Widening the horizons of rationality
On Saturday, 7 June , the Holy Father met with participants at the Sixth European Symposium for University Professors in the Vatican's Clementine Hall. The Symposium was taking place in Rome from 5-8 June with an estimated 400 university professors participating from 26 European countries. The following is a translation of the Pope's Address, given in Italian.
Your Eminence,Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,Illustrious Professors,
For me it is a motive of profound joy to meet you on the occasion of the Sixth European Symposium for University Professors on the theme: "Widen the horizons of rationality. Perspectives for Philosophy" promoted by the Professors of the Universities of Rome and organized by the Office for Campus Ministry of the Vicariate of Rome in collaboration with the regional and provincial Institutions and the Municipality of Rome.
I thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini and Prof. Cesare Mirabelli who have interpreted your sentiments, and I address my cordial welcome to all those present.
In continuity with last year's European meeting of university Lecturers, your Symposium takes up a very important academic and cultural theme. I would like to express my gratitude to the organizing committee for this choice which permits us, among other things, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio of my beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II.
Already on that occasion 50 civil and ecclesial philosophy professors of the public and pontifical universities of Rome manifested their gratitude to the Pope with a declaration which confirmed the urgency of relaunching the study of philosophy in universities and schools.
Sharing this concern and encouraging fruitful collaboration among the professors of various Roman and European athenaeums, I wish to address a particular invitation to philosophy professors to continue with confidence in philosophical research, investing intellectual energy and involving new generations in this task.
The events which took place in the last 10 years since the Encyclical's publication have further delineated the historical and cultural scene in which philosophical research called to enter. Indeed, the crisis of modernity is not synonymous with the decline in philosophy; instead philosophy must commit itself to a new path of research to comprehend the true nature of this crisis (cf. Address to European Meeting of University Lecturers, 23 June 2007, L'Osservatore Romano English Edition, 11 July 2007, p. 6) and to identify new prospectives toward which to be oriented.
An 'anthropological question'
Modernity, if well understood, reveals an "anthropological question" that presents itself in a much more complex and articulated way than what has taken place in the philosophical reflections of the last centuries, above all in Europe.
Without diminishing the attempts made, much still remains to be probed and understood. Modernity is not simply a cultural phenomenon, historically dated; in reality it implies a new planning, a more exact understanding of human nature.
It is not difficult to gather from the writings of authoritative thinkers an honest reflection on the difficulties that arise in the resolution to this prolonged crisis. Giving credit to some authors' proposals in regard to religions and in particular to Christianity is an evident sign of the sincere desire to exist from the self-sufficiency philosophical reflection.
From the beginning of my Pontificate I have listened attentively to the requests that reach me from the men and women of our time and, in view of their expectations, I have wished to offer a pointer for research that seems to me capable of raising interest to relaunch philosophy and its irreplaceable role in the academic and cultural world.
You have made it the object of reflection of your Symposium: it is the proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality". This allows me to reflect on it with you as among friends who desire to pursue a common journey.
I would like to begin with a deep conviction which I have expressed many times: "Christian faith has made its clear choice: against the gods of religion for the God of philosophers, in other words against the myth of mere custom for the truth of being" (cf. J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Ch. 3).
Meet the reality of person
This affirmation, that reflects the Christian journey from its dawning, shows itself completely actual in the cultural historical context that we are living. In fact, only beginning from this premise, which is historic and theological at the same time, is it possible to meet the new expectations of philosophical reflection.
The risk that religion, even Christianity, be strumentalized as a surreptitious phenomenon is very concrete even today. But Christianity, as I recalled in the Encyclical Spe Salvi is not only "informative", but "performative" (cf. n. 2). This means that from the beginning Christian faith cannot be enclosed within an abstract world of theories, but it must descend into the concrete historic experience that reaches humanity in the most profound truth of his existence.
This experience, conditioned by new cultural and ideological situations, is the place in which theological research must evaluate and upon which it is urgent to initiate a fruitful dialogue with philosophy.
The understanding of Christianity as a real transformation of human existence, if on the one hand it impels theological reflection to a new approach in regard to religion, on the other, it encourages it not to lose confidence in being able to know reality.
The proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality", therefore, must not simply be counted among the new lines of theological and philosophical thought, but it must be understood as the requisite for a new opening onto the reality that the human person in his uni-totality is, rising above ancient prejudices and reductionisms, to open itself also to the way toward a true understanding of modernity.
Humanity's desire for fullness cannot be disregarded. The Christian faith is called to take on this historical emergency by involving the men and women of good will in a simple task. The new dialogue between faith and reason, required today, cannot happen in the terms and in the ways in which it happened in the past. If it does not want to be reduced to a sterile intellectual exercise, it must begin from the present concrete situation of humanity and upon this develop a reflection that draws from the ontological-metaphysical truth.
Dear friends, you have before you a very exacting journey. First of all, it is necessary to promote high-level academic centres in which philosophy can dialogue with other disciplines, in particular with theology, favouring new, suitable cultural syntheses to orient society's journey.
The European dimension of your meeting in Rome — indeed, you come from 26 countries — can favour a truly fruitful comparison and exchange. I trust that the Catholic academic institutions are ready to open true cultural laboratories.
I would also like to invite you to courage youth to engage in philosophical studies, opportunely favouring initiatives with a university orientation.
I am certain that the new generations, with their enthusiasm, will know how to respond generously to the expectations of the Church and society.
In a few days I will have the joy opening the Pauline Year, during which we will celebrate the Apostle to the Gentiles: I hope that this unique initiative constitutes for all of you an opportune occasion to rediscover, in the footsteps of the great Apostle, the historic fecundity of the Gospel and its extraordinary potentiality for contemporary culture too.
With this wish, I impart my Blessing to you all.
Taken from:L'Osservatore RomanoWeekly Edition in English11 June 2008, page 6
Content: The operative word is "Performative" (as in “Spe Salvi”) for the broadening of reason is concomitant with the broadening of the being of the person by means of the act of faith as a going out of self in order to take in and become the Person of Christ who is, in Himself, the very meaning of “Revelation.” What is involved here is the realism of being as criterion of knowing. It is profoundly evangelical as in Simon coming to know that Jesus of Nazareth is Jesus the Christ, or the Samaritan woman lowering herself in humility before Christ and his revealing his identity to her. Reason's exposure to being widens as the believing person expands in the experiential encounter with Christ. This would connect with Fides et ratio #83: "In a special way, the person [exercising the act of faith] constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry."
European Professors II
2) Benedict XVI's Address to European Professors on June 24, 2007 where he emphasizes realism and the "performative" character of the believing person.
"A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities"VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave to participants of the European Meeting of University Professors, gathered in Paul VI Hall. The four-day meeting ended today in Rome.* * *Your Eminence,Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,Dear Friends!I am particularly pleased to receive you during the first European Meeting of University Lecturers, sponsored by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and organized by teachers from the Roman universities, coordinated by the Vicariate of Rome's Office for the Pastoral Care of Universities. It is taking place on the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which gave rise to the present European Union, and its participants include university lecturers from every country on the continent, including those of the Caucasus: Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. I thank Cardinal Péter Erdő, President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, for his kind words of introduction. I greet the representatives of the Italian government, particularly those from the Ministry for Universities and Research, and from the Ministry for Italy's Cultural Heritage, as well as the representatives of the Region of Lazio and the Province and City of Rome. My greeting also goes to the other civil and religious authorities, the Rectors and the teachers of the various universities, as well as the chaplains and students present.The theme of your meeting -- "A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities" -- invites a disciplined assessment of contemporary culture on the continent. Europe is presently experiencing a certain social instability and diffidence in the face of traditional values, yet her distinguished history and her established academic institutions have much to contribute to shaping a future of hope. The "question of man", which is central to your discussions, is essential for a correct understanding of current cultural processes. It also provides a solid point of departure for the effort of universities to create a new cultural presence and activity in the service of a more united Europe. Promoting a new humanism, in fact, requires a clear understanding of what this "newness" actually embodies. Far from being the fruit of a superficial desire for novelty, the quest for a new humanism must take serious account of the fact that Europe today is experiencing a massive cultural shift, one in which men and women are increasingly conscious of their call to be actively engaged in shaping their own history. Historically, it was in Europe that humanism developed, thanks to the fruitful interplay between the various cultures of her peoples and the Christian faith. Europe today needs to preserve and reappropriate her authentic tradition if she is to remain faithful to her vocation as the cradle of humanism.The present cultural shift is often seen as a "challenge" to the culture of the university and Christianity itself, rather than as a "horizon" against which creative solutions can and must be found. As men and women of higher