Pope Speaks Wisely to Universities, and Even Jesuits Approve!

Sorry folks, I apologise for the silence in the last few days. It’s a wonder any of you are still around. I’ve been having computer problems, and work has been getting in the way of blogging. I know, I know, I have to get my priorities right…

Catching up on reading, I have taken the opportunity to read Pope Benedict’s speech that he never got to make at La Sapienzia University. It’s a pity that the silly ignorant sods who caused all the fuss that resulted in the cancellation of the Holy Father’s visit probably won’t bother to read it, because if they did, they would have a much better idea of what the Pope really believes about the relationship between faith and science.

John Allen has commented occasionally on the fact that while Pope Ratzinger continues steadfastly in the attempt to engage the secular thinking world in dialogue, he seems to be speaking to the deaf.

Jesuit Drew Christiansen (editor in chief of America magazine) agrees. In his editorial in the February 11 edition, he writes:

The La Sapienza speech was an effort to articulate the pope’s relation to university life. How he envisages the role of the church and the pope in contributing to keeping alive sensitivity to truth reveals a thoroughly pastoral grasp of his mission. Faith should have a place at the symposium of reason, he argues, because “over the course of generations” the Christian way of life has yielded proof of “its reasonableness and its enduring significance.”

In the same editorial, however, Fr. Christiansen makes this side comment:

I must confess that when Pope Benedict speaks abstractly about reason and truth rather than the Gospel, I get a little nervous myself. I am apprehensive that the Christ of faith is being displaced by the God of the philosophers. I fear as well that I am being presented with what the pope himself once called premature judgments cloaked in the mantle of reasonableness. I realize, however, that I am put on my guard not by the pope’s own measured phrases and pastoral discretion but by the bullying way that the pope’s self-anointed partisans abuse his authority with know-it-all sneering and snobbery.

And I must confess that I do not wholly disagree with him. It is true that Papa Benny–like John Paul II before him–is much more inspiring and heart warming when he is preaching the Gospel rather than philosophy. Who wouldn’t agree? That’s why there are far more Christians in church every Sunday than there are Unitarians in their meeting halls!

However, we must remember why the Pope goes on about “reason and truth” and philosophy so much. Recall what I wrote in a blog below about Louis Bouyer’s conclusion of “where it all went wrong” for the Reformation communities. That’s right, precisely at the point of the underlying philosophy. There are some conditions in which the dominance of certain philosophical assumptions makes faith almost impossible. That condition appears to exist in our western post-modern culture today–especially (as the La Sapienzia incident shows) in our universities. Pope Benedict addresses the “God of the Philosophers” precisely so that the philosophers of this world might be able to receive his witness about the “Christ of Faith”.

Unfortunately, it appears that many of “the wise of this world” have their fingers stuck in their ears…

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