C H R I S T I A N A N T H R O P O L O G I C A L A N D C U LT U R A L R E V I E W/ N ยบ 2 / Y E A R I
Aleksandr Men ENCOUNTER WITH THE RISEN CHRIST Five years since Regensburg Address THE LOGOS PRECEDES THE ETHOS Tony Anatrella THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS
HUMANITAS Christian Anthropological and Cultural Review HUMANITAS review came into being to provide the University with a source of reflection and study at the service of the academic community and the wider public in general. Its objective is to reflect the concerns and teachings of the Papal Magisterium (Decree of the Rector from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile 147/95, par. 2) EDITOR Jaime Antúnez Aldunate EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Hernán Corral Talciani Samuel Fernández Eyzaguirre Gabriel Guarda O.S.B. René Millar Carvacho Pedro Morandé Court Ricardo Riesco Jaramillo Francisco Rosende Ramírez Juan de Dios Vial Correa Juan de Dios Vial Larraín Arturo Yrarrázaval Covarrubias ASSISTANT EDITOR Bernardita M. Cubillos Verónica Griffin Barros WEB CONTENT MANAGER Francisco Javier Tagle Montt COUNCIL OF CONSULTANTS AND COLLABORATORS Honorary President: H.E. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa Héctor Aguer, Anselmo Álvarez O.S.B., Carl Anderson, Andrés Arteaga, Francisca Alessandri, Antonio Amado, Felipe Bacarreza, Jean-Louis Bruguès O.P., Rocco Buttiglione, Massimo Borghesi, Carlos Francisco Cáceres, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Jorge Cauas Lama, Guzmán Carriquiry, William E. Carroll, Alberto Caturelli, Cesare Cavalleri, Fernando Chomalí, Francisco Claro, Ricardo Couyoumdjian, Mario Correa Bascuñán, Francesco D’Agostino, Adriano Dell’Asta, Vittorio di Girolamo, Carmen Domínguez, Carlos José Errázuriz, Jesús Colina, Luis Fernando Figari, Alfredo García Quesada, Juan Ignacio González, Stanislaw Grygiel, Gonzalo Ibáñez Santa-María, Raúl Hasbun, Henri Hude, José Miguel Ibáñez, Raúl Irarrázabal, Lydia Jiménez, Paul Johnson, Jean Laffitte, Nikolaus Lobkowicz, Alfonso López Quintás, Alejandro Llano, Raúl Madrid, Javier Martínez Fernández, Patricia Matte Larraín, Carlos Ignacio Massini Correas, Mauro Matthei O.S.B., Cardinal Jorge Medina, Livio Melina, Augusto Merino, Dominic Milroy O.S.B., Antonio Moreno Casamitjana, Fernando Moreno Valencia, Rodrigo Moreno Jeria, José Miguel Oriol, Máximo Pacheco Gómez, Francisco Petrillo O.M.D., Bernardino Piñera, Aquilino Polaino-Lorente, Cardinal Paul Poupard, Javier Prades, Dominique Rey, Héctor Riesle, Florián Rodero L.C., Alejandro San Francisco, Romano Scalfi, Cardinal Angelo Scola, David L. Schindler, Josef Seifert, Gisela Silva Encina, Robert Spaemann, Paulina Taboada, William Thayer Arteaga, Olga Ulianova, Luis Vargas Saavedra, Miguel Ángel Velasco, Juan Velarde Fuertes, Aníbal Vial, Pilar Vigil, Richard Yeo O.S.B., Diego Yuuki S.J.
H U M A N I T A S
H umanitas Nº 2 2012 - Y EAR I
Biannual English Digital Version
THE FAMILY, SOURCE OF SOCIAL WEALTH José Granados 16 ENCOUNTER WITH THE RISEN CHRIST Aleksandr Men 32 Five years since Regensburg Address THE LOGOS PRECEDES THE ETHOS Benedict XVI, Cardinal Angelo Scola, Tracey Rowland, Juan de Dios Vial Larraín, Antonio Livi, Pedro Morandé 38 JERUSALEM, ATHENS AND ROME, CITIES-SYMBOLS OF CHRISTIAN CULTURE Mauro Matthei O.S.B. 74 MASTER JOHN OF ÁVILA, NEW DOCTOR OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela 86 THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS Tony Anatrella 102 Interview with Cardinal Mauro Piacenza: “THE PRIESTLY IDENTITY IS CHRISTOCENTRIC AND THEREFORE EUCHARISTIC” 116 Benedict XVI porta fidei Apostolic letter given Motu proprio 122 We highlight in NOTES MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND NEW EVANGELIZATION Stanislaw Grygiel 124 We highlight in BOOKS A CLOISTER IN THE WORLD by Abbot Patrick Barry O.S.B. Comment of Jaime Antúnez Aldunate 187 MUSIC «THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS» Based on the poem by John Henry Newman Fernando Martínez Guzmán 195
“Head of Christ”, c. 1650-1652. Rembrandt van Rijn. Back cover:
“Christ in Emmaus”, c. 1645-1652. Rembrandt van Rijn. Cover designed by M. Ximena Ulibarri.
Summary Editorial Notes The Pope in his own words The Church and the world Books Music About the authors
5 8 124 146 164 187 195 203
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HUMANITAS (ISSN 07172168) publishes articles by its regular, national and foreign collaborators as well as authors whose subject matter is in harmony with the goals of HUMANITAS. The total or partial reproduction of articles published by HUMANITAS requires authorization, with the exception of commentary or quotes. Design and Production: Diseño Corporativo UC Letters: HUMANITAS / Centro de Extensión de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile / Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 390, 3rd floor / Santiago / Chile Tel: (56 - 2) 354 65 19 - Fax: (56 – 2) 354 37 55 – email: email@example.com
HUMANITAS Summary Nº2 (April 2012-September 2012) Biannual English Digital Version
THE FAMILY, SOURCE OF SOCIAL WEALTH, by José Granados. The figure of a wreckage has been used to describe the present times. Truly, the problems man has to deal with in modern times can be summed up in this phrase: that which was united has been disunited. Among those divisions there stands out the breaking of the unity of the private and the public sphere. There clearly stands out the world of home, which is the subjective field of affection, and the public space, where reason prevails maintaining a reduced ideal of life in common: to avoid clashes between individuals. This breach influences the family in a unique way because precisely in it, the person reaches out to the community. The family is both sustained by the social texture, and a sustainer of it. There is no family without a society it can be rooted into and traditions which accompany it in the course of time. In return, the family brings to society its genetic code, which is the root of common good. In the devastating situation the family finds itself today, pessimism could break out. Therefore we must repeat that the adequate order with which Christians face the future is not optimism but hope, that is to say, the trust in the other that sustains us. This “Other” acts precisely in those relations in which life opens up to Him. After having described the crisis which has led to the present division of family and society, this article explores a possible synthesis. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 16-31 Encounter with the risen Christ, by Alexander Men. Father Men was a figure of the Orthodox Church resistance against the communist regime of the USSR. He died in the nineties, murdered by axe strokes by anti-semite and anti-christian groups as he walked towards his parish church to celebrate Mass. These pages reproduce one of his sermons delivered on the feast of his parish church, which was dedicated to Our Lord’s Presentation in the Temple. In the byzantine tradition the name of this celebration is Sretenie, which literally means “encounter”. The encounter, in father Men’s experience of life and faith always had a special resonance, as can be perceived through the words he delivered publicly in this sermon. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 32-37 The logos precedes the ethos. Five years since the lecture “Faith, Reason and the University. Memories and Reflections” delivered by H.S. Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006, we are reminded of that memorable meditation which enriched the Church and contemporary culture. The Pontiff’s lecture in Regensburg was a call to open up to the extent of reason and postulated a crucial challenge for the university and western culture. “The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the programme with which theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God’”, he reminded us, quoting a famous dialogue of Emperor Manuel II Paleologue with a Persian interlocutor. Benedict XVI proposed to the academic world that its major task is to rediscover this great logos, this breadth of reason. These pages take up extracts from the papal address and comments on it from different perspectives developed by five personalities of the catholic world: Cardinal Angelo Scola, Tracey Rowland, Juan de Dios Vial Larraín, Antonio Livi and Pedro Morandé Court. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 38-73
JERUSALEM, ATHENS AND ROME, CITY-SYMBOLS OF CHRISTIAN CULTURE, by Mauro Matthei. It is known that of all the religions in the world, Christianity is the one which unfolds the strongest transcultural dynamism, that is to say, no other creed outdoes Christianity in its capacity to incarnate and express itself in the most diverse cultures. Two thesis could stem from this evidence which is easily verified throughout history. Firstly, that this transcultural dynamism issues precisely from the triad, different and yet concordant: Jerusalem, Athens and Rome. Secondly, a bolder one, that Christian culture cannot succeed without adopting, as a starting point, the indispensable unity and correlation of the three fundamental entities. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 74-85 MASTER JOHN OF ÁVILA. NEW DOCTOR OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH, by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela. The words of Pope Benedict XVI at the end of the Holy Mass held together with thousands of seminarists during the World Youth Day last August 20 in Madrid, announcing the canonization of Master John of Ávila, have been heard the world around: “I ask everyone to turn their eyes towards him and commend the Bishop of Spain and all the world to his intercession, as well as priests and seminarists, so that persevering in the same faith of which he was a master, they may mould their heart according to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd’s sentiments.” The example of this great preacher of the Gospel, is especially appropriate to the needs of contemporary men, in a time pressed for the necessity of a “New Evangelization”. Master of Ávila was a rare connoisseur of the Holy Scriptures; a perfectly accomplished preacher and enthusiast catechist, full of God and human experience. His apostolic actions and the educational creations he undertook are a summit of accomplishment and radiance, and still make his essential evangelical rules surprising for their timelessness. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 87-101 THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS, by Tony Anatrella. Children’s right to be born and to live in a family made up by a man and a woman is highly threatened nowadays. This disruption is made manifest by the possibility of adoption by same-sex couples. When we examine the motivations of homosexuals who wish to adopt, we perceive an instrumental vision of the child destined to reaffirm the deviation of those who receive him, and to be used as a recognition of their aspiration to mimic their reality with that of marriage and family. However, children’s rights and interests cannot be violated by the subjective pressures of adults. The welfare of children consists in their being incorporated in the filial relation which follows conception, fruit of the union between a man and a woman. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 102-115 INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL MAURO PIACENZA: “THE PRIESTLY IDENTITY IS CHRISTOCENTRIC AND THEREFORE EUCHARISTIC”, by Antonio Gaspari. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy speaks about the real meaning of the Church’s power as a service to the whole world and also about the vocational crisis, especially acute in the more secularized contexts. He asserts that priestly identity has not changed over time and that it remains faithful to the mission originally established by Christ. The crisis, he states, is linked, fundamentally, to the crisis of faith in the West and it is visible in many spheres: “Secularization and the consequent loss of the sense of the sacred, of faith and its practice have brought about and continue to bring about a diminution in the number of candidates to the priesthood.” Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 116-121
NOTES Marriage, family and new evangelization, by Stanislaw Grygiel. The family perspective which Pope John Paul II brought us encountered, at that time, not only an absence of vision in the scholastic circles, but also an aggressive construction of new forms of family life which were more and more alienated to the reality of the human being, and an equally violent demand for this kind of society by small but rowdy groups. Before man facing such a utilitarian society, John Paul made a prophetic announcement: modern man is incapable of uniting in marriage, building a family or starting a friendship because he is oriented towards possession, and objects do not awake truth in man, nor love, nor good, nor real freedom. The Pope then chose to revive the evangelization and make Christ’s presence shine in marriages and families, as a means of revelation of man’s reality which finds its meaning in total mutual offering. Stephen Hawking’s creation confusion, by William Carroll. Stephen Hawking’s new book calls for reflection on what the meaning of “to create” is and puts forward the question about the relevance of the answer which natural sciences can provide for it. The assurance that the universe is self sufficient and that the idea of a Creator instead of nothingness is unnecessary in order to explain the existence of beings is the result of a confusion between philosophy and natural sciences. This leads to a “totalitarian naturalism” which denies the help of explanations based on principles which transcend the world of physical things. 1989 as an historic paradigm?, by Nikolaus Lobkwicz. In spite of the similarities, the comparison between the events occurred in Northern Africa and the Middle East and of Central and Eastern Europe at the end of the eighties, rest on diverse presumptions which prevent us from making an adequate prediction on the future of the situation. We run through the historic succession which led to the end of communism and of Islam, where regimes have not been totalitarian but dictatorial, and whose democratic or constitutional traditions don’t exist, which is the reason they lack a finality which may inspire a new way of replacing the regime. What we see today is not the collapse of a regime but a phenomenon in which citizens who are discontent with their government have found a way to put an end to them through violence. The harmful division that invades us, by Javier Martínez Fernández. Our contemporary world is marked by a definite division in it’s configuration, both in the field of knowledge and that of morality. This division conditions man’s look upon himself, the others and the world. It is a question of the severance between “the sacred” and “the profane”, or between the religious and the rest of reality. It has its birth within western Christianity and expresses the fragmentation of the Christian experience at the birth of modernity. The presence of Christ in history is not only significant to that which has been called “spiritual life”, but it reveals man in all his dimensions to man himself, discovering his vocation and lending a meaning to his existence. With this thought the author introduces us to the reading of Don Luigi Giussani’s The Religious Sense. Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 124-129 BOOKS “A cloister in the world” by Abbot Patrick Barry O.S.B.; “The ‘Stone’ dynasty’s blessed one - Life of Ceferino Namuncurá” by the Priests of the Instituto Verbo Encarnado; “The Immortal Rumor” by Robert Spaemann (Editorial Rialp, Madrid; Klett-Cota, Stuttgart; Edizioni Cantagalli, Siena); “Bicentenary of the Latin American Countries’ Independence: Then and Now” by Guzmán Carriquiry (Ediciones Encuentro, Madrid); “The Thought of John Milbank - An Introduction to ‘Radical Orthodoxy’” by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst (Editorial Nuevo Inicio). Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 187-194
HUMANITAS in ENGLISH
A Milestone in Our History T
uesday November 29, 2011, will be remembered as a significant date in the history of HUMANITAS. On that day the official presentation of our review took place at the headquarters of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, via della Conciliazione no. 1, Vatican City. The ceremony was presided over by H. Em. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and attended in addition by important prelates of the Roman Curia (Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Monsignor Jean-Louis Bruguès, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education), university personalities (Professor Javier Prades, Dean of the Saint Damasus Faculty of Theology of Madrid and member of the International Theological Commission; Professor José Granados, Vice-President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute; Professor Stanislaw Grygiel, titular of the John Paul II Chair of the Pontifical Lateran University), figures of public life and political thought (The Honorable Rocco Buttiglione), director of prestigious publications (Father Antonio Spadaro, Director of La Civiltà Cattolica), distinguished representatives of ecclesial Movements (Dr. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; Father Florián Rodero, of the Regnum Christi Movement), Catholic intellectuals who collaborate with Roman dicasteries (Professor Massimo Borghesi, Professor Pedro Morandé), ambassadors to the Holy See (Chile, Colombia and the United States), etc. The ceremony was opened by Dr. Guzmán Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and followed by the greeting and gratitude of the Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Dr. Ignacio Sánchez Díaz, and the Director of HUMANITAS, Review of Christian Anthropology and Culture of the Catholic University, who explained the meaning and scope of the project that had just been inaugurated.
Different moments in the sixteen years of HUMANITAS’ existence and circulation made this project possible. First was the proposal ten years ago of a Spanish bishop who saw in the structure, contents and objectives of the HUMANITAS review something that could revitalize a publishing “communio around” the important subjects of the Church’s Magisterium, an idea that seemed to be absent at that time in the relationship between Churches in Spain and those of Spanish and Portuguese speaking American nations. The project aroused interest and two distinguished
EDITORIAL EDITORIAL members of HUMANITAS’ Council got involved, Cardinals Paul Poupard, then President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Alfonso López Trujillo (R.I.P.), President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. In this connection, a formal proposal was then presented to the highest authorities of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Although the project was never cancelled by any of the parties, there was now renewed talk of it. Subsequently, during a meeting of HUMANITAS’ Editorial Committee, Monsignor Jean Louis Bruguès, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, who was visiting Chilean Catholic Universities, took up the idea of publishing editions in other countries, adding the novel idea of doing so in other languages. Immediately, there was motion to start in France, an initiative that for the time being has not prospered. Meanwhile (and in a parallel way) informal conversations were held with individuals of the English linguistic universe linked to HUMANITAS from its birth, who refined the idea which was realised in Rome last November 29. Among them, especially, was Dr. Carl Anderson, visible head of the Knights of Columbus and member of HUMANITAS’ Council since its foundation, as well as the Abbot President of the Benedictine Congregation in England, Dom Richard Yeo, also linked to our editorial body, given his spiritual and material support in the materialization of the initiative. Interposed between agreement on the project on the feast of Our Lady of Pilar, October 12, 2010, and its beginning a year later to the day, was the happy news of the beatification of Pope John Paul II. This event determined two things. Firstly, that the 63rd issue of the Spanish edition, corresponding to July-September 2011, would be entirely dedicated to the person and work of the Venerable Pontiff. Secondly, that No. 1 / Year I of the English edition would have the same or a very similar theme, using of course the same title: Blessed John Paul II, Gift of the Divine Mercy. The edition was presented in the Vatican.
Humanitas Nº 1 / Year I
There are many topics and authoritative authors included in the over 250 pages of HUMANITAS’ first English edition. Among them are the Lord Cardinals Angelo Scola, Paul Poupard, Antonio Cañizares, Francisco Javier Errázuriz, Stanislaw Dziwisz, Monsignor Jean Louis Bruguès, Professors Livio Melina, Stanislaw Grygiel, Pedro Morandé, Juan de Dios Vial Correa, Carl Anderson and several others.
It is interesting to note that, thanks to the resources offered by advanced communication technology, a reflection born from the geographically dispersed community that constitutes HUMANITAS –the heart of whose thought, however, is very much with the Successor of Peter– from South America’s southern finisterrae that is Chile, expands to the four corners of the earth. This was certainly not part of the thinking and plans of those who founded HUMANITAS review in 1995, when the then Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Dr. Juan de Dios Vial Correa, signed the decree that set it in motion. In the said ambit of reflections, the content of the first English edition is certainly not an accidental coincidence. In reality, its exceptional theme goes hand in hand with an event that in a certain sense is existential. What, in fact, is HUMANITAS? A collection of beautifully printed pages that circulate four times a year, informing people of current topics related to the teachings of the Church? In fact, it is an “Organ of thought and study that seeks to reflect the concerns and teachings of the Papal Magisterium,” as stated in item 2 of its foundational decree, which can be read on the inside cover of every issue. There is, indeed, consensus on the beauty of the whole of the result of these pages printed in the course of sixteen years of circulation of the review, and of the consistency of the contents that study and reflect the teachings of the Successors of the Apostles. However, if it succeeds in this and, especially if it has succeeded over the past sixteen years, the sole explanation lies in the fact that behind HUMANITAS there is what, on different opportunities we have called a “communio”. This consists of a great friendship between individuals of different latitudes and also of different ages, whose minds and hearts vibrate in unison with the objective they outlined, which constitutes the foundation of their friendship.
When this friendship was being forged, coinciding with the moment in history when Blessed Pope John Paul II, a gift to us, encouraged and taught us, as he did so many contemporaries, not to fear to call ourselves Christians or to belong to the Church and to argue with truth. Later, at an advanced moment of his prophetic guidance, we received a grace to follow in his footsteps. The title Blessed John Paul II, Gift of the Divine Mercy, which marks the cover of the first edition in English, summarizes the essence of what is meditated in its pages. John Paul II was the spokesman of Divine Mercy, because he summoned the men of our time with entirely uncommon vigor, to assume an interior creaturely disposition, a re-encounter with their profoundest ontological truth, and to give up the independence to which their immense provision of material resources inclines them. At the same time he was a giant, as Benedict XVI called him in the homily of the beatification, because from his youth –in imitation of his Mother, Mary Most Holy– seeing his littleness, he abandoned himself completely to grace. His whole pontificate, from the “yes” of his nomination on October 16, 1978 –pronounced, as he said, trusting in Mary: Totus tuus–, until his painful end and departure on Saturday, April 2, 2005 (which took place precisely on the liturgical feast of Divine Mercy), he was completely trusting and abandoned. The great lesson drawn from his life resolves the apparent paradox between the giant and the spokesman of Divine Mercy. Those of us in charge of the HUMANITAS edition thank the Divine Mercy for the steps taken, almost inadvertently, in assuming this new challenge. We do so exactly as we did three lustrums ago, conscious of our insufficiency and thankful for the many and undeserved gifts with confidence that in seeking to serve the will of God everything will be for the good of those who love Him. The English edition will begin as a biannual publication. At present a smaller printed edition is in circulation, and the wider public is being reached in a digital version –compatible with the most advanced technology– which can be accessed for free at www.humanitas.cl
Presented in the Vatican Humanitas in english
The presentation ceremony of the Humanitas review was presided over by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, H.Em. Cardinal Angelo Sodano. To his right is Ignacio Sánchez, Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and to his left, Jaime Antúnez, Director of Humanitas.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of important Roman Athenaeums and Universities of other countries.
Father Florián Rodero, professor of Theology at the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum in Rome, Rector Ignacio Sánchez and Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus and President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute’s Washington Headquarters, with Father José Granados, Vice-President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute, Headquarters at the Lateran University of Rome.
Cover of the first issue of Humanitas’ English edition.
Academic Rocco Buttiglione, parliamentarian and President of the UDC, reading a copy of Humanitas in English.
EDITORIAL EDITORIAL Intervention of Dr. Guzmán Carriquiry, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. To his right, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Stanislaw Grygiel, polish philosopher, tenured lecturer of the John Paul II Chair, Lateranense University, with the Director of Humanitas.
Massimo Borghesi, philosopher and professor at the University of Perugia, next to Pedro Morandé, member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
Monsignor Jean-Louis Bruguès, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, talks with Lydice de Carriquiry.
Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., new Director of La Civiltà Cattolica review, talking with the Director of Humanitas. Cardinal Angelo Sodano presents the gift given by the Rector Ignacio Sánchez.
Talking during the lunch given by the Ambassador of Chile, Fernando Zegers, are Rector Ignacio Sánchez, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Ambassador of the United States to the Holy See, Miguel Humberto Díaz, the Director of Humanitas and Cardinal Paul Poupard, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Humanitas Review, also in English By Pedro MorandĂŠ
The beatification of John Paul II, the memory of the basic guidelines of his Magisterium and the witness of his faith and hope in the future of humanity, have permeated the pages of the first English edition of Humanitas review of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile â€“presented recently in the Holy See. In this way it extends its service to a vastly wider public than it had reached until now.
The step Humanitas has taken in offering an English edition is only understood from this twofold dimension: universality of their vocation and interpellation of the intelligence of particular individuals who, in their own lives, seek reasons to hope.
It is not, in fact, a mere translation. As with other international reviews, the edition in each language incorporates new and different collaborators in the ambit of their own language. Behind this review there is a lively community that goes beyond our geographic borders, united by reflection and service to the truth about man which is, ultimately, what motivates its publication. New generations continually incorporate their questions, their historical experience, their concerns and hopes. By its very nature, thought is inquisitive, open to understanding and dialogue, to give reason for its hope, and in the case of the Papal Magisterium, of which this publication makes itself the echo, to confirm believers in their faith. This way of thinking and serving is also characteristic of a Catholic University, which questions reality according to the whole of its facets, rejoicing in the truth and attaining the interior liberty of its members, who make an effort to understand the meaning of all that is real. As von Balthasar once wrote, truth is symphonic and a University community accedes to it in the convergence of all its faculties. Electronic communication in real time, which is characteristic of our time, has submerged people in the certain risk of not knowing how to transcend the immediacy of their present. The expectation of communicating instantly tends to enclose them in the iron circle of this immediacy. When this happens, the historical memory of tradition is weakened, which constitutes cultures as well as the horizon on which the future is projected that will make the fusion of collective hopes with personal biographical experiences possible. In the immediacy of the short term, the human being becomes a mere wagerer, without the capacity to assess the consequences of his decisions and actions.
In this new cultural context, the most important service Humanitas can offer is to help people look at the medium and long– term and to think in terms of a real “human ecology,” to use John Paul II’s luminous concept. The ecological view is, in fact, essentially a cultural view, which gratefully appreciates the sapiential patrimony of those who have preceded us in existence. This projects with inter-generational solidarity to young people and even to the unborn, who in their day will follow the path of the cultivation of the spirit in search of the truth of their humanity. The need for this humanitarian service has no geographic or linguistic borders and acquires a new urgency today in the context of globalization. In these circumstances, the last Popes have called for a New Evangelization. However, this universal vocation that individuals discover in the truth of their humanity, needs to be lived in the historical and cultural circumstance of each human group, each nation and each individual life. The step Humanitas has taken in offering an English edition is only understood from this twofold dimension: universality of their vocation and interpellation of the intelligence of particular individuals who, in their own lives, seek reasons to hope. As the Director of the review pointed out in the Roman event of presentation of this new edition, Humanitas is sustained in the “communio” and friendship developed over years by Catholic intellectuals of different parts of the world. They share their questions about the complexity of the signs of the times, but with their sight on the horizon of the sapiential tradition embodied by the Magisterium of the Church. Even the acknowledged quality of the review is nothing other than witness of the delicacy and gratitude with which its members have wished to honour this friendship.
Behind this review there is a lively community that goes beyond our geographic borders, united by reflection and service to the truth about man which is, ultimately, what motivates its publication.
From an institutional point of view, some will wish to interpret this English edition of Humanitas as a success due to its prestige. For the editorial staff of the review, however, it is rather an adventure, inspired in the certainty of John Paul II’s Magisterium, constantly confirmed by his Successor, that only with the wings of reason and faith can the human spirit rise to the contemplation of truth. Article published by the Chilean daily El Mercurio (29.XII.2011) Translated by Virginia Forrester
The family, source of social wealth By José Granados, dCjm
Ulysses’ oak makes us wonder about the strength of the family, in the context of the solidity of the whole society. As, on one hand, a tree needs good earth to take root and, on the other, planting trees is a way of sustaining the earth, so that it is not washed away by water or eroded.
1 Cf. W. Berry, “The body and the earth,” in The art of the commonplace, Counterpoint, Berkeley, 2002, 93-134.
n the Odyssey we are told about the return home of the heroes of Troy, which was no less dangerous than the war. Here the home takes on a special role, as it is the end of a thousand pilgrimages and dangers. In addition to being the place where the journey of life begins, the home is also a horizon, a task, a conquering struggle. However, the threats on the road are nothing compared with those that await Ulysses in his own home. Penelope has deceived her suitors asking them to wait until she finishes her famous dress: what she knitted during the day, she unravelled at night, thus prolonging the years. So Ulysses is able to arrive in time, before anyone married his wife. As he suspects hidden dangers, the astute hero arrives without being recognized. His enemies think he is a foreign beggar and then, when they finally recognize him, they no longer have time to react. Now he has only to be accepted by Penelope. At first, his wife is mistrustful. Is this another of her wicked suitors’ tricks? To dispel her doubt, she decides to test him. She announces that that night she will not sleep with him, as she is not sure if he is her husband: she has put his nuptial bed in another room so that he will be comfortable. Ulysses is enraged, not so much because of his wife’s mistrust, which is understandable and ultimately revealing of her singular virtue, but because he knows that this bed is singular. To move it would be to destroy it, since he had made it himself by excavating the trunk of a large oak, whose roots remained deep in the soil, around which he built the room. Ulysses’ anger is the proof that Penelope was looking for: he is her husband, as he knows the origin of his marriage bed. The image has profound meaning: the union of man and woman, union in one flesh for the whole of life, until they become one spirit, sinks its roots into the earth: on joining themselves together they unite themselves to the world, they unite themselves to the city that shelters them.1 Ulysses’ oak makes us wonder about the strength of the family, in the context of the solidity of the whole society. As, on one hand, a tree needs good earth to take root and, on the other, planting trees is
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 16 - 31
ÂŤHere the home takes on a special role, as it is the end of a thousand pilgrimages and dangers. In addition to being the place where the journey of life begins, the home is also a horizon, a task, a conquering struggle. However, the threats on the road are nothing compared with those that await Ulysses in his own home.Âť
a way of sustaining the earth, so that it is not washed away by water or eroded. In other words, the family, supported by the social fabric, also sustains the latter. There is no family if there is no society where it can take root, traditions that support its course in time; likewise, the family gives society the personâ€™s genetic code which is necessary for the latter to be constituted as such, to develop and to grow. This image will serve as inspiration for what follows. After describing the crisis that has led to the present separation between the family and society (1), we shall attempt to see if there is another possible synthesis (2) and we shall present it in two steps: as a new proposal regarding the common good (3) and according to the familyâ€™s capacity to build society (4).
Remains of a shipwreck
the family, supported by the social fabric, also sustains the latter. There is no family if there is no society where it can take root, traditions that support its course in time; likewise, the family gives society the personâ€™s genetic code, which is necessary for the latter to be constituted as such, to develop and to grow.
The image of a shipwreck has been used to describe modern times. We have in our power innumerable fragments of the ship, but we are incapable of reconstructing the whole. And in reality the problems with which man struggles in Modernity can be summarized in this phrase: what was united has been separated. In other words, we have forgotten the original cohesion that linked beings in harmony, enabling them to build, based on that initial foundation - solid relationships. And, given that man did not create that harmony, it is impossible for him to reproduce it himself. Striking among these separations is the one that breaks the unity of what is private and what is public. The world of the home is clearly defined as the subjective sphere of affections; and the public square, in which a reason prevails that flees from the emotional and has a minimalist ideal of common life: to avoid clashes between individuals. This rupture influences the family in a singular way, as in it, in fact, the person opens to the community; the tension between what is private and what is public ends by dismembering family unity, as if two forces pulled it in opposite directions. At the same time, the family, place of unity of the personal and the social, can contribute the perfect antidote against this evil that afflicts our modern society. What has led to the separation of these two ambits, that of intimacy and of the common life? The origin must be sought in the autonomous vision of the Enlightenment, which saw the individual abstracted from his relationships. It privileged what was intellectual, neglecting the emotional sphere, which offered no light or truth: it was enough to subject it to reason so that it could be controlled. For its part, the Romantic reaction, which rebelled in face of the neglect of the emotional, gave birth to the emotive individual, who sought his truth in feelings, but deprives them of a higher rationality.
Penelope’s affliction: A distraught Penelope, seated, holds her head and laments her husband’s absence. In front of her, two servants are talking. The fragment is incomplete and in the missing part of the right, another servant is seen bringing news of Ulisses’ return. (Fragment of the architectonic plaque in terracota. Rome, Ist century.)
Euriclea recognizes Ulysses: Ulysses returns to his home dressed as a beggar and is discovered by his wet-nurse who, on washing his feet, sees the sear of his former master. In the image, the hero covers the woman’s mouth to silence her before she reveal his identity, while he returns to his servant Eumaeus, who approaches to offer him a potion. Next to Ulysses is his dog Argos, lying on the ground. (Fragment of the architectonic plaque in terracota. Rome, Ist century.)
This separation of the rational and the emotional engenders the chasm between the private and the public of which we have spoken. In fact, we have grown accustomed to think of affection as foreign to the bond, as we say that feeling cannot be confined; and we have described the bond as foreign to affection, as we think that the world of feeling would make it weak and unstable, something that cannot be proposed in society. The emotional, “deprived” of truth, is limited to the individual sphere; the stable bond, all relation with the personal having been eliminated, reigns in the public sphere. Such a clear division does away with a fruitful contrast, and thus makes life static, not opening it to a path with a horizon. We point out another effect of this separation: the modern division between love and work. Today work is thought of as foreign to love, and love as not requiring work, because it is supposed to be given, spontaneous, a pure sentimental state. It is necessary to recall more than ever what Erich Fromm said: “the essence of love is ‘to work’ for something and ‘to make grow’ […] love and work are inseparable. We love that for which we work and we work for what we love.”2 If we compare ourselves to the ancient world, whether Greek, Roman or Medieval, we see there is a paradox. And it is because today, what
2 Cf. E. Fromm, El arte de amar, Paidos, Barcelona, 2003, 44.
The problems with which man struggles in Modernity can be summarized in this phrase: what was united has been separated. In other words, we have forgotten the original cohesion that linked beings in harmony, enabling them to build, based on that initial foundation -solid relationships. And, given that man did not create that harmony, it is impossible for him to reproduce it himself.
3 Cf. H. Arendt, The human condition, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1958, 22-78. 4 Cf. E. Schillebeeckx, Le marriage, realite terrestre et mystere de salut, Paris, 1966.
should belong to the ambit of the home, namely, the economy as law (nomos) of the home (oikos), the concern for daily sustenance, has become the only real topic of public interest; whereas on the contrary, the subjects that before were public, such as the discussion about truth and justice, are relegated to the private and subjective.3 Let us note a consequence for the mission of the Church in the world. When the private is separated from the public, then faith is also separated from life. Faith is then relegated to the ambit of the private, considered as mere subjective sentiment. And, given that real life occurs in relationships, to privatize faith is to separate it from the concrete experience, which is always of the community, opened, linked to others. As we have shown, the family suffered singularly from this division between affection and bond, as it is in it that the two unite, where affection cannot be separated from the stable bond, which does not depend only on the autonomous will of the individual: one cannot cease to be a child, a husband, a father. Hence, there is a need today to recover the social value of the family, as antidote against this division that lacerates human existence. We can no longer think, for example, that to separate the family from society would help to appreciate it more, to reinforce its innermost being, with other distracting realities being set aside. Here is what theologian E. Schillebeeckx wrote years ago, and which we cannot subscribe to today’s world: “The crisis of the objective situation we have described gives greater liberty of action in regard to the subjective personal aspect of conjugal life. Having to count, solely on their own resources, marriage and the family have been obliged to reflect on their essential nature. It could be said that marriage and the family have been left with only one function… that of being family and marriage, of cultivating the personal and subjective side, intimate, secret life, because all the other functional aspects of conjugal and family life have been absorbed by the different specialized sectors of modern society. In an increasingly functional and technical social context, which undoubtedly makes family life difficult, marriage and conjugal life have become an oasis, a refuge, a security zone. Modern society has put marriage in this situation. Today young couples understand that they must build their marriage as a fortress. Given that with the wedding the spouses are given no security, they must create it themselves, with that much greater urgency in as much as the home is no longer a place of work.” 4
We must insist, however, that when the family is isolated from the rest of society, it is no longer itself, it cannot be a fortress, it cannot even be built in any way, just as a tree cannot take root without the earth that sustains it.5 Let us see if we can recover the synthesis between private and public life, which redounds to the good of the family and of society.
The city and love Given the present crisis just described, we wonder: is it possible to unite love and social life again? To reconstitute the bond between love and reason? Let us begin by considering what philosopher Jean Guitton affirmed, who pointed out three dangers for our Christian society, anticipating what would be a road map for the New Evangelization. The three threats are: a) a distancing from the figure of Jesus given the doubts awakened by the historical method; b) Nietzsche’s criticism, according to which Christianity would ruin the enchantment and enjoyment of life, watering down the celebration; c) the Marxist view, which understands Christianity as source of social injustice, as it makes one forget the earth for a distant Heaven. 6 Guitton points out as a solution a study in depth of the subject of love. On one hand, one could show the force of Jesus’ message, his power to explain everything with the light of love; on the other hand, highlighted also would be the way that love, which is in fact a revelation, gives weight and substance to life, instead of ruining it. In the third place, and this is what is of greater interest to us here, love could offer an alternative model to build society, which would avoid either extreme individualism or the confusion of the person in the mass of the people. Is it possible, therefore, to see how love is a principle of life in society? The negative proof that such a task is accessible is offered to us by an ancient, failed example of the building of a city: Babel. The confusion of languages has been explained in the rabbinical tradition as a perversion of the word to deceive the other, to make life private, as if an attempt was being made to create a language that would maintain one outside the common construction. All destruction of public truth begins by manipulating words, so that they mean only what I wish to say. As Humpty Dumpty says in Alice in Wonderland: “when I use a word, it must say what I want it to say, no more and no less.” To Alice’s answer (the question is if you can make words mean what you wish), comes the counter-reply: “the question is who gives orders here; that’s all.”7 It is worrying because of the similarity with our society in regard to the manipulation of language, which no longer serves to express the truth. Babel shows that mere unity in technical
The emotional, “deprived” of truth, is limited to the individual sphere; the stable bond, all relation with the personal having been eliminated, reigns in the public sphere. Such a clear division does away with a fruitful contrast, and thus makes life static, not opening it to a path with a horizon.
5 Cf. J. Granados, Signos en la carne: el matrimonio y los otros sacramentos, Didaskalos Minor 1, Monte Carmelo, Burgos, 2011. 6 Cf. J. Guitton , L’amour humain, Aubier, Paris, 1955. 7 Cf. L. Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Cricket House, 2010, 95.
ability cannot build a city; that without a profound union of spirits stability is impossible. The Christian faith, however, consists in the hope that the biblical Babel of the confused languages will become the Pentecost of the tongues of fire in which each one heard others speak in his own language. Is this change possible? Can the public square be inspired by that which seems, among all things, the most private: love? The task consists of de-privatizing love, in showing its centrifugal force, which moves it to come out of itself. This relationship between the charity that governs micro-relations and the society of macro-relations shows that they are not realities that are foreign to one another. It is, in fact, what Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in veritate affirms, where love appears as the principle of social life: Today, what should belong to the ambit of the home, namely, the economy as law (nomos) of the home (oikos), the concern for daily sustenance, has become the only real topic of public interest; whereas on the contrary, the subjects that before were public, such as the discussion about truth and justice, are relegated to the private and subjective.
“Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22, 36- 40). It gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbour; it is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones). For the Church, instructed by the Gospel, charity is everything because, as Saint John teaches (cf. 1 Jn 4, 8-16) and as I recalled in my first Encyclical Letter, Deus caritas est: everything has its origin in God’s love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it. Love is God’s greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope (CIV 2).”8
8 Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 2.
Hence, charity can also explain the great social relationships, from the economy to justice. Essential to show this is to make it be seen that love has a truth that opens it to communication and, therefore, to life in society, and that such truth of love, its order and structure, occurs precisely in the family. To illustrate this fact we can use the biblical example of Tobias and Sarah. John Paul II compared their story with the Canticle of canticles. While the Canticle reveals the personal meaning of love, the union of the spouses, the expression of their intimate affectivity; the story of Tobias tells us about the objective side of love: the continuation of one’s family, entered into a tradition, reference to the transcendent God that blesses; it is love as liturgy of daily life of which John Paul II spoke. In reality, Jesus also posed in these terms the question about divorce, with which the Pharisees tried to ensnare him (cf. Mt 19, 3-9). Love has
an objective side, a truth, and that is why it can aspire to permanence. God has united it, Jesus comes to say, something that the Pharisees seem to have forgotten and that is why they were suspicious of the possibility of a firm and solid love, able to become a stable bond. Here we perceive that the problem of the isolation between love and public life is the same as the separation between subjective affection and a stable bond, of which we have already spoken. Here is the question we must ask ourselves: Can society be seen from the point of view of love? Can charity (not in the sense of charity as help to the needy, but as inter-personal bond, affective and real union of spirits) be posed as principle of life in society? Our thesis is that, for this to be possible, it is necessary for love to recover its truth, and that this truth is contained and guarded in the family. The family is the place where affection and the bond penetrate one another, and from where love can present itself to society. The family is like the hinge on which the private and the public turn, opening one to the other. This will compel us to forget the image of an affectionate family and will lead us to contemplate the true mission that the family has, by the very fact of being family, in society. 9 This image of love in connection with the city appears in other texts of Scripture. Thus, in the Apocalypse, Jerusalem is compared to a bride (Ap 21, 1-3): “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them and he ’God-with-them,’ will be their God.” And it is also in Isaiah, as a mother who engenders her children. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory” (Is 66, 10-14a). In this case we see that love, which builds the city, is precisely family love. What has been said situates us in a new perspective. Instead of seeing the family as a problem to resolve, perspective that leads almost always to a defeatist attitude (when we do not hear that “everything is going badly,” or that “things are still all right”), we could propose its wealth for society, its capacity to arouse relational richness, more stable bonds, more robust and lasting economies, capacity to build history with meaning and rhythm. Allowed, thus, is a positive proposal, that shows that certain goods must be protected more than others because they generate a social capital that is not found elsewhere
As Humpty Dumpty says in Alice in Wonderland: “when I use a word, it must say what I want it to say, no more and no less.” To Alice’s answer (the question is if you can make words mean what you wish), comes the counterreply: “the question is who gives orders here; that’s all.” It is worrying because of the similarity with our society in regard to the manipulation of language, which no longer serves to express the truth.
9 Cf. J.J. Perez Soba (ed.), Minutes of the Caritas aedificat, Moral Theology Congress, November 2010, John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, Rome (soon to be published).
(just like a mining company, for example, excavates in places where precious minerals are found, and cannot dedicate the same resources to a gold mine as to a coal mine). In fact, it is indispensable to establish a relationship between the family and society to advance in the Christian proclamation of the New Evangelization; as the latter must be carried out in societies where, as Christian culture declines, the concept of the family has also darkened, as if both were closely united. Thus we can see, in fact, that the family is not just a problem to resolve, whose properties must be defended in face of a society that, unable to destroy it by annihilation, tries to do so by dissolution in a sea of realities that, without being family, receive its same name.
The family, forge of the common good
â€œChristian faith, consists in the hope that the biblical Babel of the confused languages will become the Pentecost of the tongues of fire in which each one heard others speak in his own language. Is this change possible?â€? (Pentecost, part of the triptych painted by Fra Angelico, c. 1447.)
Let us see how it is possible for the family to contribute to social wealth. Already in Vatican II (Gaudium et spes, 48-52) the family appears as the first ambit of dialogue between the Church and the modern world, while recovering the subject of love as ultimate explanation of the family dynamic. This is the force with which God has united everything; man attempts to affirm different aspects of love, but he has lost the capacity to preserve its unitive power. Vatican II presented the elements of a synthesis, but it did not develop (this was not its task) a theology of love that would bring together the elements. The task corresponded to the pontificate of John Paul II, who has been followed by Benedict XVI. In the light of a recovery of the fundamental values of love, which place it in relationship with society, nature and history, it is possible to see the goodness that the family has and its strength to generate social wealth.
Outlined in the first place is a new definition of the “common good.” Thus one sees that the family not only generates different social goods, but that it is the cell that contains the genetic code of social life. It does not furnish different common goods, but is found at the root of a stable and strong notion of the common good.10 The Social Doctrine of the Church has focused on the concept of the common good to explain life in society. The common good was defined as the whole of social conditions that makes it possible for each person to develop; it is something like an adequate environment where each one can flower. Affirmed in this way implicitly is that there is no conflict between the person and the community, although it is not proposed in an articulated way to combine both. The Magisterium has reflected further on this affirmation, especially beginning with John Paul II and his vision of the person (cf. his Letter to families). The next step is to affirm that the environment of the common good is not just a condition that enables one to be happy, but an essential part of happiness itself. In other words, the real good of the person is always a common good, because it is the good that is born in a communion. It is the good that consists in a mutual relationship, as it is there that the human person is generated. Avoided thus is that the good of the community be opposed to the good of each person. As if this were the case, the community would be conceived as a minor evil, which must be tolerated but which does not enrich personal existence. John Paul II sees this idea of the common good present through marriage between man and woman and the generation of a new life. In the first case, when man and woman meet, a new unity is generated, one flesh. In it the persons do not disappear, but acquire a new existence. There is no longer talk of my goods, not even of goods that, by being shared, can be called common. There are no longer “my” goods, because the “I” has ceased to exist in an isolated way, and now what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine. The good is common because there is, above all, a common subject, a new creation that has a common history, common memories and a common future. That the future is common is shown above all by the arrival of a child. Discovered here is another essential aspect of the common good. The person itself of the child is the common good of his parents. The person, his dignity, his duties and rights, is seen as the common good of the whole society from the generation of children in the family. Contributed thus in the family is an irreplaceable bond, which is not functional; from it no one can dismiss the person; in it no one can be replaced by another who fulfils his same function. Hence, the family is the generator of the common good, given that, learned in it is that fundamental common good that is the good of
Hence, charity can also explain the great social relationships, from the economy to justice. Essential to show this is to make it BE seen that love has a truth that opens it to communication and, therefore, to life in society, and that such truth of love, its order and structure, occurs precisely in the family.
10 Cf. C. Anderson – J. Granados, Llamados al amor: teología del pueblo en Juan Pablo II, Didaskalos 8, Monte Carmelo, Burgos, 2011.
love has an objective side, a truth, and that is why it can aspire to permanence. God has united it, Jesus comes to say, something that the Pharisees seem to have forgotten and that is why they were suspicious of the possibility of a firm and solid love, able to become a stable bond.
communion. This vision on the common good has great creative force, because, as we have said, it is no longer centered on the contrast between the individual and the community, but on their fruitful encounter. The key lies in attending to the relationships themselves, as generators of social wealth. From this point of view, it is the responsibility of the State to strengthen these basic relationships, as they are the providers of social wealth. Let us note how this new vision of the common good illumines the fundamental values of social life according to the doctrine of the Church: truth, liberty and justice. From this point of view, truth appears as truth that does not oppress; being the truth of a communion, it does not reduce the individual, does not give way to all-embracing totalitarianisms, but follows the personal method of one by one, as it is the truth of the very relationship of love, of its meaning, of its integrity, of the horizon of its journey. For its part, liberty turns out to be a liberty that is not limited before the other, but is born in the other and together with the liberty of the other. It is no longer a liberty which ends where yours begins, but the liberty that is born when I am with you, which begins in fact where your liberty begins. Justice, finally, is possible beginning from the family: fraternity is the first school to learn the universal destination of goods, together with the gratifying perception of its common origin in the love that has engendered siblings.
The family and the building of society The family has a dynamism that, from itself, opens to the social. Thus a reading can be proposed of the relationship between the family and society that enables one to respond to many of todayâ€™s problems. It is a constructive proposal, which defends a vision of the family, making its specific and unique contribution seen in society. The defense is necessary, given the proposals that wish to harm the family; but we must also show in a positive light the capacity of the family to generate social wealth. We will describe this wealth according to the capacity of the family to build society in time, as one of the great problems is the common inability to pose sustainable projects, which will guide the time of our cities and countries. Without this guidance received from past tradition, which foresees a path to the future, it is impossible to pose a just notion of development, which is not a mad acceleration forward without direction or course. We are going to show that the family builds society in as much as it gives it the fixed points of its path, enabling it to integrate the past and to journey to the future with hope.