education, you are called to take part in this demanding task, which calls for sustained reflection on a number of foundational issues.Among these, I would mention in the first place the need for a comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity. European culture in recent centuries has been powerfully conditioned by the notion of modernity. The present crisis, however, has less to do with modernity's insistence on the centrality of man and his concerns, than with the problems raised by a "humanism" that claims to build a regnum hominis detached from its necessary ontological foundation. A false dichotomy between theism and authentic humanism, taken to the extreme of positing an irreconcilable conflict between divine law and human freedom, has led to a situation in which humanity, for all its economic and technical advances, feels deeply threatened. As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, stated, we need to ask "whether in the context of all this progress, man, as man, is becoming truly better, that is to say, more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible and more open to others" ("Redemptor Hominis," 15). The anthropocentrism which characterizes modernity can never be detached from an acknowledgment of the full truth about man, which includes his transcendent vocation.A second issue involves the broadening of our understanding of rationality. A correct understanding of the challenges posed by contemporary culture, and the formulation of meaningful responses to those challenges, must take a critical approach towards narrow and ultimately irrational attempts to limit the scope of reason. The concept of reason needs instead to be "broadened" in order to be able to explore and embrace those aspects of reality which go beyond the purely empirical. This will allow for a more fruitful, complementary approach to the relationship between faith and reason. The rise of the European universities was fostered by the conviction that faith and reason are meant to cooperate in the search for truth, each respecting the nature and legitimate autonomy of the other, yet working together harmoniously and creatively to serve the fulfilment of the human person in truth and love.A third issue needing to be investigated concerns the nature of the contribution which Christianity can make to the humanism of the future. The question of man, and thus of modernity, challenges the Church to devise effective ways of proclaiming to contemporary culture the "realism" of her faith in the saving work of Christ. Christianity must not be relegated to the world of myth and emotion, but respected for its claim to shed light on the truth about man, to be able to transform men and women spiritually, and thus to enable them to carry out their vocation in history. In my recent visit to Brazil, I voiced my conviction that "unless we do know God in and with Christ, all of reality becomes an indecipherable enigma" (Address to Bishops of CELAM, 3). Knowledge can never be limited to the purely intellectual realm; it also includes a renewed ability to look at things in a way free of prejudices and preconceptions, and to allow ourselves to be "amazed" by reality, whose truth can be discovered by uniting understanding with love. Only the God who has a human face, revealed in Jesus Christ, can prevent us from truncating reality at the very moment when it demands ever new and more complex levels of understanding. The Church is conscious of her responsibility to offer this contribution to contemporary culture.In Europe, as elsewhere, society urgently needs the service to wisdom which the university community provides. This service extends also to the practical aspects of directing research and activity to the promotion of human dignity and to the daunting task of building the civilization of love. University professors, in particular, are called to embody the virtue of intellectual charity, recovering their primordial vocation to train future generations not only by imparting knowledge but by the prophetic witness of their own lives. The university, for its part, must never lose sight of its particular calling to be an "universitas" in which the various disciplines, each in its own way, are seen as part of a greater unum. How urgent is the need to rediscover the unity of knowledge and to counter the tendency to fragmentation and lack of communicability that is all too often the case in our schools! The effort to reconcile the drive to specialization with the need to preserve the unity of knowledge can encourage the growth of European unity and help the continent to rediscover its specific cultural "vocation" in today's world. Only a Europe conscious of its own cultural identity can make a specific contribution to other cultures, while remaining open to the contribution of other peoples.Dear friends, it is my hope that universities will increasingly become communities committed to the tireless pursuit of truth, "laboratories of culture" where teachers and students join in exploring issues of particular importance for society, employing interdisciplinary methods and counting on the collaboration of theologians. This can easily be done in Europe, given the presence of so many prestigious Catholic institutions and faculties of theology. I am convinced that greater cooperation and new forms of fellowship between the various academic communities will enable Catholic universities to bear witness to the historical fruitfulness of the encounter between faith and reason. The result will be a concrete contribution to the attainment of the goals of the Bologna Process, and an incentive for developing a suitable university apostolate in the local Churches. Effective support for these efforts, which have been increasingly a concern of the European Episcopal Conferences (cf. "Ecclesia in Europa," 58-59), can come from those ecclesial associations and movements already engaged in the university apostolate.Dear friends, may your deliberations during these days prove fruitful and help to build an active network of university instructors committed to bringing the light of the Gospel to contemporary culture. I assure you and your families of a special remembrance in my prayers, and I invoke upon you, and the universities in which you work, the maternal protection of Mary, Seat of Wisdom. To each of you I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.
