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Thursday, June 30, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI conferred the first "Ratzinger Prize", an award established by the "Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI". The prize winners were: Manlio Simonetti, an Italian layman and scholar of ancient Christian literature and Patrology; Olegario Gonzalez de Cardedal, a Spanish priest and professor of systematic theology, and Maximilian Heim, a German Cistercian, abbot of the monastery of Heiligenkreuz in Austria and professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology.

  Following some words of greeting from Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the foundation, the Holy Father pronounced his address.

  "According to tradition, theology is the science of the faith", said the Pope. "However, if the foundation of theology - i.e., faith - does not at the same time become a focus of thought, if the practice of theology refers only to itself or if it lives exclusively off borrowings from the humanities, then it becomes empty and baseless".

  "Theology calls into question the matter of truth; this is its ultimate and essential foundation. Here an expression used by Tertullian may help us to take a step forward: Christ did not say: I am custom, but: I am the truth". The pagan religions, said the Holy Father "were customary by nature. ... They observed the traditional cultural forms, hoping in that way to maintain the right relationship with the mysterious world of the divine. The revolutionary aspect of Christianity in antiquity was precisely its break with 'custom' out of love for truth". The Gospel of St. John "contains the other fundamental interpretation of the Christian faith: the definition of Christ as Logos. If Christ is the Logos, the truth, then man must correspond to Him with his own logos; that is, with his reason".

  "From this we can understand that, by its very nature, the Christian faith had to generate theology. It had to ask itself about the rationality of the faith. ... Thus, although the fundamental bond between Logos, truth and faith, has always been clear in Christianity, the concrete form of that bond has produced and continues to produce new questions. ... St. Bonaventure ... spoke of a dual use of reason: a use irreconcilable with the nature of the faith, and another which belongs to the nature of the faith".

  For St. Bonaventure there was a "despotism of reason, when it becomes supreme judge of all things. This use of reason is certainly impossible in the context of the faith" because it seeks to submit God "to a process of experimental trial", said the Pope. In our own time, he went on, "empirical reason appears as the only declaredly scientific form of rationality. ... It has led to great achievements, and no-one would seriously wish to deny that it is just and necessary as a way to understand nature and the laws of nature. Nonetheless there is a limit to such a use of reason. God is not an object of human experimentation. He is Subject and shows Himself only in the relationship between one person and another".

  "In this context, St. Bonaventure refers to another use of reason: in the 'personal' sphere, in the great questions raised by the fact of being human. Love wants a better knowledge of the beloved. Love, true love, does not make us blind but causes us to see and part of this is thirst for knowledge, thirst for a true knowledge of the other. For this reason the Fathers of the Church found the precursors of Christianity (apart from in the world of the revelation to Israel) not in the area of customary religion, ... but in the 'philosophers', in people who thirsted for truth and who were thus on the path towards God. When this use of reason is lacking, then the great questions of humanity fall outside the field of reason and are abandoned to irrationality. This is why authentic theology is so important. Correct faith conducts reason to open itself to the divine so that, guided by love for truth, it can gain a closer knowledge of God".
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1 comment:

  1. It will take us a century to get to know the depth and brilliant mind of our Holy Father Benedict. He is one of the greatest minds in the world and gifted theologian...............Thank you Lord.!!!


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