Discovery of the origin According to the philosopher Charles Taylor, one of the problems of our secular society has been the lack of an account of the origins of the world that gives meaning to life.11 In reality, this is also the cause of the loss of identity of modern man, who rebelled against his Origin perceived as a super-structure that competed with man, impeding his happiness. However, when one does not know whence he comes, when one scorns the past as spent and past, one is left without a road to follow. Nature, sprung from chaos and chance, cannot shelter any language. Hence, it can be said that precisely the family, founded on the union of man and woman, helps to pose the question of origin again in positive terms. It is essential to consider here the importance of the birth of a child from the love of his parents. It is necessary to insist that the technical ways to produce an embryo are not in accord with the dignity of the person, as they make him depend directly on those who decided on his birth. In this case, the child is not born as fruit of a love of two persons, but is the direct product of someone’s wish. How can he not think that he has an owner? Will not this child be tempted to shortcircuit the great question that resounds in the life of every man, the question about his origin? In contrast, when a child is born from the union of a man and a woman, both open to a mystery that acts in them; their action is not geared directly to the desire for a child, but from the mutual love that, in its richness, gives birth to a superabundant fruit. The child will discover in his origin, not a will that decided his arrival in the world, but the superabundance of love. He will be able to recognize the transcendent origin not as an owner against whom to rebel, but as love that has engendered him freely in the superabundance of a mutual gift. Fountain of promise Moreover, man and woman’s family union, in as much as it gives a complete person, also includes fidelity.12 We can then say that marriage generates promise in the social fabric, when two spouses not only promise things, but “promise themselves” to one another. What happens then is that, from this stable promise that engendered the child and received him into the world, the child himself learns to promise. We are referring to a singular pedagogy of promise. In the beginning, the child seeks the immediate satisfaction of his desires: if he is offered a sweet now or two if he waits for half an hour, he will prefer the bird in hand. When he grows up, however, he is able to give it up for a time and wait for half an hour to have two sweets. If this is so it is because he understands the value of the word given
What has been said situates us in a new perspective. Instead of seeing the family as a problem to resolve, perspective that leads almost always to a defeatist attitude, we could propose its wealth for society, its capacity to arouse relational richness, more stable bonds, more robust and lasting economies, capacity to build history with meaning and rhythm.
11 Cf. Ch. Taylor, A Secular Age, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MS – London, 2007. 12 J. Granados, “El sacramento de la promesa,” Anthropotes 27 (2011), 383-417.
and the ability of others to keep a promise. This trust in the value of a promise is learned by the child because he lives in a promise, the one which unites his parents. His capacity to promise stems from the same source that engendered him; the family generates social wealth, in as much as it is a school of promise. This capacity to generate promise bears with it a singular ability to link times, according to what John Paul II called “alliance of the generations” (Letter to families, 10). Illumined thus is the subject of sustainability, essential social resource in our time of crisis. Moreover, the family is also the place of forgiveness, of which social life needs an abundant supply. In fact, forgiveness is the renewal of faith in the promise; the certainty that, despite everything, the threat that seems to hover over the promise is not so strong as to annul it.
Thus we can see, in fact, that the family is not just a problem to resolve, whose properties must be defended in face of a society that, unable to destroy it by annihilation, tries to do so by dissolution in a sea of realities that, without being family, receive its same name.
Source of future and development Let us add the capacity of the family to generate novelty, in as much as it is capable of bringing a new human being into the world. The child, we have said, is not born as a product, which would only be a manipulation of elements, and would eliminate the capacity in the future to give something new of himself. But it arises as unsuspected fruit of the love of the spouses. Sexual difference, in as much as it opens a way that leads man beyond himself, and obliges him to walk in exodus beyond his narcissistic horizon, introduces an element of great value in society: the real desire for progress, the desire not to advance in circles, but to go beyond. For the Greeks the eros was the fluttering force that moved man to seek new frontiers. Dante’s Ulysses animated his companions thus: “you were not born to live like brutes, but to seek virtue and knowledge” (Inferno, Canto XXVI). When this eros disappears, which is guarded precisely in the sexual difference, we are invaded by the desire for death. Goethe also said it in his Faust: “the feminine eternal elevates us…” To eliminate the sexual difference between man and woman is to enclose human action in a closed circle which makes true development impossible. We must not forget how Benedict XVI, in his social encyclical Caritas in veritate, has united the notion of development to the notion of vocation, the original call and its responsible answer, whose dynamic is preserved precisely in the family. Generated thus in the family is a singular credit towards the person, in the fact of having a child and accepting him as he comes, without being concerned about what must be invested in him, as this is unknown beforehand. Families with disabled children are an example in this sense, as they affirm that the person deserves infinite credit and that society is willing to preserve his dignity in the future, no matter what happens.
â€œThe negative proof that such a task is accessible is offered to us by an ancient, failed example of the building of a city: Babel. The confusion of languages has been explained in the rabbinical tradition as a perversion of the word to deceive the other, to make life private, as if an attempt was being made to create a language that would maintain one outside the common construction. All destruction of public truth begins by manipulating words, so that they mean only what I wish to say. Babel shows that mere unity in technical ability cannot build a city; that without a profound union of spiritual stability is impossible.â€? (Tower of Babel, engraving by Gustave DorĂŠ.)
Generator of symbols All this can be summarized by saying that the family is able to resymbolize society.13 This is important, as we have lost the meaning of signs, the unity of beings, their mutual reference and unity, which made a cosmos of them. Time, for example, is uniform now, each moment is as good as previous ones; there is no reference to an origin, or relationship with the past, present and future, or anticipation of the future. The family is capable of re-symbolizing time, of giving it texture, thus enabling us to be guided in it.
13 Cf. J. Granados, Signos en la carne: el matrimonio y los otros sacramentos , Didaskalos Minor 1, Monte Carmelo, Burgos, 2011.
There is no longer talk of my goods, not even of goods that, by being shared, can be called common. There are no longer “my” goods, because the “I” has ceased to exist in an isolated way, and now what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine. The good is common because there is, above all, a common subject, a new creation that has a common history, common memories and a common future.
Without this symbolic richness, society ends up in rigid schemes, in minimalisms which accept only one objective: not to destroy ourselves mutually. Then nothing is built in common, but only a system is sought that will not let us clash, as if in a great square with many cars the sole wish is to avoid collisions, but they would have lost all notion of the trip they had undertaken. In the end it would be inevitable that all would end in a violent encounter, precisely because there is no goal to pursue. Understood thus is the way the family generates social wealth (social capital). It is a wealth that cannot be measured with the traditional economic indicators, but not because of this does it fail to be tangible. Fecundity appears, in fact, in the bonds that associate persons. Likewise, we understand the importance of family policy that is centered, not on individuals but on relationships, because they are the ones that are fecund. By fomenting these relationships the subsidiarity of the family is sustained, that is, fostered is the capacity itself of these bonds to generate social capital. A family policy that only foments the subsistence of the individual –(taking charge, for example, of the elderly who need special care), instead of fomenting the family bond itself to make it capable, on its own, to sustain its sick–, would be incomplete. Note that everything we have said is also true for the relationship between the family and the Church. From this vision, an attempt should be made also, in the family pastoral, to make the family the first subject of the family pastoral in as much as it is called to live its own vocation and to help other families. The pastoral does not consist in replacing family bonds, but in promoting them, so that they become a source of grace, akin to what happens in the sacrament of marriage with the consent of the spouses, by its baptismal character, as channel of grace.
Without the family, the Church lacks the ground on which to build herself; the grammar to articulate her words. Other religions need a concrete temple in a concrete place, as that of Jerusalem for the Jews. This is not the case for Christianity, which proclaims a new temple, the very Body of Christ and the body of Christians. Hence, the family is the place that enables us to discover that the body is a temple, in as much as we discover in the family the sacred value of the body, its capacity to symbolize transcendence. Thus, the birth of a child makes a woman discover that her body is holy, that God works in it and the union of man and woman in only one flesh reveals to both that in their body there is a singular capacity to unite themselves, that a new being is created, a common we. Thus the family arises, in so far as a domestic Church, as a first sanctuary that serves ecclesial building.
Conclusion: The family, creative minority Today, given the devastating situation of the family, pessimism can overwhelm us. Therefore, we must repeat that the appropriate category with which the Christian addresses the future is not optimism, but hope, namely, trust in another who sustains us. This “Other” acts precisely in relationships, where life opens to Him. The relational look is, because of this, the look of the creative minorities of which Benedict XVI has spoken, and which determine the change of a society to another.14 The family is the creative minority par excellence; minority, although it is the universal vocation of all men, because it always lives in the law of the personal encounter, and avoids the great statistics. It is creative because in it social capital is constantly generated, according to the relationships that constitute the persons. Because of its very relational structure, the family is among us mortals, as Dante sang of the Virgin Mary, fontana di speranza vivace (Paradiso, Canto XXXIII), a source of lasting hope.
Translated by Virginia Forrester
Avoided thus is that the good of the community be opposed to the good of each person. As if this were the case, the community would be conceived as a minor evil, which must be tolerated but which does not enrich personal existence.
14 Cf. J. Granados – I. de Ribera, Minorías creativas: el cristianismo como fermento de la sociedad , Monte Carmelo, Burgos, 2011.
Encounter with the risen Christ By Aleksandr Men
he prophetess Ana, one of the few people For you, who are still young, an ascending path who had the possibility of seeing baby Jesus is not always evident, from a purely existential, and listening to the words of old Simon, tes- physical viewpoint, you are in an ascending tifies to the sudden arrival of salvation. Try to state; but when man gets to a critical point figure out the word that sum up this episode. in his own life, the descent begins. You will It is a familiar word for us because it also re- also understand, will realize, how precious is presents the patron feast of our church: it is the the fact that the Gospels, the force of the Holy word “encounter”, but above all it is the biggest Spirit, the encounter with Christ, gives us the possibility of always aiming word that we can utter within high; even though we may ourselves, because for all of us tire while advancing, stumble, the resurrection is a the most important moment go through tortuous paths, mysterious metamorphosis, has been that of the encounor even go backwards, either profound and real, which ter, our personal encounter way, we gain ground. completely altered the with our Lord. A personal Natural man, devoid of the existing world, and from encounter! We have all arrived Spirit, is always loosing sothe narrow circle of to Him and have been living mething while we are getephemeral history transfers the Church precisely because ting something. If I were the Evangelical events this encounter has taken place. now offered to go back to my to a visible dimension It is something that has protwenties, I would avoid it, everywhere on the globe bably happened to all men: I because I would feel deceived and through all ages. am sure that God knocks on and dispossessed from what everyone’s door, very often I have received through the without giving his name; yet, man can refuse him, can turn his back on him, years and it would be difficult to part with can refuse this encounter. For us who have ac- this treasure. Whereas the encounter is a cepted this encounter, at least quietly, the fact permanent stimulus to move forward, a call of having encountered you, oh, Lord!, in our to aim upwards. lives, becomes our most precious possession. The encounter is a mystery, bound deeply Like Ana, we can also testify that this fact has to the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ. given our lives immeasurable depth, opened Remember how Saint Paul, speaking about wide a limitless horizon and unending riches; the apparition of Christ, of the real encounter has given us renewed strength to fight, and in he had with Him –as if he had stumbled with spite of all the difficulties that come our way, an invisible barrier and fallen– places this dehas made a permanent ascent the path we have cisive turn in his life in the same level as the apparitions of the resurrected Christ during followed.
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 32 - 37
«Head of Christ», Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1650.
Easter. Something of great importance must be extracted from these encounters: every interior encounter with Him is an encounter with the Risen Christ. In fact, the Resurrection was not an event set in a given time and space. Certainly, without denying the existence of Christ within time and space –that would be a lie– we affirm that the existence of Christ within time and space is of value in the first place because there is another aspect of His existence that transcends time and space. In fact, if Christ had existed like Socrates, only
His memory would exist for us, but he not only existed in the past, He remains with us until the end of time. And the resurrection is a mysterious metamorphosis, profound and real, which completely altered the existing world, and from the narrow circle of ephemeral history transfers the Evangelical events to a visible dimension everywhere on the globe and through all ages. We can all encounter Christ in our memory, going from Bethany to Jerusalem in the texts, in our imagination, in a film or in a book; but
Aleksandr MEN Aleksandr Men was born at Moscow in 1935 to a Jewish family. His father was Jewish, while his mother was a convert to the Orthodox Church. Though he studied biology at the Moscow Fur Institute during his youth, he had long felt a calling to the Church and had studied theology on his own. He married and had a son and a daughter. He was ordained a priest in 1960 and since then he became a reference point to the Muscovite inteligentzia dud to the Christian people that was linked to the parishes at the USSR. His apostolic work achieved to integrate both a strong bond with the Church and an ecumenical spirit characterized by its openness to the interreligious dialogue. He was the first priest who received the authorization to teach religion in a Soviet institute. During his ministry he distinguished himself by his personal prestige and his intellectual clarity. He also wrote numerous books, clandestinely published to avoid the restrictions of the communist government. They became a catechesis for a dechristianized world, specially his masterpiece: Jesus of Nazareth. Because he was such an influential pastor, his figure became a menace to the Soviet system. Thereby, he
with the Resurrected Christ amongst the dead we encounter Him in our hearts because we can hear the voice of God, see His eyes, the face of God, have the experience of correspondence between the eternal and the temporal, between the infinite and the finite, between the divine and the human. Not long ago I saw a film on Moses. In it a famous director tried to interpret with images how Moses experienced his encounter with God at Mount Sinai. Thus a whirlwind of fire rises, a kind of volcanic eruption, and from the outbursts of flames a voice resounds: â€œI am your God.â€? A being without a human aspect, but endowed with the characteristics with which we represent the cosmos, with the infinite dimension inherent
to it, (apart from being a spatial concept, the infinite represents for our imagination the unreachable character of what is real). In fact, the disproportionate grandeur of Nature, of the whole Universe, cannot find a place or fit in us because we are men, we are smaller, yet, at the same time, infinitely great. Moreover, so that this Something devoid of human appearance, indescribable, Creator of the Universe and its engine in every instant, could be transformed for us into Somebody who could talk to us, he had to acquire voice and language. All of this entails that we are to His image and likeness, in us we have a particle, a spark of the Spirit, we are like Him in correspondence, and this holds the meaning
was murdered early on Sunday morning, 9 September 1990 by an ax-wielding assailant just outside his home of Semkhoz, Russia, while he was in his way to celebrate the liturgy on the road leading to a little rural church where he had been doing mass for 20 years. Cardinal Lustiger, who was Archbishop of Paris in the moment of Father Men’s assassination, asserts in the prologue of the book Aleksandr Men by Ives Hammant (Ciudad Nueva): “Father Men was one of those mystic figures whose bright and influence were perceived as a menace to the communist power and its police. Father Aleksandr was suspected by the KGB and the anti- Semitic groups. Ones or the others, or maybe both at the same time, murdered him by an ax struck to silence him when he was in his way to his church”. Hammant states in this biography: “We can at least be fairly certain that Father Men was not killed accidentally, and his death was directly caused by the force of his public witness and his extraordinary personality.” His death moved Russia and the whole world. However, it is possible to assure that Father Men was a visionary of his own tragic future. The last days of his life, a friend has tried to persuade him of mitigating the rhythm of his activities. Father Men answered that he was in a hurry, because his time was running out for him. “I must hurry. I have very little time left. I must still accomplish something.” Father Men frequently thought about death: “The thought that someday we will be taken ought to stimulate us; it should keep us from letting ourselves go, from slacking off, from sinking into inaction and meaningless.” On the Sunday before his death he started a Sunday school in his parish for the village children. This was quite an occasion, as it meant the inauguration of a completely legal religious course in the Soviet Union. He began his address to the children with inspiring words: “My dear children, you know that one day you will all die…” God did not wait long time for taking his servant’s life. His departure meant the ending of a bastion of Christianity in the adverse communist sphere. His words compiled in his books have universal value and transcend his epoch. As those ones that recite: “At present I am like the sower in the parable. I have been given an unique chance to spread the seed. Certainly the major part will fall upon the stony ground and it will not germinate. Do you think I am not aware of the mess that people have inside their heads? But, if after hearing me a few people wake up, even if it is just one person, was it not enough? You know, I have the feeling that this will not last too much time, at least for me…”
of our life. Here resides the possibility and the clue to this encounter. Fragile, weak vertebrate mammals, at the mercy of passions and atavisms, man possesses an organ that allows him to perceive the divine. For this organ to start functioning, God comes down to us, to our level, so that we may perceive Him. This is the meaning of the Resurrection. Christ resurrected in order that His humanity and His divinity would become a reality for us today, here, in the heart of each man. This is salvation, the Saviour. What is the meaning of “salvation,” what is this word? It means to spring out from nothing, from a miserable life of delirium and fantasy, to live the real life. Man is a kind of amphibian, someone who
lives in two dimensions, two worlds. We are not spirits and we are not purely biological beings either, we belong to another dimension. These are not mere hypotheses, ideas or ideologies, but a reality that stems from the fact that God, apart from revealing Himself in a diffusive manner (in nature, in human wisdom, in everything) He revealed Himself in a personal manner in Christ Jesus who initially had a historic and very precise spatial location, that is then overlooked, interrupted after the Resurrection. The Resurrection, together with the Ascension (in this sense it constitutes an absolute whole) put an end to this localization. Today the Lord, for us, is here and now. This is why He did not say: “I leave to you a
literary legacy,” but “I shall remain with you great battle of the spirit against hell, against until the end of Time.” This is a possibility for evil, against violence. He who was repudiated, each and everyone; it is the foundation of the condemned, humiliated, murdered, He who Christian experience. Let us understand, there bore all the injustices of the world, all the evil is a generic mystical experience, there are the of the human race, triumphed and conquered experiences of the different religions, and each them all. one of them has its own value, its own beauty. In his weakness, on the Cross, God revealed Their hands are all reaching out to heaven, His own strength and continues to do so until marvellous hands, worthy of humanity, be- this day. So the last thing I wish to remind cause they are the hands of a being created in you of (even though you well know it) are the the image and likeness of God, reaching out words of Saint Paul, through which we all towards the archetype; but Christ is a hand live the Resurrection, this unique encounter outstretched downwards as it is sometimes re- with Christ. We have to live now, in this life, presented in ancient icons: a hand that reaches but this experience is inseparable from the out from above. Everything is built upon this; Cross. Paul says (in the rite of baptism) that we have all been crucified with an authentic encounter with Christ, we all share with Him God is only possible in Christ. our own sufferings (interior Here lies the secret of “the JeAt the mercy of passions and anguish, physical suffering, sus prayer.”* All the practices atavisms, man possesses an pain and the difficulties each in experimental meditation of organ that allows him to one encounters in life) if we humanity, from remote ages, perceive the divine. For this receive them as co participathrough the repetition of texts, organ to start functioning, tion with Christ’s sufferings, mantras, etc., are based on God comes down to us, to who suffers for the whole peculiarities and phenomena our level, so that we may world, who has a bleeding of the human psyche. Here perceive Him. This is the heart because in His heart he they are subordinated to the meaning of the Resurrection. embraces every human heart. name of Jesus, in such a way Die with Him, to resurrect that prayer is not reduced to a generic, abstract, impersonal contemplation, with Him. Saint Paul lived this experience in but when we inwardly come before God, the a particular way; it is an experience almost presence of Jesus should be its nucleus. If impossible to express, to communicate. Yet, it were not so, all the Christian spirituality each and every one of us, when faced with a would dissolve and would not be different to critical situation –sickness, exhaustion– has to other spiritualities as Zen Buddhism. This is remember that this condition can be sanctified precisely why Christ in the Scriptures says: “I by transforming it into a cross. We should am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the always remember that together with Jesus End.” If you wish to find out the truth about at the crucifixion there were two others, one your Christianity, look for it only through the who just suffered, while the other shared his affliction with the Saviour and heard what resurrected Christ. I would like to tell you something else: the was said to him: “Today you will be with me Resurrection is a synonym for victory. God in Paradise.” has intervened in our human struggle, in the Consequently, the Resurrection is not an event * It is a prayer much beloved by the Russian Orthodox world: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” The use of this prayer is the subject of the 19th century anonymous Russian spiritual classic The way of a Pilgrim.
that took place in a given time to be a testimony of the world, the Kingdom of God. We can only for the disciples Christ’s victory. It took place have a premonition, an intuition about it. The two thousand years ago but the encounters Kingdom of God is what the Lord announced, have continued and keep on occurring relent- it is a reality not designed for the future, nor lessly. The fact that Christ was seen through the from the dead (although those dimensions also innermost of Saint Paul, a man who had never exist); the Kingdom of God is what we expebeen with him, who was far from him and was rience now at present when God reigns within not his personal disciple, is precisely the start us, He is the Sovereign, the Lord, when he is at of the road that every Christian has walked. the centre of us and sanctifies all our relations, Paul says: “God wanted to reveal His Son in when He is definitely at the core of our actions, me.” What God reveals through His Son is an our thoughts and sentiments, when we are not experience impossible to repeat, it is the expe- defined by weakness or sin, but they remain rience of the Resurrection. We at the periphery of ourselves. are now together with Mary This is precisely why we have The Resurrection took Magdalene, who believed to pray, we should tend to place two thousand years in Him in such a way that prayer, and this is what is ago but the encounters every Easter is today for us, essential. In the Resurrection have continued and keep every day is Easter. Without the Kingdom of God starts to on occurring relentlessly. a doubt, there is not a day grow and triumph. the fact that Christ was in which our Lord, present I wished to convey to you this seen through the innermost in the world, does not enter great mystery. There are no vision of Saint Paul, a man a dialogue with us, does not other words. Many abstract who had never been with await us, does not knock at the concepts can be put forward, him, who was far from him door of our heart: “I am at the but they are incapable of exand was not his personal door and knock…” This is the pressing the essential. Yet disciple, is precisely the meaning of the Resurrection, what is essential is the encounstart of the road that every its contemporary meaning, ter. If we all were to meditate Christian has walked. present, not merely historic seriously about our interior and valid in the past, but path, on the way God has today. The Lord himself said: guided us, on the mysterious “If I do not leave, you will not receive the Holy concatenation of circumstances, encounters Spirit.” Meaning, if He had not left the world with people and books, about the situations of as an individual, limited within space, what life through which we have been lead, we will happened afterwards would not have been be perfectly aware that the Lord is still present possible. In fact, the universal Church and in the world calling the hearts and minds of Christianity would not exist. It started acting men to follow and live with Him. He has called not withstanding human frailty, in spite of all of us. This is why the biography of each one all the historical circumstances. It acts today of us is a tiny part of the history of the Church in spite of the circumstances and will go on which translates differently for each one, retaitriumphantly forever. His work is only begin- ning features in common, because there is one ning; in fact its purpose is the transfiguration Lord, one the faith and one baptism.
Translated by Carmen Bullemore and Luis Vargas Saavedra
Five Years SINCE the Regensburg Address
The Logos Precedes the Ethos Pope Benedict XVIâ€™s visit to his native Germany almost coincided with the fifth anniversary of his September 12th 2006 address to the University of Regensburg, an institution where he once taught theology and later, as Pontiff, gave his famous address, calling for a resolute opening of reason to the great logos, a text that, because of its great importance, was named after the host University. Later, other interventions, such as those of Verona (October 2006) addressed to the Italian Episcopal Conference; of La Sapienza University (address that was not read, January 2008), of the College des Bernardines (September, 2008) in Paris to builders of society, were wonderful occasions for the Pontiff to reflect further on this same question.
HUMANITAS NÂş 2 pp. 38 - 73
This illustration and those that follow, in the pages dedicated to the Regensburg address, are works by North American painter William Congdon (1912-1998).
Beyond the loud uproar sparked artificially by the media, after Benedict XVI’s quotation on the occasion of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, it was very clear that his lecture was addressed to Western nations whose cultural development has abandoned reason that seeks and enquires of reality the ultimate meaning of the existence of man himself. This key reflection in Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching, which is so interlaced with his theological-philosophical thought of many years of teaching, compelled us to review it again and to reflect further on it. To this effect, we reproduce paragraphs of the speech which seem indispensable in identifying the essence of this resolute appeal to enhance modern reasoning, followed by the comments of four authoritative observers of this philosophic perspective: Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan and former Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University; professor Antonio Livi, former Dean of Philosophy of the same University; Chilean academics professors Juan de Dios Vial Larraín and Pedro Morandé Court and Tracey Rowland the Dean of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute of Melbourne. Translated by Virginia Forrester
Paragraphs FROM Regensburg Address At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the λóγoς [Logos]”. (…)
(…) Logos means both reason and word –a reason which is creative and capable of self– communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. (…)
*** (…) 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, in its later developments, 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 (…) 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 –as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated– unlikeness remains infinitely
Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg (Tuesday, 12 September 2006).
greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. 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, as Saint Paul says, “transcends” knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3, 19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul - “λογικη λατρεία”, worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12, 1).
*** (…) The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the programme of dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.
*** Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.
*** The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal’s distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack’s central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack’s goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ’s divinity
and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant’s “Critiques”, but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature’s capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield decisive certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.
*** This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.
*** I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology’s claim to be “scientific” would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: if science as a whole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by “science”, so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he
considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective “conscience” becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.
*** Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was an initial inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not simply false, but it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.
*** And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is –as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector– the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically falsifiable, and if we once more disclose its
vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.
*** Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”. The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university. The full text can be read in www.humanitas.cl
The receptive capacity of human reason embraces the whole of reality. In this perspective, a continuous education is required that allows each person to grow in wisdom and as a witness of truth.
The Whole Breadth of Reason by Angelo card. Scola
he literary motif of the quête, the indomitable search immortalized by the chivalric cycles of the Middle Ages, retains its charm even for us Europeans now well into the third millennium. The secret of its attraction may lie in the famous statement of Lessing (1729-1781), one of the most penetrating voices of German Illuminism: “The value of man resides not in the truth he possesses or presumes to possess, but
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Five years since Regensburg Comments on the address rather in the sincere effort he makes to attain it. For it is the pursuit of truth, and not its possession, that increases human perfectibility. Possession makes men passive and indolent, while it is the pursuit alone wherein man finds the possibility of making steady progress towards perfection”.1 But to place the pursuit and possession of truth in opposition to one another is dangerous and in the long run may prove to be fatal for reason itself. For if, as Lessing maintains, the only access to perfection were given by the indefinitely protracted search for truth, reason – captivated by an endless mirror game– would eventually be caught in a kind of idolatrous solipsism, after the manner of the bitter confession of a keen interpreter of contemporary sensibility, Paul Valéry (1871-1945): “I confess that I made an idol of my own spirit”.2 And yet, there is a way to overcome the opposition between the pursuit and the possession of truth. It has been traced out from the earliest days of Christian thought to which western society is so deeply indebted. The entire patristic tradition, in primis the writings of Augustine, is a goldmine of guidance in this regard. “To find God is to seek Him unceasingly,” Gregory of Nyssa had already written before him.3
There is a way to overcome the opposition between the pursuit and the possession of truth. It has been traced out from the earliest days of Christian thought to which western society is so deeply indebted.
1 G. E. Lessing, Eine Duplik an J.H. Heß (1778), in Werke t. 23, hg. Von Julius Petersen, Hildesheim, 1970, 58. 2 P. Valéry, Monsieur Teste, in Œuvres II, Pléiade, Paris, 1960, 37. 3 Gregory of Nyssa, Homily VI on the Beatitudes.
In the deep, indissoluble unity between the possession and pursuit of truth, the irreplaceable protagonist of all knowledge is liberated that subject to whom the judgment of Lessing had rightly assigned a leading role. Indeed, far from being a mere tabula rasa whereupon the real would be imprinted, the subject has the active role of welcoming the real that is given him. “The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason,” earnestly called for by the Holy Father at Regensburg, needs a personal and communal subject keenly aware of its ability and its task of interpreting the real. By repeatedly bringing to the fore the theme of the “breadth of reason,” Benedict XVI has restored its entire cast of features. In this regard, it seems to me not inopportune to touch upon two of reason’s fundamental characteristics: complete openness and receptivity.
Reason’s Dimensions and Forms “The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason,” earnestly called for by the Holy Father at Regensburg, needs a personal and communal subject keenly aware of its ability and its task of interpreting the real.
4 K. Wojtyla, Fratello del nostro Dio, in Id., Tutte le opere letterarie, Bompiani, Milano, 2001, 713.
“One cannot think with only a fragment of truth; we need to think with the whole truth.” So writes the young Wojtyla in the drama Our God’s Brother.4 Human reason’s “capacity” embraces the whole of reality. Narrowing reason’s 360-degree openness to reality mortifies its natural receptivity and renders truth inaccessible. It is therefore necessary to respect all of reason’s possible articulations. Concisely stated, and bearing in mind the current debate on reason/truth, which took on the weight of modernity’s decisive and critical reflection on these themes, we may identify at least five theoretical, practical and expressive, differentiated and irreducible forms of rationality. Through them, the human logos –as Aristotle affirmed–, though being one, is exercised and made productive: they are theoretical-scientific reason (science), theoretical-speculative (philosophy/theology), practical-technical (technology), practical-moral (ethics) and expressive theoretical-practical (poetics). Reason, articulated in the plurality of its capacities and functions, is therefore neither arbitrary nor undifferentiated; otherwise, it would fall into a fragmentation of meaning. Only respect for this breadth will allow us to avoid the risk –which every authentic “scientific enterprise” instead must ward off– of a new form of reductionism (not of correct “reduction”) that eventually produces original, potent variations of scientism, which in all its forms –from the roughest to the most refined– is based on a threefold, unwarranted identification: “what is” is “what is knowable”; “what is knowable” is “what is scientifically knowable”; “what is scientifically knowable” is “what is knowable through empirical science”. Ultimately, then, only the sciences, and specifically empirical-experimental science, would give us knowledge of what is.
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Reason’s receptivity, on the other hand, as von Balthasar perceptively notes, “means having windows open to all that is and is true. Receptivity speaks of the power and the possibility of receiving into one’s own home an unfamiliar reality and, as it were, welcoming it”.5 Grasping the profound essence of all knowledge, which is always relational, the Basilean theologian concisely defines it as “the ability to receive from this existent form the gift of its own truth”.6 Therefore, as is evident in all giving, this receptivity proves to be the most potent activity, the dynamic expression of the “living intellect of man,” to use Cardinal Newman’s poignant phrase.
Educating Reason The two properties we have touched upon reveal one of the fundamental resources with which reason is endowed: the “capacity” to appeal to a synthetic, vital principle –the addition of the second adjective is necessary in order to avoid the intellectualistic reduction of the word– in dealing with the totality of the real. It is in virtue of this principle that a child has the possibility of learning –through his primary relationships, customs and cultural traditions– the first rudiments of knowledge about himself and about reality, which he will then go on to perfect throughout his life. Education can rightly be described as the irreplaceable and delicate place where the content (categorical) of this synthetic principle is concretely offered to the freedom of every person, which in itself is “capable” (transcendental) of receiving its form. However, as basic experience teaches, education happens only within a clear and strong network of relationships: first and foremost, those primary and constitutive relationships within the family; then, in concentric circles, all others from intermediate groups to the entire civil society. In his relationship with his teacher and, more generally, with a living educational community, the disciple, in knowing, comes to know himself: “God does not will to bestow truth by Himself, he calls men to bestow it together with Him. Witness stands at the intersection between nature and freedom. Man is called to be a witness of the truth”.7 This would seem to me to be the high road to that widening of reason, which the Holy Father referred to as an urgent priority for every place where knowledge is transmitted and explored.
Translated by Diane Montagna
Reason’s receptivity, on the other hand, as von Balthasar perceptively notes, “means having windows open to all that is and is true. Receptivity speaks of the power and the possibility of receiving into one’s own home an unfamiliar reality and, as it were, welcoming it.”
5 H. U. von Balthasar, Teologica, I, Jaca Book, Milano, 1987, 48. 6 Ibid., 49. 7 Ibid., 123.
A message to the West
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The Islamics logic supposes that revelation is not itself ˝obliged by God’s own truth and, in consequence, eliminates any secondary causality which would attribute to nondivine things an inherent order. What is has no foundation of its own truthfulness in being. Reality becomes both enormously mysterious and intrinsically arbitrary. The Pope sees this exact same problem in later Western thought, which is no doubt one of the reasons he brought the issue up in the first place on his Regensburg Lecture.
By Tracey Rowland
y far the most dramatic of Ratzinger’s engagement’s with the Islamic world occurred with the delivery of an address at Regensburg University on 12 September 2006. His analysis took the form of a discussion about the relationship between faith and reason in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. It included drawing attention to the common element in militant Islam and contemporary Western liberalism – the fact that both ideologies have a philosophical foundation in voluntarism. Ratzinger cited the Muslim theologian Ibn Hazm as saying that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to mere humans, and further, that were it God’s will, humans would even have to practice idolatry. In his reflection on this section of the Regensburg Lecture, James V. Schall wrote: The logic of this position is that obedience to Allah is absolute even when unreasonable. Revelation is not itself “obliged by God’s own truth”. This position affirms that God is not Himself bound by His own truth. It would limit His glory to impose any restrictions, even that of contradiction. The effect of this view is to eliminate any secondary causality which would attribute to nondivine things an inherent order. Thus, in principle anything could be otherwise. What it is has no foundation, no guarantee of its own truthfulness in being. Reality becomes
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 48 - 51
In his address at Regensburg University, his analysis took the form of a discussion about the relationship between faith and reason in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions.
* From the book Benedict XVI: A guide for the perplexed, Tracey Rowland. T&T Clark International, London, 2010.
In drawing this comparison between militant Islam and militant liberalsecularism, Ratzinger was making the point that both neglect the search for truth itself. (…)
both enormously mysterious and intrinsically arbitrary. The Pope sees this exact same problem in later Western thought, which is no doubt one of the reasons he brought the issue up in the first place. The term Ratzinger uses to describe the West’s version of voluntarism is that of “de-Hellenisation” – the tendency from the Reformation through to the eighteenth century and beyond of severing the symbiotic relationship between faith and reason through the rejection of the Greek conception of philosophy and the medieval classicaltheistic syntheses. In the Regensburg Lecture he noted that the voluntarism of the West did not however begin in the eighteenth century when philosophers self-consciously started to reconstruct the relations between faith and reason but its origins may be traced back earlier to the ideas of Duns Scotus (c.1266–1308). Scotus is regarded by many scholars of political theory as the father of Western liberalism with its emphasis on the freedom of the human will. In drawing this comparison between militant Islam and militant liberal-secularism, Ratzinger was making the point that both neglect the search for truth itself. For the militant Islamicist, the truth is whatever Allah decides it will be, for the militant liberalsecularist, either there is no truth as such, merely “my will” and “my own personal values” or there is “truth” but it is whatever I decide it will be. Such a truth is personally constructed; it is not a ‘given’ in a divinely created order of reality. Notwithstanding the militant Islamic protests and random acts of violence against Christians following the Regensburg Address, Ratzinger’s apostolic journey to Turkey in November 2006 was not,
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as some portray it, an “exercise in damage control”. It was already planned long before the Regensburg Address and the main intention was for the pope to participate in the annual St Andrew’s Day delegation of the Holy See to the Fanar. The basic message of this visit was papal support for those Muslims and Christians who live in a political culture deeply ingrained with secularist ideologies and opposed to any religious expression in the public square. In a meeting with members of the Diplomatic Corps to the Republic of Turkey Benedict XVI remarked that “Christians and Muslims, following their respective religions, point to the truth of the sacred character and dignity of the person”. Like many world leaders Ratzinger makes a distinction between violent religious fanatics and pious people of good will, and implores members of the Islamic world not to follow those who fit into the first category. In summary one might argue that when addressing members of the Islamic tradition he makes appeals to reason and to a common belief that human beings have been created by God, when addressing members of the Jewish tradition he appeals to common theological elements in the Jewish and Christian traditions such as atonement, sacrifice, priesthood and covenant and when confronted with the various versions of the “praxis project” he makes MacIntyresque noises about how notions like justice are themselves traditiondependent and Milbank-sympathetic observations about how eighteenth-century Western liberal philosophical presuppositions lie dormant at their foundations.
(…) For the militant Islamicist, the truth is whatever Allah decides it will be, for the militant liberal-secularist, either there is no truth as such, merely ‘my will’ and ‘my own personal values’ or there is ‘truth’ but it is whatever I decide it will be. Such a truth is personally constructed; it is not a ‘given’ in a divinely created order of reality.
Christianity is reasonable because of the realism with which it looks at the reality of human beings and the world from the Christ-Logos revelation which takes human nature upon itself. Revelation does not annul reason’s questions but projects them in their sapiential dimension towards the search of the ultimate sense of all things.
The breadth of reason: an academic task by PEDRO MORANDÉ COURT
enedict XVI ‘s lecture in Regensburg is undoubtedly a major text, not due to its length but for the essential core of its exposition which is summed up in a phrase said by the XIVth century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II: “Not to act according to reason, not to act according to logos is opposed to God’s nature.” The phrase belongs to a treatise on the Bible and the Koran and refers directly to the statement “the spreading of faith through violence is irrational.” However, the meaning of this statement transcends this specific discussion encompassing all aspects involved in the relationship between faith and reason. Going back on an statement he has used since his first theological writings, he also points out here that “Changing the first verse of Genesis, the first verse of the whole of the Sacred Scriptures, St. John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God”, with which he sealed off the starting point of the synthesis between biblical faith and Greek philosophy, which has been “a decisively important fact not only from the stand point of the history of religions but also from that of universal history, a truth which is imposed on us even today”, as the basis for a fruitful dialogue between the cultures and the different cognitions of our times. After referring to the different historical movements during which there was an attempt to “de-hellenize” Christianity –leading to the belief that reason and faith were considered incompatible, or at least, extrinsic to each other– the speech takes on this same subject in our present culture, particularly with regards to the natural sciences, whose existence, according to him, is based on a “synthesis between Platonism (in as much as it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter) and empiricism” (in as much as it is oriented towards practical and technical efficacy). “Only the kind of certainty derived from mathematical synergy
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 52 - 57
It is reasonable, therefore, for natural sciences to allow philosophy and theology to respond to that which only they can presuppose: â€œthe rational structure of matter and the correspondence of our spirit and the rational structures which act within nature.â€?
and the empiric method can be considered scientific.” Later, human and social sciences would also try to come closer to this scientific canon, resulting in the exclusion of “the problem of God, presenting it as a non scientific or pre-scientific problem.” No dialogue can arise between the cultures and religions of the world from such reasoning’s reductive assumption as, according to him, “precisely this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason constitutes an attack on his most intimate convictions.” At the same time sciences themselves are deprived of the means to reason over their fundamentals given that the Platonic element which assumes its rationality “carries a question which transcends it, as it transcends the possibilities of its methods.” It is reasonable, therefore, for natural sciences to allow philosophy and theology to respond to that which only they can presuppose: “the rational structure of matter and the correspondence of our spirit and the rational structures which act within nature.” The condition for this, he adds, is to have “the It seems to me that courage to set before our eyes the breadth of reason and not the these expressions are denying of its greatness.” His lecture ends saying, with regards in perfect keeping with to this breadth of reason, that “the great task of the university is the path introduced by to rediscover it constantly.” John Paul II in Fides It seems to me that these expressions are in perfect keeping with et ratio, especially the the path introduced by John Paul II in Fides et ratio, especially the surprising statement surprising statement “There is thus no reason for competition of “There is thus no reason any kind between reason and faith: each contains the other, and for competition of any each has its own scope for action.” However, I have not found kind between reason and enough explanation among the reviewers of this encyclical as to faith: each contains the the meaning of this “each contains the other” of reason within other, and each has its faith and faith within reason, yet each in its own space for its own own scope for action.” realization. Of course I do not have either the philosophical or theological competence to find an appropriate answer to this question. But the reading of Pope Benedict XVI‘s lecture suggests that this “each contains the other” could be defined as “the correspondence between our spirit and rational structures which act in nature”, where the expression “nature” could well be substituted by that of “reality”, so as to include not only that reality which is bestowed on mankind through his biophysical being, but also that which is uncovered, created, transmitted and constantly recreated by culture. In fact, I think that what the Pope wants to convey to us is that Christianity is reasonable because of the realism with which it looks at the reality of human beings and the world from the Christ-Logos revelation which takes human nature upon itself. On the one hand, because this Wisdom of God made flesh corresponds and overabundantly satisfies the deepest needs for truth, goodness, beauty and justice which spring from the rational condition of the human spirit. On the other hand, because this same Wisdom manifests itself “in the beginning” as the creative Spirit which calls on reality to exist from nothingness itself, by reason of “rational structures which act” within it. Therefore, faith in the Revelation does not annul reason’s questions, nor does it reprehend them; in their sapient dimensions it projects them,
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rather, towards the search for the ultimate sense of the whole. Such an ultimate sense conforms, precisely, that inner call or initial exhortation which puts us on the path of thought and which discovers its freedom. As Heidegger points out with great depth, “that which beckons us to thought gives us for the first time the freedom to be free, so that that which is humanly free can inhabit it. The initial essence of freedom lies in the mandate which spurs mortals to think of that which is most worthy of thought.”1 This is “the breadth of reason” and “its greatness”, as Benedict XVI says, and if in his first encyclical, after St. John, this first call which sets in motion all the comprehensive capacity of the human being identifies him with Love, in his lecture he states: “Certainly love, as St. Paul says, ‘overlaps’ knowledge and thus is able to perceive beyond a simple thought (cf. Ef 3, 19); however, it is still the love of God-Logos.” That is to say, love and truth do not oppose each other and one could also state that Fides et ratio says the same of reason and faith, that one is within the other, in which each finds its own space for its own realization. Culture is precisely The love of truth and the truth of love are two realities which con- that space open to the form each other and hail themselves reciprocally in the unity of breadth of reason in the personal being, be it God or human beings. He who loves can the specific historical only do it with the totality and unity of his personal self, and the circumstances of each truth which wisdom is looking for “in the beginning” illuminates human life and each the whole significance of reality in conjunction with all its factors. society. If nations loose As a social scientist I would like to point out that the same problem that essential reference the Pope analyzes regarding modern thought also unfolds at the which constitutes core of social organization. Since the beginning of the modern their traditional world, going through the industrial revolution and the communi- wisdom, they weaken cations’ post industrial revolution, society has begun to organize the intergenerational itself within a functional criterion which limits the risks and ope- solidarity which sustains rates with stability in spite of the high levels of contingency and life. (…) uncertainty which arise from the environment and the complexity of a society thus organized. On the one hand, this way of codifying communications within society which seems reasonable because of its efficiency and specialization shows, on the other, high levels of irrationality when social and human reality are reduced to that which suits the functional parameters. The basic principle of functional organization is that all elements of reality can be substituted in their function by some of its equivalent. The value of efficiency depends, precisely, on this substitution. When this way of observing reality becomes prevalent, that which vanishes from sight is the personalized reality of the irreplaceable human being, as well as the ecological balance necessary for the preservation of non renewable natural resources, which are also irreplaceable. The depersonalization of social relationships, the demographic crisis which brings about a declining trend in fertility, the aging population and the depredation of the natural environment interact and increase each other. While we make efforts to define the rules of procedures in the legal, political, economic, educational, etc. systems, that may guarantee the functioning of society within pluralism, 1 Heidegger Martin, ¿Qué significa pensar?, Editorial Trotta, Madrid 2005, p. 207.
diversity and tolerance both nationally and internationally, we overlook the historic origin of each people and culture, their identity, their sovereignty, their patrimony, their traditions and finally their freedom to value and respect their original experience in the realization of manâ€™s common vocation. Culture is precisely that space open to the breadth of reason in the specific historical circumstances of each human life and each society. If nations loose that essential reference which constitutes their traditional wisdom, they weaken the intergenerational solidarity which sustains life. The functional organization of human affairs may be very efficient and reasonable in the distribution of risks in the short run, but it is short sighted in mid course and blind in the long run. The demographic structure of the West as it is today proves it irrefutably. There is no algorithm nor any functional disposition able to endow people with a meaning which can convey such a taste for life that their most intimate wish is to transmit it to others as a gift and a blessing. On the contrary, as it appears to be in our times, the life of each human being is considered to be a difficult problem to solve because of the work it entails to support it, the effort (â€Ś) The functional it takes to educate it, and the constant worry which the appearance organization of human of sickness or death may bring. While society strives to change for affairs may be very the better the sanitary conditions in order to improve the hope of efficient and reasonable life at birth, the change in the demographic structure represented by in the distribution of the growth in the number of elders and the decrease in the number risks in the short run, of the young, predicts a solitary and forsaken old age. but it is short sighted in The slightness of a scarcely reasonable vision which causes the use mid course and blind of intentional violence in the spreading of religious faith does not in the long run. The differ from the slightness of the knowledge which reduces that of demographic structure its present information and which provokes all sorts of violence of the West as it is today and social exclusion: corruption of public space, drug trafficking, proves it irrefutably. the slavery of prostitution and pornography, family intraviolence, abandoned children in homes where the father is absent or unknown, delinquency, poverty and so many other social flaws which society hardly strives to control because it seems already resigned not to be able to overcome them. Whilst all sorts of technical efforts are deployed regarding these problems, the only
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reasonable effort is overlooked: to provide people with a live culture, in which the values derived from human dignity be the most valuable heritage it can transmit and which may be verified daily through the personal experience of those who are in a community that welcomes and invites them to transcend their needs and wishes by means of service and common benefits. What Benedict XVI recalls of the XIVth century Byzantine emperor’s appraisal regarding the spreading of Islam is fittingly aimed at western culture and its disturbing relinquishment of its trust in reason, a reason which searches and questions reality about the ultimate meaning of human existence in the world. Certainly one cannot deny the value of limiting the problems faced by a social life more and more complex –and a grand scale one– by more reduced and manageable functional contexts. But if these limits mean being mindless of the whole of human experience, its transcendence, the cultural values which arise from the intergenerational dialogue that sustains life in the short and long run, the personalized dimension which each human life who wants to live in the first person and in an irreplaceable manner looks for, then, owing to all these components, the functional limits become irrational. When cultures speak of God, they relate human experience to the totality of reality, to its origin and its destiny. They look for that wisdom which is able to consider all of the factors as a whole, including the wisdom of their own knowledge of the world and knowledge itself. They look for that essential dimension of human freedom determined by the act of listening to the initial exhortation of all that exists, which leads to thinking and acting according to the human spirit’s rational nature. When, for whatever reason this basic act of freedom is reprehended, the reasoning of some dimension of the experience is inevitably blemished. What Pope Benedict reminds us of in his lecture is that Christianity, as the religion of God-Logos, is a passion for human reality as it is, just as it has been designed by the initial Intelligence and Wisdom which is at the origin of everything and that reveals itself as the Mystery which dumbfounds us and leads us towards our own self-realization and fulfilment. As academicians, his last phrase gives us food for thought: “It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.”
Translated by Martin Bruggendieck
From the beginning of his lecture at the University of Regensburg, the Pope answers the question that he puts forward: “Not to act in accordance to reason, is contrary to God’s nature”. In other words: if man acts from within himself, he will be in harmony with the nature of God.
Reason and Faith in Benedict XVI
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The Pope looks for what he calls “engagement of the whole breadth of reason.” Beginnings that will allow reason to exceed the limits imposed on it and open an active, up to date and mature interrogation about the reason of faith. In nihilistic times, Benedict XVI returns to logo centrism.
By Juan de Dios Vial Larraín
rom the beginning of his lecture at the University of Regensburg, the Pope answers the question that he puts forward: “Not to act in accordance to reason, is contrary to God’s nature.” In other words: if man acts from within himself, he will be in harmony with the nature of God. In what does the Pope base this strong assertion? On two decisive texts of the Bible, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. Genesis, the first book of the Bible begins with these words: “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth” (I, 1). And the Gospel of St. John begins with the words: “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was in God” (I, 1). The concordance is visible and particularly significant. God the Creator is the Logos, is the Word of God, of which man is its image. God the Creator is the same Word of God made flesh in the person of Christ. And in Him we find the essential human figure. The basis of the Pope’s thesis on faith and reason is found in this relationship between God the Creator and the Word of God, the bridge that links the Old Testament with the New Testament, Genesis and the Gospel of St. John, God’s nature and human nature. The Pope then asks: the correlation between man’s reason and God’s nature by which an irrational action would be opposed both to God’s and man’s nature, is it, then, the result of Greek thought or is it independent of it and has value in itself? The Pope answers this question directly: it was St. John who gave the conclusive answer about the biblical concept of God. Therefore, the encounter of the biblical message with Greek thought that lead to state: “In the beginning was the Logos,” was not a historical coincidence. I find this thesis from the Pope excellent and daring. I believe it
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The basis of the Pope’s thesis on faith and reason is found in this relationship between God the Creator and the Word of God, the bridge that links the Old Testament with the New Testament, Genesis and the Gospel of St. John, God’s nature and human nature.