3) Benedict's Opening Address for the Aparecida Conference of CELAM in Brazil on May 13, 2007. This centers on the realism that only knowledge of God can give, and to achieve that realism which affects all philosophic thought.
THE VALUE OF CHRIST: LIFE
What does Christ actually give us? Why do we want to be disciples of Christ? The answer is: because, in communion with him, we hope to find life, the true life that is worthy of the name, and thus we want to make him known to others, to communicate to them the gift that we have found in him. But is it really so? Are we really convinced that Christ is the way, the truth and the life?
In the face of the priority of faith in Christ and of life "in him", formulated in the title of this Fifth Conference, a further question could arise: could this priority not perhaps be a flight towards emotionalism, towards religious individualism, an abandonment of the urgent reality of the great economic, social and political problems of Latin America and the world, and a flight from reality towards a spiritual world?
As a fir st step, we can respond to this question with another: what is this "reality"? What is real? Are only material goods, social, economic and political problems "reality"? This was precisely the great error of the dominant tendencies of the last century, a most destructive error, as we can see from the results of both Marxist and capitalist systems. They falsify the notion of reality by detaching it from the foundational and decisive reality which is God. Anyone who excludes God from his horizons falsifies the notion of "reality" and, in consequence, can only end up in blind alleys or with recipes for destruction.
The first basic point to affirm, then, is the following: only those who recognize God know reality and are able to respond to it adequately and in a truly human manner. The truth of this thesis becomes evident in the face of the collapse of all the systems that marginalize God.
Yet here a further question immediately arises: who knows God? How can we know him? We cannot enter here into a complex discussion of this fundamental issue. For a Christian, the nucleus of the reply is simple: only God knows God, only his Son who is God from God, true God, knows him. And he "who is nearest to the Father’s heart has made him known" (John 1:18). Hence the unique and irreplaceable importance of Christ for us, for humanity. If we do not know God in and with Christ, all of reality is transformed into an indecipherable enigma; there is no way, and without a way, there is neither life nor truth.
God is the foundational reality, not a God who is merely imagined or hypothetical, but God with a human face; he is God-with-us, the God who loves even to the Cross. When the disciple arrives at an understanding of this love of Christ "to the end", he cannot fail to respond to this love with a similar love: "I will follow you wherever you go" (Luke 9:57).
Vatican, 17 January 2008.
4) Lecture at the University of Rome “La Sapienza:”
“Today we see very clearly how the state of religions and the situation of the Church – her crises and her renewal – affect humanity in its entirety. Thus the Pope, in his capacity as Shepherd of his community, is also increasingly becoming a voice for the ethical reasoning of humanity.
“Here, however, the objection immediately arises: surely the Pope does not really base his pronouncements on ethical reasoning, but draws his judgements from faith and hence cannot claim to speak on behalf of those who do not share this faith. We will have to return to this point later, because here the absolutely fundamental question must be asked: What is reason? How can one demonstrate that an assertion – especially a moral norm – is “reasonable”? At this point I would like to describe briefly how John Rawls, while denying that comprehensive religious doctrines have the character of “public” reason, nonetheless at least sees their “non-public” reason as one which cannot simply be dismissed by those who maintain a rigidly secularized rationality. Rawls perceives a criterion of this reasonableness among other things in the fact that such doctrines derive from a responsible and well thought-out tradition in which, over lengthy periods, satisfactory arguments have been developed in support of the doctrines concerned. The important thing in this assertion, it seems to me, is the acknowledgment that down through the centuries, experience and demonstration – the historical source of human wisdom – are also a sign of its reasonableness and enduring significance. Faced with an a-historical form of reason that seeks to establish itself exclusively in terms of a-historical rationality, humanity’s wisdom – the wisdom of the great religious traditions – should be valued as a heritage that cannot be cast with impunity into the dustbin of the history of ideas.
