Fides et Ratio

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One of the main themes of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate was the relation of faith and reason, and the appeal to overcome the self-limitation of reason in the so-called Enlightenment and to open reason up to the whole of reality especially to He Who above all Is– think of the Regenburg Lecture, Spe Salvi, The Address in the Collège des Bernardins etc.

Judging from some of the things that Pope Francis wrote as a Cardinal this is a theme that is dear to his heart as well. In the chapter that he wrote for a book on Luigi Giussani he writes the following:

The drama of the world today is the result not only of the absence of God but also and above all of the absence of humankind, of the loss of the human physiognomy, of human destiny and identity, and of a certain capacity to explain the fundamental needs that dwell in the human heart. The prevailing mentality, and deplorably that of many Christians, supposes that there is an unbreachable opposition between reason and faith. Instead – and here lies another paradox — The Religious Sense emphasizes that speaking seriously about God means exalting and defending reason and discovering its value and the right way to use it. This is not reason understood as a pre-established measure of reality but reason open to reality in all its factors and whose starting point is experience, whose starting point is this ontological foundation that awakens a restlessness in the heart. It is not possible to raise the question of God calmly, with a tranquil heart, because this would be to give an answer without a question. Reason that reflects on experience is a reason that uses as a criterion for judgment the measuring of everything against the heart – but “heart” taken in the Biblical sense, that is, as the totality of the innate demands that everyone has, the need for love, for happiness, for truth, and for justice. The heart is the core of the internal transcendent, where the roots of truth, beauty, goodness, and the unity that gives harmony to all of being are planted. We define human reason in this sense and not as rationalism, that laboratory rationalism, idealism, or nominalism (this last so much in fashion now), which can do everything, which claims to possess reality because it is in possession of the number; the idea, or the rationale of things, or, if we want to go even further, which claims to possess reality by means of an absolutely dominating technology that surpasses us in the very moment in which we use it, so that we fall into a form of civilization that Guardini liked to call the second form of unculture. We instead speak of a reason that is not reduced, is not exhausted in the mathematical, scientific, or philosophical method. Every method, in fact, is suited to its own sphere of application and to its specific object.

One thought on “Fides et Ratio

  1. Pingback: An Education in Desire | Sancrucensis

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