St. John’s Logos transfigured the initial Greek word logos that Plato in the Phaedo states that it named the essence of the soul – not pure rational conceptualism, nor formal calculations accomplished by a machine, nor vital impulses fantastically enriched. Logos is the most authentic depth of man, of his nature, of the divine character of the human creature.
opens a path to which Benedict XVI invites all Christians. I dare say: he invites all men because he speaks about man himself, on behalf of all men. Allow me to justify what I affirm reading into the words of the Pope. I considered his thesis daring because he knows perfectly well that because of it he exposes himself to be considered a follower of St. Thomas Aquinas, consequently of Aristotle and of the Greek simple logo centrism. This should not be done in times when the elimination of metaphysics is announced, as stated by the positivists of Vienna, or the expiration of metaphysics, as stated by Heidegger. In nihilistic times, void of the centre or in which the centre would be nothing, nihil, how can the Pope intend to return to a logo centrism? He lets himself, moreover, be accused of thinking solely in European terms in a global World in which reigns, against all spiritual unity, a relativistic pluralism, with a purely political edge to it. He even exposes himself to be accused of wanting to rescue the truth against the Sophists, once again, after Socrates and Plato, and after all philosophy collapsed with the death of God, according to Nietzsche. No one knows better than the Pope why he is willing to expose himself to all these criticisms. The reason is simply because it is the ideological daily bread in our World today and because it is here where truth has to fix its banner. Hasn’t it been the seal of the Church from its foundation, and even the lot of He who found it, to receive all this and much more just for saying what they said, for saying something that was new and against the mainstream current? The understanding of the poor in the layout of the social issue, the understanding of love in the layout of sexual morality, have they not been against the current which the Church has had to undertake at least in the two last centuries? To reinstate the value of reason within faith is Benedict’s XVI bold undertaking which he dares to attempt, as did St. Anselm at the start of the most splendorous Christian theology under the motto fides quaerens intellectum. But Pope Benedict’s XVI daring proclamation of the living relation between faith and reason acquires a special dimension, which surely is most serious, when he denounces what has happened to the truth of faith and intelligence within Christianity by opposing man with truth, and man within himself. To describe that process, already originated in the crisis of medieval theology which produced nominalism and which spreads into the modern world, the Pope uses a vigorous metaphor. He speaks of three waves, which conjure, in our minds, Nature’s catastrophes. He speaks of a dehellenization of Christianity marking the rupture of faith from philosophical intelligence. But when he says that the initial encounter of faith with Greek thought was not casual, I think he is saying something that entails great repercussions. He is granting
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human history a weight and a significance that although they are within the Incarnation of Christ and his Passion under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed proclaims, now with the Pope’s proposal the history of salvation extends through the whole history of mankind and develops with it. Based on this the Pope justifies the Hellenization of Christianity and can state that “Christianity took its historically decisive character in Europe,” just as its origins can be traced to the East. So, the process of assimilation of Greek philosophy by Christianity is not accidental or fortuitous: something that can be undone and erased at whim. This is something real, alive, historic, that belongs to the nature of God and of man. The rapprochement of the Biblical message and Greek thought takes place already in the episode of the burning bramble that appears in Exodus. The name of the biblical God is heard in the words I am. Those words differentiate the God of the Bible from other gods, setting Him apart from myth and idolatry. In this the Pope sees a profound analogy in the attempt of Socrates to do away with myth. He even calls it an “illustration” that breaks away from divinities that are only the work of man, as written in Psalm 115. In late Sapiential literature that rapprochement will take place, the mutual contact between the Bible and Greek philosophy. As stated, it is in the Christian culture of the Middle Ages when the proposal that the Pope calls voluntas ordinata, according to which God is only known as an infinite will “whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind His actual decisions.” The Pope mentions Duns Scoto, as he could also have mentioned William of Occam and nominalism. Note a strange paradox that seems to profoundly unite, though not historically, the absolute transcendence of God preached by the Coram, and the unfathomable trait of will in the philosophy of Duns Scoto, or in Occam’s, according to whom what is good is God’s will, with no other reason than His will, so that it cannot be said that God wants what is good, but rather that it is good just because He wants it. The theology of Islam seems to agree with nominalist philosophy. By contrast, Avicenna’s Islamic philosophy, with its Aristotelian influence, could be deeply assimilated in the Christian theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. The relations of Islamic truth with a nominalist philosophy of Christian theologians, and of Islamic philosophy with Catholic theology are articulated in the Greek logos of Aristotle that establishes a continuity that would be broken by the nominalists. Certainly the differences between God and man are infinitely greater than the similarities, as was established by the Lateran Council in the XIII Century, but God does not become more divine if we distance Him from us. The truthfully Divine God, writes the Pope, “it is the
To reinstate the value of reason within faith is Benedict’s XVI bold undertaking which he dares to attempt, as did St. Anselm at the start of the most splendorous Christian theology under the motto fides quaerens intellectum. (…)
(…) But pope benedict’s xvi daring proclamation of the living relation between faith and reason acquires a special dimension, which surely is most serious, when he denounces what has happened to the truth of faith and intelligence within Christianity by opposing man with truth, and man within himself.
God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf.” The first wave that breaks over this essential truth is the dehellenization put forward by the Reformation in the XVI Century, which seeks the essential form of faith only in the Sacred Scriptures, completely devoid of the logos of philosophy. Luther stated that the philosophy of Aristotle was the whore of Satan and he also wrote: I belong to the group of Occam. The strong religious feeling of the German priest wasted no euphemisms. But the philosophy of German idealism took it very seriously, although ironically because, again philosophy will speak of God, now through a subjective idealism induced by modern reason of a mathematical and technological nature. In the XVIII Century, Kant intensifies that position, when in the Criticism of Pure Reason he stated the need to renounce philosophy in order to give way to faith instead. From there to liberal theology of the XIX and XX Centuries there is only one step by which faith becomes a moral issue and Jesus becomes just a humanitarian figure. Kant’s Practical Reason achieves all its theological status by making God just a proposal to sustain that moral. In this way the Pope’s second wave surges up. This wave induces us to see in God and religion the most fundamental alienation of man, as Marx wrote in the Prologue to the Philosophy of Law by Hegel and to view Christianity immersed in nihilism and prone to collapse, due to its thirst for power, as preached by Nietzsche. This savage wave still sweeps contemporary conscience. The modern self-limitation of reason stated in Kant’s Criticisms and projected in science, reducing its scope, has excluded the problem of
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God. Man, therefore, desides what he upholds regarding God, and subjective conscience becomes the only ethical consideration. Consequently Ethics and Religion lose their power to create a community. St. John’s logos transfigured the initial Greek word logos that Plato in the Phaedo states that it named the essence of the soul – not pure rational conceptualism, nor formal calculations accomplished by a machine, nor vital impulses fantastically enriched. Logos is the most authentic depth of man, of his nature, of the divine character of the human creature. The third wave denounced by the Pope bars the possibility of rapprochement of cultures, a great political and moral ideal of our times, by proclaiming the break of Christian faith with the culture that first sheltered it, as if it has been an original sin. Such plundering does not purify. Within it perhaps operates a secret pride of wanting only faith in itself; this does not purify it, but it corrupts and disintegrates it. To criticize the issues that in the modern world have menaced the essential unity of reason and faith does not mean ignoring the goods of this world. The Pope would deny his own words if he did so. His position is different: It is an invitation to look ahead. The Pope looks for what he calls a “breadth of reason”, a wider scope that allows reason to overcome the limits imposed on it and to set forth a vivid, actual, mature interrogation of the reason of faith. Allow me to recall something I heard years ago from an outstanding expert in Greek philosophy at the beginnings of Christianity, Father Paul Henry S.J., who said: orthodoxy had been the adventure of intelligence through heresies. The Pope summons to these tasks the Universitas scientiarum as he calls the University.
To criticize the issues that in the modern world have menaced the essential unity of reason and faith does not mean ignoring the goods of this world. The Pope would deny his own words if he did so. His position is different: It is an invitation to look ahead.
Translated by Carmen Bullemore and Luis Vargas Saavedra
The truth revealed by God is not opposed to the truth attained by man, but presupposes it. Hence the possibility of an evangelization that calls out to the rationality of the human creature: one that is not exclusive but inclusive, and therefore authentic.
The R ationality of Christianity or The Epistemic Justification of the Christian Faith BY ANTONIO LIVI
f we compare the lecture of Benedict XVI, given September 12, 2006 at the University of Regensburg, with the address he would have delivered at the Roman University “La Sapienza” in 2007, and with numerous other speeches dating back to the earliest days of his pontificate, there is evidence that the current Pope has made the reclaiming of the rational foundations of the Christian faith a priority of his ministry. This doctrinal project, which in some respects confirms an important aspect of the teaching of John Paul II1, concerns the Church herself ad intra –inasmuch as it aims at stemming the fideistic tide of much of Catholic thought– but it is also addressed ad extra, to unbelievers who reason according to the conceptual framework of that secularized culture, which has closed itself off to the Christian proclamation either because it grants exclusive rights on rationality to the positive sciences or because it has lost all hope that any truth might be attained. It would be unjust to see this doctrinal project as depending on a particular and disputable point of view –that of one who, like Joseph Ratzinger, comes from a background of theological studies and academic experience– when in fact it expresses a 1 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et ratio, 14, 1998. On the theological teachings and pastoral orientation contained in this important papal document see the essays collected in the volume of Antonio Livi and Giuseppe Lorizio (editors), “Il desiderio di conoscere la verità”. Filosofia e teologia a cinque anni da Fides et ratio, Lateran University Press, Vatican City.
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 64 - 71
Five years since Regensburg Comments on the address â€œThe current Pope has made the reclaiming of the rational foundations of the Christian faith a priority of his ministry.â€?
strong pastoral sensibility, an apostolic exigency that is easily shared since it is in keeping with the purest tradition of the Church beginning with the Church’s experience in the patristic age2. I mean to say that those who have at heart the strengthening and propagation of the Christian faith should be of one accord in recognizing that, today more than ever, pastoral care must know how to highlight Christianity’s rationality, something which also involves a critical comparison –challenging, at times treacherous, but always fruitful– with the philosophical and scientific reasoning of its day. Consider that all of the theological issues concerning revelation and faith (issues that mustn’t be restricted to fundamental theology, given that they are also found in Trinitarian theology, in Christology and in ecclesiology) involve the clear awareness of the basic logical structure that enables a rational being such as man to be open to the saving event of divine revelation, understood as the Word of God which comes to every man and asks of each a free response of faith. Consider moreover, that this basic logical structure can only be properly understood in light of philosophical reflection; i.e., of epistemic logic, and more particularly of alethic logic. One must be careful, however, not to confuse the scientific instrument of inquiry, which is precisely what philosophy is, with the object It is therefore a document of inquiry itself, which is not the scientific rationality proper to of particular significance, philosophy but rather the essential rationality that is the common since from it we may patrimony of the human conscience, what modern philosophy calls draw the philosophical “common sense,”3 or as the ecclesial magisterium prefers to speak foundations of the current of it, “implicit philosophy”4.
Pope’s teaching on faith.
Precedents in Ratzinger’s Theological Reflection The theological necessity of recognizing the compatibility of the Christian faith with the demands of philosophical reason is a conviction that Joseph Ratzinger has held from the time of his youth. This may be documented by recalling his lectio magistralis, delivered at the University of Bonn, when he was named full professor of fundamental theology. It was June 24 1959, and the thirty-two year old professor Ratzinger was beginning an intense academic career that would lead him to teach in Münster (from 1963), then at Tübingen (from 1966) and finally at Regensburg (from 1969). The theme he chose was The God of faith and the God of the philosophers5. It dealt with the question that had fascinated him from the time of his studies in Munich and that, from that 2 On the search for a common basis of rationality between Christianity and philosophy by the early Christian thinkers, see Antonio Livi, “Filosofia e senso commune nella teologia dei Padri anteniceni”, in Acta philosophica, 2 (1993), pp. 123-145. 3 See in this regard Antonio Livi, Filosofia del senso commune. Logica della scienza e della fede, Ares, Milano 1990; Idem, Verità del pensiero. Fondamenti di logica aletica, Lateran University Press. Vatican City 2002; Idem, Senso comune e logica epistemica, Casa editrice Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2005; Idem, Metafisica e senso commune, Casa editrice Leonardo da Vinci, Rome 2007. 4 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et ratio, September 14, 1998, n. 14. For a philosophical examination of this notion see: Antonio Livi, “El sentido común en la encíclica Fides et ratio”, in Tópicos, 19 (2000), pp. 123-`30; Ralph McInerny, “Implicit Theology”, in Tópicos, 19 (2000), pp. 155-169; Antonio Livi, “Giovanni Paolo II e la ‘filosofia implicita’ (Fides et ratio, ∫14)”, in Aquinas, 47 (2004), pp. 153-171. 5 Cf. Joseph Ratzinger-Benedikt XVI, Der Gott de Glaubens und der Gott der Philosophen. Ein Beitrag zum Problem der theologia naturalis, ed. Heino Sonnemanns, Johannes-Verlag, Leutesdorf 2005; Italian trans.:Il Dio della fede e Il Dio dei filosofi, Marcianum Press, Venice 2007. His years of academic teaching are rich in publications: of special importance is the collection of university lessons under the title of Einfübrung in das Christentum, published in 1968, and the anthology of essays Dogma and Revelation, edited in 1973. He would go on to publish The Ratzinger Report (1985) and, eleven years later, Salt of the Earth.
The Historical Experience of the Encounter between Christian Faith and Greek Philosophy
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time forward, he never ceased to explore more deeply: “The questions posed then he wrote - have remained to this day, as it were, the guiding thread of my thought”6. Even in 2006 at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI wished to refer specifically to this earlier address. It is therefore a document of particular significance, since from it we may draw the philosophical foundations of the current Pope’s teaching on faith. In fact, in his inaugural lecture at Bonn, Joseph Ratzinger began with Pascal and his famous distinction between “the God of the philosophers” and “the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob,” between the God who speaks to man and the God of Descartes, whom Pascal considered to be “doubtful” –since it was postulated by a rationalistic system for the sole purpose of guaranteeing formal completeness– and also “useless,” since men are interested in knowing the true God, who revealed himself in Jesus Christ as Love and Mercy. The young teacher does not intend, however, to follow Pascal according to the customary (and arbitrary) fideistic interpretation: he does not accept religion’s relegation to the sphere of sentiment nor the placing of the Christian faith outside of rationality.
The young teacher does not, however, intend to follow Pascal according the customary (and arbitrary) fideistic interpretation: he does not accept religion’s relegation to the sphere of sentiment nor the placing of the Christian faith outside of rationality.
In the address given at the University of Regensburg, Benedict XVI –in support of his fundamental tenet, i.e., the rationality of Christianity– returns to the vexata quaestio of Christianity’s assimilation of Greek philosophy during the first centuries. Without giving too much weight to the false problem of a necessary de-hellenization of Christianity, the Pope interprets the historic fact as proof that Christianity has always been aware of its own rational nature: “The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint 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”7. [We need] “to rediscover anew human rationality open to the light of the divine logos and his perfect revelation which is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man. […] When Christian faith is authentic, it does not diminish freedom and human reason”8. In short, “the synthesis worked out by the Fathers of the Church between biblical faith and the hellenistic spirit was not only legitimate, but necessary, in order to give expression to the full demand and to all the seriousness of biblical faith”9. Confirming once again his unreserved appreciation for the cultural choices made by the first generations of Christians, Papa Ratzinger wants to show that historical experience confirms the doctrinal and pastoral orientation he desires to give to the Church 6 Joseph Ratzinger, Il Dio della fede e il Dio dei filosofi, ed. cit., p.7. These words are drawn from the preface that Ratzinger wrote for the book’s final German edition, a year before being elected Pope. 7 Benedict XVI, Angelus, January 28, 2007. 8 Ibid. 9 Joseph Ratzinger, Il Dio della fede e il Dio dei filosofi.
today. The Church, in fact, has always been aware that she must announce the truth to men who are searching for truth. What this in fact means is that the truth revealed by God is not opposed to, but indeed presupposes, the truth attained by man: if this is possible thanks to the rational resources with which God has endowed man, created “to His image and likeness,” that is possible thanks to God’s intervention in history for the redemption of man and for his incorporation in Christ. In both cases, we are dealing with truth: if the means of attaining it differs (in the case of the truth acquired by man, this occurs through experience and reasoning; while in the case of God’s truth, it takes place through witness) the faculty by which it is acquired –reason– does not. If for centuries we have spoken of “reason” to indicate exclusively the truth acquired by man, and of “faith” to indicate exclusively the truth revealed by God, Benedict XVI has sought to overcome the many misconceptions regarding what by now has become an inevitable yet ill-suited way of speaking, by speaking instead about “human rationality open to the light of the divine Logos and his perfect revelation which is Jesus Christ”10.
What this means, in fact, is that the truth revealed by God is not opposed to, but indeed presupposes, the truth attained by man; if this is possible thanks to the rational resources with which God has endowed man, created “to His image and likeness.”
Perspectives for Catechesis and Evangelization
These are certainly not secondary or indeed extraneous questions to pastoral life: on the contrary, they are the convictions that can make catechesis and evangelization effective today, and I think this is precisely the criteria we must draw from the teachings and example of Benedict XVI. Understanding the pastoral value of his teaching and example will make us rethink the faith we profess and must propagate, by rediscovering in today’s terms what the Word of God truly is, and what truly is the response of faith that God expects from anyone who has been summoned by his Word11. And so, from Benedict XVI we may derive this fundamental pastoral criteria: that an adequate presentation of the rationality of the Christian faith constitutes the essential requisite of Christian preaching: not only among intellectuals but in every social sphere; not only in the work of evangelization, i.e., in dialogue with “unbelievers” to whom it is necessary to communicate the Gospel in a way that makes it both understandable and credible12, but also in the catechesis of the various ranks of the faithful, since it is also necessary to strengthen the Christian faith of the countless number of people who cannot help but be influenced by a prejudicially secularized culture that is hostile to the Christian faith precisely because it does not understand its reasons13.
10 Benedict XVI, Angelus, January 28, 2007. 11 See Antonio Livi, L’annuncio della fede e la “retta ragione.” Prospettive della pastorale alla luce della “Fides et ratio”, in Graziano Borgonovo e Krzysztof Charamsa (editors), Percorsi di fomazione sacerdotale, vol. I: Perché si generi la “Forma Christi”, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, 2005, pp. 33-61; Idem, “Le ragioni cristiane del credere e i paradossi della polemica neopagna”, in Sacerdos, September-October 2007, pp. 30-33. 12 See the pastoral directives and recommendations of Pope Paul VI (cf. Apostolic Exhoration Evangelii nuntiandi, December 8 1975), and more recently, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, December 3 2007). 13 See Antonio Livi, Humanismo, cultura y evangelización, in Lucas Mateo Seco (ed.), La fomación de los sacerdotes en las circunstancias actuales, Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona 1990, pp. 811-824.
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Lastly, we may note that in the teachings of Benedict XVI on the rationality of Christianity, there are two aspects that most engage the thinking believer in reflection: 1) positively, the theological arguments favoring a regard for the Christian faith as capable of full epistemic justification14, which gives rise to the need for a critical comparison with the propositions of philosophy and science; 2) negatively, the criticism of fideism in all its forms – not without taking due distance from rationalism as well. I will try to specify, separately but succinctly, the themes of this reflection. The epistemic justification for Christianity must be understood in two different though, in some respects, interrelated senses: first and foremost, it must be understood as referring to the statements of truth contained in divine revelation (fides quae creditur), but then also in reference to the act of faith; that is, to the assent to revealed truth by one who has encountered and freely welcomed the Gospel in Christ’s Church (fides qua creditur). This essential aspect of Christianity, according to both senses, is of special interest to Pope Benedict XVI, who with the acumen of a theologian, but above all with the sensibility of a Shepherd, clearly felt the need –even before he was elevated to the Chair of Peter– to place the discussion regarding the reasons intrinsic to the act of faith in revelation into the context of a broader discussion about the necessary search for truth on the part of every man15. Thus, the The epistemic reclaiming of the rationality of faith is connected in an absolutely justification for coherent way with the full acceptation of the modern need for ratio- Christianity must be nality, as the constitutive essence of human nature, and as the foun- understood in two dation of the dignity of every person and his freedom of conscience. different though in some This is why when Benedict XVI –in perfect continuity with the respects interrelated teaching of his predecessor– set out to reclaim the full ratio- senses: first and nality of the faith in catechesis and evangelization, he always foremost, it must be avoided the equivocation of speaking about a “logic of faith” understood as referring as though it were something different from logic as such. In- to the statements of deed, if we bear in mind that epistemic logic (which is logic truth contained in divine relating to the assent to some hypothesis which presents itself revelation (fides quae as truth) generally requires that the subject have a clear aware- creditur) (…) ness of the motives for which he personally takes the assertion “as true”, we must admit that the “logic of faith” is nothing other than the inevitable application of epistemic logic to the particular case of the act of faith. Consequently, if the “logic of faith” were something other than logic qua talis, undeniably it would no longer be “logic”, and thus we would no longer be able to reclaim for Christianity rationality in the truest sense. This is why Benedict XVI, in recalling 14 On the epistemic justification see: William P. Alston, Epistemic Justification. Essays in the Theory of Knowledge, Cornell University Press, Ithaca 1989; Antonio Livi, Il principio di coerenza. Senso commune e logica epistemica, Armando Editore, Roma 1997; Robert Swinburne, Epistemic Justification, Clarendon Press, Oxford 2001; Laurence Bonjour-Ernest Sosa, Epistemic Justification vs. Externalism. Foundations vs. Virtues, Blackwell, Oxford, 2004. 15 In one of the Wednesday General Audiences dedicated to the figure and doctrine of St. Augustin, Benedict XVI insisted on this point by referring to the teachings of his predecessor, not only insofar as it generally regards the “desire to know the truth” (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et ratio,) but also in explicit relation with the bishop of Hippo: “At the end of the Apostolic Letter Augustinum Hipponensem, John Paul II wished to ask the Saint himself what he would have to say to the people of today and answers first of all with the words Augustine entrusted to a letter dictated shortly after his conversion: It seems to me that the hope of finding the truth must be restored to humankind’ (Epistulae, 1, 1)”. (Benedict XVI, Address on St. Augustine, master on the relationship between faith and reason, January 30 2008).
the Church’s teaching over the last two centuries (from the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius of Vatican I to the Encyclical Fides et ratio), has insisted on the rejection of fideism in all its forms; indeed, he knows well that the reasons for believing (the credibility of the Christian message and above all the credibility of Christ himself, “the trustworthy Witness”) are valid reasons (both in the conscience of the individual believer as well as in the work of evangelization that falls to the whole Church) only if they are understood and presented, not as merely formal “categorical imperatives” nor as unfounded assertions that “must be believed”, but precisely as reasons; i.e., as arguments capable of reaching the rationality proper to every human creature. This rationality should certainly not be understood in a reductive sense, and indeed Benedict XVI, in denouncing the limits of an arbitrary rationalism that reduces reason to conceptual understanding, to the demonstrative role or to empirically verifiable, has always sought to show how rationality is also founded on vital experience, on the perceptions of values, on the communication of knowledge, on sifting through historical evidence, (…) but also in reference on rootedness in a recognized tradition: a rationality, in short, to the act of faith; that is, which is not exclusive but inclusive (comprehensive rationality) to the assent to revealed one that, precisely on this account, is an authentic rationality16. truth by one who has Because of this, Benedict XVI could unforcedly connect the reclaiencountered and freely ming Christianity’s rationality and the recovery of the truths of the welcomed the Gospel in “natural” order; especially those concerning the moral order (which Christ’s Church (fides establishes the necessary consensus of the principles of the natural qua creditur). law) and those regarding the search for God (which establishes the right of every person and of every people to religious liberty). These truths about human nature, though necessarily present in the conscience of every person, today risk being obfuscated by the pressure of relativistic ideologies, and so pastors do well in seeking to re-propose them and illustrate the reasoning behind them; e.g., through a wise application of the Church’s social doctrine to the concrete circumstances of the time. But it is necessary to clearly state to everyone (believers and unbelievers alike) that this is not a political process, as though the Church wished to impose “her” morality on a secularized society, in a State jealous of her “laity”. Rather, it is an indefeasible pastoral need; indeed, it is only in returning the norms of natural morality to the common conscience of man that the Church may hope that the intellects of men of our own day may be opened to supernatural truths. If “God wills that all men be saved and arrive at the knowledge of the truth,” then the Church, today more than ever, must make every effort so that all men - each with his own interests and degree of culture may perceive the rationality of Christianity, and understand that “revealed truth” does not contradict but rather presupposes and perfects the truths of right reason regarding the dignity of the human person, the right to the social protection of life, and the responsibility of every person in relation to others, for the building up of a just society. 16 I am well aware this expression often is used by theologians of clear renown and sure orthodoxy: but it remains nonetheless, beyond the certainly appreciable dialectic intentions – an expression devoid of meaning in a theological context, in a context, that is, in which one cannot remove from the profession of the Christian faith the truthful dimension; and regarding truth, logic is but one, in the sense that its rules apply univocally to all fields of knowledge. If someone wished to maintain the contrary he would eventually theorize to irrationalism, which in theology is synonymous with fideism.
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It is for this very reason, i.e., to avoid Christian social doctrine being regarded as a kind of undue “intrusion” by the Church into the life of civil society, that Benedict XVI has at heart the combination of the word “laity” (an ethical, juridical and political term at the center of the modern debate) and the term “natural law” (which is purely philosophical, in the sense that it is only within a philosophical context that is make sense and have an adequate justification). In this regard, it is worth noting that the vivid expressions often found in the doctrinal speeches of Cardinal Ratzinger before, and in the teaching of Benedict XVI after –such as the “dictatorship of relativism” and the “canonization of relativism”17– cannot be understood apart from what they truly are: characteristically philosophical expressions that serve in bringing the proclamation of faith and catechesis on the supernatural mysteries back to their epistemological premises, among which we find the principles of right natural reason - not only those of a metaphysical order, but also those of a moral order. Benedict XVI appeals to these concise, vivid expressions in the conviction that they serve to maintain Thus, the reclaiming and develop the pastoral dialogue with the cultural, which today of faith’s rationality enjoys a dominant position in the scientific and academic spheres, is connected in an and which decisively directs –through the popularization carried absolutely coherent way out by mass media– the culture of the masses. This culture, which with the full acceptation in own day we may call “globalization” in a secular sense, increa- of the modern need singly manifests a skeptical attitude towards religious values. for rationality, as the Knowing, however, that the individual person’s conscience is constitutive essence of never wholly deaf to the call of truth regarding the world, the human nature and as the soul and God (the certainties Kant considers mere postulates foundation of the dignity but which instead have the fundamental value Vico attributes to of every person and his “common sense”), Benedict XVI addresses himself to the cons- freedom of conscience. cience of each person and to their basic convictions, through the mediation of the philosophers most listened to today, or even despite their lack of openness to dialogue. For the background or meeting place –or in strictly logical terms, the premises of dialogue– are in natural reason. Catechesis and evangelization are united in this search for communicating and communicable premises: communicating, in that they are already present and active in the consciences of all men and constitute that natural wisdom, that “implicit philosophy” which “explicit” philosophy, i.e., the self-justifiable wisdom expressed in the form of a systematic science, should take as a starting point and then formalize (which does not always occur); and communicable, since reference to these premises allows for greater understanding and consensus; i.e., for communication between persons as well as between cultures or systems of thought. 17 Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Members of the Roman Curia and Prelature offering them his Christmas greetings , December 22, 2005: AAS 98 (2006), p. 50: “if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.”
Translated by Diane Montagna
Jerusalem, Athens and Rome, City - Symbols of Christian Culture By Mauro Matthei O.S.B. Quod scripsi, scripsi.
“What I have written I have written.” (Jn 19, 22)
he fact that Pontius Pilate, fainthearted mercenary, had the courage to answer the high priests’ request that he change the title, which he had ordered be put on the cross of Christ, with this unexpected and markedly authoritarian and defining sentence, has sparked much thought. According to the Johannine account “Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this title –for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city– and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written” (Jn 19, 19-22). Three aspects of the above are the following: Firstly, the title was the governor’s personal gibe against the Jews, who obliged him to condemn someone whom he considered innocent; or the subtle revenge of a politician humiliated by public animosity and is aware of the injustice being committed. Secondly, the intention of the chief priests was, as is said, to “lower the profile” of a public statement that came to close to the order of a truth, to transform it into a simple opinion, more than that, the opinion of a condemned man; in other words, to lower the objective to something subjective. Thirdly, the inscription in the three most spoken languages in the eastern part of the Roman Empire conferred on the title a clearly universal character. With his solemn Quod scripsi, scripsi Pilate, unwittingly, was reaffirming prophetically both the true character of what was written as well as its universal validity. However, not only then, but continually throughout history these three facts regarding the title Christ the King are present: the ridicule and contempt of the politicians governing the events of the world; the attempt to trivialize the absolute (and, consequently, to absolutize the relative) by the chief priests of all times; and, as a constant fact, the insistent proclamation in three languages of the universal validity of the truth about Christ’s royalty.
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The inscription in the three most spoken languages in the eastern part of the Roman Empire conferred on the title a clearly universal character. With his solemn Quod scripsi, scripsi Pilate, unwittingly, was reaffirming prophetically both the true character of what was written as well as its universal validity.
Today I will address only the third of these aspects, namely, the “proclamation in the three languages.” They were not three languages chosen at random, but those that in the course of time would represent the three cultures in which the Christian genius would be molded: the Hebrew, the Hellenic and the Roman. The Constitution Dei Verbum (I, 5) reminds us that Christian faith is man’s answer to the fact that God reveals Himself. However, to enter the human heart and intelligence, this revelation had to make use of the notional, symbolic, linguistic, liturgical vehicle, in a word, the cultural vehicle of that time. The facts of revelation had to be incarnated in the culture to ensure their diffusion in the world. However, the alphabet in which the language of the logos was expressed was not singular but threefold: three types of letters in three different alphabets to incarnate in this world the divine revelation.
Trinity in Heaven, Triad on Earth The alphabet in which the language of the Logos was expressed was not singular but threefold: three types of letters in three different alphabets to incarnate in this world the divine revelation.
Taking a further step, if we recall the capitals of those cultures, namely, Jerusalem, Athens and Rome, we will be faced with the triptych of the cities-symbols of Christianity. In his book Les mères patries: Jérusalem, Athènes, Rome (Paris, 1982), Jean-Marie Paupert already formulated things this way. Even at the risk of oversimplification, it could be said that Jerusalem contributed to the original base of Christian culture. Athens represents the perennial contribution of reason, philosophy and art, and Rome its special talent to forge juridical, political and social structures. Neither were the roads and military efficiency of Rome foreign to the propagation of the Gospel. Moreover, it must not be said that only Rome would be valid for the Western Church as the Eastern also assimilated its law and benefited from the protection of the Empire. In the course of the centuries the Church has read, meditated and proclaimed the Old Testament addressing God in the language of Jerusalem. To better understand the constant presence of Rome in Christian culture, there is nothing more enlightening than reading the Liber sacramentorum, the monumental work of Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster. As for Athens’, its contribution is unequalled. Two examples suffice: Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals Veritatis splendor (1993) and Fides et ratio (1998). Immediately there follows a new observation: more than a simple triptych, these cities make up a triad or inseparable threesome among themselves. When embracing the totality of the Christian cultural phenomenon, it is not possible to choose one, excluding the other two. Moreover, neither do they make up an undivided whole, given that they are clearly distinguished among themselves. It could be said that though being and acting differently, yet remaining a sole dyna-
mic entity, a relationship emerges, a sort of reflection of the Divine Trinity. If the Trinity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, with their perfect love and interchange, their mutual respect and harmony, must be recognized as source and animation of all creation, the threefold citizenship of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome make up the initial clay and the permanent material of the construction of the Church, dynamic influence of the Trinity in the history of the world. Derived as a consequence from this admitted threefold cultural incarnation of the Christian Creed is the necessary calling to attention of those who interpret Jesus’ phrase before Pilate: “My kingship is not of this world… my kingship is not from the world” (Jn 18, 36), a statement of evasion of the earthly, a refusal of any compromise with history. Although the kingdom of Christ certainly does not belong to this world, which is hostile to the divine and, therefore, does not have the characteristics of the kingdoms of his world, it will nevertheless be always present in the world created by God and not in the vague and ethereal forms of a spiritual myth, but precisely through the visible and palpable body of the three cultures. It is known that of all the religions in the world, Christianity carries out the most powerful trans-cultural dynamism, that is, no other creed surpasses Christianity in its capacity to incarnate and express itself in the most diverse cultures. At least two theses could be derived from this observation, easily verifiable in history. The first would be that this trans-cultural dynamism would stem from this triad –differentiated and at the same time harmonious–, of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome. The second, more daring, would be that no Christian inculturation could be successful if it did not adopt as its point of departure the unity and indispensable correlation of the three founding entities.
The threefold citizenship of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome make up the initial clay and the permanent material of the construction of the Church, dynamic influence of the Trinity in the history of the world.
The Apostle of the Gentiles in the confluence of these three currents Those who reflect meditatively on the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which refers to the Apostle Paul’s captivity first in Jerusalem and then in Caesarea, (21, 27 to 26, 32), will note with what case he acts between the three worlds (Jewish, Hellenic and Roman) and how obvious the confluence is of the representative currents of these worlds. If we propose, as a fact and an interpretative key of the history of the Church, the synthesis of the three cities, this synthesis has already been sketched in the Apostle of the Gentiles. With profit and shrewdness, Saint Paul makes use at least twice of his privilege of being a Roman citizen, which was not purchased, but is a result of his very birth in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 21, 39). He
Although the kingdom of Christ certainly does not belong to this world, which is hostile to the divine and, therefore, does not have the characteristics of the kingdoms of his world, it will nevertheless be always present in the world created by God and not in the vague and ethereal forms of a spiritual myth, but precisely through the visible and palpable body of the three cultures.
had already made use of this civic prerogative in the incident of his imprisonment in Philippi (Acts 16, 35-39). Now, when the Romans want to scourge him after his arrest in Jerusalem, he appeals with the same defense: “But when they had tied him up with the thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, ‘Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizenship, and uncondemned?‘ When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him: ‘What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.’ So the tribune came and said to him. ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he said ‘Yes’” (Acts 22, 25-28). This condition of Roman citizenship also saved him shortly after when forty Jews bound themselves by an oath to kill him. Tribune Claudius Lysias, who was already fearful “for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him” (Acts 22, 29), then removed him from the ambush of his Jewish compatriots, sending him with a heavy military guard to Caesarea to bring him before Felix, the governor. In the letter of introduction he repeats what so impressed him: “This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen” (Acts 23, 27). Although the Apostle probably did not speak Latin with the same facility as he did Hebrew and Greek, he was familiar with Roman law (see for example Acts 16, 37; 22, 25; 25, 10) and he knew how to speak with the officials of the Empire, Claudius Lysias, Anthony Felix, Porcius Festus. However, the culminating moments of his relationship with world of the pagan Roman would be recognized in the depth of his analysis of that world at the beginning of his Letter to the Romans and in his final martyrdom in the Empire’s capital. As has been said, Saint Paul spoke and wrote both Hebrew and Greek perfectly. Allusion is made to this in another notable passage related to his arrest: “As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, ‘May I say something to you?’ And he said, ‘Do you know Greek [Ellhinisti ginswskeis]? Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?’ Paul replied, ‘I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; I beg you, let me speak to the people’. And when he had given him leave, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language [th Ebraidi dialektw]” (Acts 21, 37-40). But there is more: “The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23, 11) Resounding here, then, in the very mouth of Jesus are the words “Jerusalem” and
«To Jerusalem, that as the Psalm sings “the Most High Himself has founded,” is undoubtedly the primacy, since it concentrated between its walls the yearnings and piety of the first People of God and being, and secondly, but no less urgently the earthly anticipation of the new, the Church. However, her brilliance as Christian capital, with her Constantinian Basilica of the Anastasis and her unequaled liturgy, lasted only three centuries, until she was seized in 636 A.D. by the warriors with turbans and scimitars, who reduced the Christians to second-class citizens.» (Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, 1910.)
Resounding here, then, in the very mouth of Jesus are the words “Jerusalem” and “Rome” and pointed out in addition are two “testimonies” that his great disciple gives and must give in those cities. Here Jesus does not mention Athens, but the meeting with the Athenians and the address in the Areopagus (Acts 17, 16-34) undoubtedly fulfilled all the requirements of a consummate witness, comparable to the one the Apostle gives in Jerusalem and Rome.
“Rome” and pointed out in addition are two “testimonies” that his great disciple gives and must give in those cities. Here Jesus does not mention Athens, but the meeting with the Athenians and the address in the Areopagus (Acts 17, 16-34) undoubtedly fulfilled all the requirements of a consummate witness, comparable to the one the Apostle gives in Jerusalem and Rome. Also in the case of this third apostolic “testimony,” it could be said that previously there was a supernatural mandate, referred in this case not directly to Athens, but to Macedonia and with it to the whole of Greece and also to Europe. From his stay in Troas, the Acts state: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” And the universalistic interpretation of this appeal continues on the part of the Apostle and his collaborators: “And when he had seen the vision, immediately he sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them” (Acts 16, 9-10). Saint Paul’s witness before Jerusalem, which happened every time that he proclaimed Christ to his compatriots as Messiah and Lord of history and which complied with the rigor of a liturgy, was of theological order, in regard to the primacy of the Holy City as Bride of Yahweh. Instead his witness before Athens already poses the necessary relationship between theology and philosophy, between reason and faith, another pillar of the Catholic edifice. The witness before Rome, will finally be, of the three, the finishing touch, given that it consisted in the giving of his life, in genuine “martyrdom,” on whose sepulchral monument would be raised the Eternal City’s magnificent Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls.
The three Holy Cities: None for itself, all dignified We could be reproached for having a tendency to canonize. Why these cities and not others? The answer will be found solely in the mysteries of Providence. The fact is that only these three fulfilled the necessary requirements. Not that they possessed them of themselves, for their famous names could not hide their deficiencies and mistaken actions. All of them, in some way, had to be elevated above themselves. Regarding Jerusalem, Jesus shed tears over her (Lk 19, 41) and reproached her for two things: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Lk 13, 34) and “You did not know the day of your visitation” (Lk 19, 41). In other words: Jerusalem had not collaborated with the plan dearest to Jesus’ heart, namely, to gather, to bring together the children of God who are dispersed. And second: that the Holy City was insensitive to the decisive times, to the kairoi of the history of
salvation. That is why the earthly Jerusalem, the head of Israel, would be destroyed by the Romans; however, “the new Jerusalem” would arise that much stronger, “the Jerusalem from above,” whose advent the Church would prepare. Just as the threefold denial of Peter was not an obstacle for Christ to entrust his sheep to him, so the infidelity of Jerusalem will not be an impediment so that in God’s plan she becomes the patroness, the paradigm of the Church, the beloved Bride. Neither was Rome’s debut in the earthly triad glorious. Her official representative, Governor Pontius Pilate, showed the most ignominious political opportunism and the coldest skepticism in face of the truth (Jn 18, 38). However, in God’s plans it was precisely that Rome, pre-announced in the uprightness and equity of the Roman personalities of the Acts of the Apostles (Cornelius, the centurions and tribunes) that gave the Church the Headquarters of the Petrine primacy, its structuring structures, its juridical competence, necessary for a magisterium destined to defend the truth. Regarding Athens, which in the Church would be the incarnation of the passion for truth and love of beauty, none of this did she evidence in her first appearance before the Apostle Paul in the known passage of Acts 17, 16-33: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” The representatives of Greek philosophy behaved like frivolous, deriding, contemptuous intellectuals more interested in novelties than in everlasting truths. “So Paul went out from among them” (Acts 17, 33). With this laconic sentence Saint Luke marks the end of the first dialogue between the Church, represented by Saint Paul, and the apex of the intellectual world of Antiquity. If we now move from the ambiguous conduct of its representatives to the historical validity of the three cities, we see that they flowered and withered like other cities of the world. The difference lies in the fact that, beyond their full historical validity of a moment, they maintained their influence, their spirit and their invisible collaboration through the centuries, up to today. To Jerusalem, that as the Psalm sings “the Most High Himself has founded,” goes undoubtedly the primacy, since it concentrated between its walls the yearnings and piety of the first People of God and being, secondly, but no less urgently the earthly anticipation of the new, the Church. However, her brilliance as Christian capital, with her Constantinian Basilica of the Anastasis and her unequaled liturgy, lasted only three centuries, until she was seized in 636 A.D. by the warriors with turbans and scimitars, who reduced the Christians to second-class citizens. The earthly Athens, which entered the community of Jesus Christ through Saint Paul and the Greek Fathers, but previously had also
We could be reproached for having a tendency to canonize. Why these cities and not others? The answer will be found solely in the mysteries of Providence. The fact is that only these three fulfilled the necessary requirements. Not that they possessed them of themselves, for their famous names could not hide their deficiencies and mistaken actions. All of them, in some way, had to be elevated above themselves.
«Rome’s debut in the earthly triad has not glorious. Her official representative, Governor Pontius Pilate, showed the most ignominious political opportunism and the coldest skepticism in face of the truth (Jn 18, 38). However, in God’s plans it was precisely that Rome, pre-announced in the uprightness and equity of the Roman personalities of the Acts of the Apostles (Cornelius, the centurions and tribunes) that gave the Church the Headquarters of the Petrine primacy, its structuring structures, its juridical competence, necessary for a magisterium destined to defend the truth.»
(Arch of Septimo Severo, Rome.)
been present in sacred history through the seventy wise men of Alexandria, who translated the Bible into Greek, was conquered by Rome and later Byzantium (which in 529 closed her famous Academy) and afterwards by the Turks. The explosion of the powder-keg in the 18th century installed by them in the Parthenon reduced the supreme monument of classic architecture to ruins. Neither was glorious Rome spared the fate of decrepitude, annexed to all earthly power and in the famous Imperial Forum cows ended up by grazing between the fallen columns, while in the niches and passages of the ruined Palatine, seat of the emperor, hundreds of cats roamed. None of this was a definitive impediment for Jerusalem, Athens and Rome to form the constitutive cultures of the Christian faith. They loaned their walls and squares and supplied their priests, wise men and soldiers so that the faith would be able to settle its royals in this land so foreign to the divine “the ruler of Israel” (Mic 5, 1). The Church assumed them and integrated them as her own, so that they were able to subsist beyond the historical vicissitudes and be able to merit the title “eternal.” Before them –not excluding Athens– the believer raises his eyes and blesses himself with respect.
Attempts at “purifications” of the faith Not always in the course of history did the earthly cultural triad enjoy general acceptance and recognition. In several periods and for different reasons attempts were made to “purify” the cultural expression of the Christian faith, discarding or excluding one or another or the totality of the mentioned constitutive elements. This was done with zeal and conviction, but despite this it was inevitable that the law of evangelical discernment would be fulfilled here as well: “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7, 16). A recent attempt to recover a more “spiritual” conception of God, that is, one stripped of the many cultural elements considered as harmful, can be found in the writings of the Hindu Jesuit Anthony de Mello (1931-1987). The careful reading of the Notification on the writings of the said author by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (June 24, 1998) enables one to appreciate all the consequences entailed in such a separation between faith and culture. The Magisterium’s document states that “the author substitutes the revelation that took place in Christ by an intuition of God without form or images, to the point of speaking of God as a pure vacuum. To see God it would only be necessary to look directly at the world. Nothing can be said about God; the only thing we can know about Him is that He is unknowable.”
Jerusalem had not collaborated with the plan dearest to Jesus’ heart, namely, to gather, to bring together the children of God who are dispersed. And secondLY: that the Holy City was insensitive to the decisive times, to the kairoi of the history of salvation. That is why the earthly Jerusalem, the head of Israel, would be destroyed by the Romans; however, “the new Jerusalem” would arise that much stronger, “the Jerusalem from above,” whose advent the Church would prepare.
None of this was a definitive impediment for Jerusalem, Athens and Rome to form the constitutive cultures of the Christian faith. They loaned their walls and squares and supplied their priests, wise men and soldiers so that the faith would be able to settle its royals in this land so foreign to the divine “the ruler of Israel” (Mic 5, 1). (…)
To comment on de Mello’s ideas in light of what we have said, we could say that the thesis of the Hindu religious is the same as believing that the logos (perhaps) spoke, but that there were no literates to read or understand Him. Otherwise, said in another way, Jerusalem, Athens and Rome would be the greatest obstacle to access God. No wonder the authority of the Magisterium states that the positions mentioned “are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.” In general, the attacks against the culture of the faith do not assume de Mello’s radicalism. In the majority of cases it is a question of rejecting only some of the historical ingredients of Christianity. It must be recalled, for example, that in certain European academic melieus, both before and after the last Council, clamors were raised in favor of a “de-Hellenization” of the Christian faith. This would be an offensive statement against Athens, alleging that Bethlehem is sufficient for us. Much earlier to this attempt to exclude Athens from the triptych of the cities-symbols of the Christian culture is the hostility against Jerusalem and the Old Testament. It was the heretical leader Marcion (85-160 A.D.) who in the 2nd century posed the need for Christ’s religion to separate itself definitively and totally from the Jewish dead weight and, hence, of the whole Old Testament. Marcion did not tire of stressing the contrast between the Gospel and the law, the redeeming love of the New Testament and the punitive justice of the Old and he went to the extreme of distinguishing two gods: that of Moses and that of Jesus Christ. The Evangelical theologian Harnack saw in Marcion the “first Protestant,” for his having continued with radical division the fight that in his days the Apostle Paul had against the Jewish law. The Church at the time believed it necessary to exclude Marcion from its ranks. Unpleasant repercussions of this old prejudice have percolated and remained in some of our catechetical literature, in which the unjust comparison continues to be made between the severity and rigor of Yahweh and the universal goodness of Jesus Christ: the legalistic attitude of the Old Testament, with the charismatic liberty of the New. In face of this we must reaffirm that these variations of anti-Semitism are contradictory with the Christian faith. Neither could Rome free itself from the assaults of dissenters. Martin Luther did this with unheard of vehemence. It is true that the reformer also distrusted the philosophers and “prostitute reason” and did not fear the possible fissures between reason and faith, which he always resolved in favor of the latter. In the chapter of his personal hatreds, Aristotle occupied an important place, as did Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica, which he knew only indirectly, relegating them to, what for him was the brittle attic of Athens. Undoubtedly, however, in thirty years of incessant diatribes, his main fury was directed against Rome, the Pope, the Petrine primacy,
the Church of Rome and the whole Roman system. His almost metaphysical hatred of “Papism,” which he transmitted to Anglicans, Calvinists and the numerous religious institutions derived from them, led him to advocate in practice a Christianity without a Church. However, in the end such Christianity without a Pope, without Rome, without the priesthood, without a visible Church, ended by being also a Christianity without Mary, without saints, and –despite what is said– without the Eucharist. The inevitable conclusion is that such “purifications” have not led at any time to any reformation, or renewal or progress of the Gospel, but only to mutilations of the faith and tragic divisions between believers. Also in this sense the so-called purifications are more dangerous for the faith than the heresies themselves. The latter affect the faith directly, “choosing” or preferring certain truths of the Creed to the detriment of others. The Church, through the Councils, generally succeeded in neutralizing the deleterious effects of those doctrinal deviations. However, in the case of secularization –which is what these “purifications” ultimately amount to– the evil is much more insidious. As the faith in itself is not attacked, but only cultural elements of Christianity are eliminated or modified, (what we call “the three cities”), it would seem that the essential is not at stake and, hence, in the ecclesial body no defense is put forward. The Word of God continues to be respected, but the language, the “alphabet” in which it has been expressed, is doubted. Christians themselves, not realizing what is at stake, can even collaborate in the dismantling of the faith, believing that it is only about contingent elements which can be dispensed with, which are not essential, which in the end are debatable. What is characteristic of secularization is that it acts gradually and discreetly, without the majority realizing what is really happening. Not wanting, however, are the perspicacious, but their voice of alarm is often unauthorized and even silenced. They are the men with the vocation of prophets, who are infallibly recognized as true when their word is fulfilled (cf. Dt. 18, 18-22). To address the erosion caused by secularization there is nothing more beneficial and advisable than to listen to the true prophets who have arisen and continue to arise in the progress of the Church.