“Let us go back to our initial question. The Pope speaks as the representative of a community of believers in which a particular wisdom about life has evolved in the course of the centuries of its existence. He speaks as the representative of a community that preserves within itself a treasury of ethical knowledge and experience important for all humanity: in this sense, he speaks as the representative of a form of ethical reasoning.
“Now, however, we must ask ourselves: “What is the university? What is its task?” This is a vast question to which, once again, I can only endeavour to respond in an almost telegraphic style with one or two comments. I think one could say that at the most intimate level, the true origin of the university lies in the thirst for knowledge that is proper to man. The human being wants to know what everything around him is. He wants truth. In this perspective, once can see Socratic questioning as the impulse that gave birth to the western university. I am thinking, for example – to mention only one text – of the dispute with Euthyphro, who in debate with Socrates defended the mythical religion and cult. Socrates countered with a question: “Do you believe that the gods are really waging war against each other with terrible feuds and battles? … Must we effectively say, Euthyphro, that all this is true?” (6 b-c). The Christians of the first centuries identified themselves and their journey with this question which seems not particularly devout – but which in Socrates’ case derived from a deeper and purer religious sensibility, from the search for the true God. They received their faith not in a positivistic manner, nor as a way of escape from unfulfilled wishes; rather, they understood it as dispelling the mist of mythological religion in order to make way for the discovery of the God who is creative Reason, God who is Reason-Love. This is why reasoned enquiry concerning the truly great God, and concerning the true nature and meaning of the human being, did not strike them as problematic, as a lack of due religious sentiment: rather, it was an essential part of their way of being religious. Hence they did not need to abandon or set aside Socratic enquiry, but they could, indeed were bound to accept it, and recognize reason’s laborious search to attain knowledge of the whole truth as part of their own identity. In this way, within the context of the Christian faith, in the Christian world, the university could come into being – indeed it was bound to do so.
“Now it is necessary to take a further step. Man desires to know – he wants truth. Truth in the first instance is something discerned through seeing, understanding, what Greek tradition calls theoría. Yet truth is never purely theoretical. In drawing a parallel between the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount and the gifts of the Spirit listed in Isaiah 11, Saint Augustine argued that there is a reciprocity between scientia and tristitia: knowledge on its own, he said, causes sadness. And it is true to say that those who merely see and apprehend all that happens in the world end up being saddened. Yet truth means more than knowledge: the purpose of knowing the truth is to know the good. This is also the meaning of Socratic enquiry: What is the good which makes us true? The truth makes us good and the good is true: this is the optimism that shapes the Christian faith, because this faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, of creative Reason which, in God’s incarnation, revealed itself as the Good, as Goodness itself.
“In medieval theology there was a detailed disputation on the relationship between theory and practice, on the proper relationship between knowledge and action – a disputation that we need not explore here. De facto, the medieval university with its four faculties expresses this correlation. Let us begin with the faculty which was understood at the time to rank as the fourth – the faculty of medicine. Even if it was considered more as an “art” than a science, the inclusion of medicine within the ambit of the universitas clearly indicated that it was placed within the realm of rationality, that the art of healing was under the guidance of reason and had been removed from the realm of magic. Healing is a task that always requires more than plain reason, but this is precisely why it depends on the connection between knowledge and power, it needs to belong to the sphere of ratio. Inevitably the question of the relationship between praxis and theory, between knowledge and action, also arose in the faculty of jurisprudence. Here it was a matter of giving the correct form to human freedom, which is always a freedom shared with others. Law is the presupposition of freedom, not its opponent. At this point, however, the question immediately arises: How is it possible to identify criteria of justice that make shared freedom possible and help man to be good? Here a leap into the present is necessary. The point in question is: how can a juridical body of norms be established that serves as an ordering of freedom, of human dignity and human rights? This is the issue with which we are grappling today in the democratic processes that form opinion, the issue which also causes us to be anxious about the future of humanity. In my opinion, Jürgen Habermas articulates a vast consensus of contemporary thought when he says that the legitimacy of a constitutional charter, as a basis for what is legal, derives from two sources: from the equal participation of all citizens in the political process and from the reasonable manner in which political disputes are resolved. With regard to this “reasonable manner”, he notes that it cannot simply be a fight for arithmetical majorities, but must have the character of a “process of argumentation sensitive to the truth” (wahrheitssensibles Argumentationsverfahren). The point is well made, but it is far from easy to put it into practice politically. The representatives of that public “process of argumentation” are – as we know – principally political parties, inasmuch as these are responsible for the formation of political will. De facto, they will always aim to achieve majorities and hence will almost inevitably attend to interests that they promise to satisfy, even though these interests are often particular and do not truly serve the whole. Sensibility to the truth is repeatedly subordinated to sensibility to interests. I find it significant that Habermas speaks of sensibility to the truth as a necessary element in the process of political argument, thereby reintroducing the concept of truth into philosophical and political debate.
