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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

DUNS SCOTUS: CANTOR OF THE INCARNATE WORD

VATICAN CITY, 7 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Before his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI blessed a marble statue of St. Annibale Maria di Francia (1851-1927), founder of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Daughters of Divine Generosity. The statue is positioned in an external niche of the Vatican Basilica near the Arch of the Bells.

  In his audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to Blessed Duns Scotus, who was born around the year 1266 in the Scottish village of Duns, entered the Friars Minor and was ordained a priest in 1291. "His intelligence earned him the traditional tile of 'Doctor subtilis'", said the Holy Father noting how he taught theology at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Paris. However, his faithfulness to Pope Boniface VIII in the latter's conflict with Philip IV the Fair led to him leaving France. He returned to Paris in 1305 to teach theology then moved on to Cologne where he died in 1308.

  "Because of his fame of sanctity, his cult soon spread within the Franciscan Order, and Venerable John Paul II chose to confirm him as a blessed on 20 March 1993, describing him as a 'cantor of the incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception'. In this expression he summarised Duns Scotus' great contribution to the history of theology", said Pope Benedict.

  He then went on to explain that, "though aware that because of original sin Christ redeemed us with His Passion, Death and Resurrection", Duns Scotus "makes it clear that the Incarnation is the greatest and must sublime work of the history of salvation, and that it is not conditioned by any contingent circumstance.

  "Faithful disciple of St. Francis, Duns Scotus loved to contemplate and preach on the Mystery of the salvific Passion of Christ, expression of the immense love of God", the Pope added. This love "is revealed not only on Calvary but also in the Blessed Eucharist to which Duns Scotus was profoundly devoted", he said.

  "This strongly 'Christocentric' theological vision opens us to contemplation, to wonder and gratitude: Christ is the centre of history and the cosmos, it is He Who gives meaning, dignity and value to our lives".

  Referring then to the Scottish blessed's view on the Virgin, the Pope explained how, in contrast with most theologians of his time who opposed "the doctrine according to which Holy Mary was free from original sin from the first moment of her conception", Scotus espoused the argument of "preventive Redemption". This held that "the Immaculate Conception represents the masterwork of Christ's Redemption, precisely because the power of His love and His mediation ensured that the Mother was preserved from original sin. The Franciscans enthusiastically accepted and spread this doctrine, and other theologians - often with a solemn vow - undertook to defend and improve it".

  The Pope recalled that Duns Scotus had also tackled "the subject of freedom and its relationship with the will and the intellect". In this context he noted how "an idea of innate and absolute freedom (as developed after Scotus' time) located in the will which precedes the intellect, both in God and in man, risks leading to the idea of a God Who is not even connected to truth and goodness".

  "Freedom", the Pope explained, "is authentic and helps in the construction of a truly human civilisation only when reconciled with truth. If disconnected from truth, freedom tragically becomes the principle that destroys the inner harmony of human beings, a source of abuse for the strong and the violent, a cause of suffering and mourning. Freedom ... grows and is perfected, said Duns Scotus, when man opens himself to God. ... When we listen to the divine Revelation, to the Word of God, in order to accept it, then we receive a message which fills our lives with light and hope, and we are truly free".

  Benedict concluded the catechesis - his last until 4 August - by highlighting how "Blessed Duns Scotus teaches us that the essential thing in our lives is to believe that God is close to us and loves us in Jesus Christ; to cultivate, then, a profound love for Him and His Church. We are the witnesses of that love on this earth".
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