(…) The Church assumed them and integrated them as her own, so that they were able to subsist beyond the historical vicissitudes and be able to merit the title “eternal.” Before them – not excluding Athens – the believer raises his eyes and blesses himself with respect.
Translated by Virginia Forrester
«He teaches us that there is a culture of the spirit from which springs the necessary serenity and clarity for facing the most intricate personal and pastoral situations, which help us to distinguish the ephemeral and superficial aspects of those who want to point out what the Spirit of today’s Church really says. (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente, 23)»
MASTER JOHN OF ÁVILA
New doctor of the universal Church By Antonio María Card. Rouco Varela
he words our beloved Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the end of the Holy Mass, held together with thousands of seminarists during the World Youth Day last August 20th in Madrid, have been heard around the world. He said: Dear brothers: It is with great rejoicing that I now wish to announce to the people of God, in this setting of the Cathedral Church of Santa María La Real de la Almudena, that in response to the wish of the President of the Spanish Episcopal ConferenDue to a strong ce, His Eminence Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop experience of conversion of Madrid, and the rest of the Spanish Episcopal brethren, as well as a which occurred, it seems, great number of Archbishops and Bishops from other parts of the world during some equestrian and many of the faithful, that I shall shortly declare Saint John of Ávila, games, he abandoned Priest, Doctor of the Universal Church. his studies after having Whilst making this news public, I wish that the word and the example read four courses of this very eminent Pastor will enlighten the priests and all those whose and returned home to expectation is to receive, some day, the Holy Orders. Almodóvar, devoting I ask everyone to turn their eyes towards him and commend the Bishop himself for three years to of Spain and all the world to his intercession, as well as priests and semireflection and prayer. narists, so that persevering in the same faith of which he was a master, they may mould their heart according to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd’s sentiments, to whom be glory and honour for ever and ever. Amen. It is moving to recollect the joy with which all of us present received this announcement and the speed with which this happy news spread, a news which was the desired reply to successive prayers and years of confided expectation, and which has come precisely at a time in which we urge for a “New Evangelization”.1 In 1979 the Puebla document had already spoken of situations “which call for a new evangelization”.2 Shortly after, in Port-au-Prince (Haiti), John Paul II had urged to find and develop “new methods, new expressions and new enthusiasm from the Apostles”.3 Almost ten years later, in 1992, the Santo Domingo document dedicated a complete chapter to “the new evangelization”4 and in its conclusions, made it clear 1 Pope Benedict XVI, apostolic letter Ubicumque et semper, September 21, 2010, instituting the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. 2 General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, Document of Puebla, chapter II, Nr. 366. 3 Speech addressed to the CELAM Assembly on March 9, 1983.
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that it “demands the pastoral conversion of the Church”, a conversion “which must be coherent with the Council”.5 In the encyclical Redemptoris missio of December 7, 1990, the now Blessed John Paul II again took up the subject of “the new evangelization” presenting it as evangelization ad gentes6; as a binding reply to the “new spring” of grace which the Church was going through7 and as an impulse for “the new missionary times”8 which summons us. More recently, in 2007, the Aparecida document reminded of “the defiance of the new evangelization, to which we have repeatedly been summoned”9. Within this context of a new and urgent evangelical impulse, the great figure of Master Ávila arises. He was a great preacher of the gospel as he was a diocesan priest in love with Jesus Christ and a profound admirer of St. Paul’s. He was also a rare connoisseur of the Holy Scriptures, a perfectly accomplished preacher and enthusiast catechist, full of God and human experience, whose apostolic actions and the educational creations he undertook are a summit of accomplishment and radiance, and still make his essential evangelical rules surprising for their timelessness.
Fr. Louis of Granada, John of Ávila’s first biographer, states that Master Soto, due to “the delicacy of his proficiency, accompanied by a great amount of virtue, loved him greatly.” A witness assures that Soto said of him “that if he followed schools, he would be among the most excelling in letters that could be found in Spain.”
The person and the age Licenciado Louis Muñoz, one of the first biographers, offers these identity traits of the Master: The home of the Venerable Master John of Ávila was the noble and loyal villa of Almodóvar del Campo, set in Calatrava, from where it took its name. It belongs to the Archbishopric of Toledo,10 primacial church of the Spains [...]. Our venerable Master’s parents, Alonso of Ávila and Catalina Gijón, the most honourable and brilliant in Almodóvar, [...], were well to do and, most important, fearful of God and observants of His law.11
He was born on January 6, 1499 or 1500 and was an only child. He spent his first years in his home in this peaceful village of La Mancha in the province of Ciudad Real. As soon as he was fourteen, his parents sent him to study law at the prestigious University of Salamanca. This town was at the time a boiling pot of American illusions. The recent voyages to and from the “New World” brought and gathered news, adventurers, warriors, merchants… and fervent missionaries, yearning to preach the gospel to those people. In 1514, when John of Ávila arrived in Salamanca, a group of Dominicans from the town’s convent had just enlisted to set out for America. Around that date, thirty six missionaries from the Chapter I of the Second Part of the Document: IV General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, Document of Santo Domingo. Ibidem., Conclusions, Nr. 30. RMi, 33. Ibidem., 2. Ibidem., 92. V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate, Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ in order that our people will have life in Him. “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14, 6), Conclusive Document, 287. 10 By then so it was. At present, Almodóvar del Campo pertains to the diocese of Ciudad Real. 11 Vidas del Padre Maestro Juan de Ávila, ed. by Luis Sala Balust, Flors, Barcelona, 1964, pp. 158 and p. 161. 4 5 6 7 8 9
Preaching Order had already left for the Indies. One of them, Fr. Julián Garcés –with whom years later John of Ávila decided to travel– must have passed through Salamanca shortly after he was appointed Bishop of Tlaxcala, New Spain, Mexico. But for the moment, due to a strong experience of conversion which occurred, it seems, during some equestrian games, he abandoned his studies after having read four courses and returned home to Almodóvar, devoting himself for three years to reflection and prayer. It must have been a Franciscan priest who counselled him to study Art and Theology at the recently created University of Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), renowned for its ability to evaluate and censure the three great theological currents or movements of the moment –thomism, scotism, nominalism– and with evident openness towards the humanism of the new renaissance. John of Ávila was a student of Domingo of Soto there12, just arrived from Paris. With him he studied the Súmulas in the first class of 1520-1521, Logic in the following and, after approving the exam half way through the third class, he obtained his Bachelor degree. Fr. Louis of Granada, John of Ávila’s first biographer, states that Master Soto, due to “the delicacy of his proficiency, accompanied by a great amount of virtue, loved him greatly”13, and a witness assures that Soto said of him “that if he followed schools, he would be among the most excelling in letters that could be found in Spain.”14 John of Ávila had to go through his theological studies, St. Thomas’ Prime with Masters Pedro Ciruelo and Miguel Carrasco; the main chair of Scotus with Fernando of Burgos; and that of the nominalists or of Gabriel Biel, which was taught with great approval by Master John of Medina.15 In the first year of the XVIIth century, a “set of sentences by Gabriel and other books which the said Master (Ávila) had studied in Alcalá” were still preserved in the School of the Assumption, in Cordoba.16 Don Pedro Guerrero, future Archbishop of Granada was a friend and companion during his stay in Alcalá.17 There, while studying in Alcalá for his doctorship, he also met Fernando of Contreras, who would become his close friend and was decidedly influential in his later life. It was from Alcalá that John of Ávila set out to be ordained priest. Fr. Louis of Granada narrates it thus: 12 Domingo of Soto, O.P. (1494 – 1570). From Alcalá he moved to the University of Salamanca, becoming part of its law school, of great importance in the 16th century. He took part in the Council of Trento as theologian sent by the Emperor Carlos V. His contributions to the discussions on the rights of the indigenous people of the recently discovered American continent were outstanding. Vide: Cruz Cruz, J., La ley natural como fundamento moral y jurídico en Domingo de Soto, EUNSA, Pamplona, 2007. 13 Fr. Louis of Granada, Vida del Padre Maestro Juan de Ávila y las partes que ha de tener un predicador evangélico. EDIBESA, Madrid, 2000, pp. 32 – 33. 14 Deposition of Father Andrés of Cazorla S.I. at the process of Andújar. Proceso de beatificación del maestro Juan de Ávila, ed. by José Luis Martínez Gil, OH., Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid, 2002, p. 887. 15 Cf. V. Beltrán de Heredia, O.P., “La Teología en la Universidad de Alcalá”, in Revista Española de Teología 5 (1945), 407 – 410, 501 – 506; “El Maestro Domingo [Francisco] de Soto en la Universidad de Alcalá”, in La ciencia Tomista 43, (1931) pp. 346 ff. 16 Deposition of the Licenciado Fernán Pérez of Torres at the Process of Córdoba, Proceso de beatificación del maestro Juan de Ávila, op. cit., p. 187. 17 Fr. Louis of Granada, Vida del Padre Maestro, op. cit., p. 33.
His parents died before he finished his studies, and having finished them and being the most enlightened of his class because of his mental power and the assiduity in his studies, now being of age, he was ordained for Mass; instead of the banquets and feasts which are common in these cases, as one who already held lofty feelings, he fed twelve beggars and served them at table, and dressed them and performed with them other charitable actions.18 It was 1526 and he completed the feast of his first Solemn Mass in Almodóvar del Campo selling his abundant inheritance which came from the silver mines the family owned in Almadén, and distributing its total sum amongst the poor, because his project was to deprive himself of everything and set out as a It was 1526 and he missionary “to the place where there is more work and need, and and so it seemed to completed the feast of less honours and applause from the world, 19 However, when he was in him he had to sail towards the Indies”. his first Solemn Mass in Almodóvar del Campo Seville, waiting to embark for Mexico with the said Father Julián selling his abundant Garcés O.P., appointed Bishop of Tlaxcala, the Sevillian Archbishop, inheritance which came Alonso Manrique, counselled by Fernando of Contreras, changed from the silver mines the John of Ávila’s route: the south of Spain had to be evangelized. Fr. family owned in Almadén, Louis refers to this as follows:
and distributing its total sum amongst the poor. He did this because his aim was to deprive himself of everything and set out as a missionary “to the place where there is more work and need, and less honours and applause from the world, and so it seemed to him he had to sail towards the Indies.” (Fr. Louis of Granada)
It occurred that as he went daily to say Mass in one of the town’s churches, he said it with such devotion and veneration and with so many tears that in hearing it, Father Contreras began to want to know him and tell him of the scheme he had in mind. And once he knew his purpose, he worked to dissuade him, saying there was much to be done in Andalucía, without crossing the sea.20
The Muslim domination had not left only a few sequels. Andalucía had been Christian, very Christian, and had a rich tradition of saints; but there was also the mark of centuries of conviviality between different religions, a positive fact in itself, but which had strengthened the faith of some, secured that of others and weakened a great many. It was necessary to evangelize those who wish to have the gospel as a rule of life once more. So John of Ávila found himself devoted to this “new evangelization”. He remained, therefore, in Seville sharing house and poverty with the great Fernando of Contreras, doctor in Alcalá, who had changed the course of his life to preaching and was the author of a famous catechism or Christian Doctrine, and who also encouraged John of Ávila to follow this same path. Father Ávila started with the basic: to make, with the Lord’s help, of his life the gospel. He used to say that in order to speak to God, one has to speak a great deal with Him. Moreover to use the proper words, one has to know God’s Word to perfection. He was a great theologian but he divulged his teachings not through a university chair but by preaching in streets and plazas and through villages: Alcalá de Guadaira, Lebreja, 18 Ibid. 19 Brother Louis of Granada, Vida..., op. cit., p. 129. 20 Ibid., p. 130
Palma del Río, Jerez and above all in Écija, an important town where he worked charitably and made long lasting friends. He taught the Sacred Scriptures, lessons which were attended by many clergymen, and catechism to children. It was not long before difficulties arose. His apostolic successes were soon overshadowed by an accusation to the Inquisition, blaming him of having held suspicious doctrines in his preachings. His biographer, Licenciado Muñoz, reports it this way: He preached with the zest and spirit of Heaven; he made vices look uglier, reproached customs; spoke out the evangelical truths vividly, the sentences of the saints and doctors of the Church, with the sincerity and simplicity they posses. But all was said with such vigour that they were like penetrating darts cast by a brave arm. Some offended arrogant people who perhaps thought they were aimed at their vices denounced him to the Holy Office in Seville’s tribunal. Slandering the postulations or exaggerating them, or distorting their true meaning, they said that it closed the doors of salvation for the wealthy (as though the Gospel made it easier), and other some such things or worse.21
“A heavy blow for an honest man”, he adds later. While the process lasted, between 1531 and 1533, he remained secluded in the inquisitorial prisons of Seville. He did not give much thought as to how he would defend himself of the accusations; he used his time, rather, in moments of great expansions of prayer and reflection which brought him closer to the Mystery of God’s love and to the benefit brought to humanity through Jesus Christ’s redemption. He outlined the introduction and translation of Thomas of Kempis’ Imitation of Christ and, above all, he began to write what was to be his masterpiece and most fundamental work in the religious literature of the XVIth century, the Audi, filia, dedicated to the lady Sancha Carrillo, a distinguished young woman whom he continued to guide spiritually after her clamorous conversion. Once the absolving sentence was carried out in 1533, John of Ávila continued to preach with notable success but he preferred to move to Córdoba where he Master Ávila, friend and met his pupil, friend and first biographer, the previously mentioned supporter of great saints Dominican friar Louis of Granada. The book Contemptus mundi, agora was perhaps the most nuevamente romançado por muy mejor y más apacible estilo, that is to consulted priest of his say Kempis translated into Spanish by John of Ávila, first appeared time. Searching for a firm in Córdoba in 1536, printed by John Cromberger; it was his first criterion, Teresa of Ávila published work which had several editions between 1538 and 1551. sent him the book of her Towards the end of 1536 Ávila settled in Granada where he contiLife which she had just nued to study and where, it seems, he obtained his Masters degree. written; the disciples which Fr. Louis of Granada reports his moving thus:
Master Ávila sent Ignatius of Loyola to the recently created Society of Jesus were highly considered and he also got in touch with John of Ribera, John of the Cross, etc.
From Córdoba he went to Granada in Gaspar of Ávila’s time, when he was Archbishop of Granada, a great prelate and God’s servant. It seems that in this town God renewed his spirit because laden with what he had known in Córdoba and other places and renewing hope through the virtue and sanctity of the prelate of that town, he gave himself once more to preaching. At first, the good shepherd, understanding the excellency and efficiency of his doctrine, rejoiced at God’s having given him such a helper for the carrying out of his obligations. And later he put him up in a room in his own house and benefited himself with his advice in all matters of importance.22
Shortly after arriving in this town in January 1537, he was God’s instrument in the rowdy conversion of the Portuguese book seller John Cidad, who was to become Saint John of God, founder of the Hospitaller Order. Two years later, in May 1539 came the conversion of Saint Francis of Borja, who was at the time the Marquis of Lombay who had come to Granada accompanying the body of Empress Isabella, the beautiful wife of Charles V, in whose funeral Master Ávila had been the preacher. Ever since then he thought of changing his life by entering the recently founded Society of Jesus, of which he became Provost General. Living poorly and devoting himself to prayer, Master Ávila surrounded himself with fervent clergymen forming an authentic school for the priesthood. He also soon cen21 L. Muñoz, Vida..., op. cit. 1.1, chapter 6. f. 10r., ed. cit. p. 175. 22 Fr. Louis of Granada, Vida, op. cit. p. 133.
tred his interests in improving the formative procedures of those preparing for the priesthood, for which he founded minor and major colleges which after the Council of Trent were to become Conciliar Seminars. His intensive apostolic action led to the foundation of fifteen colleges, as we shall explain later on, not to mention the ministerial23. Of these, three were Major Colleges or Universities: Baeza, Jerez and Córdoba. The most renowned foundation was that of Baeza University (Jaén) whose clerks that were famous for their sanctity and knowledge, spread through almost the whole of Spain and for centuries became outstanding references. Furthermore, convinced as he was of the call to sanctity of all the faithful, with his orientations and preaching he favoured the different vocations and stimulated both clerks and faithful to a higher sanctity, essential for the reform of the Church which was considered more and more necessary. Master Ávila, friend and supporter of great saints, was perhaps the most consulted priest of his time. Searching for a firm criterion, Teresa of Ávila sent him the book of her Life which she had just written; “This synthesis reveals the disciples which Master Ávila sent Ignatius of Loyola to the why the Blessed John recently created Society of Jesus were highly considered and of Ávila, an expert in he also got in touch with John of Ribera, John of the Cross, etc. mechanics, has been Master Ávila moved from Granada to other towns such as Zafra venerated by saints such (Badajoz) where he lectured on the 24 lessons from Saint John’s first as St. Alfonso and St. letter, anxious for the Sacred Scriptures to be known by all. Then Francis of Sales and went on to Baeza, Montilla, Córdoba... today, in our particular He preached from village to village. From plaza to plaza with no fixed era, he remains an home until his sickness required it in the last years of his life, when enduring model” he finally settled in a simple house in Montilla (Córdoba). From this (Pope Paul VI, 1969). retirement place, from 1554 he continued to preach through his letters. His vast Epistolario is admired today by those who read it. The new Archbishop of Granada, Pedro Guerrero, whom he knew since his years as a student in Alcalá, wished to take him to the Council of Trent as theological adviser. He couldn’t go because of his health but wrote two important Memoriales which definitively influenced the ecclesiastical meeting. Ávila wrote a catechism in verse –the Doctrina Cristiana [Christian doctrine]– which could be sung with children; it was such a pedagogical success that the Jesuits adopted it in their schools and later it extended throughout Spain, through a great part of Italy, and particularly through America and even Africa. His teachings of the Bible were also famous. Some of his many Sermones y Pláticas espirituales [Sermons and spiritual talks] were collected in writing and today we can enjoy their precious contents. He also wrote about subjects he dearly loved: the Tratado del amor de Dios [Treatise on the love of God] and the Tratado sobre el sacerdocio [Treatise on the priesthood], which are true literary jewels with profound theological substance.24 23 Ignatius of Loyola ardently wished John of Ávila would join the Society of Jesus, although the latter only sent his disciples and foundations. Nevertheless, he decided to be buried in the Society’s College Church. 24 There are numerous editions and translations of the writings of Master Ávila. Vide the last edition of his works: Sala Balust, L. Martín Hernández, F. (eds.) Obras completas de San Juan de Ávila, nueva edición crítica, Madrid, BAC, 2000 – 2003, 4 Vols.
Accompanied by his pupils and friends and suffering great pains, with a crucifix in his hands, he rendered his soul to the Lord in his humble house in Montilla on the morning of May 19, 1569. When she heard the news, Saint Teresa of Jesus could not but exclaim: “I cry because God’s Church looses a great pillar.”25
The prevalence of Master Ávila In his address of April 18, 1969, Pope Paul VI said: We receive from him, as a precious inheritance, imperishable works of mystic literature: the jewel Audi, filia; the abundant collection of letters with captivating ones St. Anthony Ma. Claret, an to John of God, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Borja, Teresa of Jesus; the assiduous reader of Master passionate sermons on the Holy Spirit, the Holy Sacrament, Our Lady; Ávila, confessed: “Of the the lectures to the priests; the Memorials of the Council of Trent and ones I’ve known, his style many others. is that which I am most In his ministerial life, as an indefatigable and enticing preacher he left adapted to, the one which undeletable marks on Fr. Louis of Granada, on John of God: as a man of offers the happiest results. letters moulded with the masters of Salamanca and Alcalá; at the univerGlory be to God our Lord, sities of Granada and Baeza; in the colleges of Córdoba and Écija, where who has acquainted me in his youth he did not only learn to wear out his eyes from studying with the writings and the but also to have corny knees from praying; as a brother in the groups work of that great Master of priests which he attended; as the right arm of his bishops; as a source of preachers and father of of evangelical reminiscences in popular missions cast as far out as the good and zealous priests!” working ground of the tunny-fisheries. This synthesis reveals why the Blessed John of Ávila, an expert in mechanics, has been venerated by saints such as St. Alfonso and St. Francis of Sales and today, in our postconciliar era, he remains as an enduring model. 26 Master Ávilas’ notorious influence on his time has reached our own days. His qualified output for the Council of Trent has been recognized by specialists27, outlining subjects of such importance as the institution of Seminars, the reform of the ecclesiastical state or the catechesis. Undoubtedly Master Ávila belongs to that group of true reformers who stimulated and enlightened the renewal of the Church in the undaunted times of the XVIth century. His influence can also be verified in various provincial Councils who applied that of Trent: in those of Toledo, Granada and Valencia, held in 1565, in that of Santiago of Compostela (1565-1566), in the third Council of Lima (1582-1583) and in that of Mexico (1585). 25 Fr. Diego of Yepes, Vida, virtudes y milagros de la Bienaventurada Virgen Teresa de Jesús, Zaragoza, 1606, 1, 3c. 26; L. Muñoz, Vida, chapter 24, ed. cit., p. 576. 26 During the special audience for Cardinal Arriba y Castro and the Episcopal Board “Pro canonization of the Blessed John of Ávila”, L’Osservatore Romano, April 19th, 1969. 27 The German Jesuit Hubert Jedin was the first to call the attention on the influence exerted by the Memoriales of John of Ávila on the Council of Trento; he published the first of them: H. Jedin, “John of Ávila als Kirchenreformer”, in Zeitschrift für Aszese und Mystik 2 (1936), pp. 124 – 241. Later the rest of them were discovered and published: cf. C. Abad, “Dos memoriales inéditos del B. Juan de Ávila para el Concilio de Trento”, Miscelánea Comillas 3 (1945), pp. 1 – 39; 41 – 151; ibid. “Escritos del Bto. Juan de Ávila en torno al Concilio de Trento”, Maestro Ávila 1 (1946), pp. 269 – 295; 2 (1948), pp. 27 – 56.
“From Córdoba he went to Granada in Gaspar of Ávila’s time, when he was Archbishop of Granada, a great prelate and God’s servant. It seems that in this town God renewed his spirit. Laden with what he had known in Córdoba and other places and renewing hope through the virtue and sanctity of the prelate of that town, he gave himself once more to preaching,” reports Fr. Louis of Granada. (A partial view of the façade of the Granada’s Cathedral, designed by Alonso Cano.)
Pope Benedict XVI has recently made it evident in his recent Apostolic Visit to Santiago of Compostela and Barcelona (November 6 and 7, 2010) when journalists asked him, during his flight to Spain: -During these months the new dicastery for the new evangelization is being put into practice. Many people have asked whether Spain, with its developing secularity and diminishing religious practice, is either one of the countries which you have in mind as an objective for this new dicastery or is not the main objective. -With this dicastery –the Pope answered– I have thought of the whole world because the innovation of the thought process and the difficulty in thinking of the Scriptures and of theology is universal. But of course there is a central point and that is the western world with its secularism, its laicism and the continuation of faith which must look for The reply of the Eminent its renewal in order to be today’s faith and respond to the challenge of Cardinal Angelo Felici, laicism. In the west all the great countries have their own way of living Prefect of the Congregation this problem. We have had, for example, the journeys to France, the for the Causes of Saints, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, where this specific problem is on September 8, 1990, present for each nation, for each history, and this is also most valid for informed that the expedient Spain. Spain has always been, in a way, a country of origin of faith; let us had been sent to the remember that, in modern times, the renaissance of Catholicism occurred, Congregation for the mainly thanks to Spain. Figures such as St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa Doctrine of the Faith, of Jesus and St. John of Ávila have definitively renewed Catholicism and which was competent to shaped the physiognomy of the modern world.
issue a judgement on the doctrine of the eminent Holy Master, according to article 73 of the Pastor bonus Constitution.
In fact, Master Ávila’s figure –due to his persona and his writings– has been a source of inspiration for spiritual life, above all for the priesthood, not only as the renewer of Catholicism during the European renaissance, but also throughout the centuries. He can be considered as the promoter of the mystic movement among secular priests. Antonio Molina’s classic work Instrucción de sacerdotes [Priests’ instruction] greatly read throughout the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, often transcribes Master Ávila. His influence is also detected in the French ministerial school: one of its founders, Cardinal Bérulle, stated that the said school had been designed by John of Ávila. St. Francis of Sales praises it repeatedly in his Treaty on the Love of God and in the Introduction to a Devout Life, and copies passages of Audi, filia, referring to his spiritual authority. St. Anthony Maria Claret, an assiduous reader of Master Ávila, confessed: “Of the ones I’ve known, his style is that which I am most adapted to, the one which offers the happiest results. Glory be to God our Lord, who has acquainted me with the writings and the work of that great Master of preachers and father of good and zealous priests!” The holy diocesan priest John of Ávila is still an eminent reference for secular priests not only in Spain but also in other countries, especially in America. Pope Paul VI himself, in the homily of the Mass for the canonization of the Blessed John of Ávila on May 31st, 1970, had no doubt when stating:
This our wish seems to be satisfied by making a historic comparison between the time the Saint lived and worked in and our own time; a comparison of very different periods but which shows analogies not so much in the facts but, rather, in some inspirational principles, be they regarding the human vicissitudes of those times or that of the present ones, for example, the awakening of vital energies and the crisis of ideas, both phenomena of the XVth and XXth centuries, times of reforms and conciliar discussions similar to the ones we are living. It also seems providential that the figure of Master Ávila’s be evoked because of the characteristic traits of his personal priestly life, which bestow this saint a singular value, which is especially appreciated by our contemporary taste, that of prevalence. St. John of Ávila is a priest we can call modern in many aspects, especially due to the plural facets his life offers our consideration, therefore for our imitation.28 Pope John Paul II also referred to Saint John of Ávila a number of times. In the message he addressed to us on May 19, 2000, when we were celebrating the fifth centenary of his birth, he presented him to us as an ever present model: In fact, at a historic moment full of controversies and profound changes, John of Ávila knew how to face the great challenges of his time with integrity, in the way only the men of God know how to: relying unconditionally on Christ, full of love for his brethren and impatient to bring them the light of the Gospel. That was the mystery of his immense apostolic action, of his vast literary output and of his creativity in the evangelization of all the sectors of society. His sanctity, his life’s example, is the best lesson he continues to offer the priests of today, who are also called upon to add new vigour to the evangelization in circumstances which frequently confuse us due to the swiftness in their changes or to the almost unfathomable diversity of mentalities and cultures, at times intermingled in a single setting. He teaches us that there is a culture of the spirit from which springs the necessary serenity and clarity for facing the most intricate personal and pastoral situations, which help us to distinguish the ephemeral and superficial aspects of those who want to point out what the Spirit of today’s Church really says (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente, 23)29. We are also impressed by the fact that the work leading to the expected proclamation
28 AAS 62, 1970, pp. 482 – 487. Italian and Spanish text: L’Osservatore Romano, June 1 – 2, 1970; Spanish: Ecclesia Nr. 1.494 (June 6, 1970) 5 -7 (777 – 779). 29 To Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Bishops Assembly. Original text in the Archives of the Spanish Bishops Assembly, Madrid. L’Osservatore Romano, Spanish edition, Nr. 22, June 2, 2000, p. 9.
of the Doctorate of Master Ávila, which started four decades ago, has concluded at a moment in which several present facts come together, making Master Ávila remarkably present: With the encyclical Deus caritas est30 and Caritas in veritate31, Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us of the priority of love, the central subject in life, and in the preaching of Master Ávila, a tireless apostle of the love of God. Not long ago we celebrated the Pauline Year32, through which the Pope wished to highlight the gigantic figure of the evangelist who was always a clear reference for John of Ávila, whom Paul VI qualified in the canonization bull as a “true copy of St. Paul”. Benedict XVI has just laid in our hands the Post-Synodal Apostolical Exhortation Verbum Domini33 which brings to mind the well known statement of Ignatius of Loyola, qualifying the Master as the “ark of the Testament, it being the archive of the Sacred Scriptures, and that if this is lost, only he would return it to the Church”34, and he also reminds us of the very words of John of Ávila referring to the Scriptures: “that which allows one to be called a theologian”.35 We also cannot forget the words said in the convocation letter of the Year for Priests, stating that “it is necessary that priests be distinguished by their life and doings for their vigorous evangelical testimony”36, which also makes the figure of Master Ávila, a diocesan priest, deeply convinced of “the highness of the priestly ministry especially present, attractive and actual”.37
30 December 25, 2005. 31 June 29, 2009. 32 July 28, 2008 to July 28, 2009. 33 September 30, 2010. 34 This statement pertains to the beatification process. The Master himself said about the saints: “If the law of God would get lost, one would find it written by the Holy Spirit in their innards”, Audi 2, Chapter 50, OC I, 517 ff.; OC (2000) I, 4, 645. 35 Memorial I, 52, Obras completas, op. cit. Vol. II, p. 511. 36 Letter calling for a Year for Priests on the occasion of the 150 anniversary of Dies natalis of Jean Marie Vianney, July 16, 2009. 37 Pláticas, 1: “The rank of the priestly position demands the rank of sanctity”, Obras completas, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 785 – 795; Tratado sobre el sacerdocio, ibid. p. 907.
Finally, the creation of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the New Evangelization is the best reason for us to turn our eyes towards the new Doctor and be snared by his enthusiasm, his wisdom, his freedom of spirit and his capacity to transmit the Gospel not only by his passionate and opportune word, but by the fact that all this is real in his own life as a “master” and an apostle.
New Doctor of the universal Church The title of “Master” through which Saint John of Ávila has been known since 1538 and throughout the centuries, led to due to his canonization and at the request of the Eminent Cardinal Arriba y Castro, Archbishop of Tarragona, the XII Plenary Assembly of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, held on July 1970, resolved to implore the Holy See to confer him the title of Doctor of the Uni- “Meanwhile, in versal Church. The preliminary works started at that moment and order to prepare the the main scholars of the Holy Master were summoned; they carried commemoration of out a valuable synthesis of his life and teachings. the Vth Centenary of Once this initial work was over, the first formal imploration was John of Ávila’s birth, made to the Holy See by the Cardinal President of the Spanish the Spanish Episcopal Episcopal Conference, His Excellency Ángel Suquía Goicoechea on Conference issued a May 10, 1990, the feast of St. John of Ávila, thus executing the advice Message to the People of the Plenary Assembly, held between November 20 and 25, 1989. of God in November It was a few months before the opening of the General Assembly 1999, called “San Juan of the Bishops’ Synod on “The formation of priests in the present de Ávila, maestro de situation”, and it was requested that the proclamation of Doctorate evangelizadores” [Saint of St. John of Ávila coincide with the celebration of the Synod, which John of Ávila, master of would contribute to “confirm and apply the synod teachings and evangelisers], in which orientations to the formation of priests.” we presented him as an The reply of the Eminent Cardinal Angelo Felici, Prefect of the Con- experienced councillor and gregation for the Causes of Saints, on September 8, 1990, informed an example for the new that the expedient had been sent to the Congregation for the Doc- evangelization; we stressed trine of the Faith, which was competent to issue a judgement on the the perennial and growing doctrine of the eminent Holy Master, according to article 73 of the influence of his mastery Pastor bonus Constitution. and pleaded that he be Things being thus, as the XXVth Anniversary of his canonization known and loved.» (...) approached, the LXIII Plenary Assembly of the Bishop’s Conference held in 1995 resolved to request once more the Doctorate to the Holy Father. The new appeal was made to Pope John Paul II by the Archbishop of Zaragoza, H.E. Mons. Elías Yanes Álvarez, President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, on May 25, 1995. To the reasons the Episcopal Conference had to request in 1990 that St. John of Ávila be declared Doctor of the Universal Church, was added “the opportunity to show [...] the perennial strength of his spirituality and his exemplary apostolic and evangelical zeal at the time when Your Holiness has summoned all of us to the ‘new evangelization’ at the gates of the Third Millennium.” The answer explained that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith continued
to develop a study to define the concrete characteristics which the eminens doctrina required for those who were considered worthy of such a merit, for which reason it was necessary to go on waiting. The commemoration of the Vth Centenary of the birth of the Holy Master in 1999-2000, again lay stress on the long wished Doctorate. The subject was treated in great extent by the LXXI Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of 1999, which decided to turn to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, insisting on our interest for a Doctorate for St. John of Ávila. As the then President of the Episcopal Conference, having had an interview –together with the Cardinal Vice-President and the Bishop Secretary– with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, H.E. Mons. José Saraiva Martins, on May 10th, 1999, we sent a letter in which we asked “for his help so that the pertinent process could definitely be started, in (…) “For these reasons order that the Patron of the Spanish secular priests could officially –we concluded– we be declared Doctor of the Church by the Holy Father. He deserves have presented the Holy this honour due to his eminent doctrine and the benefit it would Father our request that mean for the Spanish and Latin American secular priests and, for he be declared Doctor all secular priests in general”. of the Universal Church, The Prefect answered on May 31, 1999, informing that the necessary convinced that this can previous vote by the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith contribute to the Glory had been requested since 1999 and that it had informed the said of God and the salvation dicastery about this new request. of mankind.” Meanwhile, in order to prepare the commemoration of the Vth Centenary of John of Ávila’s birth, the Spanish Episcopal Conference issued a Message to the People of God in November 1999, called “San Juan de Ávila, maestro de evangelizadores” [Saint John of Ávila, master of evangelisers], in which we presented him as an experienced councillor and an example for the new evangelization; we stressed the perennial and growing influence of his mastery and pleaded that he be known and loved. “For these reasons –we concluded– we have presented the Holy Father our request that he be declared Doctor of the Universal Church, convinced that this can contribute to the Glory of God and the salvation of mankind.” On May 31, 2000, in Montillo (Córdoba), where the Saint died and his relics are venerated, an important meeting took place: the Homage-Meeting of the Spanish priests which included an extensive message for Pope John Paul II in which we presented
the Saint Master as “breath and also light for today’s priests” facing the challenges of the new evangelization. We also celebrated in Madrid, between November 27 and 30, 2000, the International Congress “Master Ávila” which brought several hundreds of scholars from different countries and who examined the persona, the doctrine and the prevalence of this evangelist of yesterday and today, as can be seen in the very accurate volume of 1008 pages which collects the proceedings.38 Once the study of the eminens doctrina of Master Ávila was favourably concluded by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002, the expedient returned to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. So, in a letter dated November 16, 2002, the Prefect of this dicastery informed us about how to proceed ad ulteriora. Meanwhile, in 2003, a great number of Cardinals and Bishops, Presidents of Episcopal Conferences, General Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life, Leaders of Associations and Ecclesial Movements, Universities and other institutions as well as significant private persons all joined in the Episcopal Conference’s request through the Postulation Letters expresses the Pope the interest and the opportunity for this universal saint’s Doctorate. Once the required Positio “Super dubio An concedendus sit titulus Doctoris Ecclesiae Universalis Sancto Ioanni de Avila, Sacerdoti Dioecesano, Magistro nuncupato” was elaborated, the Pope was presented with the Supplex libellus of St. John of Ávila’s Doctorate on March 2010 which had been signed on December 10, 2009. The Positio was delivered at the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints on April 10, 2010, and from then onwards there has been a sequel of studies and decisions which have brought the Cause to such a happy end. The Positio has been studied by twelve Consultant Theologians who, in the Special Meeting of December 18, 2010, voted unanimously affirmatively; the Plenary Session of Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints took place on May 3, 2011, in which, also through a unanimous vote, they decided to propose to the Holy Father to declare the Doctorate and –as we have pointed out– we lived a moment of extraordinary joy when, on last August 20, the Pope announced the warrant of the Doctorate. If God wills it, we shall all be summoned soon for the long awaited ceremony in which we shall finally see St. John of Ávila proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church.
38 Spanish Bishops Assembly. Episcopal board “Pro Doctorado de San Juan de Ávila”, El Maestro Ávila. Actas del Congreso Internacional (Madrid, November 27 – 30, 2000), EDICE, Madrid, 2002.
Translated by Juana Subercaseaux
«A child is not conceived or educated by only one sex. This is to deprive him of an essential dimension of the real, which cannot be compensated by the presence in his social milieu of persons of the other sex. A child develops positively only in the double identification with his father and his mother, who –it is necessary to remind ourselves– are a man and a woman. They are the only ones who can give him the psychic and symbolic materials that he needs to develop.» (Ink drawing by Rembrandt.)
The Adoption of Children by Homosexual Persons By Tony Anatrella
oday, the right of a child to be born and to live in a family made up of a man and a woman is greatly threatened. In fact, adoption and the possibility of using medical means for procreation just as married couples do, (AMP - Assistance Médicale à la Procréation) have become political rights demanded by persons of the same sex. In the name of equality of rights of all citizens, the political demands of homosexual couples raise serious questions, which have often been ignored by the law. Serious reflection is replaced by a feeling of compassion, which may be summarized as follows: “As persons of the same sex love one another, let them marry and let them also have access to children.” This is hasty and unthinking for, how can there be certainty that theirs is a question of love when it seems that the conditions are not fulfilled? Can the desire for a child in its most fanciful dimension be legitimized in this way, detached from the flesh? The argument goes even further, given that, in the name of a debatable view of non-discrimination, rights are understood in an absolute sense, a purely sentimental sense of marriage, of uncertain objective, and an instrumental notion of children. However, rights in fact are accompanied by obligations, especially in relation to children. Their wish to be parents is an egalitarian illusion, since persons outside the state of marriage cannot be so justly. At stake here is the interest of the child.
The wish to be parents demanded by homosexual couples is an egalitarian illusion, since persons outside the state of marriage cannot be so justly. At stake here is the interest of the child.
An anthropological problem This is not a religious question, as some would pretend, but anthropological, to the degree that society, marriage and filiation, can only be supported by an objective fact: sexual difference. The gender theory, which shapes international European law, states that society must no longer depend on the sexual difference inscribed in the body, but on the difference of sexualities, namely, of sexual orientations. However, the latter proceed from partial impulses and are independent of the identity of man and woman. The simple fact is that there are only two identities. An impulse or a sexual preference does not constitute an identity. To
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 102 - 115
An impulse or a sexual preference does not constitute an identity. To believe this is an ideological illusion, which is contrary to the human condition.
believe this is an ideological illusion, which is contrary to the human condition. A child proceeds from the union of a man and a woman, and, from this objective fact, stems the educational relationship. Certain sociological surveys have attempted to show that children, by living in a homosexual environment, do not show any emotional, social or intellectual impairment whatsoever, but their parameters are far from being pertinent and their conclusions rather justify their presuppositions than prove the asserted facts. These surveys reflect a form of idealism that children will not face a problem by living with homosexual parents. In other words, they would like to make us believe that the relationships will be neutral and without notable consequences. In regard to other family situations, the reality is that children suffer insecurity as a result of a couple’s breakup, psychic disunity after a divorce, and the effects of origin in the case of adoption. In a homosexual environment, with the nature of their origin and the educational relationship compromised, what can those two adults be called who present themselves as their “parents,” finding themselves in reality in an automatic-kinship? By forcing what is a natural bond, their desire to obtain a child is a self-proclaimed “kinship.” Civil law is always able to invent a juridical fiction of “kinship,” which in no way changes the truth of generation. The modification of the vocabulary is equally strange when the term “kinship,” proper to parents, grandparents and collaterals is replaced by the term “parentalness” to designate all adults who might succeed one another in the life of the child, carrying out a parental role. The transformation of the language is indicative of the desire to modify the meaning of family itself, which would no longer depend on the relationship and on a stable couple made up of a man and a woman. Not every particular situations should be institutionalized and far less so those that are contrary to procreation. To want to be parents as others are is an egalitarian illusion, given that, as those persons are outside the conjugal state, they cannot be so justly. At stake again is the interest of the child. How can the latter not wonder about the legitimacy of those same-sex adults who are with him? How will he be able to present his own conception in a way that is coherent with the universal concept of generation? It is deceitful to teach children that there are different ways of conceiving them outside the natural relationship between a man and a woman. The desire for a child, very praiseworthy in the life of an adult, is sometimes manifested in a very complex way in a couple, the psychology of a woman and/or a man, and is still more so when they cannot conceive children normally. In homosexual persons, this desire is usually pathetic and disquieting but, in fairness to the child, it is not relevant. In Europe especially, an egalitarian vision impedes children
being adopted and educated solely by a couple made up of a man and a woman. In the name of non-discrimination, based on sexual orientation, homosexual persons contend that a man or a woman is free to adopt a child regardless of their situation. However, this ideological vision does not favor the child. We forget that the conditions in which the child is adopted determine his life and the fate of his personality, which is manifested many years after childhood. This also concerns the representation of filiation adopted by a society. As a psychoanalyst, I work with homosexual patients that are in different situations, I am ready to work on their psychic life in order to improve their existence, but as a citizen I cannot conceive that society, through the mediation of the lawmaker, can transmit the meaning of generation by situating it outside the sexual difference. Different forms of sexuality can exist with all their psychological, anthropological and moral problems, but there are only two sexes and this fact of man and woman already has meaning in itself –and meaning for generation– which it would not be right to modify to suit the fantasies and frustrations of a few. The right of the child must always come first in our considerations. The child’s needs and interest, and the coherence of filiation require rationality rather than mere subjective claims. Moreover, it would be profoundly discriminatory, unjust and illegitimate in relation to the rights of the child, to deprive the latter of sexual otherness in his family, constituted by a man and a woman. All the imaginable social compensations will never be able to replace the experience beyond the subjective that the child can have from the relationship of his mother with his father. The interest of the child, which is of paramount importance, is situated in this perspective and not in the emotional involvement of two persons of the same sex. The question to be posed is not to know if those persons will be generous, loyal and honest with the child, but to know in what relational structure he will find himself. Today’s society, without any discernment, has a greater tendency to favor the emotional aspirations of adults than to define the filiation from the point of view of child’s needs and rights, which, nevertheless, limit the invading narcissism of adults.
Different forms of sexuality can exist with all their psychological, anthropological and moral problems, but there are only two sexes and this fact of man and woman already has meaning in itself -and meaning for generationwhich it would not be right to modify to suit the fantasies and frustrations of a few. The right of the child must always come first in our considerations.
Preeminence of sexual non-differentiation in social dialogue At present, from the perspective of the deconstructionist philosophy, we are going through a conceptual stage geared to cease talk altogether about sexual orientations, and to affirm the individual’s personality as built upon sexual non-differentiation; thus leaving open all possible options. While the desire, described as sexual orientation, is not an op-
The childâ€™s needs and interest, and the coherence of filiation require rationality rather than mere subjective claims. Moreover, it would be profoundly discriminatory, unjust and illegitimate in relation to the rights of the child, to deprive the latter of sexual otherness in his family, constituted by a man and a woman.
tion but stems from a psychic determinism which in many cases can be modified toward the maturity of heterosexuality. Consequently, the debate is no longer about sexual difference or sexual orientations (desires), but about the original state of sexuality, which should be conceived according to the categories of non-differentiation. We live in a society that cultivates the childish to the point of making us believe that the end of sexuality is to maintain it in its beginnings: that of the economy of the childish based on partial impulses, the imaginary, violent seizure of the other and oedipal intrigues. With this logic of the primitive non-differentiation, each one is referred to the alleged option of his sexual orientation, which will constitute his identity. Homosexuality would be an alternative of heterosexuality, the former depending on a partial identification based on a psychic conflict and the latter being articulated in fact according to the masculine or feminine identity. The rest of the demands stem almost automatically in as much as marriage and children must be a matter of subjective needs of each one and no longer from the sense of the common good and the interest of the child. The pretension to equality of rights in this ambit develops the feeling of supremacy of satisfaction with only one self-sufficient and hegemonic sex. The individual thus suffers an unnatural craving, imagining that everything is subject to consideration until taking possession of a child by any means to the detriment of what gives him his foundation and structures him objectively. A legally stable filiation in the framework of mono-sexuality is an intrinsically perverse act in the sense that it is outside a genuine shared relationship between a man and a woman. The future of humanity lies only in the union of both. The problem posed here with regard to the character of marriage and adoption by homosexual persons is not linked with the homosexual person, who must not be judged â€“ even when it is necessary to ask what homosexuality is psychologically and anthropologically, but with the desire to redefine the couple, the conjugal relationship and the family from the point of view of homosexuality and to impose this view in law is structurally and ethically antinomic and therefore inauthentic. Law loses all credibility when the lawmaker inscribes two contradictory principles in the civil code, one of which is based on the objective difference of sexual otherness and the other which depends on a desire not represented in the social bond. Moreover, it is necessary to point out that homosexuality, regardless of its origin, is not the right that the European Charter has erroneously proclaimed in the name of non-discrimination, but in fact it is a peculiarity, which cannot be the origin of the couple, marriage or kinship. Language and the civil law can play tricks with the realities of life, but in no way can they modify the permanent human condition, which
ÂŤA filiation inscribed outside sexual bodies of masculine and feminine otherness is illusory. The ideological vision of gender replaces sex with a sexuality constructed only socially. Moreover, in the name of parity and equality, everything is considered as realizable, regardless of the condition in which each one is. This totalitarian vision of equality is that much more injurious in the degree to which it no longer originates from the complementary character of the sexes.Âť
throughout history is recalled to the universal conscience. The confusion of principles in this aspect can only darken and weaken the very framework of society, destabilizing the couple, marriage and the family, the nature of which is not at the free disposition of the lawmaker and the political power to change. They have the responsibility to create laws consistent with the sexual otherness of marriage and the family. Its transgression fosters confusion in the difference of generations and insinuates the endogamy of the same with the similar, creating insecurity and accentuating violence in human relations. Suffice it to observe the moral condition of developed countries when policies disregard the permanent human condition. Divorce, causing the breakup of families due to the fragility of the couple, is a profound source of uncertainty and loss of structure. Numerous are the children from the death of the family who when reaching adulthood establish their genealogical tree to situate themselves in
The confusion of principles in this aspect can only darken and weaken the very framework of society, destabilizing the couple, marriage and the family, the nature of which is not at the free disposition of the lawmaker and the political power to change.
the succession of the carnal bonds and recognize themselves in their filiation. What will happen with children resulting from techniques of assisted procreation and children adopted by homosexuals, who will be sons and daughters of no one, that is, of the dis-incarnation and denial of sexual difference? How will they be able to find the answer to their questions being inserted in the unisexual character of adults, who cannot symbolize either sexual otherness or kinship? They appear to be older brothers and sisters without conjugal sex and without being capable of inscribe them in the difference of the sexes and the generations. They play at being father and mother as alienated children in their incestuous complex. Only in fairytales and in psychosis are children born outside a sexual expression, assuming all the primary fantasies of procreation in child psychology. Feminism and homosexual demands are the translation of the ideology of the de-sexualizing of the generative process and denial of the sexual difference: a rejection of the corporal fact from which life issues. Contempt for carnal sex and for the intimate meeting between man and woman says much about the fear and rejection of being enclosed in the unisexual. A filiation inscribed outside sexual bodies of masculine and feminine otherness is illusory. The ideological vision of gender replaces sex with a sexuality constructed only socially. Moreover, in the name of parity and equality, everything is considered as realizable, regardless of the condition in which each one is. This totalitarian vision of equality is that much more injurious in the degree to which it no longer originates from the complementary character of the sexes, which regulates and relativizes one sex, but runs the risk of taking itself as the reference point - and this from the feeling of omnipotence of one sex, having all the aptitudes. Two persons of the same sex lack the power of procreation between them, of the symbolic character developed as extension of generation and of a real educational relationship with structuring psychological contributions, since they are complementary. It is strange to want to deny a coupleâ€™s sexual difference, marriage, filiation and kinship and to pretend to impose it where it is not necessary, in different sectors of business and of social and political life. It is also symptomatic to see that the more the sexual difference is denied, the more the social discourse praises diversity, especially family diversities which are no longer based on the natural family (man/woman couple, blood ties), but which correspond to the desires of a few and the situations in which they are involved. Television series exalt all these particular cases, despite their being minorities in the extreme, and not the way people live and hope to fulfill themselves. There is a profound difference between the natural family and peculiar situations that are accidental. Marriage and the family are
defined universally from the alliance between man and woman and not according to particular cases, which in the main are not always structured either for the individual or the social bond. Society often has to support these particular cases and it is right to do so, but this has an important financial, social and symbolic cost. Studies show that marriage is a source of security and growth when individuals are able to elaborate their different emotional stages. It is also a source of economic enrichment for the spouses and for society, whereas divorce impoverishes the family. Hence, it corresponds to the law to protect the child in such a way that he has a father and a mother.