“At this point, though, Pilate’s question becomes unavoidable: What is truth? And how can it be recognized? If in our search for an answer we have recourse to “public reason”, as Rawls does, then further questions necessarily follow: What is reasonable? How is reason shown to be true? In any case, on this basis it becomes clear that in the search for a set of laws embodying freedom, in the search for the truth about a just polity, we must listen to claims other than those of parties and interest groups, without in any way wishing to deny the importance of the latter. Let us return now to the structure of the medieval university. Besides the faculty of jurisprudence, there were faculties of philosophy and theology, which were entrusted with the task of studying the human being in his totality, thus safeguarding sensibility to the truth. One might even say that this was the permanent and true purpose of both faculties: to be custodians of sensibility to the truth, not to allow man to be distracted from his search for the truth. Yet how could the faculties measure up to this task? This is a question which must be constantly worked at, and is never asked and answered once and for all. So, at this point, I cannot offer a satisfactory answer either, but only an invitation to continue exploring the question – exploring in company with the great minds throughout history that have grappled and researched, engaging with their answers and their passion for the truth that invariably points beyond each individual answer.
“Theology and philosophy in this regard form a strange pair of twins, in which neither of the two can be totally separated from the other, and yet each must preserve its own task and its own identity. It is the historical merit of Saint Thomas Aquinas – in the face of the rather different answer offered by the Fathers, owing to their historical context – to have highlighted the autonomy of philosophy, and with it the laws and the responsibility proper to reason, which enquires on the basis of its own dynamic. Distancing themselves from neo-Platonic philosophies, in which religion and philosophy were inseparably interconnected, the Fathers had presented the Christian faith as the true philosophy, and had emphasized that this faith fulfils the demands of reason in search of truth; that faith is the “yes” to the truth, in comparison with the mythical religions that had become mere custom. By the time the university came to birth, though, those religions no longer existed in the West – there was only Christianity, and thus it was necessary to give new emphasis to the specific responsibility of reason, which is not absorbed by faith. Thomas was writing at a privileged moment: for the first time, the philosophical works of Aristotle were accessible in their entirety; the Jewish and Arab philosophies were available as specific appropriations and continuations of Greek philosophy. Christianity, in a new dialogue with the reasoning of the interlocutors it was now encountering, was thus obliged to argue a case for its own reasonableness. The faculty of philosophy, which as a so-called “arts faculty” had until then been no more than a preparation for theology, now became a faculty in its own right, an autonomous partner of theology and the faith on which theology reflected. We cannot digress to consider the fascinating consequences of this development. I would say that Saint Thomas’s idea concerning the relationship between philosophy and theology could be expressed using the formula that the Council of Chalcedon adopted for Christology: philosophy and theology must be interrelated “without confusion and without separation”. “Without confusion” means that each of the two must preserve its own identity. Philosophy must truly remain a quest conducted by reason with freedom and responsibility; it must recognize its limits and likewise its greatness and immensity.