The meaning of couple and family is inapplicable to homosexuality We cannot limit ourselves to the meaning of the language when applied to a mono-sexualized, that is, homosexual association, the same characteristics that a union has when constituted between a man and a woman. There is both a qualitative and essential difference in which, simultaneously at play, are psychological and ethical components that cannot be compared with a measure not common to each of them. Thus, the notion of couple and of family has nothing to do with these two realities. Two persons of the same sex (which I qualify as duo1) are in a mono-sexuality in which sexual otherness and the generating couple are absent. They do not constitute either a couple, given that there is no otherness or complementarity, or a family, as a child does not come from two persons of the same sex the other is not conceived as an equal. In other words, the expression of love implies sexual difference to be fertile and fecund in many aspects, and the child needs to come from a man and a woman to be inscribed in the succession of generations and history, and to be in his psychological coherence. He needs to find psychic materials in both. Two men or two women together with a child deprive him of the structural data of what is real, which will have a psychic and social cost. The dialogue of the environment produces unreal and delirious discourse, separating procreation from the sexual difference. I pointed this out in my book, The Forbidden Difference2, which is based on the gender theory that minimizes the meaning of the social difference in the social bond. Such segmentation of sexuality is and will be the source of violence the effects of which are seen among the youth. Among other things, youth violence is an expression of the absence of a proper framework of society, which is destabilized by misguided laws. By legislating contrary to the common good, the ethical sense of the couple and family and psychic needs, the lawmaker triggers illness in the social bond and society. He creates a sentiment that
Feminism and homosexual demands are the translation of the ideology of the desexualizing of the generative process and denial of the sexual difference: a rejection of the corporal fact from which life issues.
1 Anatrella, Tony, Ă‰poux hereux, ĂŠpoux, Paris, Flammarion. 2 Anatrella, Tony, The Forbidden Difference, Ediciones Encuentro, 2008.
«The expression of love implies sexual difference to be fertile and fecund in many aspects, and the child needs to come from a man and a woman to be inscribed in the succession of generations and history, and to be in his psychological coherence. He needs to find psychic materials in both. Two men or two women together with a child deprive him of the structural data of what is real, which will have a psychic and social cost.»
Two persons of the same sex lack the power of procreation between them, of the symbolic character developed as extension of generation and of a real educational relationship with structuring psychological contributions, since they are complementary.
denies structuring human realities and is a source of insecurity and de-socialization. For this reason, “homo-kinship,” no matter how much this notion has a meaning, is a social lie, given that a child is not conceived or educated by only one sex. This is to deprive him of an essential dimension of the real, which cannot be compensated by the presence in his social milieu of persons of the other sex. A child develops positively only in the double identification with his father and his mother, who – it is necessary to remind ourselves – are a man and a woman. They are the only ones who can give him the psychic and symbolic materials that he needs to develop. In no case can sexual non-differentiation and homosexuality inspire laws in conjugal and family matters without in the long run producing confusions of identity and personalities of a psychotic character. That is, which lack a sense of reality and live in imaginary situations. A society without the sense of sexual difference loses the sense of otherness, truth and the reality of things. It is manifested in particularities which are of no interest whatsoever for the ends of society and do not participate at all in the development of the personality. In the denial of sexual difference and in the complacency of emotional immaturity of sexual non-differentiation, persons can no longer make elemental decisions and society is dissolved relationally. The mono-sexual vision of oneself and its existence inscribed in the law is a real social solvent, given that it does respect sexual otherness, which in itself is the foundation of marriage and generation. Life begins with the meeting of a man and a woman. Their relationship is the symbol of openness to the other, to generation and to life, an openness that society needs to ensure coexistence and respect for the common good.
A child is not a right Equality of rights before the law does not mean that all situations are equivalent or that persons can benefit from the rights themselves. We believe in an illusionary way that the more a child is desired, the greater are his possibilities for development. We certainly must pay attention to the quality of this desire, but above all, to the recognition of the child in himself. Often, the questions are hidden behind a sentimental vision, assuring us that he will be more “loved” by homosexual persons who “desire” him more than by a couple that is breaking up. The problem does not lie in this, but rather in knowing into what structure of relations the child will be incorporated. Children cannot be conceived and adopted in just any conditions. Instead of installing themselves in the omnipotence of desires, it would be more human, more authentic and more realistic to accept giving them up when the needs are not fulfilled instead of trying to force, even violate the real. Filiation is not defined by infertility, adoption and one sex. Rather, it is adoption that must be defined from a generating couple constituted by a man and a woman, which makes recognition of the origin required by the child to orient himself carnally. Up to now it was right to exact a criterion of sexuality of single persons to adopt a child in order that he be educated by personalities and in a milieu where sexual otherness is profoundly integrated and accepted. It is necessary to return to this.
A child differentiates himself thanks to his father and his mother
It is strange to want to deny a couple’s sexual difference, marriage, filiation and kinship and to pretend to impose it where it is not necessary, in different sectors of business and of social and political life.
When we examine the motivations of homosexual persons who want a child, it seems that the latter is not thought of as such, but is used to support the needs of the adults. In a unisexual context, the child is, instead, the social reference that serves to validate the recognition of homosexuality. It is a phenomenon of mimicry in which the aspiration is to be like everyone else. It is very difficult for a child to differentiate himself if he becomes a prey, in a game of identification in a mirror without openness to sexual otherness, given that the latter does not exist for two persons of the same sex. The risk is to develope confusions about his origin and identity, and about his sense of filiation, which is impaired with two person of the same sex. The child integrates in the best way the oedipal phenomenon in a generating couple while one of the components of homosexuality is linked, among others, with the denial of this complex. Thus the personality is maintained in the economy of child sexuality. The child
Two persons of the same sex are in a monosexuality in which sexual otherness and the generating couple are absent. They do not constitute either a couple, given that there is no otherness or complementarity, or a family, as a child does not come from two persons of the same sex.
can recognize himself better in his identity and in his place saying to himself: “I am a girl, I am a boy, and later I will be a woman like my mother and a man like my father,” something impossible with two adults of the same sex. The mono-sexuality of adults is a relationship without otherness, which distorts in the child numerous dimensions of what is real. The acceptance, for example, of sexual difference is one of the first limits the child discovers from his parents. It is inscribed in the body. If I am a girl, I cannot be a boy and vice versa. To subject kinship to revision based on sexual difference is like making a child believe that his desires are unlimited. The child’s recognition of sexual difference enables him to form his intelligence and make structural and conceptual distinctions. He will be able to distinguish the real from the imaginary, the truth of things, their coherence and their logic without having to play games with ideas, impair judgment and manipulate others and the information. This is linked to the truth of his filiation. An individual’s psychology, among other things, is organized from his inter-generational sense of filiation. In a mono-sexual relationship, the child does not have real kinship in the wider sense: it will often be imaginary and without identifiable rootedness. “Homo-kinship” is an idealistic vision of kinship, which disincarnates the child.
A society that transgresses the natural law and uses the paradoxical precept It is disquieting to observe that the political power increasingly restricts its action, when it fails to legislate for the common good but instead follows fashion in contradiction of the liberty of citizens, the founding structures of the couple, marriage and the family, and with the rights and interests of children. In this way the lawmaker destabilizes the very fabric of society legislating still graver transgressions. Society is protected by the natural law in its prohibition of incest and murder, and respect for the difference of the sexes and the generations. In face of these prohibitions, which favor life, the lawmaker expresses paradoxical precepts, whereby he simultaneously prohibits murder yet creates specific conditions to do away with children through abortion, to carry out experiments with embryos and engage in eugenics with PID (Pre-Implantation Diagnosis), which seeks to destroy embryos with defects ranging from deformity to trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome). He will proceed in the same way with respect to sexual difference, stating on the one hand that marriage confirms the conjugal institution between a man and a woman, whilst on the other creating a social contract (form of civil union) to which are attributed the same rights of marriage, with the exception of filiation in some countries.
ÂŤBy legislating contrary to the common good, the ethical sense of the couple and family and psychic needs, the lawmaker triggers illness in the social bond and society. He creates a sentiment that denies structuring human realities and is a source of insecurity and de-socialization.Âť (Ink drawing by Rembrandt.)
In numerous States, laws are approved which avoid the body of family law to allow homosexual persons to adopt children.
Homosexuality is not a principle to educate children
The acceptance, for example, of sexual difference is one of the first LIMITs the child discovers from his parents. It is inscribed in the body. If I am a girl, I cannot be a boy and vice versa. To subject kinship to revision based on sexual difference is like making a child believe that his desires are unlimited.
The media and militant homosexual associations go as far as trivializing homosexuality in numerous television series and debates all of which avoid addressing the psychic problem in question, and to promote it in schools. It is one thing to appeal for respect for persons and quite another to allow marriage and filiation to persons of the same sex and even to impose homosexuality between children and adolescents in the school ambit. Youths are maturing emotionally and often this process of acquiring confidence in their identity is homosexualized, although not yet homosexuality. Instead of helping them to heterosexuality, homosexuality is presented to them as a valid alternative, which is not the case, which causes a perversion in them, erotizing their initial identification. The majority of youths leave those sessions hiding their feelings of rebellion for being manipulated in that way, given that they know well that the intention is to take them to a terrain that does not represent real emotional fulfillment. The media and militants of the homosexual cause are perceived as persons who wish to justify at any price a situation whose basis is problematic. For children and adolescents, a couple and a family are a man and a woman. The rest is a social deceit and a matter foreign to marriage and kinship. Under the pretext of fighting â€œhomophobia,â€? the school thus becomes the object of ideological influences, an excuse to impose a peculiarity and to strip parents of their role as educators. Homosexuality cannot become an educational principle, given that it is outside the norm of what makes up a couple and a family. Children and adolescents already have difficulties in resolving what the sexual life is between a man and a woman, and the situation gets even more complicated when it is a question of two persons of the same sex. Moreover, children perceive clearly the distinction between being parents and the mere exercise of sexuality. Consequently, in the case of adoption of children a criterion of sexuality is required which mirrors the same context as the conception of a child between a man and a woman. For this reason, the school should consider above all the preeminence of the meaning of couple and family constituted by a man and a woman.
It is in society’s interest to refer to sexual difference instead of installing itself on sexual non-differentiation The denial of sexual difference and the affirmation of sexual nondifferentiation promote a feeling of omnipotence, which generates disadvantages and impede the child from having access to an appropriate vision of reality and of his limits. Is the question solely one of knowing in what relational structure the child must be? The answer is found in reality. The child does not come from only one self-sufficient sex. He needs his mother to be a woman and his father to be a man. Thus each one is situated in his identity and this enables the child to differentiate himself subjectively and socially. Homosexuality complicates this process and proscribes it. It is a personal peculiarity based on sexuality foreign to conception, to the transmission of life and to the education of children. There is no sexual otherness in the intra-psychic life of the adults with whom the child shares his existence. Socially, it does not constitute a difference, as is claimed, and it is the denial of all conjugal and parental differences. Consequently, in homosexual relationships, kinship and simple or full filiation cannot be defined rationally, and even less so the education of children under the pretext of a hypothetical emotional wellbeing. The rights and interest of the child have priority over the subjective needs of adults. The child’s interest is to be incorporated in a relationship that is inscribed in the continuity of his conception between a man and a woman. The child’s right and interest are the criteria of discernment that limit adults’ right to the child.
For children and adolescents, a couple and a family are a man and a woman. The rest is a social deceit and a matter foreign to marriage and kinship. Under the pretext of fighting “homophobia,” the school thus becomes the object of ideological influences, an excuse to impose a peculiarity and to strip parents of their role as educators.
Translated by Virginia Forrester
Interview with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
Cardinal Piacenza: “The priestly identity is Christocentric and therefore Eucharistic”
ardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, rarely intervenes in public debates. He is known, rather, for his quiet and untiring work and his insightful observations on contemporary culture. In this interview by Antonio Gaspari for Zenit he speaks about what power in the Church really is and what women could be doing to offer their feminine genius to Church leadership.
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 116 - 121
—Your Eminence, over the past decades, with all the Church’s faithful.” Some, grasping at surprising regularity, the same set of ecclesial straws, have spoken since then of a “relative questions resurface in public debate like clockwork. definitiveness” of the doctrine, but frankly, the thesis is so odd as to lack any foundation. How can we explain this? —There have always been in the history of the Church “centrifugal movements,” attempts —So, is there no place for women in the Church? to “normalize” the extraordinary Event of —On the contrary, women have a most imChrist and of his Living Body in history, the portant place in the ecclesial Body and they Church. A “normalized Church” would lose could have one that is even more evident. The all of its prophetic force; she would no longer Church is founded by Christ and we human say anything to man and to the world and, beings cannot decide on its form; therefore the in fact, she would betray her Lord. The major hierarchical constitution is linked to the midifference in the contemporary age is media- nisterial priesthood, which is reserved to men. But there is absolutely nothing to prevent the related and, at the same time, doctrinal. Doctrinally, there is an effort to justify sin, not valuing of the feminine genius is roles that are not linked with the exercise entrusting oneself to mercy, of Holy Orders. Who would but trusting in a dangerous stop, for example, a great woautonomy that has the odor The world needs our unity; man economist from being of practical atheism. With it is therefore urgent that head of the administration regard to the media, in recent we continue to engage in of the Holy See? Who would decades, the physiological the dialogue of faith with prevent a competent woman “centrifugal forces” receive all our Christian brothers, journalist from being the attention and inappropriate so that Christ be a leaven spokesman of the Vatican amplification from the media, in society. (…) In that task press office? The examples which in a certain way, lives Rome has a unique role of could be multiplied for all the on conflict. propulsion. There is no time offices that are not connected for division; our time and with Holy Orders. There are —Is women’s ordination to energies must be spent in tasks in which the feminine be understood as a doctrinal seeking unity. genius could make a specific question? contribution! —Certainly, and –as everyone knows– the question was clearly confronted It is another thing to think of service as power by both Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II and, and try, as the world does, to meet the quota the latter, with the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio for this power. I maintain, furthermore, that sacerdotalis of 1994 definitively closed the the devaluation of the great mystery of maquestion. Indeed there it is stated: “Wherefore, ternity, which has been the modus operandi of in order that all doubt may be removed regar- the dominant culture, has a related role in the ding a matter of great importance, a matter general disorientation of women. The ideolowhich pertains to the Church’s divine consti- gy of profit has stooped to the instrumentalitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of con- zation of women, not recognizing the greatest firming the brethren (cf. Lk 22, 32) I declare contribution that –incontrovertibly– they can that the Church has no authority whatsoever make to society and to the world. to confer priestly ordination on women and Also, the Church is not a political government that this judgment is to be definitively held by in which it is right to demand adequate repre-
sentation. The Church is something quite different; the Church is the Body of Christ and, in her, each one is a part according to what Christ established. Moreover, in the Church it is not a question of masculine and feminine roles but rather of roles that by divine will do or do not entail ordination. Whatever a layman can do, so can a laywoman. What is important is having the specific and proper formation, then being a man or a woman does not matter.
governance is the fruit of an individual will, but always the outcome of a long process, listening to the Holy Spirit and the precious contributions of many people. First of all the bishops and bishops’ conferences of the world. Collegiality is not a socio-historical concept, but derives from the common Eucharist, from the affectus that is born from taking the one Bread and from living the one faith; from being united to Christ: Way, Truth and Life; and Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!
—But can someone really participate in the life of the Church without having effective power and —Doesn’t Rome have too much power? responsibility? —To say “Rome” is simply —Who said that participation to say “catholicity” and “coThe priestly identity in the life of the Church is llegiality.” Rome is the city is Christocentric and a question of power? If this chosen by providence as the therefore Eucharistic. It were the case, we would unplace of the martyrdom of is Christocentric because, mask the real equivocation the Apostles Peter and Paul as the Holy Father has in conceiving the Church and communion with this recalled many times, in herself not as she is –human Church has always historithe ministerial priesthood and divine– but simply as cally meant communion with «Christ draws us into one of the many human assothe universal Church, unity, himself,» involving himself ciations, maybe the greatest mission and doctrinal cerwith us and involving us and most noble, given her tainty. Rome is at the service in his own existence. This history; she would then have of all the Churches, she loves «real» attraction happens to be “administered” by a all the Churches and, not sacramentally, and so in an division of power. Nothing is infrequently, she protects the objective and unsurpassable further from reality! The hieChurches most threatened manner, in the Eucharist - of rarchy in the Church, besides by the power of the world which priests are ministers, being of divine institution, is and of governments who are that is servants and always to be understood as a not completely respectful of effective instruments. service to communion. Only that inalienable human and an equivocation, historically natural right that is freedom stemming from the experienof religion. ce of dictatorships, could make one think of The Church must be seen from the perspecthe ecclesiastical hierarchy as an exercise in tive of the dogmatic constitution of Vatican “absolute power.” This is known to be false Council II Lumen gentium, obviously including by those who, every day, are called to assist the note attached to the document. There the the Pope in his personal responsibility for the early Church is described, the Church of the universal Church! So many and such are the Fathers, the Church of all ages, which is our mediations, the consultations, the expressions Church of today, without discontinuity; which of real collegiality that practically no act of is the Church of Christ. Rome is called to pre-
side in Charity and in Truth, the sole sources to engage in the dialogue of faith with all of authentic Christian peace. The Church’s our Christian brothers, so that Christ be a unity is not compromise with the world and leaven in society. It is also urgent that we its mentality, rather it is the result, given by work together with non-Christians, that is, in Christ, of our fidelity to truth and to charity intercultural dialogue to contribute together to the building of a better world, collaborating that we will be capable of living. I think that it is indicative, in this regard, that in good works and making a new and more today only the Church, as no other, defends human society possible. Even in that task man and his reason, his capacity to know the Rome has a unique role of propulsion. There real and to enter into relationship with it, in is no time for division; our time and energies sum man in his totality. Rome is at the servi- must be spent in seeking unity. ce of the whole Church of God that is in the world and that is an “open window” on the —Who are the priests in this Catholic Church and world. A window that gives a voice to all those what is their role? —They are not social worwho do not have a voice, that kers and even less are they calls everyone to a continual The Christian confessions functionaries of God! The conversion and through this in which, because there is identity crisis is especially contributes –often in silence no ordained priesthood, acute in the more seculaand in suffering, paying the there is no doctrine and rized contexts in which it price herself, even being discipline of celibacy, find seems that there is no space unpopular– to building a themselves in a state of deep for God. But priests are what better world, the civilization crisis regarding «vocations» they have always been; they of love. to the leadership of the are always what Christ wancommunity. There is also ted them to be! The priestly —Doesn’t this role that Rome a crisis in the sacrament identity is Christocentric plays hinder unity and ecumeof marriage as one and and therefore Eucharistic. It nism? indissoluble. The crisis from is Christocentric because, as —On the contrary, it is their which, in reality, we are the Holy Father has recalled necessary presupposition. slowly emerging, is linked, many times, in the ministeEcumenism is a priority for fundamentally, to the crisis rial priesthood “Christ draws the life of the Church and it of faith in the West. us into himself,” involving is an absolute exigency that himself with us and involflows from the prayer itself ving us in his own existence. of the Lord: Ut unum sint, which becomes for every true Christian the This “real” attraction happens sacramentally, “commandment of unity.” In sincere prayer and so in an objective and unsurpassable and in the spirit of continual interior conver- manner, in the Eucharist - of which priests sion, in fidelity to one’s own identity and in are ministers, that is servants and effective the common striving for the perfect charity instruments. bestowed by God, it is necessary to commit oneself with conviction to seeing to it that —But is the law of celibacy so absolute? Can it there are no setbacks on the journey of the really not be changed? ecumenical movement. The world needs our —It is not a mere law! The law is the conseunity; it is therefore urgent that we continue quence of a much higher reality that is gras-
ped only in a living relationship with Christ. emerging, is linked, fundamentally, to the Jesus says: “He who understands, must un- crisis of faith in the West. It is in making faith derstand.” Holy celibacy is never something grow that we must be engaged. This is the to progress beyond, rather it is always new, in point. In the same spheres the sanctification the sense that, even through it, the life of the of the feast is in crisis, confession is in crisis, priest is “renewed,” because it is always given, marriage is in crisis, etc… in a fidelity that has its root in God and its Secularization and the consequent loss of the fruition in the blossoming of human freedom. sense of the sacred, of faith and its practice The true problem is in the contemporary have brought about and continue to bring inability to make definitive choices, in the about a diminution in the number of candidates to the priesthood. Along dramatic reduction of human with these distinctively freedom that has become so fraThe first and undeniable theological and ecclesial gile as not to pursue the good, remedy for the drop in causes, there are also some not even when it is recognized vocations Jesus himself of a sociological characand intuited as a possibility for suggested: «Pray that the ter: first of all, the evident one’s own existence. Celibacy Lord of the harvest will decline in births, with the is not the problem, nor can the send workers into the consequent diminution in infidelity and weakness of cerharvest» (Matthew 9, 38). This the number of young men tain priests be the criterion of is the realism of pastoral and, thus, also of priestly judgment. Statistics tell us that work in vocations. Prayer vocations. This too is a facmore than 40% of marriages for vocations, an intense, tor that cannot be ignored. fail. But 2% of priests fail in universal, widespread Everything is connected. celibacy, so the solution would network of prayer and Sometimes the premises not be in making holy celibacy Eucharistic adoration that are laid down and then one optional. Should we not instead envelops the whole world, is does not want to accept the stop interpreting freedom as the only possible answer to consequences, but these are the “absence of ties” and of the crisis of the acceptance inevitable. definitiveness, and begin to of vocations. Wherever such The first and undeniable discover that the true realizaa prayerful attitude has a remedy for the drop in tion of human felicity consists stable existence, one sees vocations Jesus himself precisely in the definitiveness that a real turnaround is suggested: “Pray that the of the gift to the other and to occurring. Lord of the harvest will God? send workers into the harvest” (Matthew 9, 38). This —What about vocations? Would is the realism of pastoral work in vocations. they not increase if celibacy were abolished? —No! The Christian confessions in which, Prayer for vocations, an intense, universal, because there is no ordained priesthood, there widespread network of prayer and Eucharistic is no doctrine and discipline of celibacy, find adoration that envelops the whole world, is themselves in a state of deep crisis regarding the only possible answer to the crisis of the “vocations” to the leadership of the commu- acceptance of vocations. Wherever such a nity. There is also a crisis in the sacrament of prayerful attitude has a stable existence, one sees that a real turnaround is occurring. It is marriage as one and indissoluble. The crisis from which, in reality, we are slowly fundamental to watch over the identity and
specificity in ecclesial life of priests, religious (in the uniqueness of the foundational charisms of the order to which they belong) and faithful laity, so that each may truly, in freedom, understand and welcome the vocation that God has in mind for him. But everyone must be himself and must work every day more and more to become what he is. —Your Eminence, in this moment in history how would you sum things up? —Our project must not be to stay afloat at all costs, to desire the applause of public opinion: We must only serve our neighbour, whoever he is, out of love and with the love of our God, remembering that only Jesus is the Savior. We must let him pass, speak, act through our poor persons and our daily work. We must not put ourselves forward but him. We must not be frightened in the face of situations, not even the worst. The Lord
is also aboard the Barque of Peter even if he seems to be sleeping; he is here! We must act with energy, as if everything depended on us but with the peace of those who know that everything depends on the Lord. Therefore, we must remember that the name of love in time is “fidelity”! The believer knows that He is the Way, the Truth, the Life and not just “a” way, “a” truth, “a” life. This is why the key to the mission in our society is in the courage of truth at the cost of insults and scorn; it is this courage that is one with love, with pastoral charity, which must be recovered and that makes the Christian vocation more attractive today than ever. I would like to cite the words in which the Council of the Evangelical Church summed up its program in Stuttgart in 1945: “To proclaim with more courage, to pray with more confidence, to believe with more joy, to love with more passion.”
Apostolic letter given Motu proprio
Of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI for the Indiction of the “Year of Faith” 1. The “door of faith” (Acts 14, 27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming It often happens that grace. To enter Christians are more through that concerned for the door is to set social, cultural and out on a jourpolitical consequences ney that lasts a of their commitment, lifetime. It becontinuing to think gins with bapof the faith as a self- tism (cf. Rom evident presupposition 6, 4), through for life in society. In which we can reality, not only can this address God presupposition no longer as Father, and be taken for granted, but it ends with it is often openly denied. t he passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17, 22). To profess faith in the Trinity –Father, Son and Holy Spirit– is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4, 8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.
1 Homily for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 710. 2 Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily at Holy Mass in Lisbon’s “Terreiro do Paço” (11 May 2010): Insegnamenti VI:1 (2010), 673. The complete text of the Homily can be read in http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20100511_terreiro-paco_en.html
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 122 - 123
2. Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. During the homily at the Mass marking the inauguration of my pontificate I said: “The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”1 It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied.2 Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary Whereas in the past it cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the was possible to recognize faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be a unitary cultural matrix, the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of faith that has affected many people.
the faith and the values
3. We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light inspired by it, today this be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5, 13-16). The people of today can still ex- no longer seems to be perience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in the case in large swathes order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw of society, because of a upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4, profound crisis of faith 14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word that has affected many of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread people. of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6, 51). Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6, 27). The question posed by his listeners is the same that we ask today: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6, 28). We know Jesus’ reply: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (Jn 6, 29). Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation. Initial paragraphs of the Apostolic Letter with which His Holiness Benedict XVI indicts the “Year of Faith” from 11 October, 2012, in the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of Second Vatican Council. The complete text of the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei can be read in www.humanitas.cl
NOTES Marriage, Family and new evangelization by Stanislaw Grygiel
he vision of family which John Paul II phically in the midst of such philosophers. had brought with him to Rome was not born He felt a bit like one who sees the way, treads from reasonings elaborated at his working on it, but is criticized by those who do not table. Every vision arises in man within the see it because they only look at what they time it takes him to experience reality and have constructed. Due to this he was not contemplate it, live it, enjoy it, identifying favourably accepted by those among which himself with it. The philosohe found himself. For poets phers who constructed their he could not be a good poet philosophy on the so called because he was a philosopher John Paul II had to face yet a third grade of abstraction,1 and for philosophers he could third kind of scholar, the so from which quantity had not be a good philosopher becalled modern thinker, who even been expelled and no cause he was a poet. Neither is incapable of a powerful one spoke any more of that intellectual poetry nor poethought. Eradicated from which turns beings into inditic philosophy were much the metaphysics by the viduals, were after all, debavalued. Yes, it is true, there Enlightment, that is to say ting on nothingness, beyond were some wise old men eradicated from the truth the logical schemes which who could understand him and goodness in which Earth they used, as a butcher could thanks to their experience of unites with the Heaven of use well sharpened knives life, and many young people Transcendence and time in a meat-shop with no meat. who, wishing to live rationawith eternity (...) Such abstract philosophers lly in a good way finally felt were downright afraid of the comfortable with this priest vision of reality, above all that of man; it con- who, like themselves, loved human love and fused them, confounding the schemes of their wanted to love; he wanted to love seeing that thought. Vision is always prophetic. When it these young people wished to stand close to is missing, that is to say when revelation is each other like epiphanies of beauty, in which, missing, man and society turn evil because as in a flower, truth and beauty resplend from they live in an outrageous way. (cfr. Pro 29, 18) above. Karol Wojtyla had begun to think philoso- The intellectual atmosphere in which Karol 1 I think of the many neothomists who in their metaphysics manuals didnâ€™t dare talk of the person, realizing at least the fact that this word was not a universal concept but a name which points at a concrete human being.
HUMANITAS NÂş 2 pp. 124 - 129
The Holy Family. Detail of the Nativity faรงade at the basilica of the Holy Family. (Barcelona.)
Wojtyla begins to philosophize was formed, I say all this referring to times past because on the one hand, by the scholars moulded on I think one can already see the dawn of the the manuals which commented on St. Thomas new day in which old ways will open paths Aquinas’ commentaries, and on the other, by for new ones. “scholars” who repeated the last enunciations The perception of family born in heart and of the First Secretary of the Communist Party. mind, that is to say in the heart and mind of All these scholars, formed analogously by blessed John Paul II, not only struck against the rationalism proper of the Enlightment, the lack of perception of the family in the cirreduced the contents of their subject matter cle of scholars, but also against an aggressive to sterile schemes for fear of speaking of construction of new ways of family life ever human love in their own philosophies, or more distant from the real human person, and at least to contemplate it. To speak of love, with another equally aggressive imposition and hence of freedom, was politically dange- on society of these new ways by small but rous for marxists; it could bring down their rowdy groups. system. Our scholars instead, were afraid of This is why the Pope, loving human love being exposed to the risk of being called new which is fulfilled in marriage and in the famodernists, of which we know the kind of mily, felt constantly called to ask “who is man as a person?” This question is life they are reduced to lead. at the centre of his thought At this point their thinking (...) They thought they could and of his poetically philodidn’t even dare touch the and should create new sophic action. He felt he was mysterious realit y of the worlds at their own wish, called to teach the young to human person. Love and following only the rules question themselves about freedom made them tremble. prescribed by the logic of this in a non-abstract and Consequently, t he young mathematics. non-artificial way. Thus exapproached the sacrament of posed, this question already marriage unprepared. In the contains the answer in itself; fifties, talking about these problems with the parish priest of my village to questions construed by man, it is man come I heard him say to me: “In this village perhaps who construes the answers. The answer to the fifty percent of marriages are not valid. But I question as to who man might be, the Pope don’t say it because I think God is good and had found it in the experience of his own powerful enough to recover them and make person and in that of other people, in the exthem valid with the passing of time. We all perience of the love which united these people and also united him to them. He walked along mature on our own, with God’s help.” John Paul II had to face yet a third kind of together with the others towards the truth scholar, the so called modern thinker, who is of the human person and with the others he incapable of a powerful thought. Eradicated awaited the revelation of this truth. He loved from the metaphysics by the Enlightment, that men and was loved by them. is to say eradicated from the truth and good- The question “who is man?” is born, in the ness in which Earth unites with the Heaven first place, in the encounter of woman with of Transcendence and time with eternity, they man. But in the encounter of people of the thought they could and should create new same sex, this question will end up in anworlds at their own wish, following only the swers which will only be sexual tautology. rules prescribed by the logic of mathematics. Tautologies only speak of themselves. They do
not lead to others and therefore they do not be a gift because he is convinced that others lead to the Other, to God. It is the difference do not need him. Encounters are held only in sex which opens the human-divine road to because they provide some use or pleasure. men. Men who linger in tautologies risk living They do not realize that, dialogue is only enjoperturbed in their bodies, in their minds, in yment or perhaps prostitution if it is not as an their psyche and finally risk straying their exchange of gifts of oneself. Not knowing the spirit, which means moving away from one’s gift and therefore not being present one in the identity as a person. He who does not know other, those who make up modern society live his own identity remains out of the dialogue in a solitude in which they are compelled to and hence, out of the communion of people fight in order to survive. Gift does not rest on solitude but it is conflicts that build the stan– extra ecclesiam. Don Karol Wojtyla first of all taught the young dards of social life. In such a society, politics, what questioning meant because he who does starting with marriage and family, consists not know how to question does not even know in making alliances in twos against a third. how to think. His thinking will only be a John Paul II repeated untiredly that a person’s salvation can only be found in substitute for thinking. This that person itself. The person is where I see the cause by saves the person. It is with which modern society lives Modern man sees all things the help of the other person –if I may say so– in a heedless as a means to use or throw that it can know and accept way. Modern society does away. He also sees himself itself. The acts and words in not think because it does not and others in the same way. which the person is present know how to question and He needs objects and tries as a gift for others reveals look for and accept truth. to have them. The presence them the way which leads Socrates would have said of objects does not reveal to truth and to the “common that the components of such man’s truth, does not show good.” Wojtyla said that acts a society live as dissolutely his goodness, does not awake are the epiphanies of a person as those birds called caralove nor freedom. (Person and act). Empty acts, driforme which, being quite those which are not words are voracious, swallow food in great quantities and must therefore be provi- lies used to seduce others. Logos is missing ded with great orifices.2 in them, that is why they are a-logos. You can Modern man confuses questioning with dou- read them as you wish. You just have to listen bt-ing. That is why he only knows one answer to politicians’ speeches and try to understand – that which is the negation of everything. them. Their a-logical character is the conseTherefore he lives as he wills and not as he quence of the negation of truth and goodness should, come because he thinks he does not which are the fruit of the encounter and of belong to anything or anyone. the union of Earth (Gaia) and Heaven (UraModern society does not know dialogue nos). Where the horizon is absent, the cosmic because its components do not know how definition of reality is absent and every order to question and wait for an answer. Con- (kosmos) is legitimate. sequently, they do not know what a gift an Modern man sees all things as a means to answer is. For them living the encounter with use or throw away. He also sees himself and others is not necessary. Everyone thinks of others in the same way. He needs objects and himself as self sufficient. He does not mean to tries to have them. The presence of objects
does not reveal man’s truth, does not show his which the “teacher of Israel” did not know how this could happen, said: “For this is goodness, does not awake love nor freedom. Precisely because of this, modern man is not how God loved the world: he gave his only only incapable of uniting in marriage and Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have creating a family, but also of eternal life. /.../ but whoever a binding friendship. The one Once somebody asked John does the truth comes out into thing he is capable of doing Paul II which phrase would the light, so that what he is comes down to knowing how he have chosen should some doing may plainly appear as to join a kind of society of day the Holy Scriptures be done in God.” (Jn 3, 16 and limited responsibility which destroyed and he could 21). Nicodemus had matured produces objects for selling have the possibility of to truth and freedom during and buying. He even dares rescuing only one phrase the years of Christ’s apostolic produce men. of this sacred Text. He work. Finally he had found Before man’s situation in such answered: “I would rescue them while pausing under a society, John Paul II wanted this one: ‘And you shall the cross and later, together to revive the evangelization, know the truth, and the with Joseph of Arimathea that is to say to render more truth shall make you free.’” laying Christ’s body in the ardent the presence of God in (Jn 8, 32). sepulchre which very soon marriages and families. He after was to remain empty. spoke of the new evangelizaThe Word of Jesus heard at tion but the adjective “new” does not add anything to the noun “evange- night by Nicodemus (Jn 3, 1-21) was the same lization”. He was thinking of the dialogue in as that nailed to the cross and later placed which Christ, explaining to Nicodemus what in the tomb. Only he, Nicodemus, has been “to be reborn from above” (Jn 3,3) meant, renewed or, better still, is reborn.
2 Plato, Gorgias, 494 b.
Once somebody asked John Paul II which phrase would he have chosen should some day the Holy Scriptures be destroyed and he could have the possibility of rescuing only one phrase of this sacred Text. He answered: “I would rescue this one: ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” (Jn 8, 32). Truth is a gift and the gift is received on condition that it may be revealed. Where is the truth revealed that makes man free? To the question: Quid sit veritas? –what is truth?– the old epigram answers Veritas est vir qui adest – truth is the person present (ad-est) to another person. Truth is revealed and given to men in the dialogue in which he is present before the other, that is to say to men who give themselves totally one to another or, in other words,- that reveal themselves. With such a presence we deal first and foremost with marriage and family –God testifies it in the act of creation of every human being. Husband and wife should say to each other daily: Ad-sum! I am present for you! I am oriented towards you! Being oriented towards
you I am oriented towards God.” (cfr. Fecisti nos ad te, Domine– Lord, you have created us oriented towards You). 3 How can the new evangelization start? C.K. Norwid wrote: “The heedful are concerned for one day, the brave are concerned for one century. The wise, instead, as usual, have set up a committee.”4 [“Baczni o dzien, a mezni troskali sie o wiek, Uczeni zas, jak zwykle, zlozyli komitet.”] For our good luck “God never ceases to act. His essential work will always be the Cross and Christ’s Resurrection” -we read in the book Through the threshold of hope.5 The Church which is born with the evangelization and is renewed every day does not identify itself with the problems to be resolved by committees, but with that mystery which, from the cross and the naked tomb, irradiates truth and goodness. The time left to live under the cross and leading to the empty tomb is not a time for creating committees, but for making oneself present before the other, which is what occurs specially in marriage and the family.
3 St. Augustine, Confessions l,1. 4 C.K. Norwid, Epimenides Przypowiesc, w: Pisma wszystkie”, PIW Warzawa 1971, III, 61. 5 Jan Pawel II, Varcare la soglia della speranza, Milano 1994, 146.
Translated by Juana Subercaseaux
Stephen Hawking’s creation confusion by William Carroll
Scientists have begun to doubt whether there was a Big Bang. But in claiming that this disproves the existence of a Creator, they confuse temporal beginnings with origins.
“ pontaneous creation is the reason there is some supernatural being or god.” Rather, these something rather than nothing, why the Uni- multiple universes “arise naturally from physiverse exists, why we exist. It is not necessary cal law.” Ultimate questions about the nature to invoke God… to set the Universe going.” of existence which have intrigued philosophers for millennia are, so he claims, Such is the affirmation of now the province of science, Stephen Hawking found in and “philosophy is dead.” his book, The Grand Design. Many cosmologists who now Hawking’s book invites us It is not unusual to hear a routinely speak of what to think again about what it distinguished scientist make happened “before the Big means “to create” and what, if the claim that the universe Bang” think that to reject anything, the natural sciences and everything about it is, at some original Big Bang is can tell us about it. The asserleast in principle, exhaustively to eliminate the need for a tion –which is broadly phiexplicable in terms of contemCreator. They deny the need losophical and certainly not porary science. In his famous for a Creator because they scientific– that the universe book, A Brief History of Time think that “to be created” is self-sufficient, without any (1988), Hawking did admit means to have a temporal need for a Creator to explain that perhaps a god was neebeginning. In such a scenario, why there is something rather ded to choose the basic laws of accepting or rejecting a than nothing, is the result physics and that, accordingly, Creator is tied to accepting of fundamental confusions if a grand unified theory of or to explaining away an about the explanatory doscientific explanation were original Big Bang. mains of the natural sciences at hand we would come to and philosophy. What is often know “the mind of God.” Now Hawking thinks that, more broadly, we being affirmed is a kind of “totalizing naturacan do away with an appeal to a creator, at lism” that eliminates the need for any appeal least as he understands what ‘to create’ means. to explanations which employ principles Citing a version of contemporary string theory, that transcend the world of physical things. known as “M-theory,” Hawking tells us that Whether we speak of explanations of the Big the “creation” of a great many universes out of Bang itself (such as quantum tunneling from nothing “does not require the intervention of nothing) or of some version of a multiverse
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 130 - 134
What place, indeed? Creation, as a metaphysical notion, affirms that all that is, in whatever way or ways it is, depends upon God as cause. The natural sciences have as their subject the world of changing things: from subatomic particles to acorns to galaxies.
hypothesis, or of self-organizing principles in biological change (including appeals to randomness and chance as ultimate explanations), the conclusion which seems inescapable to many is that there is no need to appeal to a Creator, that is, to any cause which is outside the natural order. Many cosmologists who now routinely speak of what happened “before the Big Bang” think that to reject some original Big Bang is to eliminate the need for a Creator. They deny the need for a Creator because they think that “to be created” means to have a temporal beginning. In such a scenario, accepting or rejecting a Creator is tied to accepting or to explaining away an original Big Bang. You might remember Hawking’s famous rhetorical question: “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having
no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?” What place, indeed? Creation, as a metaphysical notion, affirms that all that is, in whatever way or ways it is, depends upon God as cause. The natural sciences have as their subject the world of changing things: from subatomic particles to acorns to galaxies. Whenever there is a change there must be something that changes. Whether these changes are biological or cosmological, without beginning or end, or temporally finite, they remain processes. Creation, on the other hand, is the radical causing of the whole existence of whatever exists. Creation is not a change. To cause completely something to exist is not to produce a change in something, is not to work on or with some existing material. When God’s creative act is said to be “out of nothing,” what is meant is
that God does not use anything in creating all complete cause of all that is does not negate the that is: it does not mean that there is a change role of other causes which are part of the creafrom “nothing” to “something.” In the quota- ted natural order. Creatures, both animate and tion cited at the beginning of this essay we find inanimate, are real causes of the wide array of Hawking telling us that it is not necessary “to changes that occur in the world, but God alone invoke God… to set the Universe going.” But is the universal cause of being as such. God’s creation does not mean “to set the Universe causality is so different from the causality of going” –as though some change occurred at a creatures that there is no competition between putative beginning. To deny such a change, as the two, that is, we do not need to limit, as it Hawking does, is not to deny creation. were, God’s causality to make room for the Cosmology, evolutionary biocausality of creatures. God logy, and all the other natural causes creatures to be causes. Creation is the radical sciences offer accounts of Already in the 13th century the causing of the whole change; they do not address groundwork was set for the existence of whatever the metaphysical questions of fundamental understanding exists. Creation is not a creation; they do not speak to of creation and its relationchange. To cause completely why there is something rather ship to the natural sciences. something to exist is not than nothing. It is a mistake to Working within the context of to produce a change in use arguments in the natural Aristotelian science and aided something, is not to work sciences to deny creation. But by the insights of Muslim and on or with some existing it is also a mistake to appeal to Jewish thinkers as well as material. cosmology as a confirmation his Christian predecessors, of creation. Reason can lead to Thomas Aquinas provided knowledge of the Creator, but an understanding of creation the path is in metaphysics, not in the natural and science which remains true. The distincsciences. tion between creation and change –and hence To avoid confusion, we need to note different between the explanatory realm of the natural senses of how we use the term “to create.” We sciences and creation– to which I have already often speak of human creations, especially referred, is a key feature of Thomas’ analysis. with respect to the production of works of As he wrote: “Over and above the mode of art, music, and literature. What it means for becoming by which something comes to be God to create is radically different from any through change or motion, there must be a kind of human making. When human beings mode of becoming or origin of things without make things they work with already existing any mutation or motion, through the influx material to produce something new. The hu- of being.” man act of creating is not the complete cause Creation is not primarily some distant event. of what is produced, but God’s creative act is Rather, it is the ongoing, complete causing of the complete cause of what is produced. This the existence of all that is. At this very moment, sense of being the complete cause is captured were God not causing all that is to exist, there in the expression “out of nothing.” To be such would be nothing at all. Creation concerns the a complete cause of all that is requires an infi- origin of the universe, not its temporal beginnite power, and no creature, no human being, ning. Indeed, it is important to recognize this possesses such infinite power. God wills things distinction between origin and beginning. The to be and thus they are. To say that God is the former affirms the complete, continuing de-
pendence of all that is on God as cause. It may has a temporal beginning, any theory of an very well be that the universe had a temporal eternal universe would have to be rejected, but beginning, but there is no contradiction in the a believer should be able to ask what kind of notion of an eternal, created universe, for were universe God creates (e.g., one with or without the universe to be without a beginning it still a temporal beginning) while remaining secure would have an origin; it still would be created. in the fact that whatever kind of universe there This is precisely the position of Thomas Aqui- is, God is its Creator. nas, who accepted as a matter of faith that the When it came to how to read the opening universe had a temporal beginning but also of Genesis, Thomas Aquinas observed that defended the intelligibility of a universe simul- what is essential is the “fact of creation,” not the “manner or mode” of taneously created and eternal. the formation of the world. Thomas also thought that What it means for God Questions concerning order, neither science nor philosophy to create is radically design, and chance in nature could know whether the unidifferent from any kind refer to the “manner or mode” verse had a beginning. He did of human making. When of formation of the world. think that metaphysics could human beings make things Attempts in the natural scienshow us that the universe is they work with already ces to explain these facets of created, but he would have existing material to produce nature do not challenge the warned against those today something new. The human “fact of creation.” God causes who use Big Bang cosmology, act of creating is not the things both to be the kinds of for example, to conclude that complete cause of what is things which they are and to the universe has a beginning produced, but God’s creative exercise the kind of causality and therefore must be created. act is the complete cause of which is properly their own. He was always alert to reject what is produced. Even the reality of chance and the use of bad arguments in contingency depends upon support of what is believed. God as cause. God transcends The “singularity” in traditional Big Bang cosmology may represent the the created order in such a radical way that He beginning of the universe we observe, but is able to be active in the world without being we cannot conclude that it is the absolute be- a competing cause in the world. ginning, the kind of beginning which would The interconnected and one might say horizontal, world of changing things ought not to be indicate creation. The crucial point here is that to offer a scientific confused with the vertical dimension of creaaccount of the Big Bang is not to say anything tion: a vertical dimension upon which the hoabout whether or not the universe is created. rizontal continues to depend for its very exisThose contemporary cosmological theories tence. Order, design, chance, and contingency which employ a multiverse hypothesis or an all concern the horizontal realm, whereas it is infinite series of big bangs do not challenge the very reality of all things that depends upon the fundamental feature of what it means to the vertical dimension. We ought not to think be created, that is, the complete dependence that to create, in its primary sense, means to upon God as cause of existence. An eternal produce order. To explain order and design universe would be no less dependent upon in terms of processes within nature does not God than a universe which has a beginning of eliminate the need for a Creator, a Creator who time. For one who believes that the universe is responsible for the existence of nature and
everything in it. Hawking thinks that modern In The Grand Design, Hawking grants a near arguments about design, especially those omnicompetence to the natural sciences and which refer to the remarkable coincidence of writes: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the initial conditions of the universe (the so- the Universe can and will create itself from called strong anthropic principle), do not lead nothing.” But there would be no gravity, indeed there would be nothing at all, us to the existence of a Grand were God not creating all that Designer. Rather, “the fineis as it is. God’s creative power tunings in the laws of nature The interconnected, and is exercised throughout the can be explained by the exisone might say horizontal, entire course of cosmic histence of multiple universes.” world of changing things tory, in whatever ways that We just happen to live in that ought not to be confused history has unfolded. God universe (among perhaps an with the vertical dimension creates a universe in which infinite number of other uniof creation: a vertical things have their own causal verses) which has the right dimension upon which the agency, their own true selfenvironment for us. Indeed, horizontal continues sufficiency: a nature which he notes, “just as Darwin… to depend for its very is susceptible to scientific explained how the apparently existence. Order, design, analysis. Still, no explanation miraculous design of living chance, and contingency of cosmological or biological forms could appear without all concern the horizontal change, no matter how radicaintervention by a supreme realm, whereas it is the very lly random or contingent such being, the multiverse concept reality of all things that an explanation claims to be, can explain the fine-tuning depends upon the vertical challenges the metaphysical of physical law without the dimension. account of creation, that is, of need for a benevolent creator the dependence of the existenwho made the universe for our benefit.” The Grand Designer rejected by ce of all things upon God as cause. When some Hawking is not the Creator, at least not the thinkers deny creation on the basis of theories Creator which traditional philosophy and in the natural sciences, they misunderstand creation or the natural sciences, or both. theology affirms.
The collapse of a system:
1989 as an historic paradigm? by Nikolaus Lobkowicz
een asked by the Directors of Oasis*, I War II and indeed even to the consequences submit observations and reflections comparing of World War I. Until 1918 Central and Eastern what happened and is still going on in Nor- Europe were more or less divided into three thern Africa and the Near East with the events Empires: the German Empire that included in Central and Eastern Europe in the 80´s of the large parts of what later became the Polish last century. On the surface, the legitimacy of Republic, the Russian Empire that included such a comparison may seem quite obvious: a other large parts of present-day Poland, and significant portion of the population of various the Austria-Hungarian Monarchy that besides neighbouring countries rebels against their parts of Poland, Hungary and the later Czerulers and chases them away. Being citizens choslovakia included substantial parts of the later Yugoslavia and for some of solid democracies, the time even the North of Italy. observers from the so-called These three Empires were all Free World sympathize with While Russia and since trans-national entities, though the rebels, since they hope Bismarck even more so they handled the nationality that these countries will beGermany pursued a policy issue in different ways: while come liberal democracies as of Russification and Russia and since Bismarck well. On closer inspection, Germanization, the Habsburg even more so Germany purhowever, the most important Monarchy was proud of its sued a policy of Russification part of the title of my lecture multi-national character and Germanization, the Habsis the question mark at its end. and often even explicitly burg Monarchy was proud of In spite of some similarities fostered the cultural its multi-national character the preconditions of these two identity of its many nations. and often even explicitly fostedevelopments were and are red the cultural identity of its so different that it is almost impossible, in any case extremely difficult and many nations. Only in South Eastern Europe therefore risky, to predict what in all probabi- there were three independent kingdoms: Serlity will be the results of what recently went bia and Bulgaria that until about the middle on in the North of the African continent and of the 19th century were part of the Ottoman Empire, and Rumania. The rulers of these three the Near East. In order to understand what in the 80´s of the countries, however, usually had close family last century happened in Central and Eastern ties with the German and Austro-Hungarian Europe one has to go back to the end of World aristocracy and indeed imperial families. * Conference of the author during the “Oasis international Meeting” in Venice (20.06.11).
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 135 - 141
The fall of the Berlin wall, November 1989.
of Hungary was together with After the end of World War Another consequence his family expelled to a PorI â€“the losers of which were was that the emperors tuguese island where he died the German and the Austrodisappeared: the German one year later at the age of 35 Hungarian empiresâ€“ Poland emperor emigrated, the years - a saintly man who had (that in the 18th century had diRussian together with his desperately tried to achieve sappeared as an independent whole family was shot, and peace and to save his empire state) was restored, and the the Austrian who had tried but failed (he was beatified Habsburg Empire disintegrato remain at least Emperor by John Paul II. in 2004, just ted into a number of indepenof Hungary was together as the Russian Tsar by the dent nation states, above all with his family expelled to Russian Orthodox Church Czechoslovakia (that became a Portuguese island where two years earlier). a wealthy state because it had he died one year later at the Although the trans-national been the most industrialized age of 35 years - a saintly empires had disappeared and part of the Empire), Hungary man who had desperately a number of new republics and Yugoslavia, and of courtried to achieve peace and had come into being, the new se Austria itself. In addition, to save his empire but structure of Europe perhaps some western and southern failed (he was beatified could have been stable and parts of the Russian Empire: by John Paul II. in 2004, just peaceful; it was not by chance White Russia, the Ukraine, as the Russian Tsar by the that the pan-European moGeorgia, Azerbaijan and ArRussian Orthodox Church vement founded by Count menia became independent two years earlier). Coudenhoven-Kalergi (whose states for a few years (1918 to mother war a Japanese and 1921). Another consequence was that the emperors disappeared: the Ger- whose sister was the influential Catholic writer man emperor emigrated, the Russian together Ida Goerres) started its activities a few years with his whole family was shot, and the Aus- after the end of World War I. But soon two trian who had tried to remain at least Emperor problems became visible. On the one hand,
though the main political ideology of the time South Eastern Europe Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, was nationalism the new states were far from Rumania and Albania became satellites of the anything reminding of a national homogeneity. Communist Soviet Union. While Yugoslavia In particular, almost everywhere in Central already in 1950 pulled out of this community and Eastern Europe there existed large mino- and Tito became the founder of an association rities that spoke German and neither felt well of non-aligned countries, all the other counnor were particularly appreciated in states that tries mentioned were for more than twenty claimed to be a unity of a non-German nation. five years more or less completely dependent The most striking example was Czechoslova- upon what the chairmen of the Communist kia where about 25% of the population spoke Party of the Soviet Union decided and perGerman and moreover there existed large mitted. Until a few years after Stalin´s death at Hungarian and Ukrainian minorities. In a way, the beginning of 1953 this had almost funny the dissolution of the former trans-national consequences. Not only did the authorities of character especially of the Habsburg monarchy the Soviet Union, usually Stalin himself, decide resulted in national states with substantial who would be permitted to be the chairman of a national Communist Party minorities of other nations and who should be removed, the members of which would In the late thirties and condemned to death and exehave preferred to be citizens early forties of the past cuted; virtually everybody in of another country. This situacentury some observers the Communist block had to tion usually was aggravated foresaw a political learn Russian, to familiarize by the fact that –due to their constellation in which himself with the basics of the nationalist ideology– the new all Europe west of France Marxist-Leninist doctrine states usually did not treat would be divided into two and to extol –besides the two their minorities well. This new –this time completely Germans Marx and Engels– became most visible during ruthless– totalitarian important figures of Russian the world-wide economic states, one ruled by Hitler, history (of course only those crisis of the ´twenties: many the other by Stalin. that suited Moscow). Looking of the minorities lived mainly back at this strange time the in border areas for which the governments did not care and which therefore beginnings of which I have experienced myself went through a period of unemployment and one sometimes wonders what really orders from Moscow were and what was due to the even famine. On the other hand, two totalitarian ideologies servility of the Communist leaders of the satehad seized power, in Russia Communism, over llite countries. As most of them had spent the a decade later in Germany Nazism. In the late Second World War in Russia they knew how ´thirties and early ´forties of the past century easily one could be shot or end up in the Gulag. some observers foresaw a political constella- They were almost without exception broken tion in which all Europe west of France would personalities whose power was guaranteed be divided into two new –this time completely by the presence of the Red Army. To add a ruthless– totalitarian states, one ruled by Hit- remark about my own experiences: this is the way I myself learned in my Prague high school ler, the other by Stalin. As you certainly know, one of the results of enough Russian later to become an authority World War II was that Poland, Czechoslovakia, on Soviet ideology, for example, when the HerHungary and Eastern Germany, as well as in der publishing house prepared the eight large
volumes of the encyclopaedia The Soviet System viet successors were afraid of each other and and Democratic Society published in the ´sixties therefore could not act as recklessly as the of the past century (I was the editor responsible “Comrade Generalissimo.” Nevertheless, for a number of years Moscow continued to pursue for ideology and philosophy). Looking back at these early times of the “Com- a policy according to which no satellite state munist block” it is today far from easy to say to was permitted to have, as far as the policy of what extent the majority of the population of the Warsaw Pact was concerned, its own way: these countries supported the Communist re- In 1956, the Red Army brutally crushed the gimes. In a strange way, the situation reminded Hungarian uprising, twelve years later the of Nazi Germany in the late ´thirties and early armies of the Warsaw Pact by force ended the ´forties. It was an odd mixture of enthusiasm so-called Prague Spring. However, already and fear. Enthusiasm, because the Red Army at that time it became obvious that Moscow had conquered and expelled the hated Nazi would not endlessly succeed in keeping its Germans; fear, because whoever was suspected satellites with violence alone. There followed of not agreeing with the regime risked at least a period of gradual liberalization in which the Communist rulers tried to disappear in the dungeon. to win the inhabitants of their The latter was particularly noOne of the results of World respective countries by a notiticeable among Catholics; as War II was that Poland, ceable economic improvement, Marxism-Leninism, contrary Czechoslovakia, Hungary the so-called “goulash comto the Nazi ideology, was not and Eastern Germany, as munism”, an expression that only a totalitarian but also an well as in South Eastern seems to have been coined by explicitly (and aggressively) Europe Yugoslavia, Nikita Khrushchev after the atheist ideology, most bishops Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungarian uprising. However, and many priest and nuns, Albania became satellites of the gradual liberation, often but also many committed the Communist Soviet Union. described as a “thaw”, also Catholic lay people disappeapermitted better information red in concentration camps or were sentenced to many years of forced about what was going on in the West – and labour, often in uranium mines. Only Poland everybody in the Communist world was inwas an exception: as the Poles had an almost creasingly aware of the fact that, compared two centuries long experience of oppression with the countries of the Warsaw Pact, the by protestant Germany and orthodox Russia, Western World was from the point of view of the Catholic Church had become a symbol of economic prosperity a paradise. national identity. Therefore, contrary for exam- While Brezhnev tried to restore the sickly ple to Czechoslovakia or Eastern Germany, in empire by following a sort of neo-Stalinist Poland the Communists never really succeeded politics and Andropov as well as Chernenko in marginalizing the Catholic bishops and was already desperately ill when for a short priests. It is more than a coincidence that John time they took over, Gorbachev tried to pursue Paul II, the first non-Italian pope since many a completely different road in order to save the centuries, was a child of the Polish nation and Soviet system. He proclaimed glasnost, a new kind of open-mindedness and perestrojka, a not a Frenchman or a German. After Stalin’s death the hold of Moscow over re-organization, and, hoping that they would the satellite countries began to decrease. One continue to co-operate, explicitly granted the of the reasons certainly was that Stalin’s So- independence of the satellite countries and
«What we witness today is not a collapse of a “system” but rather a phenomenon that one might describe as an infection: citizens of different countries who disliked the way in which they were governed learned from each other what to do in order to remove their rulers.» (Tahrir Square, El Cairo, february 2011.)
thus terminated the doctrine underlying the ment, even not a court procedure against those Warsaw Pact. Certainly his intention was not to formerly in power; the Communist rulers simabolish the Soviet system; but since he introdu- ply gave up and merely tried to walk off with ced a new open-mindedness, as many as possible parts of he in fact did destroy it. One the former state property. As While Yugoslavia already country after another, first during these years I often was in 1950 pulled out of Poland, then Czechoslovain Poland and Czechoslovakia this community and Tito kia, then Hungary and all I remember this time well: the became the founder of an the other satellite countries, relief over the almost miracuassociation of non-aligned finally even the Soviet Union lous end of a terrible time was countries, all the other itself, ceased to be Commuso great that in the evening at countries mentioned were nist countries and became some places you could witfor more than twenty more or less stable and more ness strange parties at which five years more or less or less constitutional liberal representatives of the former completely dependent upon democracies. system sat half-drunken at the what the chairmen of the Looking back at this fascinasame table with those whom Communist Party of the ting development even today they or their predecessors had Soviet Union decided and one has difficulties to underssent to prison or concentration permitted. tand what happened: there camps. No hate, no thirsting was –with the exception of for revenge, no slander, simRumania and since 1991 former Yugoslavia– no ply a deep joy over the fact that a nightmare violence, even not a single rifle shot, no punish- was over – for those formerly persecuted the
nightmare of persecution and suppression, for Brezhnev. Secondly, the countries in question the former representatives of the system the were not satellites of one of these countries but nightmare that now had come the time when independent political entities with vaguely they will be persecuted. That in Rumania and similar regimes. Therefore, this is my third Yugoslavia the disappearance of Communism point, what we witness today is not a collapse was not peaceful has very specific reasons: in of a “system” but rather a phenomenon that Rumania those removing Ceauśescu were one might describe as an infection: citizens of former Communists who hoped to save their different countries who disliked the way in skin by getting rid of him, Yugoslavia was a which they were governed learned from each multinational and multi-religious state which other what to do in order to remove their rulers disintegrated in a bloodthirsty civil war due or rather, and more specifically, seeing that in to the desire of the Serbs to maintain their Egypt Mubarak gave up hoped to achieve a removal of their own rulers. It is worth while traditional supremacy. Of course this harmonious joy did not last to notice how governments of countries which longer than a few months; very soon there –like Communist China– have almost nothing emerged political parties that, as it is charac- in common with the Islamic universe became and still are nervous; what is teristic of democracies, bitterly happening in Northern Afrifought each other. In most ca and the Near East could cases, the various countries As most of them had spent easily happen in any other restored the political system of the Second World War in authoritarian country – an the time before World War II, Russia they knew how easily uprising against the rulers. quite often thereby restoring one could be shot or end To be quite honest, I find it dubious traditions (in Hunup in the Gulag. They were extremely difficult to judge gary and Poland for example almost without exception right what is going on in the anti-Semitism). There were broken personalities whose Islamic countries. Obviously, only two radical differences to power was guaranteed by in Egypt, Libya, Syria and the times before Communism: the presence of the Red Army. so on many or in any case a the Jews had been almost substantial number of, citicompletely eradicated and the German minorities had been almost comple- zens did not like the way they were governed and possibly (I repeat: possibly) detested their tely expelled. Now if you compare this development with rulers. On the one hand, however, it is almost that what presently is going on in northern impossible to say whether and to what extent Africa and the near East, the following diffe- the revolutionaries express the yearning of the rences catch your eye. To begin with, these overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Muslim countries may have been dictatorial the countries in question; after all, Egypt and but they were not totalitarian; the rulers Libya were comparatively wealthy, in any case did not act in the name of an all-embracing well-to-do countries. On the other hand, to be ideology but rather (or only) secured and ex- against a ruler or a political system does as tended their position once they had reached such not entail a clear answer to the question it. Certainly one may compare these rulers by what kind of a political order they should to South American dictators, but it hardly is be replaced. The main problem of the said appropriate to compare them with Hitler, Sta- Islamic countries seems to me to consist in lin or, for that matter with neo-Stalinists like the fact that they have no democratic or even
simply constitutional traditions they could fall when the citizens adhere to a religion that opback on. Above all, contrary to the situation in poses violence; such is the case of the countries Central and Eastern Europe in the 80´s of the that emerged out of the “Christian universe”. last century, the overwhelming majority of the But the democracy of Ancient Greece, more population has no clear idea about what a solid exactly that of Athens, suggests that something functioning liberal democracy consists in and else is even more important. Those praising the Athenian democracy often did, and often still presupposes. As this is an important point I want to conclude do, overlook that the humane style of Athens my paper by submitting to you the following had two presuppositions: on the one hand, reflection. Successful democracies presuppose several centuries of development and on the a population the overwhelming majority of other hand the fact that at least eight tenth of which is more or less content with the country’s the population of Athens were slaves. That overall situation; by the words `more or less´ even the paupers among the Athenian citizens I remind of the fact that those who are not were relatively well off was due to the fact that almost any citizen had content hope to change the at his disposal one or several situation by the next elecslaves who took care of most tion – this is the reason why Therefore, contrary for of physical labour. On the regular (and free) elections example to Czechoslovakia other hand, we tend to overare so important: they make or Eastern Germany, in look how many centuries it of revolutions a kind of event Poland the Communists took to produce the Athenian that seems not worth the never really succeeded in democracy that many admire. effort and risk. Countries marginalizing the Catholic And we live in a time when, like Switzerland suggest that bishops and priests. It is more ultimately due to Christianity, the population must not be than a coincidence that John slavery has almost complehomogeneous as far culture, Paul II, the first non-Italian tely disappeared. A modern language and religion are pope since many centuries, democracy presupposes that concerned. Yet they must be was a child of the Polish almost everyone supports it largely homogeneous as far nation and not a Frenchman and nobody seriously fights as the economic situation or a German. it. At present, this seems to me is concerned: some may be to be the main difficulty of the quite wealthy, some rather poor, but the great, indeed overwhelming Islamic countries in question: there are not only majority must belong to a middle class that many completely different ideas about what instinctively views any kind of radical unrest would be a satisfactory future; there also has as a threat to the quality of their lifestyle. All been much too much of hysterical and meaninthis does not necessarily presuppose a cons- gless bloodshed, not only between the rulers titution (England, for example, has none); but and the revolutionaries but also among those it presupposes a legal system that everybody who want, or wanted, to remove their rulers. Usually, where much blood has been shed it more or less agrees with. Nor does a functioning democracy presuppose takes a long time until a peaceful development religious convictions. It is of course helpful takes place without additional violence.
THE HARMFUL DIVISION THAT INVADES US by Javier Martínez Fernández
or centuries, the world in which we live in has been marked by a division. This division is not the only factor that determines the present, but it is a decisive factor in the configuration of the present, both in the area of knowledge and learning as well as in that of the moral life. This division invades everything: thought and memory, human relations, the works men produce, and those they fail to produce. It conditions a great extent of our understanding and our use of things, our aesthetics, our ethics and our politics. It conditions the way we see ourselves, others, and the world. This division is the division between “the sacred” and “the profane,” or if preferred, between the “religious” and (the rest of) reality. The division is born within Western Christianity (beginning, perhaps, with Duns Scotus and by way of nominalism), although there are those who attribute its origin to the influence of Avicenna and, therefore, to an impoverishment of Christianity due to the influence of Islam. In any event, it is the expression, and at the same time the cause of the fragmentation of the Christian experience at the dawn of modernity. In the context in which it was born, the division corresponds to a great extent to a similar division –not altogether separable from the former– between the “supernatural” and the “natural,” or expressed in a less precise and technical but more accessible way, a division between what is “Christian” and what is human.
Father Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation Movement.
The Christian dimension would designate, not only a concrete human experience equipped, as could not be otherwise, with its “own” categories, but a particular world enclosed in itself, while the human without Christ would be the “universal.” The division also corresponds in good measure to other “divisions,” forged in the same context, which separate and oppose realities that, before the fragmentation of the Christian experience, existed within each another, or, in any case, between themselves they related in a radically different way from the way they have begun to do so in modernity. The most characteristic examples of this are the divisions that oppose “faith” and “reason,” or “grace” and “freedom.” These divisions, or some of them, are often referred to with the name “dualism”1. I say “division” and not distinction because it
* The present text corresponds to the Preface written by Monsignor Javier Martínez, Archbishop of Granada, Spain, to Father Luigi Giussani’s book The Religious Sense (Encuentro Publishers, Madrid, 2008). We thank the editor for his permission. The title of the text is the editor’s, not the author’s.
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 142 - 145
is not just a reasonable and just distinction but world is sustained, as is the intangible dogma a division, which constitutes a decisive factor and the never questioned assumption of the in the construction and deconstruction of culture in which we have been born, and in modernity. In the present cultural context, dis- which we live, as it is behind (or within) the tinction is understood only as division, unless institutions, transactions and secular liturgies a thousand refinements and clarifications are in which we necessarily take part, no sooner made. Furthermore, when an appeal is made is one distracted, the “I” goes back to division, to maintain the distinction, in the vast majority goes back to thinking from it, to looking from of cases, it is only to justify the division and it, to deciding or acting from it. As soon as we are distracted, as soon as the presence is its consequences. In many cases it is notable that the division clouded which has rescued and freed us, or is not an elaborated thought, made explicitly is not followed with simplicity, the division the object of discernment and judgment, and installs itself again in the heart, in the outlook and in the mind, in words and assumed with awareness deeds. Hence, the division also and freedom. It is, rather, For centuries, the world in affects the educational task in a category from which we which we live in has been all its expressions (from the think of things, from which marked by a division. This school and the family to the we organize them and from division is not the only media) and through it, it is which we act. It conditions factor that determines the perpetuated. our knowledge and our acpresent, but it is a decisive The Religious Sense, of Father tion, but it is not a thought factor in the configuration Luigi Giussani, founder of the chosen because of its characof the present, both in Communion and Liberation ter of persuasive thought (in the area of knowledge Movement, is a book that atfact, it is very fragile when and learning as well as in tempts to educate. To educate faced with serious rational that of the moral life. This is to introduce into the. When criticism). The division is insdivision invades everything: one comes close to the real talled in our thought before thought and memory, human with open reason, which has any conscious act of the interelations, the works men not lost its capacity to surprise, lligence. It is as if we acquired produce, and those they fail which is not dominated ideoit by osmosis. It is, we could to produce. (…) logically, neither the nature of say, a sort of cultural a priori, human reason nor the nature and that is why it is, in large measure, invisible, and to a great extent the of the real tolerate the division of which we power it exercises over us lies precisely in its have spoken. That is why, The Religious Sense is a book that is situated beyond division, not “invisibility.” Up to this point the division constitutes a cul- ignoring it as a cultural fact, or ignoring its tural a priori, which is to think and act against dramatic consequences, or reacting against it, the division, or the mere act of resisting it, but situating itself culturally after it. It does not which requires a free and conscious act. This describe or analyze it, or attempt to situate it act must be constantly repeated, and it is ne- in the framework of the evolution of Western cessary to renew the reasons for repeating it, so culture. It situates itself after it. It can be said that it can become a habit, a kind of custom of in truth that it is one of the Christian works thought, outlook and heart. Yet, as the division of the 20th century which is, first of all, more seems to be the point of support on which the conscious of the profundity of the roots of the
problem and then written from that aware- cognize in Father Giussani a figure that marks ness with the intention of surmounting it, not an epoch in Christian education . However, it in the sense of simply criticizing some of the would be an error to think that this classic has positions that derive from it, but in a way that flowered in the midst of a desert. No, human things never happen this way nor do the things transcends the premises that cause it. Precisely because it transcends them, The Reli- of God. Father Giussani’s educational genius, gious Sense is not an anti-modern, reactionary his immense paternal capacity in guiding work. Anti-modern works or reactions against and supporting people, have a context; they modernity, have been one of the most charac- emerged at a precise moment of the history teristic factors of modern “religiosity.” All the of the Church. reactions contributed to consolidate modernity, To begin with, Father Giussani was born and shared –in their reaction– its fundamental as- grew up in a living, realist and concrete Chrissumptions; they were and are more a symptom tian tradition, with a marked social presence, as is that of the Lombard heir of sickness than a possibility of Saint Ambrose and Saint to remedy it. Charles Borromeo; a tradition The notes that constitute the (…) It conditions a which he assimilated from his nucleus of the book were origreat extent of our mother . He, himself, was ginally addressed to young understanding and our use later formed in a very rich people that Father Giussani of things, our aesthetics, theological school on the outswas trying to help to face life our ethics and our politics. kirts of Milan – the school of in a fully human way, that It conditions the way we the Venegono Seminary, with is, rationally consistent and see ourselves, others, and teachers such as Gaetano Corfree, with no more fidelity the world. This division is ti, Carlo Figini and Giovanni than that which every human the division between “the Colombo . At the end of the being must have to truth and sacred” and “the profane,” 50s, Father Giussani published the human company that or if preferred, between the his first tracts with the nihil helps to discover it and to “religious” and (the rest of) make loving it possible. And obstat of Milan’s theologians. reality. in doing so, Father Giussani That school was characterized was clearing paths that the by the intellectual effort to Christian faith would have to follow inevi- recover, for Christian theological thought, the tably at the dawn of the 21st century. These centrality of the figure of Christ in history and are paths that the Church will always have to in the cosmos and, therefore, at the same time follow, which in a certain sense she has always to recover the substantive connection between followed, but that in the confusion sown in Christ and the created order, between Christ consciences, as a consequence of the division, and human existence. In this way, it would have become again, in the present circumstan- be manifested again in the thought and life ces, absolutely indispensable. of the Church that the whole of creation, the Given that this book has already educated se- whole of existence, is constitutively oriented veral generations of young people and adults, to Christ. Nor must it be forgotten that Father and continues to be a decisive point of referen- Giussani’s familiarity with the great Orthodox ce for thousands upon thousands of persons tradition and with American Protestant theoworldwide, we can say that we are faced with logy, on which he wrote his doctoral thesis , a classic work. Authoritative commentators re- made him undoubtedly more sensitive to the
fractures created by the division and the need to overcome them. Moreover, his theological formation was influenced by the best figures of the 19 thcentury Catholic renewal, s uc h a s Jo h a n n Adam Mohler and John Henry Newman, and of the 20th century, such as Romano Guardini. He had also read some of Henri de Lubac’s works , which brought him close to the circle of thinkers who made the most decisive and lasting points of the teaching of Vatican Council II, possible: that God’s revelation is not simply the revelation of an ensemble of notions, but a dramatic event that culminates in the person that is Christ. Christ’s presence remains in the Church by the gift of the Spirit, faith is the assent of the whole person (reason
and freedom) to that presence; and Christ is not only key to that which, in the context of the division, is called “the spiritual life,” but it reveals man to himself, and discovers for him the sublimity of his vocation; and that the whole meaning of the existence and life of the Church is “to be sacrament” of Christ, or in other words, to make Christ present in history. Making Christ present generates the fullness of humanity for which every human being yearns. These elemental truths, constitutive of the nucleus of Christian existence but clouded under the effect of the division, are the content of the three volumes of the Percorso, or, as it is called in the Spanish version, Basic Course of Christianity. Christ is the center of the Percorso. However, the most extraordinary and immediate fruit of Christ’s redemption is , in fact, the recognition without censures of the Mystery that reality constitutes, and of the yearning of that Mystery that constitutes us as human beings. The Religious Sense situates us before that Mystery.
1 It would not be difficult to multiply the examples of similar divisions and oppositions, all of which belong to constellations of concepts articulated in modernity, and which in different ways refer to the same underlying division: the rupture of a constitutive connection between the witness of which the Church is bearer and man’s humanity. Thus, for example, the division determines the kind of relationship between theology and philosophy, or between “faith” and “culture”; between faith and morality; between liturgy and Ontology; Church and “world”; “private” and “public.” The perception of God is at the root of all these manifestations, which began to gain ground at the end of what is called (absurdly) “the Middle Ages,” as a “being” separated from the world (His transcendence is reduced to this), but “one” more being, in the end. From that moment, God and the world relate to one another in a way determined essentially by the category of power. Conceived as a “being,” God, in the long run, cannot but be converted into a projection of the human. It is also inevitable that both “beings,” God and the world, stand out against a dark background that can only be “nothingness.” And nothingness itself is conceived as another “being,” and, in fact, as the ultimate background of all that is. That is why, the division does not preserve the religious, but hands the real into the arms of nothingness. 2 I refer to the collective work: E. Buzzi (ed.), A Generative Thought. An Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani, Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca, McGillQueen’s University Press, 2003. 3 A useful biographical profile can be read in: Massimo Camisasca, Comunión y Liberación/1 (Los orígenes 1954-1968), Encuentro, Madrid, 2002. 4 On the “School of Venegono” one can consult: ISTRA, Annuario del Dipartimento Teologico (1984), Edit., Milan, 1985. 5 Luigi Giussani, Grandi linee della teologia protestante americana. Profilo storico dalle origine agli anni ’50, Jaca Book, Milan, 1988. 6 Of the works of Henri de Lubac, to be pointed out especially is his Catholicism. Later on Giussani also met Hans Urs von Balthasar, who on different occasions expressed his curiosity and interest in the ecclesial reality being born from the Lombard priest. In general, the works of these two authors point to paths in the desert and open them beyond the desert. The essential difference between them and Luigi Giussani’s work is that they try to help us intellectually to understand the causes of the division, and its consequences, or to help us see how the Christian “tradition” was before the break and, hence, how life could be understood and lived if the break was surmounted. Father Giussani, on the other hand, writes a text that is totally oriented to the future, and to the construction of the individual who will make history, moved by the educational concern that guides all his life. Even in this, The Religious Sense, although it is a fully timely work, is no longer a modern work.
Translated by Virginia Forrester
The Pope in his own words
On Our Lord’s Prayer at the Last Supper
Catechesis given by Benedict XVI on 11th January 2012, during the general audience held in Paul VI Hall, reflecting on Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper.
he temporal and emotional background of the festive meal at which Jesus takes leave of his friends is the imminence of his death, which he feels is now at hand. For some time Jesus had been talking about his Passion and had also been seeking to involve his disciples increasingly in this prospect. The Gospel according to Mark tells that from the time when he set out for Jerusalem, in the villages of distant Caesarea Philippi, Jesus had begun “to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk 8, 31). In addition, in the very days when he was preparing to say goodbye to the disciples, the life of the people was marked by the imminence of the Passover, that is, the commemoration of Israel’s liberation from Egypt. This liberation,
lived in the past and expected in the present and in the future, is experienced again in family celebrations of the Passover. The Last Supper fits into this context, but with a basic innovation. Jesus looks at his Passion, death and Resurrection with full awareness. He wishes to spend with his disciples this Supper, that has a quite special character and is different from other meals; it is his Supper, in which he gives something entirely new: himself. In this way Jesus celebrates his Pasch, anticipating his Cross and his Resurrection. This new element is highlighted for us in the account of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, who does not describe it as the Passover meal for the very reason that Jesus was intending to inaugurate something new, to celebrate his Pasch, which is of course linked to HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 146 - 163
the events of the Exodus. Moreover, according to John, Jesus died on the cross at the very moment when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple. What then is the key to this Supper? It is in the gestures of breaking bread, of distributing it to his followers and of sharing the cup of wine, with the words that accompany them, and in the context of prayer in which they belong; it is the institution of the Eucharist, it is the great prayer of Jesus and of the Church. However, let us now take a closer look. First of all, the New Testament traditions of the Institution of the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11, 23-25; Lk 22, 14-20; Mk 14, 22-25; Mt 26, 26-29), point to the prayer that introduces Jesus’ acts and words over the bread and over the wine, by using two parallel and complementary verbs. Paul and Luke speak of eucaristia/ thanksgiving: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them” (Lk 22, 19). Mark and Matthew, however, emphasize instead the aspect of eulogia/blessing: “he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them” (Mk 14, 22). Both these Greek terms, eucaristeìn and eulogeìn, refer to the Hebrew berakha, that is, the great prayer of thanksgiving and blessing of Israel’s tradition which inaugurated the important feasts. The two different Greek words indicate the two intrinsic and complementary orientations of this prayer. Berakha, in fact, means primarily thanksgiving and praise for the gift received that rise to God: at the Last Supper of Jesus, it is a matter of bread –made from the wheat that God causes to sprout and grow in the earth– and wine, produced from the fruit that ripens on the vine. This prayer of praise and thanksgiving that is raised to God returns as a blessing that comes down from God upon the gift and enriches it. Thanking and praising God thus become blessing and the offering given to God returns
Jesus offers in anticipation the life that will be taken from him and in this way transforms his violent death into a free act of giving himself for others and to others. The violence he suffered is transformed into an active, free and redemptive sacrifice.
to man blessed by the Almighty. The words of the Institution of the Eucharist fit into this context of prayer; in them the praise and blessing of the berakha become the blessing and transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Before the words of the Institution come the actions: the breaking of the bread and the offering of the wine. The one who breaks the bread and passes the cup is first of all the head of the family who welcomes his relatives at table; but these gestures are also those of hospitality, of the welcome in convivial communion of the stranger who does not belong to the house. These very gestures, in the Supper with which Jesus takes leave of his followers, acquire a completely new depth. He gives a visible sign of the welcome to the banquet in which God gives himself. Jesus offers and communicates himself in the bread and in the wine. But how can all this happen? How can Jesus give himself at that moment? Jesus knows that his life is about to be taken from him in the torture of the cross, the capital punishment of slaves, which Cicero described as mors turpissima crucis [a most cruel and disgraceful death]. With the gift of the bread and of the wine that he offers at the Last Supper, Jesus anticipates his death and his Resurrection, bringing about
what he had said in his Good Shepherd Discourse: “I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” (Jn 10, 17-18). He therefore offers in anticipation the life that will be taken from him and in this way transforms his violent death into a free act of giving himself for others and to others. The violence he suffered is transformed into an active, free and redemptive sacrifice. Once again, in prayer, begun in accordance with the ritual forms of the Biblical tradition, Jesus shows his identity and his determination to fulfil his mission of total love to the very end, and of offering in obedience to the Father’s will. The profound originality of the gift of himself to his followers, through the Eucharistic memorial, is the culmination of the prayer that distinguishes his farewell supper with his own. In contemplating Jesus’ actions and words on that night, we see clearly that it is in this close and constant relationship with the Father that he carries out his act of bequeathing to his followers and to each one of us the sacrament of love, the Sacramentum caritatis.
In contemplating Jesus’ actions and words on that night, we see clearly that it is in this close and constant relationship with the Father that he carries out his act of bequeathing to his followers and to each one of us the sacrament of love, the Sacramentum caritatis.
The words: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11, 24, 25), ring out twice in the Upper Room. With the gift of himself he celebrates his Pasch, becoming the true Lamb that brings the whole of the ancient worship to fulfilment. For this reason St Paul, speaking to the Christians of Corinth, says: “Christ [our Pasch], our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival... with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5, 7-8). Luke the Evangelist has retained a further precious element of the events of the Last Supper that enables us to see the moving depth of Jesus’ prayer for his own on that night: his attention to each one. Starting with the prayer of thanksgiving and blessing, Jesus arrives at the Eucharistic gift, the gift of himself, and, while he is giving the crucial sacramental reality, he addresses Peter. At the end of the meal, he says: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22, 31-32). Jesus’ prayer, when his disciples were about to be put to the test, helps them to overcome their weakness in their effort to understand that the way of God passes through the Paschal Mystery of the death and Resurrection, anticipated in the offering of the bread and the wine. The Eucharist is the food of pilgrims that also becomes strength for those who are weary, worn-out and bewildered. And the prayer was specially for Peter, so that once he had turned again he might strengthen his brethren in the faith. Luke the Evangelist recalls that it was the very gaze of Jesus in seeking Peter’s face at the moment when he had just denied him three times which gave him the strength to continue following in his footsteps: “And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And
By participating in the Eucharist, we experience in an extraordinary manner the prayer that Jesus prayed and prays ceaselessly for every person so that the evil which we all encounter in life may not get the upper hand and that the transforming power of Christ’s death and Resurrection may act within us.
Peter remembered the word of the Lord” (Lk 22, 60-61). Dear brothers and sisters, by participating in the Eucharist, we experience in an extraordinary manner the prayer that Jesus prayed and prays ceaselessly for every person so that the evil which we all encounter in life may not get the upper hand and that the transforming power of Christ’s death and Resurrection may act within us. In the Eucharist the Church responds to Jesus’ commandment: “Do this in remembrance of
me” (Lk 22, 19; cf. 1 Cor 11, 24-26); she repeats the prayer of thanksgiving and praise and, with it, the words of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord. Our Eucharists are: being attracted at this moment of prayer, being united ever anew to Jesus’ prayer. From the outset, the Church has understood the words of consecration as part of the prayer prayed together to Jesus; as a central part of the praise filled with gratitude, through which the fruits of the earth and the work of man come to us anew, given by God as the Body and Blood of Jesus, as the self-giving of God himself in his Son’s self-emptying love (cf. Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two, p. 128). Participating in the Eucharist, nourishing ourselves with the Flesh and Blood of the Son of God, we join our prayers to that of the Paschal Lamb on his supreme night, so that our life may not be lost despite our weakness and our unfaithfulness, but be transformed. Let us ask the Lord that after being duly prepared, also with the sacrament of Penance, our participation in his Eucharist, indispensable to Christian life, may always be the highest point in all our prayer. Let us ask that we too, profoundly united in his offering to the Father, may transform our own crosses into a free and responsible sacrifice of love for God and for our brethren.
The priority Renewal of the faith Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to participants in the plenary meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Friday 27 January, in audience in the Clementine Hall.
s we know, in vast areas of the earth faith risks being extinguished, like a flame that is no longer fed. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of the religious sense that constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church today. The renewal of faith must therefore take priority in the commitment of the entire Church in our time. I hope that the Year of Faith will contribute, with the cordial cooperation of all the members of the People of God, to making God present in this world once again and to giving men and women access to the faith to entrust themselves to the God who loved us to the very end (cf. Jn 13, 1), in Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen. The theme of Christian unity is closely linked to this task. I would therefore like to reflect on several doctrinal aspects concerning the ecumenical path of the Church, which has been the object of deep reflection at this Plenary Meeting, which coincides with the conclusion of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In fact, the impetus of the ecumenical endeavour must spring from “spiritual ecumenism”, the “soul of the whole ecumenical movement” (Unitatis redintegratio, n. 8), which is found in the spirit of the prayer that “they may all be one” (Jn 17, 21). The coherence of the ecumenical endeavour with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and with the entire Tradition, has been one of the areas to which the Congregation has always paid attention, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
In vast areas of the earth faith risks being extinguished, like a flame that is no longer fed. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of the religious sense that constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church today. The renewal of faith must therefore take priority in the commitment of the entire Church in our time. I hope that the Year of Faith will contribute (…) to making God present in this world once again.
Unity. Today we can note the many good fruit yielded by ecumenical dialogue. However, we must also recognize that the risk of a false irenism and of indifferentism –totally foreign to the thinking of the Second Vatican Council– demands our vigilance. This indifferentism is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man; hence it is necessary to limit oneself to finding rules for a praxis that can
better the world. And like this, faith becomes substituted by a moralism without deep foundations. The centre of true ecumenism is, on the contrary, the faith in which the human being finds the truth which is revealed in the Word of God. Without faith the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of “social contract” to which to adhere out of common interest, a “praxeology”, in order to create a better world. The logic of the Second Vatican Council is quite different: the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamic inspired by the Word of God, by the divine Truth who speaks to us in this word. The crucial problem which marks ecumenical dialogue transversally is therefore the question of the structure of revelation – the relationship between Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in Holy Church and the Ministry of the Successors of the Apostles as a witness of true faith. And in this case the problem of ecclesiology which is part of this problem is implicit: how God’s truth reaches us. Fundamental here is the discernment between Tradition with a capital “T” and traditions.
The centre of true ecumenism is, on the contrary, the faith in which the human being finds the truth which is revealed in the Word of God. Without faith the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of “social contract” to which to adhere out of common interest, a “praxeology”, in order to create a better world.
This indifferentism is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man; hence it is necessary to limit oneself to finding rules for a praxis that can better the world. And like this, faith becomes substituted by a moralism without deep foundations.
I do not want to go into detail but merely to make an observation. An important step in this discernment was made in the preparation and application of the provisions for groups of the Anglican Communion who wish to enter into full communion with the Church, in the unity of our common and essential divine Tradition, maintaining their own spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions which are in conformity with the Catholic faith (cf. Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, art. III). Indeed, a spiritual richness exists in the different Christian denominations which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share and to seek together in the Tradition of the Church. Today, moreover, one of the fundamental questions is the problem of the methods adopted in the various ecumenical dialogues. These too must reflect the priority of faith. Knowing the truth is a right of the conversation partner in every true dialogue. It is a requirement of love for one’s brother or sister. In this sense, it is necessary to face controversial issues courageously, always in a spirit of brotherhood and in reciprocal respect. It is also important to offer a correct interpretation of that order or “hierarchy” which exists in Catholic doc-
trine, observed in the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio (n. 11), which in no way means reducing the deposit of the faith but rather bringing out its internal structure, the organic nature of this unique structure. The study documents produced by the various ecumenical dialogues are very important. These texts cannot be ignored because they are an important, if temporary, fruit of our common reflection developed over the years. Nevertheless their proper significance should be recognized as a contribution offered to the competent Authority of the Church, which alone is called to judge them definitively. To ascribe to these texts a binding or as it were definitive solution to the thorny questions of the dialogues without the proper evaluation of the ecclesial Authority, would ultimately hinder the journey toward full unity in faith. Finally, I would like to mention one last matter: the moral problem, which is a new challenge to the ecumenical process. In the dialogue we cannot ignore the great moral questions regarding human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace. It will be important to speak about these topics with
one voice, drawing from the foundations in Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church. This Tradition helps us to decipher the language of the Creator in his creation. In defending the fundamental values of the Church’s great Tradition, we defend the human being, we defend creation. At the end of these reflections, my hope is that a close and fraternal collaboration of the Congregation with the competent Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, may effectively further the reestablishment of full unity among all Christians. Indeed, the division among Christians, “openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every creature” (Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio, n. 1). Unity is therefore not only the fruit of faith but also a means and as it were a presupposition for proclaiming the faith ever more credibly to those who do not yet know the Saviour. Jesus prayed: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17, 21).
The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another The Church is convinced that ÂŤeverything human, including scientific research, is not only received and respected by faith, but is also purified, elevated and perfected,Âť indicated Benedict XVI to participants in the international Conference Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
cientific research provides a unique opportunity to explore the wonder of the universe, the complexity of nature and the distinctive beauty of life, including human life. But since human beings are endowed with immortal souls and are created in the image and likeness of God, there are dimensions of human existence that lie beyond the limits of what the natural sciences are competent to determine. If these limits are transgressed, there is a serious risk that the unique dignity and inviolability of human life could be subordinated to purely utilitarian considerations. But if instead these limits are duly respected, science can make a truly remarkable contribution to promoting and safeguarding the dignity of man: indeed herein lies its true utility. Man, the agent of scientific research, will sometimes, in his biological nature, form the object of that research. Nevertheless, his transcendent dignity entitles him always to remain the ultimate beneficiary of scientific research and never to be reduced to its instrument. In this sense, the potential benefits of adult stem cell research are very considerable, since it opens up possibilities for healing chronic dege-
Since human beings are endowed with immortal souls and are created in the image and likeness of God, there are dimensions of human existence that lie beyond the limits of what the natural sciences are competent to determine. If these limits are transgressed, there is a serious risk that the unique dignity and inviolability of human life could be subordinated to purely utilitarian considerations.
nerative illnesses by repairing damaged tissue and restoring its capacity for regeneration. The improvement that such therapies promise
The pragmatic mentality that so often influences decision-making in the world today is all too ready to sanction whatever means are available in order to attain the desired end, despite ample evidence of the disastrous consequences of such thinking. would constitute a significant step forward in medical science, bringing fresh hope to sufferers and their families alike. For this reason, the Church naturally offers her encouragement to those who are engaged in conducting and supporting research of this kind, always with the proviso that it be carried out with due regard for the integral good of the human person and the common good of society. This proviso is most important. The pragmatic mentality that so often influences decision-making in the world today is all too ready to sanction whatever means are available in order to attain the desired end, despite ample evidence of the disastrous consequences of such thinking. When the end in view is one so eminently desirable as the discovery of a cure for degenerative illnesses, it is tempting for scientists and policymakers to brush aside ethical objections and to press ahead with whatever research seems to offer the prospect of a breakthrough. Those who advocate research on embryonic stem cells in the hope of achieving such a result make the grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another. Yet, in general, no such ethical problems arise when stem cells are taken from
the tissues of an adult organism, from the blood of the umbilical cord at the moment of birth, or from fetuses who have died of natural causes (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas personae, 32). It follows that dialogue between science and ethics is of the greatest importance in order to ensure that medical advances are never made at unacceptable human cost. The Church contributes to this dialogue by helping to form consciences in accordance with right reason and in the light of revealed truth. In so doing she seeks, not to impede scientific progress, but on the contrary to guide it in a direction that is truly fruitful and beneficial to humanity. Indeed, it is her conviction that everything human, including scientific research, â€œis not only received and respected by faith, but is also purified, elevated and perfectedâ€? (ibid., 7). In this way science can be helped to serve the common good of all mankind, with a particular regard for the weakest and most vulnerable. In drawing attention to the needs of the defenceless, the Church thinks not only of the unborn but also of those without easy access to expensi-
The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another. Yet, in general, no such ethical problems arise when stem cells are taken from the tissues of an adult organism, from the blood of the umbilical cord at the moment of birth, or from fetuses who have died of natural causes.
ve medical treatment. Illness is no respecter of persons, and justice demands that every effort be made to place the fruits of scientific research at the disposal of all who stand to benefit from them, irrespective of their means. In addition to purely ethical considerations, then, there are issues of a social, economic and political nature that need to be addressed in order to ensure that advances in medical science go hand in hand with just and equitable provision of health-care services. Here the Church is able to offer concrete assistance through her extensive health-care
apostolate, active in so many countries across the globe and directed with particular solicitude to the needs of the world’s poor. Dear friends, as I conclude my remarks, I want to assure you of a special remembrance in prayer and I commend to the intercession of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, all of you who work so hard to bring healing and hope to those who suffer. I pray that your commitment to adult stem cell research will bring great blessings for the future of man and genuine enrichment to his culture. (Vatican, 12-XI-2011)
«The fundamental task of the politician» Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the German Parliament, the Bundestag, on 22 september 2011, the first day of his visit to the nation.
should like to propose to you some thoughts on the foundations of a free state of law. Allow me to begin my reflections on the foundations of law [Recht] with a brief story from sacred Scripture. In the First Book of the Kings, it is recounted that God invited the young King Solomon, on his accession to the throne, to make a request. What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment? Success – wealth – long life – destruction of his enemies? He chooses none of these things. Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God’s people, and discern between good and evil (cf. 1 Kg 3, 9). Through this story, the Bible wants to tell us what should ultimately matter for a politician. His fundamental criterion and the motivation for his work as a politician must not be success, and certainly not material gain. Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace. Naturally a politician will
Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace. Naturally a politician will seek success, without which he would have no opportunity for effective political action at all. Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right, and to the understanding of what is right. Success can also be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice
seek success, without which he would have no opportunity for effective political action at all. Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right, and to the understanding of what is right. Success can also be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice. “Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?”, as Saint Augustine once said. We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre. We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right – a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss. To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right? How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right? Even now, Solomon’s request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today. For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough: everyone in a position of responsibility must personally seek out the criteria to be followed when framing laws. In the third century,
“Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?”, as Saint Augustine once said. We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre. We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right. (...) the great theologian Origen provided the following explanation for the resistance of Christians to certain legal systems: “Suppose that a man were living among the Scythians, whose laws are contrary to the divine law, and was compelled to live among them ... such a man for the sake of the true law, though illegal among the Scythians, would rightly form associations with like-minded people contrary to the laws of the Scythians.”1 This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and other totalitarian regimes, thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole. For these people, it was indisputably evident that the law in force was actually unlawful. Yet when it comes to the decisions of a democratic politician, the question of what now corresponds to the law of truth, what is actually right and may be enacted as law, is less obvious. In terms of the underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is in no way simply
1 Contra Celsum, Book 1, Chapter 1. Cf. A. Fürst, “Monotheismus und Monarchie. Zum Zusammenhang von Heil und Herrschaft in der Antike”, Theol.Phil. 81 (2006), pp. 321-338, quoted on p. 336; cf. also J. Ratzinger, Die Einheit der Nationen. Eine Vision der Kirchenväter (Salzburg and Munich, 1971), p. 60. 2 Cf. W. Waldstein, Ins Herz geschrieben. Das Naturrecht als Fundament einer menschlichen Gesellschaft (Augsburg, 2010), pp. 11ff., 31-61.