“Theology must continue to draw upon a treasury of knowledge that it did not invent, that always surpasses it, the depths of which can never be fully plumbed through reflection, and which for that reason constantly gives rise to new thinking. Balancing “without confusion”, there is always “without separation”: philosophy does not start again from zero with every thinking subject in total isolation, but takes its place within the great dialogue of historical wisdom, which it continually accepts and develops in a manner both critical and docile. It must not exclude what religions, and the Christian faith in particular, have received and have given to humanity as signposts for the journey. Various things said by theologians in the course of history, or even adopted in practice by ecclesiastical authorities, have been shown by history to be false, and today make us feel ashamed. Yet at the same time it has to be acknowledged that the history of the saints, the history of the humanism that has grown out of the Christian faith, demonstrates the truth of this faith in its essential nucleus, thereby giving it a claim upon public reason. Of course, much of the content of theology and faith can only be appropriated within the context of faith, and therefore cannot be demanded of those to whom this faith remains inaccessible. Yet at the same time it is true that the message of the Christian faith is never solely a “comprehensive religious doctrine” in Rawls’ sense, but is a purifying force for reason, helping it to be more fully itself. On the basis of its origin, the Christian message should always be an encouragement towards truth, and thus a force against the pressure exerted by power and interests.
“Up to this point, I have spoken only of the medieval university, while seeking nonetheless to indicate the unchanging nature of the university and its task. In modern times, new dimensions of knowledge have opened up, which have been explored within the university under two broad headings: first, the natural sciences, which have developed on the basis of the connection between experimentation and the presumed rationality of matter; second, the historical and human sciences, in which man, contemplating his history as in a mirror and clarifying the dimensions of his nature, seeks to understand himself better. In this process, not only has an immense quantity of knowledge and power been made available to humanity, but knowledge and recognition of human rights and dignity have also evolved, and for this we can only be grateful. Yet the human journey never simply comes to an end; and the danger of falling into inhumanity is never totally overcome, as is only too evident from the panorama of recent history! The danger for the western world – to speak only of this – is that today, precisely because of the greatness of his knowledge and power, man will fail to face up to the question of the truth. This would mean at the same time that reason would ultimately bow to the pressure of interests and the attraction of utility, constrained to recognize this as the ultimate criterion. To put it from the point of view of the structure of the university: there is a danger that philosophy, no longer considering itself capable of its true task, will degenerate into positivism; and that theology, with its message addressed to reason, will be limited to the private sphere of a more or less numerous group. Yet if reason, out of concern for its alleged purity, becomes deaf to the great message that comes to it from Christian faith and wisdom, then it withers like a tree whose roots can no longer reach the waters that give it life. It loses the courage for truth and thus becomes not greater but smaller. Applied to our European culture, this means: if our culture seeks only to build itself on the basis of the circle of its own argumentation, on what convinces it at the time, and if – anxious to preserve its secularism – it detaches itself from its life-giving roots, then it will not become more reasonable or purer, but will fall apart and disintegrate.
“This brings me back to my starting-point. What should the Pope do or say at the university? Certainly, he must not seek to impose the faith upon others in an authoritarian manner – as faith can only be given in freedom. Over and above his ministry as Shepherd of the Church, and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral ministry, it is the Pope’s task to safeguard sensibility to the truth; to invite reason to set out ever anew in search of what is true and good, in search of God; to urge reason, in the course of this search, to discern the illuminating lights that have emerged during the history of the Christian faith, and thus to recognize Jesus Christ as the Light that illumines history and helps us find the path towards the future.”
(September 12, 2006)
Content: Regensburg itself as the recounting of the confluence with reciprocal advantages of lived Abrahamic faith and its encounter with Greek philosophy in the 6th century B.C. Faith became universal wisdom, and Greek philosophy became a metaphysic in search of the Absolute Being.
5) Regensburg: “Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization”
“Once a semester there was a "dies academicus," when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of "universitas": The reality that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason -- this reality became a lived experience. The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the "universitas scientiarum," even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: It had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: This, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question….
The vision of St. Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) -- this vision can be interpreted as a "distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between biblical faith and Greek inquiry. In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and declares simply that he is, already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates' attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am." This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Psalm 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria -- the Septuagint -- is more than a simple (and in that sense perhaps less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: It is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of Revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature. In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which ultimately led to the claim that we can only know God's "voluntas ordinata." Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language (cf. Lateran IV). God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Ephesians 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is logos. Consequently, Christian worship is "logic latreía" -- worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Romans 12:1). This inner rapprochement between biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history -- it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: This convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.