(...) a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss. To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency.
self-evident today. The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become still harder. How do we recognize what is right? In history, systems of law have almost always been based on religion: decisions regarding what was to be lawful among men were taken with reference to the divinity. Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law – and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God. Christian theologians thereby aligned themselves with a philosophical and juridical movement that began to take shape in the second century B.C. In the first half of that century, the social natural law developed by the Stoic philosophers came 3 Cf. Waldstein, op. cit., pp. 15-21.
into contact with leading teachers of Roman Law.2 Through this encounter, the juridical culture of the West was born, which was and is of key significance for the juridical culture of mankind. This pre-Christian marriage between law and philosophy opened up the path that led via the Christian Middle Ages and the juridical developments of the Age of Enlightenment all the way to the Declaration of Human Rights and to our German Basic Law of 1949, with which our nation committed itself to “inviolable and inalienable human rights as the foundation of every human community, and of peace and justice in the world”. For the development of law and for the development of humanity, it was highly significant that Christian theologians aligned themselves against the religious law associated with polytheism and on the side of philosophy, and that they acknowledged reason and nature in their interrelation as the universally valid source of law. This step had already been taken by Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans, when he said: “When Gentiles who have not the Law [the Torah of Israel] do by nature what the law requires, they are a law
Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right? How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right? Even now, Solomon’s request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today.
to themselves ... they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness ...” (Rom 2, 14 f.). Here we see the two fundamental concepts of nature and conscience, where conscience is nothing other than Solomon’s listening heart, reason that is open to the language of being. If this seemed to offer a clear explanation of the foundations of legislation up to the time of the Enlightenment, up to the time of the Declaration on Human Rights after the Second World War and the framing of our Basic Law, there has been a dramatic shift in the situation in the last half-century. The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term. Let me outline briefly how this situation arose. Fundamentally it is because of the idea that an unbridgeable gulf exists between “is” and “ought”. An “ought” can never follow from an “is”, because the two are situated on completely different planes. The reason for this is that in the meantime, the positivist understanding of nature has come to be almost universally accepted. If nature –in the words of Hans Kelsen– is viewed as “an aggregate of objective data linked together in terms of cause and effect”, then indeed no ethical indication of any kind can be derived from it. 3 A positivist conception of nature as purely functional, as the natural sciences consider it to be, is incapable of producing any bridge to ethics and law, but once again yields only functional answers. The same also applies to reason, according to the positivist understanding that is widely held to be the only genuinely scientific one. Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason strictly understood. Hence ethics and religion must be assigned to the subjective field, and they remain extraneous to the realm
For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough: everyone in a position of responsibility must personally seek out the criteria to be followed when framing laws.
of reason in the strict sense of the word. Where positivist reason dominates the field to the exclusion of all else –and that is broadly the case in our public mindset– then the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law are excluded. This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary. Indeed, an essential goal of this address is to issue an urgent invitation to launch one. The positivist approach to nature and reason, the positivist world view in general, is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with. But in and of itself it is not a sufficient culture corresponding to the full breadth of the human condition. Where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture and banishes all other cultural realities to the status of subcultures, it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity. I say this with Europe specifically in mind, where there are concerted efforts to recognize only positivism as a common culture and a common basis for
law-making, reducing all the other insights and values of our culture to the level of subculture, with the result that Europe vis-à-vis other world cultures is left in a state of culturelessness and at the same time extremist and radical movements emerge to fill the vacuum. In its self-proclaimed exclusivity, the positivist reason which recognizes nothing beyond mere functionality resembles a concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves provide lighting and atmospheric conditions, being no longer willing to obtain either from God’s wide world. And yet we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that even in this artificial world, we are still covertly drawing upon God’s raw materials, which we refashion into our own products. The windows must be flung open again, we must see the wide world, the sky and the earth once more and learn to make proper use of all this. But how are we to do this? How do we find our way out into the wide world, into the big picture? How can reason rediscover its true greatness, without being sidetracked into irrationality? How can nature reassert itself in its true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives? I would like to recall one of the developments in recent political history, hoping that I will neither be misunderstood, nor provoke too many one-sided polemics. I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party 4 Cf. Waldstein, op. cit., p. 19.
Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law – and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God.
– nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled. Let us come back to the fundamental concepts of nature and reason, from which we set out. The great proponent of legal positivism, Kel-
sen, at the age of 84 –in 1965– abandoned the dualism of “is” and “ought”. (I find it comforting that rational thought is evidently still possible at the age of 84!) Previously he had said that norms can only come from the will. Nature therefore could only contain norms, he adds, if a will had put them there. But this, he says, would presuppose a Creator God, whose will had entered into nature. “Any attempt to discuss the truth of this belief is utterly futile”, he observed.4 Is it really? – I find myself asking. Is it really pointless to wonder whether the objective reason that manifests itself in nature does not presuppose a creative reason, a Creator Spiritus? At this point Europe’s cultural heritage ought to come to our assistance. The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, the idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people’s responsibility for their actions. Our cultural memory is shaped by these rational insights. To ignore it or dismiss it as a thing of the past would be to dismember our culture totally and to rob it of its completeness. The culture of Europe arose from the encounter between Jerusalem, Athens and Rome – from the encounter between Israel’s monotheism, the philosophical reason of the Greeks and Roman law. This three-way encounter has shaped the inner identity of Europe. In the awareness of man’s responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history.
Where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture and banishes all other cultural realities to the status of subcultures, it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity. I say this with Europe specifically in mind, where there are concerted efforts to recognize only positivism as a common culture and a common basis for law-making, reducing all the other insights and values of our culture to the level of subculture, with the result that Europe visà-vis other world cultures is left in a state of culturelessness and at the same time extremist and radical movements emerge to fill the vacuum.
As he assumed the mantle of office, the young King Solomon was invited to make a request. How would it be if we, the law-makers of today, were invited to make a request? What would we ask for? I think that, even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart – the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace.
‘New Evangelizers for the New Evangelization’ Address of the Holy Father Benedict XVI during the meeting with Church leaders involved in the New Evangelization on the occasion of the International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, on 15 October 2011.
ou have chosen as the guideline for your reflection today the expression: “The Word of God grows and spreads”. The Evangelist Luke uses this formula several times in the Acts of the Apostles; indeed in various circumstances he affirms that “the Word of God grew and multiplied” (cf. Acts 6, 7; 12, 24). In today’s theme, however, you have changed the tense of the two verbs to highlight an important aspect of faith: the conscious certainty that the word of God is ever alive, at every moment of history, in our time too, because the Church realizes it through her faithful transmission, the celebration of the sacraments and the witness of believers. For this reason our history is in full continuity with that of the first Christian community and is nourished by the same life-giving sap. But what soil received the word of God? As then, so today too it can encounter closure and rejection, ways of thinking and living that are far from the search for God and for the truth. People of today are often confused and fail to find an answer to the many questions that torment the mind on the meaning of life, and to the queries that are lodged in the depths of their heart. Human beings cannot escape these questions that touch on the meaning of self and reality, they cannot live in one single dimension! Instead, they are often distanced from the search for the essential in life while an ephemeral happiness is proposed to them that is briefly satisfying but soon gives way to sadness and dissatisfaction.
Today’s world needs people who proclaim and testify that it is Christ who teaches the art of living, the way of true happiness, because he himself is the path of life; people who first of all keep their own gaze fixed on Jesus, the Son of God: the word of proclamation must always be immersed in an intense relationship with him, in an intense life of prayer. (…) Yet, despite the condition of people today, we can still say with certainty, as in the early days of Christianity, that the word of God continues to grow and to spread. Why? I would like to mention at least three reasons. The first is that the power of the word does not depend above all on our action, on our means, on our “doing”, but rather on God, who hides his power behind signs of weakness, who becomes present in the gentle morning breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19, 12) and is revealed on the wood of the cross. We must always believe in the humble power of the word of God and let God act! The second reason is because the seed of the word, as the Gospel Parable of the Sower re-
(…) Today’s world needs people who speak to God, so as to be able to speak of God. And we must always remember that Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words or ostentatious means but with his suffering and his death. counts, still falls on good soil that welcomes it and produces fruit (cf. Mt 13, 3-9). And the new evangelizers are part of this field enabling the Gospel to grow in abundance and transform their life and the lives of others. In the world, even if evil makes more noise, good soil continues to exist. The third reason is that the proclamation of the Gospel has truly reached the ends of the earth and, even amidst indifference, misunderstanding and persecution, many, still today, continue courageously to open their hearts and minds to accept Christ’s invitation to meet him and to become his disciples. They make not a sound but are like the tiny mustard seed that becomes a tree, the leaven that causes the dough to rise, the grain which breaks open to bring forth an ear of wheat. If on the one hand all this brings comfort and hope because it shows the ceaselessly active missionary leaven that gives life to the Church, on the other it must fill everyone with a renewed sense of responsibility to the word of God and the spread of the Gospel. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which I established last year, is a precious means for identifying the great questions that are troubling the various sectors of today’s society and culture. It is called to offer special help to the Church in her mission and above all in those countries with an ancient Christian tradition that seem to have become indifferent, if not actually hostile to the word of God. Today’s world needs people who proclaim
and testify that it is Christ who teaches the art of living, the way of true happiness, because he himself is the path of life; people who first of all keep their own gaze fixed on Jesus, the Son of God: the word of proclamation must always be immersed in an intense relationship with him, in an intense life of prayer. Today’s world needs people who speak to God, so as to be able to speak of God. And we must always remember that Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words or ostentatious means but with his suffering and his death. The law of the grain of wheat that dies in the ground also applies today; we cannot give life to others without giving our own life: “whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”, the Lord tells us (Mk 8, 35). In seeing all of you and knowing the great commitment that each one of you dedicates to serving the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelizers will be increasingly multiplied to give life to a real transformation which the world today needs. It is only through men and women moulded by God’s presence that the word of God will continue its journey in the world, bearing its fruit. Dear friends, being evangelizers is not a privilege but a commitment that comes from faith. To the question the Lord addresses to Christians: “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?”, answer with the same courage and the same trust as the Prophet: “Here am I! Send me” (Is 6, 8). I ask you to let yourselves be formed by God’s grace and to respond in docility to the action of the Spirit of the Risen One. Be signs of hope, able to look to the future with the certainty that comes from the Lord Jesus, who conquered death and gave us eternal life. Communicate the joy of faith to all with the enthusiasm that comes from being driven by the Holy Spirit, because he makes all things new (cf. Rev 21, 5), trusting in the promised that Jesus made to the Church: “and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28, 20).
THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD December 8, Fatima and the Signs of History By Vittorio Messori
The Italian Corriere della Sera has been amongst the newspapers remembering, in full-page format, the twenty years elapsed since the events at a farm-house in Viskuli, in the forest of Pushka, Byelorussia. The first presidents to be democratically elected in the three Slavic republics of the USSR –Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia– signed a document ratifying “the ceasing of the Soviet Union as a national entity” and the dismembering of the first communist State in history. It was an unforeseen decision, not just for the usual “experts”, but also for the protagonists of this meeting themselves. What they had in mind wasn’t the end of the USSR, but a renewed federal treaty; nevertheless, only a few days later, the red flag with the hammer and the sickle was hauled down once and for ever from the highest dome of the Kremlin and replaced by the three-coloured Russian flag of Peter the Great. Yeltsin, who comes from Russia, Kravchuk, from the Ukraine and Shushkevich, from Byelorussia, signed the document by means of which the second world-power decided to commit suicide on December 8, 1991. That was the day of the liturgical solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. How could one prevent the believers from evoking the words of our Lady of Fatima, those words uttered in 1917, in what was a perfect coincidence with the seize of power in Russia by V. I. Lenin? “Russia will scatter its errors around the World, unleashing wars and the persecution of the Church. The benevolent shall be martyrized, the Holy Father will have to suffer very much and whole nations will be annihilated.” All in all, the Apparition closed by saying to those three children, who surely ignored the term Russia; “But at the end, my Immaculate Heart shall prevail.” The end announced by the Immaculate in 1917 did not just come about on “its” day, but on the vigil of the 70th anniversary of the official foundation of the USSR. Believers should remember Psalm 90, here: “We live for 70 years…” Seventy is also the maximal duration of man’s deeds founded on the persecution of any religion. Furthermore, what to say about the symbolism, quite explicit, indeed, of that flag of the first officially atheist state in history, now hauled down at the Kremlin before the TV broadcasters coming from all over the world the precise day on which the Gregorian calendar, followed by almost all Christians, celebrates the birth of Christ? From the perspective of the biblical God who reveals and at a time hides himself, leaving to man’s freedom the choice between reception and rejection, as it is just, therefore, the believers come to perceive “signs” whilst for the unbelieving there only can be coincidences. Nevertheless, such coincidences seem to be drawn by that enigmatic 8th of December. Let’s have a look at the other very special history of the European flag. The Council of Europe called, in 1950, artists and graphic designers from all over the world to take part in a bid for the design of the Continent’s flag. Hundreds of them took part in it, but the sketches which included a cross –most of them- were turned down by the socialists and secularists in general. Only in 1955, the commission headed by Paul Lévy, a Jew, chose a blue flag with 12 golden stars at the centre, arranged in a circle. The idea was accepted, so in 1986 this design was adopted as the official flag by the European Community itself, although it exchanged the golden stars for silver ones. Nevertheless, disconcert and complaints arose on the side of many when they found out what was really going on: the flag’s author was Arsène Heitz, an almost unknown Belgian graphic designer, a fervent Marian devout. Blue is the colour of the Virgin Mary and the stars are the stars that surround the head of the Woman of the Apocalypse, identified by Tradition as Mary. In what regards the twelve, they correspond to the twelve Tribes of Israel, to the twelve Apostles and to the twelve stars on the Miraculous Medal demanded by the
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Virgin herself in 1830, which Heitz always carried on his chest, being the good devout he was; but there is still more to it, because the solemn signature of the document adopting the flag, in 1955, was chosen at a date suitable for all the politicians coming from all over Europe in order to meet at Strasbourg. Nobody at the Council noticed that the day chosen was not uncommon for the believers: in fact, once again it was December 8. And the medal serving as a model for the graphical designer had engraved an invocation to precisely the Immaculate Conception. Let us now consider another case of the many possible: coincidence for some, a sign for others. This one is a case in which the history of the USSR once more links to Fatima. In the year 1945, Moscow managed to obtain the most important zone, Vienna, amongst the four into which Austria was divided by the Allies. Molotov, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, said and repeated that the USSR would never retire from what it had occupied and everyone expected that, such as had happened in Prague, as the communists would organize a coup d’etat in order to seize power of Austria. Even the western chancelleries seemed resigned with the coming event; but there was a Franciscan who did not resign himself: Father Petrus, who, on returning to Austria from his imprisonment in the USSR, went in pilgrimage to the Austrian national Sanctuary of Mariazell. There he was overwhelmed by an inner voice saying: “All of you shall pray the Rosary and your fatherland will be free from peril.” As he was a good organizer, Father Petrus promoted a nationwide “Crusade of the Rosary,” in the explicit sense of Fatima, which in a brief time came to group millions of Austrians, including the Chancellor, Leopold Figi, himself. Day and night huge masses gathered in the cities and at the rural areas, praying the Rosary of Seven Decades, while in Vienna grandiose processions took place, guarded with hostility by the Red Army. Years went by and the occupation did not come to its end due to Russian stubbornness. But the Austrian people didn’t get tired of praying. Then, in 1955, the USSR made known that it was ready to give sovereignty back to Austria in exchange for its neutrality. The western governments were surprised by this unexpected and unique decision, now as well as ever after: as Molotov remembered, the USSR had never accepted to spontaneously retire from a country it had occupied. But those who had been praying for years as part of the “Crusade of the Rosary” were not surprised. Actually, the international conference leading in only two days to the treaty putting an end to the occupation of Austria, was inaugurated with due solemnity in the former imperial palace at Vienna on the 13th of May, that is, on the anniversary of the first Appearance of Fatima. Article published by the daily Corriere della Sera (14. XII. 2011) Translated by Martin Bruggendieck
Interview with Cardinal Burke
WHEN LOVE AND TRUTH MEET Designated Cardinal in the conclave of November 2010, American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, 63, contributed to the development of the traditional liturgy and respect for life when he was Bishop of Saint Louis, Missouri. The following are selected paragraphs from the interview done for the magazine Famille Chrétienne by Aymeric Pourbaix.
— More than three years after the motu proprio Summorum pontificum, what is the objective of the Instruction? — To give answers to questions on the implementation of Summorum pontificum, questions which could not be addressed in the motu proprio itself. At the time of its promulgation, the Holy Father indicated that there would be an Instruction. That took a lot of time. While there was no specific guideline, there could be disagreements in the implementation. In future, we will have practical guidelines that guarantee the implementation of this motu proprio. — What difficulties are there in its implementation in parishes? — Difficulties, for example, in the administration of the Sacraments (Baptisms, marriages, etc.), in keeping with the rights that were reinforced in 1962; in the coordination of the celebrations of Mass according to the ordinary and extraordinary forms, for feast days, etc. These are very practical questions that arise due to the coexistence of two forms of the same rite. — How will the Supreme Tribunal judge the more complicated cases? According to what principles will they be judged? — Every appeal linked to the implementation of the motu proprio must be addressed firstly to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. If one of the parties is not satisfied with the decision, it comes to us, but our judgment will be limited, as we will handle the matter in a strictly juridical framework. We examine if there was a violation of Canon Law, either in the procedure used, in the decision taken or in the content of the decision itself. — Canon Law is not well known within the Church. Why is it so important? — The Church is a society. It is made up of a community of persons and, therefore, needs discipline so that internal relations are correctly ordered and so that the Church, in so far as hierarchy, is respected; but it is also necessary that the rights of everyone are protected and that the initiatives proposed are in harmony with the nature of the Church herself. For example, Canon Law allows for the celebration of the Sacraments to be done in the most perfect way possible. Hence, all aspects of the life of the Church are the object of Canon Law. — How is this Law articulated with the commandment to love? — There is no contradiction, despite what many think! How can one love someone without being just? Justice is the minimum, but indispensable, ingredient of a relationship of love. For the Church, it would be hypocritical to speak of love, which is her obligation, and not guarantee at the same time justice for her members. — The Supreme Tribunal that you head intervenes in declarations of marriage annulments. Do you think the Church should extend the possibility of this annulment, as some people request? — This Tribunal intervenes only in a very restricted quantity of cases, against certain decisions of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, in the treatment of an annulment, or also against a judge of the Rota. Such cases are very rare.
The Church is aware that every person must have access to a process of annulment if so desired. Consequently, we stimulate the creation of officers when they do not exist, in order to open this possibility in the widest possible way.
— That might seem absurd when a couple involved with annulment has children? — In reality, when a marriage is declared annulled, there are those who might think that the children are illegitimate, but this is not so. When the Church instructs a case of annulment of marriage, it is presumed that it has been lived in good faith during all of the years shared and, consequently, the children are considered perfectly legitimate. The declaration of annulment has no effect on the condition of the children in the Church. — In regard to sexual abuses committed by members of the clergy, how would Canon Law have served to treat those matters? — A priest’s sexual abuse of a minor is not specific to our age and, unfortunately, it has happened before in the history of the Church. The Church had an interior discipline, a process, to address this type of case in order to safeguard the rights of all the persons involved, both the victim as well as the accused member of the clergy. That made it possible to punish those who had committed those crimes. Until the end of the ‘60s, the Church was ruled by this law. Then, in society in general and in the Church in particular, there was a rejection of the law and authority, symbolized by the upheavals of May 1968. Today many people think that the Church was not up to the task in treating those matters. Personally, after having studied the law on this subject, I think it was adequate, but it was not applied. — Canon Law is very severe with those who support abortion politically. Why? — Because Holy Communion cannot be received if one persists publicly in a grave sin. It is what happens with Catholic politicians who support abortion or marriage between persons of the same sex. Whoever has the spiritual care of these persons must explain to them that while they maintain publicly a position contrary to the natural moral law, they must not come to the altar, because one cannot receive Christ in the host if his teaching on good and evil is rejected. Then, if those politicians receive Communion in a state of grave sin after being warned, they run an even greater risk for their salvation, as they would commit a sacrilege. People could say: “That public personality supports abortion and yet he goes to Communion!” And they would come to the conclusion that perhaps that way of acting is not blameworthy.
THE WAY THE CHURCH RESOLVES HER LAWSUITS
Together with the Code of Canon Law, the Church has equipped herself with tribunals in order to resolve contentious or criminal cases in ecclesiastical matters. The trials are judged by diocesan tribunals of first and second appeal (marriage causes presented for recognition of annulment, are the majority of cases judged) and by two tribunals of the Apostolic See. - The Tribunal of the Rota, so called because its judges rotate in the exercise of their functions, in groups of three. - The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, which exercises simultaneously the roles of Court of Annulment for certain causes judged by the Rota, Council of State, tribunal in conflicts between dicasteries, Higher Council of the magistracy and guardian of the good administration of ecclesiastical justice.
Translated by Virginia Forrester
The Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Chilean Students, their Hopes and their ProtestDemonstrations
During the last year, Chile was shocked by the student’s protest-demonstrations, university campus’ occupancies and the paralysation of the institutions of higher education. The Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University explains the problems faced by the students as well as by the Chilean education system. The Chilean Bishops expressed that the students’ protests where a reaction vis-à-vis the way in which the Chilean economy and the country’s politics are organized, following an international outline “favouring structural models based on greed and an unrestricted profit making and not at the service of an integral development of the majority,” which are in need of “being replaced by a project permeated by an integral concept of the person, capable of driving the educational community.” In order to delve deeper into the subject, Zenit interviewed the Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Ignacio Sánchez Díaz, at the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, in Rome, Italy, after the presentation of the English edition of Humanitas, the review for Christian anthropology and Culture of his university. (N° I, www.humanitas.cl) Rector Sánchez said that although the subject was widely influenced by politics, in Chile there is frustration and uneasiness amongst university students due to the fact that, once graduated, they are unable to find a job of their specialty, and are deeply in debt because of the cost of their careers and because families do not see that the effort made in order to pay for their studies has improved their social and economic situation. Moreover, university degrees from many institutions of high studies are considered of scarce validity, excluding most of their graduates from the world of labour. Meanwhile, from the economic standpoint there has been some improvement and at present 50 per cent of those students with economic problems may opt for partial scholarships. —What has happen in these months with the Chilean students?
Shakespeare a catholic? “I think Shakespeare had a catholic background.” These words, uttered in June 2011 by the primate of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, confirm the thesis put forward by the Italian historian Elisabetta Sala in her latest book, Shakespeare’s Enigma. In her research, Sala reinforces, giving abundant proof and a constant reference to a diversity of texts, her conviction that the bard of Stratford-upon-Avon disguised along all of his life a catholicity unpresentable to the Elizabethan public, but not for this reason lack of conviction. The environment in which Shakespeare was brought up and worked was impregnated with Catholicism. His father and a daughter appeared on the objection lists generated after the Powder Conspiracy, in 1605, whilst the father
of his mother died on the gallows for betraying the Anglican faith. On the other hand, in Shakespeare’s work, the outline of an unknown spiritual horizon rejected by Elizabethan Anglicanism is found; furthermore, the use of a terminology awakening more than one suspicion cannot be denied either.
—It is possible to acknowledge a high degree of frustration amongst the students because whilst the offers of higher education, university as well as technical and professional, has increased much at a very fast rate over these last years, the system has been unable to keep up with this development, in the sense of guaranteeing an even quality as well as an appropriate financing structure, a fact leading many students into large debt in order to pay their studies. —How has it come to this situation? —It is necessary considering that in a period of twenty years the number of university students has quadrupled. 70 per cent of them pertain to families who for the first time have access to this kind of instruction. Their parents did not have university education and therefore expected, with much optimism and great illusion, that the university degree of their son or their daughter would improve the family’s situation. —And once they finish their studies they are unable to achieve an improved labour situation? —The system has been also unable to secure employment for all the graduates. It is difficult for the economy to grow at the same speed. One can see the students are frustrated, because after great efforts they suddenly find themselves in debt and sometimes with degrees from some universities which are not considered very good because they are poorly qualified. Besides, Chilean universities are free to establish the number of vacancies they consider convenient and it is impressing to observe that they educate hundreds of professionals in areas which offer no job opportunities. Therefore many people are working at jobs for which they did not study and this has led to frustration. —Has there been some effort from the economic point of view? —The government has been demanded to give substantial support to the scholarship system and gratuitousness for certain students. Our country can offer that to a certain percentage of students, but not to all. Scholarships will be given to those who are considered as having less. —There is the impression that there was a political protest, too. —It is necessary to say that the student’s movement has shown a lot of politics in its core, which was something to be expected. There is an ideological conception of the subject of gratuitousness, as also happens in the public health sphere and other basic sectors of society. In this regard we went through a period of much discussion and student’s protest.
Moscow will prohibit the advertising of homosexuality
As the Russian capital’s local press announced last November, Moscow decided to join Saint Petersburg, the second largest Russian city, in promoting a resolution in order to prohibit “advertising of homosexuality.” Saint Petersburg’s bill has already passed the first formalities at the local congress, with 27 votes in favour, one against and one abstention. The project of Saint Petersburg’s new resolution was proposed by the United Russia Party in order to prohibit “all advertising of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, trans-genderism and pederasty” affecting minors. The project will make all activities of the organizations promoting these trends virtually impossible, including the organization of events like the “Gay Pride” marches, which are systematically forbidden by the Russian authorities.
Moscow is now the Russian city following the steps of Saint Petersburg and undertaking the task of approving a similar resolution, as the Muscovite city council confirmed by way of the president of its Public Health Committee, Lyudmila Stebenkova, interviewed by the daily Gazeta. Anton Paleeva, who heads the Committee of Public and Religious Organizations of the Duma of the city of Moscow, said that this law “will help everybody” in Moscow. “This sort of propaganda must be halted,” he stated to Gazeta. As Ekho Moskvy made known, the spokesman of the Muscovite Duma, Vladimir Platonov, confirmed that the Russian capital is ready to follow the example given by Saint Petersburg. The Region of Riazan was the first in Russia to introduce a law of this kind and the city of Arkangel was the first one to have an anti-gay legislation, even before the legislative process was initiated in Saint Petersburg.
The Subtle Ambiguity that has “tricked” many a Catholic
Selected paragraphs of Rocco Butiglione’s commentary on a much discussed interview with Massimo Borghesi in the virtual newspaper IISussidiario.net. “In a noteworthy interview with IlSussidiario.net, Massimo Borghesi outlines a philosophical interpretation of “Berlusconism”, by applying Delnocian categories of Western irreligious stances and opulent society. For Augusto Del Noce, opulent society constitutes the answer given by Western materialism to communism. From the viewpoint of the opulent society, communism must not be defeated by an ideal alternative, which somehow would be unavoidably linked to a Christian renaissance, but by an even more radical form of materialism. “The opulent society stimulates all needs and wants, satisfying them –or at lest promising to satisfy them– without arranging them hierarchically in regard to ethics, without ever making use of the categories of good or evil. This society is on the way from a market economy to a market humanity, which materializes the highest degree of commercialization of existence. We are speaking about a radical and extreme mass society, in which all ancient values have been secularized and man is reduced to the role of a desire-machine, alternatively stimulated and satisfied by the mechanics of advertising, consumption and the production of goods. At present, the system also produces man’s desire by way of television and the other instruments proper to the show-society. “In the opulent society, the problem of God is just not stated. As Saint Agustine teaches, the idea of God is necessarily linked with some idea of order: order of the being and order of the inner world of the person. The Western irreligious character wishes a gratifying order and vis-à-vis any event, bringing about a crisis of the gratifying order and imposing an unavoidable request of meaning, the answer is escape into euthanasia, experienced at a time as an escape of death and an escape regarding the question about the sense of life. “These are some of Del Noce’s comments on Western irreligious trait and opulent society. The features of similarity with “Berlusconian” society make themselves evident. Extending Borghesi’s analysis, we could say that the western irreligious character triumphs in a way different that the one imagined by Del Noce. “Del Noce thought that the opulent society wouldn’t be able to somehow govern itself. It would be a purely dissolvent element, incapable of motivating the minimum positive conduct necessary for the subsistence of a society. A society of dissolution needs somebody playing the role of custodian of the dissolution. In the model constructed by Del Noce between 1960 and 1970, the communist party was such a custodian, and that was the sense of revolution’s suicide. “Communism triumphs, not as a revolution, but rather as the custodian of the dissolution of bourgeois radicalism. In “Berlusconism”, this role is attributed in a completely unexpected way to the Catholic Church. The Church is recognized and respected, some of its values are guaranteed, at least formally, as well as some of its legitimate interests. But the Church is requested to redefine herself in the context of the new political and social system and to renounce transcending and judging it. This agreement is not very different from the one the Church had to accept at its moment regarding fascism. Notwithstanding all the difficulties, the Church managed to free those days and in turn train the leading class for a new democratic Italy.” http://www.humanitas.cl/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1398&catid=145 http://www.ilsussidiario.net/News/Politica/2011/11/12/BERLUSCONISMO-2-Quel-sottile-equivoco-che-ha-ingannato-molti-cattolici/218921/
HISTORICAL NONSENSE AND HYPOCRISY
The New BBC’s Dating Decides to Ignore Christ’s Birthday
The news about the BBC’s decision to change the definition of dating –substituting the usual abbreviation of “before Christ” (BC) and “after Christ” (AC) by a generic “common era” in order to avoid offending the believers of other religions, hasn’t caused too many reactions, besides those of the numerous non-Christians, who by way of various spokesmen made public that they do not at all feel offended by the traditional way of dating. Nevertheless, these moderate and respectful opinions have not impressed the directing staff of the British broadcaster, as already has happened in analogous cases. In fact, it stands quite clear that respect for the other religions is just a pretext, because those who wish to blow along any trace of Christianity from Western culture are solely some Western lay people. For certain, this is not the first time something of this sort occurs. The intention of changing the manner of dating arose during the French revolution, which imposed a new calendar whose time-counting began on July 14th 1789, the traditional festivity celebrating the unleashing of the revolutionary movements, and invented new names for the months, obviously erasing Christian festivities, which were substituted by others of “revolutionary” character. In order to cast away Sunday, weeks were replaced by decades. This calendar lasted for a brief period, being discarded by Napoleon in 1809. The new dates had something fake and ridiculous for even the proudest “illustrated”. The second try was Lenin’s, who changed the traditional calendar by substituting it with a dating which started from the coup d’état of October 24th 1917. This calendar, which ruled from 1929 to 1940, substituted the week by way of the five day scansion and naturally abolished any Christian festivity, replacing them by those born out of the revolution. However, this intent wasn’t very successful either, as is demonstrated by the fact that the Gregorian calendar was used in parallel, not in last instance for maintaining an understanding with the rest of the world. The same happened with the Italian dating imposed by Mussolini, who established the day of the March on Rome as the beginning of the fascist era, although it was used in parallel to the traditional, with no intention of substituting it. In Summary, the idea of removing the Christian calendar has an appalling background, showing numerous failures. We need to say that, this time, the BBC restricts itself to change the enunciation and not the counting of time, even though by way of this procedure it has committed an undeniable act of hypocrisy. The hypocrisy of which pretends not knowing precisely why it is that the years are counted from that moment on. To deny the historically revolutionary function of the Birth of Christ into this world, also accepted by those who do not acknowledge Him as the Son of God, is absolute nonsense. From a historical viewpoint, it is something understood by Jews as well as by Muslims. How is it possible that they are pretending not to know that only from that moment on did the idea come to stand that all human beings are alike, in the sense of all being children of God? This is the very principle on which the human rights are founded, on which people and rulers are judged. A principle that, up to then, had not been promoted, and which, on the other hand, is the basis of Christian tradition. Why not acknowledge that from that moment on the world changed, taboos and material impurities disappeared, and that nature was freed from the presence of the supernatural, precisely because God is transcendent? Out of these realities it was that for the people inhabiting Europe, it sprung up the possibility of discovering the world, as scientists did in the beginning of the experimental research of nature, the fact leading to the birth of modern science. Why then deny even the cultural dept civilization regarding Christianity? There can be nothing so anti-historic or foolish, as Jews and Muslims have clearly come to understand. This is not a matter of faith, but of reason. Even on this occasion. LUCETTA SCARAFFIA L’Osservatore Romano
YEAR OF FAITH
MONTINI ACCORDING TO RATZINGER
The sober but eloquent words dedicated by Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Porta fidei to the initiative taken by Pope Paul VI in 1967, convoking to a Year of Faith, led me to re-read the homily pronounced by Pope Montini on June 30, 1968, before solemnly proclaiming the Creed of the People of God. Benedict XVI stated that the overwhelming transformations occurring that year made the need of such an initiative even more evident, and that Pope Paul VI took the decision, being “aware of the grave difficulties of those times, especially regarding the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation.” We understand to what he refers, although it seems necessary to once more read over the words uttered by Paul VI in those leaden days in order to capture all of the moment’s toughness, a toughness provoking an indescribable affliction to a man as sensible and gentle as few, who suffered by and for the Church. In this regard I remember a confidence of Cardinal Thiandoum, who, after an Audience, found Pope Paul VII with tears in his eyes: “Peter cried for having betrayed, but Paul VI cried for the suffering imposed on him in order not to betray.” “We well know, —he said in that overheated summer of 1968— by which disturbances, in what regards to faith, are at present shaken some groups of men, unable of escaping to the influence of a world which is entirely transforming itself and in which so many truths are completely denied or put up for discussion.” That was just one month before Pope Montini published his last Encyclical, Humanae vitae, which for him supposed an extremely painful gesture of independence and authority; it brought upon himself the most unjust critiques from all the powers of the world, the loss of many friends and a distant indifference on the side of not few episcopates. It cannot but be clear that all of this lasted as a gravestone on his mind and his heart. Nevertheless, Paul VI wasn’t paralyzed by sorrow nor castled into a merely defensive position. He wished to proclaim his unbreakable will of integrally preserving the depository of faith, but at the same time carrying faith itself into life in a concrete time, the hour and the minute, so to say, in which the Church has to peregrinate through this world. That is why he felt at a time the duty of defending (even at the cost of his own life) the apostolic tradition and the obligation of not giving up the efforts made to enter deeper and deeper into God’s profound mysteries in order to propose them to the people of the succeeding epochs in an ever more suitable way. That was the double responsibility he felt, even though considering himself “quite low in merits,” aware of his smallness, but “with an immense fortitude of spirit,” which he draws from the mandate he had been entrusted with. This is not the first time Benedict XVI puts that dramatic moment of the pontificate of the serf of God, Giovanni Bautista Montini, as a mirror in which to reflect ourselves at present. During his trip to Brescia, the native land of his predecessor,
Aid to the Church in Need Elevated to Pontifical Foundation
The charity organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been elevated by Pope Benedict XVI to the condition of Pontifical Foundation. The official seat of the foundation is at the Vatican. The canonical certificate was extended in the form of a chirograph, an official document in Latin, personally signed by the Pope. Benedict XVI assigned the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, as president of the foundation. Cardinal Piacenza, on his side, immediately
appointed Baron Johannes Heereman von Zuydtwyck as executive president, starting on 1st December, 2011. The seat of the ACN’s executive offices will remain in Königstein, Germany. Baron Heereman has, during these last thirty years, been secretary-general as well as the last executive president of the Order of Malta´s German Emergency Corps (Malteser). Parallel to this appointment, father Martin Barta was designated ecclesiastic assistant of the ACN. Father Barta is a member of the clerical association Work of Jesus High Priest. The initial prompting for the creation of the ACN was given
Pope Ratzinger delivered not only what was a heartily homage to Pope Paul VI; he did something more, he pointed him out as an example of how the Church’s boat has to be guided under stormy weather. Vis-à-vis structural changes, revolutionary decisions or highflying strokes, he bet on following “the line of confidence in Jesus Christ, to whom his Church is more important than to anyone else,” choosing a life of watchful expectancy in prayer, and realizing the most unaffected and clamorous gesture reserved for a successor of the apostles: “As in other times, at Caesarea of Philip, Simon Peter, truly and apart from men’s opinions, confessed Christ, the Son of the living God, in the name of the twelve apostles. Therefore, at present his humble successor and pastor of the Universal Church, raises his voice in the name of the whole of the people of God in order to give the strongest testimony of Divine Truth, which has been entrusted to the Church in order and it shall be announced to all nations.” For Benedict XVI, as we well know, a correct theology of history is absolutely necessary in order to understand present time’s hopes as well as its tribulations, and to walk in an assured manner, the path to the future. Therefore it is neither trivial nor ornamental that he set on the frontispiece of his letter Porta fidei the remembrance of such a dreadful moment. It is only impressing how he comes to read for us not only history but the present, too, and with what a humble certitude –although luminous and calm– he faces the unavoidable step which for so many of us merely leads to discussion and trembling. JOSÉ LUIS RESTÁN Páginas Digital
by Pope Pius XII. Inspired by the Pope’s request, in the aftermath of World War II, to help the fourteen million refugees in Germany, the norbertine priest Werenfried van Straaten called for reconciliation through charity work. Amongst the many things he collected for those in need was bacon, a much treasured food in times of scarcity, a deed which later would bring him the affectionate nickname “Father Bacon”. At present, ACN is an international community of more than six hundred thousand friends and benefactors, who each year found about a thousand aid-projects in more than 140 countries. In 2010, the total donations reached up to
85 million Euros. The donations for ACN are managed by 17 national bureaus throughout Europe, North and South America and Australia. In the chirograph he signed, the Holy Father underlines the great services rendered by the CAN organization to the Church along decades. Now, as a Pontifical Foundation, it will go on working as it did before, with its spirit of active charity aiming at helping the Church wherever it faces difficulties or persecution. In its condition of pastoral for charity and acting in the name of the Church, it is committed to reinforce and deepen Catholic faith as well as moral life.
INTERVIEW WITH THE GRECO-CATHOLIC BISHOP FLORENTIN CRIHALMEANU
RUMANIA: THE HERITAGE OF THE PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS
The persecution suffered by the Greco-Catholic community has no parallel in the twentieth century. Before the introduction of communism, in 1948, the Greco-Catholic Church had about a million and a half members: at present, only seven hundred thousand of them are left. In cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need, Mark Riedemann interviewed Bishop Florentin Crihalmeanu, from the Diocese of Cluj-Gherla, Rumania, for Where God Weeps. —You were ordained a Bishop in 1997. What was your reaction when you were informed of this appointment? —It was quite surprising, because the Nuncio hadn’t told me anything. I travelled to Bucharest, because he invited me. He asked some normal questions and then, all of the sudden, he said: “Do you know that Pope John Paul II has appointed you a Bishop?” There was a moment of silence. I said: “Look, I believe I’m not the right person for that.” I tried to move away from the idea. Finally, Janusz Bolonek, the Pope’s Nuncio to Poland, uttered: “You can do many good things for the people,” and that convinced me. The perspective of the heavy cross implied in being a Bishop changed. I said I would reflect on it. He answered: “No, you must give me an answer right away. Once you leave this house, you must have said yes or no.” I said I wished to talk it over with my confessor, but he replied: “No, take your decision now.” —Was it a wise decision? —I believe so, because it was taken at just that moment. Then I asked him: “Give me some minutes to pray before giving you an answer.” He said: “Yes, now its noon and we will have lunch at twelve thirty. So you have time for prayer. Go to the chapel and take you time.” I walked to the chapel and began to think how I would pray. I decided to begin with a mystery from the rosary: In truth, Mary intercedes! Then I lifted my eyes and looked above the door of the tabernacle: there I saw Christ smiling while he shared the bread. I thought that was a sign. I went back to see the Nuncio and said yes. —What is it that makes one a good serf of God? —In the first place, one has to believe that God loves you. He doesn’t choose you because you are smart, handsome, or because you have certain human qualities. He chooses you because he loves you and I believe that is the most important, and the most important feature of being a Bishop, too. —In Rumania there are two great Catholic traditions: the Greco-Catholic and the Roman Catholic. You are the Greco-Catholic Bishop of Cluj. Could you describe the Greco-Catholic tradition in your country? —We must look back in history. There was a part of the Orthodox Church which returned to a communion with Rome. That’s part of the Greco-Catholics’ reality. It explains why we have that Catholic tradition, the Byzantine rite, different from the Latin one, together with other rites which are typical of the Oriental Catholic Churches. This diversity comes from our accepting the four items that rooted in the origin of the schism of 1054. We have accepted these points such as the Catholic doctrine mentions them: The supremacy of the Holy Father, the filioque, the purgatory and the transubstantiation in the Eucharist. In the XVI century, the Council of Florence stipulated that, accepting those four items, we would be in full communion with Rome, although maintaining our Byzantine tradition: Married priests, a different calendar, different liturgical parliaments, etc. —But… completely in the Catholic Church? —Exactly, accepting all of the Holy Father’s documents and accepting Oriental Canon Law, as it was approved by the Vatican. —The Greco-Catholic Church suffered very, very much during the communist period in Rumania. Why did the communists aim particularly at your Church after 1948? —We must go back to 1946 and the persecution in the Ukraine. The communists seized power in Rumania in 1945. The Prime Minister at the time, Petru Goza, proceeded with our Church in Rumania the same way as Stalin was doing with the Greco-Catholics living in the Ukraine.
First, they unleashed a campaign against the Vatican and against the Catholics, labelling them as an alien power, an imperialistic power taking advantage of the country. Then they went on closing down schools and monasteries, confiscating all of the Church’s property. It was an open campaign against Catholics. On the 1st of October, the communists convoked to what they called a “synod” of the clergy, saying it was all about an encounter to analyze the union with Rome. —With the intention of breaching the union with Rome…? —Precisely. It was defined as a return to “mother” Orthodox Church. But from our viewpoint, that synod wasn’t valid because no Bishop took part in it and some of the priests who took part left as soon as they realized what it was all about. —So it was perfectly illegal and invalid? —Exactly. There was no basis, even in the context of canon law. —Did this resistance lead to a terrible persecution of the Greco-Catholic Church? —Precisely. Later they said all Catholics had converted to the Orthodox Church and on 1st December they decreed the dissolution and expropriation of all the Greco-Catholic institutions and property. The Metropolitan and the episcopate, as well as all the monasteries were dissolved and put under the control of the Orthodox Church. Then followed the distribution of the Greco-Catholic Church’s goods: The Catholic schools were put under the control of the Ministry of Public Education, whilst the ecclesiastic properties fell to the Ministry for Agrarian Policy. That was the end. —Your family personally experienced persecution, did it? —No, we didn’t experience it. We were brought up in that environment. There were things we couldn’t say nor do. My mother -the real fire of faith in our family- for example, was aware that somebody, the secret police, was watching us. My mother was cited to appear at what we used to call “Waiting-Room 13,” where she was interrogated. “Do you realize what you are doing with your children and their education? They will never be allowed to assist in church,” someone said. My mother was strong and not at all afraid. So she answered: “Do you have children?” The person interrogating her assented. My mother replied: “I don’t meddle in how you educate your own children, so do not tell me how to educate mine.” The police did not call her again. Nevertheless, she was aware that she would not be able to go farther. My father was the manager of a company and in order to save his job he had to be a member of the communist party. So he wasn’t able at all to assist the church. —So he had to live his faith at home? —Yes, more at home than in public. —The Greco-Catholic Church was eliminated and the Bishops as well as the clergy jailed. One of those who suffered the most was father Tertullian Langa, whom you well know. Would you say that after that period of harsh persecution father Langa is putting these words into practice: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?” —You know that father Tertullian’s history is an extremely harsh affair. There are limits of suffering that can only be surmounted by means of faith. Father Tertullian says: “Faith can transcend the limits of the human spirit, not just physically, but also regarding the spiritual profoundness of understanding the other dimension of God.” When one understands that God is love and that He gives it for free –especially in the most difficult moments of life– and that he bestows on us the grace of being strong in order to face our sufferings, then we can approach God. There is a communion with the Divine. Who has done it and why, doesn’t matter. That is the reason why the first words of the persecuted, after having been freed by their captors, were: “We forgive and we are not interested in knowing who our persecutors were. We do not wish to support evil.” Tertullian carries the signs of physical persecution, which he has to feel day after day, but even in that state he returned to the Church’s life as if nothing had happened. He tries to be a normal serf of God and at present he is completing his memoires for publication. His story is very interesting and highlights his strong faith and his bond with God.
We are slowly losing our sense of religious liberty in America
Defending Our First Freedom Monsignor José H. Gómez S.T.D., Archbishop of Los Angeles
The nation created by and for religious freedom looses its sources. The Archbishop of Los Angeles, José H. Gómez, explains that this is the reason which has lead to the creation of a Committee of Religious Freedom within the Episcopal Conference of the United States. There is much evidence to suggest that our society no longer values the public role of religion or recognizes the importance of religious freedom as a basic right. As scholars like Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon and Michael Sandel have observed, our courts and government agencies increasingly treat the right to hold and express religious beliefs as only one of many private lifestyle options. And, they observe, this right is often “trumped” in the face of challenges from competing rights or interests deemed to be more important. These are among the reasons the U.S. Catholic bishops recently established a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. My brother bishops and I are deeply concerned that believers’ liberties –and the Church’s freedom to carry out her mission– are threatened today, as they never have been before in our country’s history. Catholics have always believed that we serve our country best as citizens when we are trying to be totally faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church. And since before the founding of the American Republic, Catholics —individually and institutionally— have worked with government agencies at all levels to provide vital social services, education, and health care. But lately, this is becoming harder and harder for us to do. Just last week, […] the federal government declined a grant request from the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services agency. We are not really sure why. No reason was given. Our agency has been working well with the government since 2006 to help thousands of women and children who are victims of human trafficking. Recently, the government had been demanding that our agency provide abortions, contraception and sterilizations for the women we serve. We hope our application was not denied because we refused to provide these services that are unnecessary and violate our moral principles and religious mission. And this is not an isolated case. Right now, the federal government is also trying to force private employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraception —including for medications that cause abortions. This not only violates the consciences of Catholic business owners, it also undermines the religious autonomy of Church employers. For several years now, it seems that whenever there is a merger or expansion involving a Catholic hospital, some legislator or government agency tries to block it unless our Catholic hospitals and doctors will start providing abortions and sterilizations. So far, these efforts at coercion have failed. What’s troubling is that these efforts continue, without regard to the historic contributions of Catholic health care or to the First Amendment. More recently, the push to legalize “same-sex marriages” has posed a new set of challenges to our freedoms. Church adoption and foster-care ministries have already been forced to shut down rather than submit to government demands that they place children with same-sex couples or provide benefits for same-sex employees. And in an ominous development, the U.S. Justice Department went on record this last summer as saying that those who defend the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman are motivated by bias and prejudice.
Of course, that is our ancient Catholic belief, rooted in the teachings of Jesus and also the Jewish Scriptures. It is a belief held by many Protestants, the Orthodox, and also by Jews and Muslims, among others. But scholars like Princeton’s Robert P. George warn that this belief might now be labeled as a form of bigotry and lead to new challenges to our liberties. We are also concerned about the signals the federal government is sending in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC. Experts say that if the government’s case prevails, it will have broad new powers to regulate the inner workings of Church institutions —even to possibly interfere in areas of Church practice and doctrine. All of this is troubling and represents a sharp break with our history and American traditions. Religious liberty has always been “the first freedom” in our Bill of Rights and in our national identity. Our country’s founders recognized that religious freedom is a right endowed by God, not a privilege granted by government. And they respected that what God has given, no one –not a court, a legislature, or any institution– can rightly deny. In our history, religious freedom has always included the rights of churches and religious institutions to establish hospitals, schools, charities, media outlets, and other agencies —and to staff these ministries and run them, free from government intrusion. And religious freedom has always included the churches’ rights to engage in the public square to help shape our nation’s moral and social fabric. We see this throughout our history —from the abolitionist movement, to the civil rights movement, to the pro-life movement. America’s founders understood that our democracy depends on Americans’ being moral and virtuous. They knew the best guarantee for this is a civil society in which individuals and religious institutions were free to live, act, and vote according to their values and principles. We need to help our leaders today rediscover the wisdom of America’s founding. And we need to help believers once more understand the vital importance of this “first freedom.” At stake are not just our liberties but also the future character of our democracy.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta Prize In Memory of Chiara Lubich
The European Prize for Life “Mother Teresa of Calcutta” was awarded in the memory of the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich. The awards ceremony took place at the Campidoglio, Rome, on the same day that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 63rd anniversary.
Drawing these two extraordinary female figures –Chiara Lubich (1920 – 2008) and the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910 – 1997) together was not done by chance. The founder of the Focolare Movement, as well as the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, both inaugurated a new way of understanding faith in the second half of the 20th century and also a new way of approaching the Catholic Church and evangelization. Both were symbols of the defence of life, from its conception up to natural death. Historical was the encounter in Florence, on May 17th 1986, between Lubich and Mother Teresa –repeatedly evoked during the debate preceding the delivery of the prize– on the occasion of the encounter “Life before Anything Else.”
As the President of the Movement for Life, Carlo Casini, the subject of man’s dignity was emphasized –protected by the Treaty of Lisbon– and the right of equality always converges with the right to life, although regarding the first two there is unanimous consensus, whilst the subject of abortion is still dividing public opinion, being a matter for discussion. “None of the declarations of human rights mention the right to life, from its conception to its natural death,” observed Casini. “This way, the entirety of human rights falls like a picture which doesn’t find a nail to hang on.” Later the round table on Human Dignity, Equality and Right to Life took place, moderated by the editor in chief of the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire, Marco Tarquinio. The philosopher of law, Antonio Baggio, focussed mostly on the charisma of Chiara Lubich, remembering that the founder of the Focolare always promoted an idea of human rights strongly rooted in the principle of fraternity amongst human beings and their common paternity in God. But as Vincenzo Buonomo, teacher of international law, highlighted, Lubich was aware of the universality of human rights, which in her perspective, wasn’t something to be defined but to be transmitted by way of education. The difficulty of the diffusion of a culture of life, especially in the European context, was stressed by Miklos Soltest, Hungarian Minister for Social Matters and the Family. The approval, by the Hungarian Parliament, of the introduction of a protection of life from its conception up to its natural death into the Magyar constitution, as well as the Hungarian Campaign for Life to protect the embryo, arouse strong critiques in the liberal world, especially in Brussels. Nevertheless, a European continent presenting “profit as its only ideology and insisting on the rejection of its Christian roots, will never be able to surmount its economic crisis and much less its own ‘moral’ crisis,” stated the Hungarian minister.
VII World Meeting of Families The family: Work and Celebration
On the occasion of the VII World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict XVI will be in Milan, Italy, for three days: from Friday, June 1, to Sunday, June 3. Such was the announcement of the Archbishop of Milan,
Cardinal Angelo Scola, during the presentation of the program of the Pope’s visit to Milan, which was organized by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the President of the 2012 Milano Family Foundation, Bishop Erminio De Scalzi, and the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Bishop Jean Laffitte. “A three-day visit is an event of an extraordinary character; it is exceptional regarding a Pope’s trip inside Italy” said Cardinal Scola. “The Pope wished to meet Milan and its people twenty seven years after the visit of his predecessor, John Paul II. Benedict XVI comes to offer this gift to us: A present to the city of Milan and to the churches of Lombardy.” The Pontiff’s arrival in the Lombard capital is planned for Friday, June 1. His arrival will be at the Milan-Linate Airport. After a first public meeting in Duomo Square, the Pope will attend a concert directed by Daniel Barenboim in the Scala di Milano Theater. On Saturday 2, at 10:00 AM, the Holy Father will preside Laudes (the morning prayer) at the Duomo of Milan with the participation of the priests, monks and nuns of the city, to whom he will preach a meditation. Later, he will travel by car to the Stadium of San Siro, to attend to a meeting with young confirmands. In the afternoon, Benedict XVI will meet the Civil Authorities and will deliver a speech. At 8:30 PM, the Pope will take part in the Seventh World Meeting of Families during the Feast of the Testimonies. The Meeting will be held in Parco Nord, which is one of the most beautiful citizens’ parks. On Sunday 3, the Pope shall preside over the Eucharist to begin at 10:00 AM in Parco Nord. After praying the Angelus, at 12:00 AM he shall return to the Archbishop’s See, where
in the afternoon he will greet the members of the Milano Family Foundation, as well as the organizers of his visit. At 5:30 PM, after saying good-bye to the civil authorities at the Milan-Linate Airport, the Holy Father will board the plane back to Rome. The World Meetings of Families were initiated in 1981, when Blessed John Paul II published the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio and established the Pontifical Council for the Family. The first event was celebrated in Rome in 1994. Since then these events have been organized every three years with the aim of celebrate the divine gift of the family and to reunite the families in order to pray and delve deeply into its role of domestic Church and its evangelizing mission.
Evolution, Creation and Faith The Pontifical Council for Culture presents a documentary about the Origin of Man
With the sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for Culture and as part of the STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest) has recently come to see the light of day a trilingual DVD-version (Italian, Spanish and English) of “The Origin of Man.” Said DVD contains a series of nine documentaries regarding the topics of evolution, creation and faith, made with the assessment of academics of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and other universities. They feature the opinions of more than thirty scientists, amongst them the Nobel Prize winners Christian De Duve and Werner Arber. Some of them are believers –Catholics, Protestants or Jews– and some are not. These documentaries, realized by Goya Producciones, research the development of the Universe since the “Big-Bang” up to the first hominids and the triumph of Homo sapiens. They provide answers to questions like: How did the Universe come about? Did we spring up by chance? Was there some intelligence guiding creation?
The Nobel prize winner Christian De Duve states that the theory saying that the world is eternal, invented by Fred Hoyle, was demonstrated to be false and his teacher Lemaitre was right in discovering the theory of the “Big-Bang” (the explosion giving origin to the Universe). Michel Ghins, a Belgian professor, believes that the theory of “multiple universes” was conceived in order to escape to the hypothesis that God created our world. Nevertheless, he says, it’s not a way out, because “we can perfectly well imagine that the Almighty God created a profusion of multiple universes.” For the Italian Professor Evandro Agazzi, chance does not explain the existence of the World. Those believing they can explain everything starting from some positive science fall into an “anti-scientific reductionist attitude.” Boston’s professor Thomas Glick believes that these fundamentalists of materialism conceive for themselves a sort of religion or metaphysics, “although nobody will come to mix this up with science.” Professor Arana, from the University of Sevilla, states that “there never was an opposition between faith and science. There was always an opposition between two sorts of ‘faith’: the scientist faith, to put it one way, and the religious faith.” So, is the Bible therefore compatible with science? The Swiss Nobel Prize winner Werner Arber answers: “I can read in the Genesis, at the beginning of the Old Testament, that the world was created along many periods, and for me, these periods are precisely evolution.” The Dutch researcher Cees Dekker is of the opinion that “science’s method as such is neither Christian nor atheist. Science and religion are not conflicting. Science itself fits quite well with the Christian vision of the world.” The series “The Origin of Man”, as affirmed by the producer, “leaves a certain ideological exploitation of science naked, particularly Darwinism. Darwin was manipulated in favour of racism, firstly on the side of Marxism and then on that of Nazi Germany, and in the United States. The Catholic Church, on the other side, did not condemn Darwin. Evolution could well have been possible inside creation itself.” This audio-visual series, it adds, exposes “the inconsistency of atheistic stances like those of Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins, on the one side, and that of the biblical fundamentalists and creationists, on the other. Natural science does not grasp what remains out of the material sphere.” More information in: www.goyaproducciones.com
Interview with Father Antonio Spadaro, the new Editor of La Civiltà Cattolica
“Seeking and Finding God in All Things”
Forty five years old, a prolific author and a good theologian: we are talking about father Antonio Spadaro, who on 6th of September was appointed by the Father General of the Society of Jesus as the new editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the oldest and most respected Italian review. The new editor began to publish in La Civiltà Cattolica in 1994. He occupied himself preferably with literary critique, in particular, of contemporary authors. In order to understand how La Civiltà Cattolica attempts to culturally renovate the Catholic message in the complex world of mass media, Antonio Gaspari interviewed father Antonio Spadaro in behalf of Zenit Agency. — What is your feeling after becoming editor in chief of such a prestigious review as La Civiltà Cattolica? — I have written for La Civiltà Cattolica since 1994, although I assume the edition of it has meant a change in perspective. I feel I’m facing a very difficult challenge, because now I am chief editor of the oldest active Italian magazine: it is 162 years old! La Civiltà Cattolica has always been a much authorized point of reference due to the quality of its journalism. Therefore I feel a great fear and at the same time a great wish to do the best as possible together with the other Jesuits of the editorial staff. I have received many congratulations and support messages. This is a big help for the writers, because they experience confidence on the side of the readers, even though they also receive their high expectations. — The times we are living in seem very different from those during which the review was conceived and founded. With what ideas and innovations do you think you can face the modern world?
— From 1850 up to our present days, the magazine has gone through epochs in which the meaning of communication in itself and its modalities, have undergone far reaching transformations. Nevertheless, the long tradition of the review already contains in itself the germ of innovation. Just reflect on the fact that 160 years ago the idea itself of a “national” review, when Italy did not yet exist, and the usage of Italian language and not of Latin were already elements of great innovation. More than talking about novelty, I prefer to speak about the “DNA”, that is, the genetic code of the magazine, capable of giving it life in different times and epochs. — What would you tell present time readers in order to explain the sense and the reason of a “Catholic civilization”? — What La Civiltà Cattolica tries to offer to its readers is the sharing of an experience illuminated by Christian faith and deeply rooted in present day cultural, social, economic and political life. By tradition and by nature our review expresses a “high” form of cultural journalism. Its focus is wide in regard to culture, due to the language used and the subjects treated (from politics to history, from literature to psychology, from cinema to economics, from philosophy to theology, from fashion to science…) and this makes it to adapt to our times. The complexity and fragmentation of modern life demand a particular effort of understanding and recomposition of knowledge’s fragments. Thanks to the multiplicity and ampleness of the arguments treated, our reader will dispose of material and foci enabling him to create a personal opinion, counting on keen but not too complex analysis, accessible not only to specialists. — How will the published review relate itself with the netted communication? — I think that in this precise moment the concept “magazine” or “review” is changing, that it will be not only printed on paper, but stronger related to its ability to transmit culture, values and ideas in different manners and by means of diverse communicative platforms. One of the possible consequences: La Civiltà Cattolica will always identify herself with the thinking it communicates and which will find its expression via different channels and supports, without paper being the exclusive form. This way, our cultural production will be more open to enjoyment, to sharing, to commentaries and debate. It will be a process demanding some time, but I am full of hope in this regard. — How and why could the spiritual charisma of Saint Ignatius fascinate the man of the third millennium? — By Pontifical statute, our staff of editors is composed exclusively of Jesuits. And as such our “treasure” is the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, an incarnated, humanist and searching spirituality, attentive to the search of the presence of God in the World, which along the centuries has forged saints, intellectuals, scientists and educators. The inspiring principle of this spirituality is a very simple criterion: “Seek and find God in all things,” as Saint Ignatius writes. And this is the reason why the creativity of the Spirit works everywhere, in all the dimensions of the growth of the world, in the diversity of cultures and the variety of their spiritual experiences. This way of seeing is fascinating, because it allows discovering God, Who actuates in the life of people, of society and of culture; and it also allows discerning how He will carry ahead His Work. It is that searching and attentive instinct which impels us to write and to share our intellectual experience with the readers.
Compliments and Commentaries received on the occasion
and HUMANITAS NÂş I in English, both dedicated to the pers
The Vatican, October 3, 2011 Dear Editor: I am pleased to acknowledge your kind letter from August 17th, telling me that Humanitas rewiew, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, was dedicating a special edition to the personality and apostolic ministry of the Blessed John Paul II. I correspond this gentle attention, remembering you in my prayers, asking God that Humanitasâ€™ pages may lead its readers to follow the path of Christ and to love the Church with the same surrender and generosity which the venerated Pope did, to whose constant intercession I commend all the beloved sons of the noble Chilean nation, always so present in his heart of Pastor of the universal Church. I joyfully make use of the occasion to give you testimony of my friendly esteem in Christ. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sdb Secretary of State
of the edition of HUMANITAS Nº 63 in Spanish
rsonality and acts of the Blessed John Paul II
Mr. Jaime Antúnez Aldunate Editor of Humanitas Santiago Cracow, September 22, 2011 Dear Editor: By means of these plain lines I wish to express my greetings to you and my thankfulness for the copy of the review for Christian anthropology and culture Humanitas, Nº 63. It is very well published and its content is very rich and interesting. Again, thank you very much! I keep you in my prayers. With affection in Christ +Stanislaw Card. Dziwisz
Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, OFM Archbishop of Trujillo President of the Bishop’s Assembly of Peru Cordially greets Dr. Jaime Antúnez Aldunate Wishing vividly to congratulate him for editing Humanitas review Nº 63, Anno XVI, whose contents is homage to the always remembered Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his beatification. Admiring this indeed thorough homage by way of articles from outstanding authors as is due to Humanitas, a review that throughout its sixteen years has been guiding faith to meet with culture and illuminating the path of the new generations. I beg God to bless the work of the whole community in the environment of Humanitas, for the welfare of the Catholic Church. May the words of the Blessed John Paul II -“Do not be afraid”- always resound strongly…
IN DOMINO, Trujillo, 15/09/11 Tarj. 126 It nourishes the spirit and strengthens our faith Dear Editor: Even though some weeks have already elapsed, I write in order to greet and congratulate you for the outstanding winter edition 2011, wholly dedicated to the beloved and remembered Blessed John Paul II. If every new edition of Humanitas comforts us, nourishes our spirit and strengthens our faith by means of the profoundness of its articles and reflections, together with the magnificent reproductions of art works from all epochs and interesting photos, in this edition we have met once again the heritage of the Great Pope. He, with all the amplitude and immensity of his Teaching and the example of his holy life, sacrificed as Christ did for the welfare of the Church and the world. Your review certainly is a luminous beacon in times of a painful crisis of the faith, of that certain oblivion of God and tyranny of relativism, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us. Thank you, and let God illuminate you and sustain your noble endeavour of being a place of encounter and propagation of the values of the Gospels, which you turn into culture and a light for the world. I give thanks, once more, with the desire of strength to persevere on this path in spite of the difficulties and obstacles inherent to a task like this. I particularly congratulate you for the initiative of publishing Humanitas in English language, which certainly will allow the review to reach farther, at the highest level of Christian culture. Congratulations and please rely on my modest prayer and support. To Jesus through Mary, TOMISLAV KOLJATIC M. Bishop of Linares Linares, Chile
A genuine treasury I have received Humanitas Nº 63 edition. Really excellent! The more for those of us, who had the joy of being in close touch with the Blessed John Paul II. [The review] is a genuine treasury for its articles as well as for the contributions offered by it. Congratulations for such a well done work and for coming out of that cultural crossroad called university, not at all lacking of problems. With my best greetings and wishes. FRANCISCO GIL HELLIN Archbishop of Burgos Burgos, Spain
…With great gratitude I receive your review. I very much value its contents and thank you for sending it to me. CARLOS MARÍA COLLAZZI, SDB Bishop of Mercedes President of the Bishops Assembly of Uruguay Montevideo, Uruguay Dear Editor: … We admire your work, because through Humanitas you achieve to reflect onto the present world the Christian values; thank you for this last number dedicated to our beloved Blessed John Paul II, “Gift of Divine Mercy”. In this way many will be able to discover his testimony of life. We especially pray for you and the communion of people gathered around the publication of Humanitas. You work for the Kingdom! Everyday we present each one of you at the Lord’s altar. THE SISTERS OF BETHLEHEM AT THE MONASTERY IN PARIS Paris, France
…Your review is certainly an excellent instrument for evangelization and propagation of the Incarnated Truth of Christianity. I beg the Lord you may continue with such an extolling work. DOMINIQUE REY Bishop of Fréjus, Toulon Toulon, France
Prezados Senhores [Dear Sirs]: I acknowledge receiving Nº 63 of Humanitas, which I thank for wholeheartedly. I cannot but secure you in my prayers for the continuation of your excellent work. Fraternally, In Christ our Lord. GERALDO CARD. MAJELLA AGNELO Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Primate See of Brazil. Salvador, Brazil
… I will send [the review] to the Mayor Seminary “Jesús Maestro” for the knowledge and lecture of the seminarians and visitors. Congratulations for the presentation, contents and the layout. MONS. JESÚS JUÁREZ PÁRRAGA Bishop of the Diocese of El Alto, Bolivia. La Paz, Bolivia
Madrid, October 10, 2011 Mr. Jaime Antúnez Aldunate Editor of Humanitas Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Santiago de Chile Dear Don Jaime: I acknowledge receiving the words of congratulation of which you were so kind to send on the occasion of the celebration of the XXVI World Youth Day in past August at Madrid. I sincerely thank you for them. What we experienced during those days of the WYD, which exceeded all our expectations, due to the presence of two million young people coming from the five continents, even from very remote places, and the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, has with no doubt been an immense gift from God, for all of us, for the Church and the whole of society, in Madrid and in Spain and all over the world. The Holy Father himself didn’t said during the first general Audience after returning from Castelgandolfo, that “the encounter at Madrid was a marvellous expression of faith for Spain and, even more, for the world”. In truth, these have been unforgettable days and certainly arises spontaneous praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. But, at the same time, it arises supplication, so this “cascade of light” might multiply itself in good fruit, as Benedict XVI also called the Encounter at Madrid during the aforementioned Audience, for the welfare of the Church and the Salvation of mankind. Again I wish to thank you wholeheartedly for your loving words whilst I send you my dearest greetings, together with the certainty of my prayers, at a time commending myself to yours. With all my attachment and my blessing, +Antonio María Rouco Varela Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid
A Cloister in the world The circumstances which gave rise to what would become the Manquehue Apostolic Movement, founded by José Manuel Eguiguren, are described in detail by Abbot Patrick Barry O.S.B.,1 offering a very clear insight into the development of this particular charism.
he Spanish translation of this book, written by the former Abbot of Ampleforth (York, England) Dom Patrick Barry O.S.B., was a commendable project and constitutes a truly worthwhile contribution to the history of the Church in South America. The blurb text presents this book, originally published in English under the title A Cloister in the World (St. Louis, USA, 2005), as “the story of the Manquehue Apostolic Movement, a Benedictine movement made up of lay people, and its work in Chile.” In nearly five-hundred pages, it describes a journey springing from the soul of a young man who is troubled and confused by the serious cultural and historical tensions experienced by those who grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s and confirms the enduring relevance over the centuries of those opening, foundational words of the Rule of St. Benedict: “Listen, my child.”
The narrative and numerous testimonies, some in interview form, give form to the fabric of a delightful story, inexplicable in mere human terms and which those involved can only attribute to the grace of the Spirit. Central to this true tale is the part which combines a biographical portrait of that whole generation in the description of José Manuel Eguiguren’s own personal situation, together with the details of his providential meeting with the future Abbot of the Monastery of Las Condes, Father Gabriel Guarda O.S.B. These paragraphs are worthy of our special attention, as they not only provide the key to what follows in the book, but reveal how a deep conviction about the senselessness of life can be entirely turned round by way of lectio divina. The true strength of this path of lectio is clearly delineated right at the very beginning of the book by Cardinal
1 A Cloister in the World (Un claustro en el mundo), Abbot Patrick Barry O.S.B., Outskirts Press, The Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 2005, 457 pp.
HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 187 - 194
Francisco Javier Errázuriz, former Archbishop of Santiago, in his Presentation to the Spanish edition: “When lectio divina comes to form the soul and the spiritual mainstay of a Benedictine movement, its members and others who share its charism, feel the irresistible strength of Jesus Christ’s personality, as he invites them to become his disciples and friends.” The circumstances which gave rise to what would become the Manquehue Apostolic Movement, founded by this same José Manuel Eguiguren, are described in detail by Abbot Patrick Barry O.S.B., offering a very clear insight into the development of this particular charism, emerging as it does under the impulse of the Spirit, together with its deeply familyorientated nature proper to the Benedictine character which integrates people and families in that unity afforded by charity. In this same vein the pages that deal with the illness affecting Ignacio Eguiguren, his preparation for First Holy Communion as a boy by Dom Dominic Milroy O.S.B., former Headmaster of Ampleforth College, and Ignacio’s own conscious and key involvement in the nascent charism, are a pleasure to read. On page 311, the reader is informed of important aspects regarding the documental history of the Manquehue Apostolic Movement such as the ecclesiastical approval received down the years; firstly that of Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, in 1979; subsequently, in 1993, the laudatio given in Rome to the Movement’s founder by Cardinal Eduardo Pironio then President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; finally, its Legal Statutes under Canon and Civil Law are approved by Cardinal Carlos Oviedo on 8th September 1994. What is abundantly clear from these steps is the way in which the emerging Movement is deeply in harmony with the Vatican II Decree on the Lay Apostolate, Apostolicam actuositatem and with Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici. One of the testimonies which
the author has gathered from among the numerous lay people involved in the Movement, seems to express its sentire cum Ecclesiae in the following words: “…in spite of all our weakness and all our sin, [Manquehue is] a community enriched through the Holy Spirit by a special way of building up the Kingdom which is the Rule of St. Benedict. It is a way which is profoundly human, through which ordinary people can live a life in community while putting absolutely nothing before the love of Christ, so as to not only build the Kingdom of God on this earth, but also to come all together to eternal life, which is built up through being united through the bishop to all the believing communities of the whole world, and to the Universal Church.” Chapter 15, key to the book’s development, is about the “Structure and Spirituality of the Movement”. It describes the major role which, together with lectio divina, the Rule of Saint Benedict plays in this school for laity, whose daily life is focused on the permanent renewal of their baptismal promises. The discovery and ever-deeper application of the Rule of Saint Benedict –along with elements which are inherent to it, such as the Liturgy of the Hours– goes hand in hand with the encounter which the founder of the Movement has with Ampleforth Abbey, York, England, a prestigious centre of education founded in the 19th century. The Movement’s pedagogical structure takes its shape from this whole experience, as does the successive foundation of its schools, San Benito, San Lorenzo and San Anselmo, for which the Movement is best known. Six chapters trace this remarkable adventure and its effect on other places in this in the world. As a result of long-standing relations of friendship and deep spiritual communion (which, amongst other things have extended the Movement’s outreach to Ampleforth itself and led to the significant presence of alumni of Ampleforth, or “gringos” as they are called, living their apostolate as oblates in Chile) the
English Benedictine Congregation and the Manquehue Apostolic Movement agreed to a juridical consociation on the Solemnity of Saint Benedict, 11th July 2009. The “option for the young”, which the founder has sought to introduce into the Manquehue apostolate, is in tune with this whole line of development. Relating faith, education and culture is a process so inherent to the fabric of this book that the author at this point finds himself entering, with considerable clarity and in a spirit of truth, upon certain key anthropological issues which remain unresolved in the field of education, at least in the case of catholic schools among the wealthier. These questions are especially deepened under the heading “The gap between faith and life” (p. 231). In Chapter 14, on “The Movement’s Benedictine Connection,” readers will enjoy an agreeable account of the long history of the Benedictines, which, besides being entertaining and informative, sheds light on a wide range of subjects covered by this book and which go to make A Cloister in the World seem something akin to a stained glass series. For example, there is the importance attributed by the members of Manquehue to the doctrine of friendship according to Saint Aelred, the 12th Century Abbot of the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx, Yorkshire, whose ruins today lie close-by to Ampleforth Abbey. Moreover, for instance, what is said about the lay, un-clerical nature of the Rule which Saint Benedict wrote and the way it came to serve as a foundation of European civilization. As the author himself concludes when ending this chapter, “the diversity of the Benedictines in their history and its reflection in contemporary monasticism is one of the factors that make such new development as this cloister in the world, plausible.” JAIME ANTÚNEZ ALDUNATE
Translated by Jonathan Perry
Purchase on internet at http//www.amazon.com/Cloister-World-Patrick-Barry/dp/1598000853
The “Stone” dynasty’s blessed one. Life of Ceferino Namuncurá (El beato de la dinastía «piedra») By the Priests of the Instituto Verbo Encarnado Ediciones del Verbo Encarnado San Rafael, Argentina, 2007 310 pp.
Saint John Bosco was famous for his prophetic dreams. Once he dreamt he was climbing up into a niche of Saint Peters Basilica, very high above, and didn’t know how to descend back to the floor. He awoke when his anxiety came to reach momentum. Years after his death, Don Bosco, already canonized, had set up a statue at Saint Peters Cathedral, in the precise niche he had perceived in dreams. What he did not dream was that he would not stand there all alone. Actually, two children are to be found at his side. One is Domingo Savio and the other a small indigenous boy, dressed in fur and with long uncombed hair. He represents the recently beatified Ceferino Namuncurá. The statue, nevertheless, doesn’t at all resemble this Mapuche Indian from the Argentine Patagonia. The sculptor let himself be drawn by the stereotyped Indian in his imagination without having a look at the many photographs taken to Ceferino, showing his prominent cheekbones, his even hair, short and duly combed, and his eyes of sweet expression. Ceferino used to dream of becoming a Salesian priest, able to evangelize his people, but fell ill with tuberculosis and died at the age of nineteen, in 1905. Forty years later the research of the process of his virtues began and in 2007 he was beatified at the Argentine city of Chimpay. This book about his life is composed in a very special way: it’s made up of four parts. The first one is dedicated to the indigenous Patagonia and the second one to the interest of Don Bosco in those remote lands, which also had appeared in his dreams. Then,
the narrative concentrates on the school years of Ceferino at a Salesian institution and finally on his brief stay in Rome, where he met Saint Pius X, already renowned as a saint, and later assisted in the Pope’s death. The book’s style is somehow pedantic, but this fault is widely made up for by the innumerable data of high interest it contributes. First of all, the sketch of the indigenous folks of the Pampa, whose weaker tribes were forced to yield by the Araucanian Indians, a people of warriors coming from Chile after being displaced by the Spanish conquest from their homelands, at the other side of the Andes. Ceferino’s grandfather was the cacique John Cafulcurá, who ruled over the Pampa during forty years. One of his 15 sons, Namuncurá, inherited the chieftainship, although not the power, because his people were gradually cornered by the Argentine army. Finally he laid down the arms and as a reward he was designated an army colonel. In the photos showing him, he always appears wearing a uniform. Ceferino was his son; the boy had to live through a period of starvation and poverty, soon deciding to opt for another path. “Why don’t you send me to Buenos Aires to study?” he asked his father. “That way some day I might be useful to my people.” At the age of 11 he began to study at a Salesian institute and he was a good learner; an intelligent boy, he soon was fascinated by the discovery of faith. He had been baptized but lacked any religious training and began to absorb everything like a sponge, although never forgetting his homeland. Ceferino was fond of narrating endless tales about Patagonia and dreamt of returning there as a missionary priest. One day, while he was narrating some heroic adventures of the Pampa’s Indians, a schoolmate asked jokingly: “Ceferino, what’s the taste of human flesh?” at a start he did not understand, but then his eyes burst in tears and he remained quiet. Of course he had to withstand many a discomforting allusion for his being indigenous; nevertheless, he soon earned respect and later admiration. His priestly calling appeared to be clear: he felt a great love for the Eucharist and was deeply touched by the lamp at the tabernacle. His biographers highlight that he surmounted many difficulties due to his strong character, which he had to master, too, in order to accept the school’s discipline, since he had been raised in the Pampa and could not understand the need stand in a row. Many of his letters still exist, some of them written to his family, which had to be read to the Namuncurás by an Italian lady who owned a small cheap-jack shop, because in those days all of them were illiterate. Tuberculosis befell him during his adolescence, although at the beginning it was believed he would manage to recover. He himself felt optimistic about it. The Salesians took him to Rome, where he assisted in an encounter with Pope Pius X. It should be noted that Ceferino called for the Pope’s attention when he addressed him in a speech in Italian and asked him, full of naiveté, for a Papal
assignment in Argentina. He used to write to Argentina about all this, adding photos, medals and rosaries “for the smaller girls at home”, besides a Papal pardon and other treasures. In one of his letters he wonders about all the churches he saw in Italy and gives free way to his imagination: “Oh, if only we would have so many churches in the Patagonia…” In his short life, the character Saint John Bosco came to shine, imposed on his sons, as well as his condition of being a son of the Pampa. At present he stands as a model to all Argentine indigenous people, although not in Chile, even if these people are called Mapuche on both sides of the Andean cordilleras. The Namuncurás, nevertheless, are distinctly Argentine and it was in those lands where the “Stone” family was admired or feared. “Curá” means “stone” and Ceferino was by far their best exponent. Elena Vial Translated by Martin Bruggendieck Purchase on Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Immortal Rumor By Robert Spaemann 2007
The book on which we comment upon offers ten of the author’s essays published between 1985 and 2006. Through them he approaches the great topics concerning contemporary philosophy and the questions they ask Christianity by way of a sustained dialogue with the philosophers who have most influenced and still influence “modern mentality.” [Das unsterbliche Gerücht, Klett-cotta, Stuttgart, 2007; La diceria immortale, Edizioni Cantagalli, Siena, Italy, 2008; El rumor inmortal, Editorial Rialp, Madrid, 2010]
Through his pages he reviews: Descartes, Occam, Hobbes, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Rorty and some more. The subject is God. “Someone” who, since man has been capable of knowledge, is in the centre of his quest to understand the world in which he lives and to understand himself; but whose inability to know, whose considering even his own death is useless, etc., have been stated by outstanding representatives of modern philosophy, stamping the way of thinking and the culture of the last centuries. Nevertheless, as the author notices –and in spite of Nietzsche’s thinking– the need of pursuing Him seems “perpetual.” This is the idea giving rise to the book’s title. In every one of his articles, Spaemann shows himself convinced that this philosophical dialogue has something to say to present day man, and that those who take part in it must do it in “good will,” that is to say, with the will to speak truth and “a disposition to listen to the other’s discourse with benevolence,” that is, with what he calls “the virtue of rationality.” Throughout his articles, the author insists that the attempts to offer an explanation of the problems raised by modernity omitting the light of faith finally do not inform us of the problem lurking in the background: the problem of being, the reason for that which exists; and man feels an innate need to understand the why and the what-for of things, of the universe and of himself. But at the same time, Spaemann stresses that the believer also has the need for philosophical reflection, because having part in the want of knowing, which is characteristic of all human beings, he cannot accept something contradictory or lacking sense, out of faith alone. This supposes an honest intellectual stance regarding reality, something the philosophies deriving from idealism, subjectivism and pragmatism find rather difficult. When asking “why do we exist?,” the modern mentality still satisfies itself by resorting to evolution, which by chance would have culminated in what we are. However, it stands clear that “evolution” as a condition proper of what exists, does not explain existence as such. On the other hand, in the realm of such a hypothesis there is no reason why the human being should be considered the culmination of evolution, that is to say, the precise one giving sense to all existing reality, as is stated by the Judaeo-Christian revelation. There we have evil, suffering, death; all of them, realities demanding an explanation in order to ascribe sense to them. Can we seriously endorse the expectation that evolution and chance may lead in a period of thousands or millions of years to an explanation that we, as human beings, need right away? Should it be unavoidable to live without any sense in spite of our very far-reaching scientific development? The philosophers with whom Spaemann dialogues in fact do not content themselves with such a perspective. But their philosophical constructs –as our philosopher states– are not really able to calm the spirits, soon getting old aged in order
to drift away and become part of the “history of philosophy” (with important contributions, no doubt), or, even worse, carry along disastrous consequences which, in their most aggressive forms, have called for being halted with decision in order to restore a reasonable human cohabitation. We believers live out of our faith. But to live faith in this world forces us to enter into the great philosophical dialogue with those who seek to understand in order to live as human beings. Hence the need of a Christian philosophy, in which the believer living in this world, aware of the challenges set forth by reason, strives to demonstrate how the truths of the Christian faith allow us to understand -answering to the demands of reason- the need of a first principle that is not of this world but of its creator. In this way it also saves us from falling adrift into the false religions which indeed contradict the demands of the rational discourse, like a return to the myths, worship of “nature,” dualism, etc., or, in more modern terms, all the fancy of “mystical” experiences induced by man for himself. It is here where the dogma of “original sin” offers –as Spaemann says- a clear and coherent invitation to look back on our origin as human beings if we wish to understand the contradictions and the suffering characteristic of humanity, and not future-wise, imagining a super-man who will appear one day as an effect of the abilities enclosed in man himself (in matter itself) and developed by “evolution” in a most extraordinary way under the forms of science, technology, politics, etc. The consequences of this “futurologic” stance have appeared already with no need whatsoever of waiting for the super-man. He will indeed always be there as “the” future. (One should not forget that the serpent’s temptation remits to the future: “Thou shall be like gods,” although the effects of such a faith in the future –because, in last instance, one ought to believe the serpent- come to manifest themselves at once: “They saw themselves naked” (Gen 3, 5-7). At present, says our author, one speaks about “adapting to the times,” and it is true that one must be aware of the spirit animating each era. However, the word “adapt” may be understood in different ways. In regards to his times, Saint Paul exhorts to examine everything and remain with what is good (1 Te 5, 21); and, undoubtedly considering the background of original sin, he exhorts the Christians of Ephesus to be aware of the way they live, because “the days (all the time of the Church and of this world) are bad” (Eph 5, 15s). What really comes to matter (concludes Spaemann) is that what makes a life to be “good” here and now, because God is in “here and now.” At this point, Spaemann introduces a critique regarding the media. It is true that they inform us (and over abundantly) about what is happening, but that same heterogeneous avalanche of news doesn’t allow us to discern (and the media do not pretend it) what is anthropologically good from what is bad or evil. They inform about the uses, the customs the criteria which
prevail, statistically. The way of thinking and living which comes to be common defines what is “to be done and thought,” the manner in which to live. This climate forecloses the possibility of understanding something that is at the very foundations of Jewish and Christian morality: conversion, which is an answer to the urgent call to discern good from bad “habits” (the manners of being). The Deuteronomy already sets forth the following basic condition to enter into an alliance with God: “Look, today I put in front of thee life and good, death and evil… Choose life, so thou and thou descendants will live” (Deut 30, 15-19). Spaemann tells us that all is about the existence of an “atmosphere” in which we must live in this world; an atmosphere tending to atrophy or kill the organs perceiving the invisible world. It’s a crippling of the human condition which turns truth and its values up side down for those who suffer it, making a saint life impossible. What Spaemann says in his various articles can be found summarized in an interview with David Seeber, a journalist writing for the German Herder Korrespondenz, published in April 1998. At the end of this profound conversation the following question arises: May it come to be that the Church, at least in a European continent given to growing secularization, will be forced to live in a sort of “splendid ghetto”? That’s not the point, answered our author. On the contrary, perhaps it will come to be “the city raised on a high mountain,” visible from everywhere, in order to fulfil, from there, the mission Christ entrusted her with until his return. In brief, it is a book to be read thoroughly and to be duly meditated. Antonio Moreno Casamitjana Translated by Martin Bruggendieck German edition can be purchased on Internet at www.klett-cotta.de; Italian edition, at www.edizionicantagalli.com; Spanish edition at www.rialp.com
Bicentenary of the Latin American Countries’ Independence: Then and Now (El bicentenario de los países latinoamericanos) By Guzmán Carriquiry Foreword by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Ediciones Encuentro. Madrid, 2011 132 pp.
“In the Final Document of the Fifth Assembly of the Latin American Episcopate, the Church raises an historical concept for the people of the Continent, consisting in the statement that the ‘concrete Catholic,’ corresponding to the Incarnation of the Word,
is constitutive of our Latin American reality. Carriquiry quite well understands this stance, outlining it with intellectual rigour in this work, which evades neither the problematic nor the diversity of failures along these two hundred years,” writes Cardinal Jorge María Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, in the foreword to Bicentenary of the Latin American Countries Independence: Then and Now. The work was published by Ediciones Encuentro, and was written by Dr. Guzmán Carriquiry, who works at the Holy See for 40 years and is presently the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The book outlines, in the light of Latin America’s Catholic tradition, the ideas and great historical tasks which have defined our region as a heritage left by the Independence process. In the frame of a necessary reflection, this was carried out in the commemorative atmosphere of the bicentenaries, celebrated by an important number of Latin American countries from 2010 onwards. Our author and professor writes that it has been precisely this “concrete Catholic” aspect which has bestowed unity and originality onto Latin American identity. “The extraordinary thing is that this Catholic wisdom is still in vogue and present amongst the Latin American people, not withstanding the disassembling of the Church during the Independence processes, the persecutions suffered by the Church during the 19th century and far along the 20th , the lack of pastoral attention throughout decades and sometimes up to the present day. […] And even the enormous transformations suffered by the rural Christian communities under the impact of urbanization, industrial work, the mass media, the attempts of manipulating them by the ideologies of a bipolar world, have not been able to disintegrate it. […] All the opinion polls carried out these last years in the various Latin American countries show that the Catholic Church enjoys the highest credibility, consensus and trust on the side of the Latin American people”. Quoting his friend and teacher Methol Ferré, a Uruguayan citizen like himself, Dr. Carriquiry explains that in present times the threat faced by Latin America and its Catholic tradition proceeds from the “hedonistic-nihilistic” current into which the crisis of the ideological creeds has cast us. “It doesn’t but undermine the Catholic tradi-
tion of our people, eroding their human temper, rendering difficult an authentic education of the human personality, multiplying invertebrate individualisms lacking of the awareness of being a people, fostering consumption (while it is capital for us to believe in industry and productivity), anestheticizing the spirit of sacrifice, without which there is no love nor friendship nor great doctrines to carry forward,” he writes. One of the features of this work is that it moves away from the official versions regarding the Independence processes of the Latin American countries. Carriquiry, a Doctor in law and social sciences, explains that Independence did not bring along the establishment of freedom and democracy, nor the conditions of an authentic autonomy, but, on the contrary, was the causative of “costs” which are being paid even up to the present. In the first place, the economy was devastated as a consequence of the enduring wars: the work force was decimated, property looted, the mines flooded, etc. As a consequence, after Independence, every Latin American country tended to depend on some exportmonoculture, bringing along a new dependency, this time under the Neo-Colonialism exerted by the British Empire. Another cost, explains the author, was that of “Balcanization”. The breaching of the unifying bond of the Spanish monarchy led to the birth of more than twenty “parochial” States, torn apart and isolated, ignorant of their common background and many of them were incapable of existing politically and economically in an independent fashion. Prof. Carriquiry also adds to the former “costs” caused by Independence itself, as, for example, the worsening of the situation of the indigenous people, who lost recognition and rights granted by the monarchy. At the same level he considers the creation of what is called “oligarchic polis,” (a concept created by Prof. Pedro Morandé), in which a minority of rich merchants and landowners, concentrated at the capital cities, cultivated their own interests, promulgating constitutions which granted very restricted access to ballots, this way excluding the new countries’ large majorities of any participation in public life. Starting from this fact, it is easier to understand the tradition of revolutionary upheavals, social conflict and political instability featured in Latin America. Once Carriquiry explains the costs of Independence, he focuses his attention on the tasks which are still pending in the region. “What is at stake is the creation of conditions for a second independence,” he says. To this end he stresses different matters such as, for example, the promotion of a solid and sustained economic development, the need of reforming the State, investment in social and human capital, confrontation of the crucial question of inequity, the construction of authentic democracies, etc. It is in this sense that he doesn’t spare words to call the attention of the “socialisms of the XXI century,” which have made such a strong appearance in Latin America over the last decades. Although, he
notices, the rise of this new slogan is due in part to the failures of the “savage neo-liberalism” of the 1990s. “Their credibility would have to be established via a radical settlement of accounts with the theoretical premises of Marxism-Leninism and the human devastation brought along by the regimes of ‘real socialism’ and its atheistic totalitarianism, in order to be able to proceed with the arduous task of an ideal foundation and original materialization of a new and very different development and social model. Rhetoric cannot substitute these kinds of demands.” In the final pages of his book, the author points out the need of a “new evangelization” as a pending task vis-à-vis the Latin American people, because the patrimony Catholicism means for our region “is subject to a strong capillary erosion due to neglect and deficiencies in evangelization and religious instruction, the propagation of an increasingly distant but domineering global culture. It is also due to the proselytising expansion of other Christian communities and sects, which are diffused at places and in environments where the presence of the Catholic Church is rather fragile or absent, or offering answers to be considered insufficient due to its own secularization.” It is in this sense that Carriquiry stresses the impossibility of conceiving a true and sustained social, economic and cultural development in Latin America without the presence of its Catholic patrimony, the very source of its identity and originality. Francisco Javier Tagle Montt Translated by Martin Bruggendieck Purchase on Internet at http://www.ediciones-encuentro.es
The Thought of John Milbank - An Introduction to “Radical Orthodoxy” (El pensamiento de John Milbank. Una introducción a la «Radical Orthodoxy») By John Milbank and Adrian Pabst Editorial Nuevo Inicio Granada, 2011 175 pp.
One of the thought-provoking and controversial intellectual movements or currents that has risen in the context of contemporary Christian theology, is the so-called “Radical Orthodoxy” (henceforth RO). The controversy continues more than twenty years after it began. It calls for further reflection, dialogue, discussion and exchanging of ideas, and the informed taking up of a position. According to the authors, this book hopes to be a guide for readers, introducing them to the subject and its place in the context of the present theological scene.
This theological movement was born in Anglo-Catholic realms with the publication of the manifesto Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, written in 1999 by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward. One of its leaders and founders is lay Anglican theologian John Milbank, born in London in 1952. At present he is professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham, where he is head of the Center of Theology and Philosophy. He was educated at Oxford, Cambridge and Birmingham. In the past he has taught at the University of Virginia in the United States and at Cambridge. One of his key contributions is the study of the relationship between theology and the social sciences. In 1990 he wrote an erudite and major volume entitled Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (published in Spanish with the title Teología y teoría social. Más allá de la razón secular (Herder, Barcelona, 2004). In this work he strongly criticizes modernity and a theology that often, abandoning philosophy and metaphysics in particular, adopts the social sciences uncritically to base reflection. In his words: “The pathos of modern theology is its false humility. This must be as necessary as a mortal illness, because when it gives up its pretension of meta-discourse, it can no longer clearly express the Word of God Creator, but is forced to become the oracular voice of some finite idol, of some historical theological school, or humanist psychology or transcendental philosophy, to give a few examples.” The book now being presented brings together four essays of John Milbank, and one of Adrian Pabst (economist who at present teaches Political Theory at the University of Kent, having been previously a professor at Nottingham University. Of the five essays, the first two –one of Milbank and the other of Pabst– are global views. The others are rather monographic studies carried out in the perspective of this movement. The first essay is “The Program of ‘Radical Orthodoxy’” (9-28). In this work, Milbank states his position and answers reactions to the movement. He describes it as “a movement of intellectual, ecumenical and cultural mediation,” both moderate and extreme, where “the sacred permeates everything, and although it is true that it descends from on High, this descent is also manifested through its ascent from below.” It entails a “theological turn” against nihilism,
“although opposed to the modern, it also tries to save it,” […] “it does not wed the pre-modern but an alternative version of modernity.” The second essay is Pabst’s excellent text “Introduction to the Theology of John Milbank and to ‘Radical Orthodoxy,’” (29-65) which describes this contribution as an attempt to “reconfigure theological truth in face of the sinking of secular truth.” Hence the unusual controversy it has generated by criticizing secular logic and the restoration of theology as the “prevailing” discourse. The author hopes that the reader will be able to “bring to light the logic that underlies the orthodox-radical criticism,” on one hand (33-44: theological break with all secular logic); and on the other “the theological vision that informs his project” (45-54: linguistic, phenomenological and doxological turns of theology: towards a theo-logy and a theo-praxis of participation). For Milbank only Christianity can overcome the limitations of ancient thought and discover that modern secularism has its origin in the Medieval theologies of Scotus and Ockham, when “theology falls into the idolatry of onto-theology.” This contribution is the elaboration of a “resolutely post-modern theology, which establishes the Patristic and Medieval tradition and further reflects on it.” Thus it is necessary to break with secular logic and the violence it arouses and to move to a theology of participation, of mediation and of gift. The third essay “Liberality against Liberalism” (67-694) draws on some social and political consequences of the movement. The conclusion is: “where there is no public recognition of the primacy of an absolute good as founded on something supra-human, democracy then becomes impossible.” (89F) Without losing interest in the reflections proposed, the texts that follow are longer than the previous ones and refer to particular topics, as projections, one outside and the other within the theology and reflection of RO. Milbank’s fourth work “The Thomist Telescope: Truth and Identity,” (95-148) is more complex, abstract and specialized. Finally, the last essay: “Faith, Reason and Imagination: The Study of Theology and of Philosophy in the 21st Century,” (149-175) postulates that today there is a rapprochement that is more post-modern, fragmented and guided by the commentaries. More than secularized, theological studies have been laicized. “What is needed in the West now is a more developed Christian humanism that, as Pope Benedict XVI has pointed out, will make an even greater involvement of faith and reason, possible.” (152) For this to occur not only is it necessary to study philosophy and theology but also literature. In short, it is a good introduction and exposition of the movement’s effects in specific fields, to approach Milbank and RO for the first time, and to understand his position better, from authoritative voices, if one has already had contact with him. Andres Arteaga Manieu Translated by Virginia Forrester Purchase on Internet at http://www.nuevoinicio.es
BASED ON THE POEM BY JOHN HENRY NEWMAN
“The Dream of Gerontius” by Sir Edward Elgar by Fernando MartÍnez Guzmán
Sir Edward Elgar is the first modern British composer whose choral and orchestral works have won international fame. Elgar was born on June 2nd, 1857, near Worcestershire, and is one of the last figures of the late European romantic movement. A genuinely English composer and orchestral conductor, he lived in the imperialist and nationalist Victorian and Edwardian world. In his youth he fulfilled several positions related to music before succeeding his father as organist in the Roman Catholic Church of St. George’s, in 1885. In 1889 he married and resigned in order to dedicate himself entirely to composing. The premiere of his overture Froissart in 1890 brought him acclaim, though his talent was not acknowledged until 1899, when Hungarian conductor Hans Richter performed in London the Enigma Variations, one of Elgar’s most admired compositions, well-known for the central theme never being clearly exposed. In Elgar’s times, the great ambition of British composers was to write extensive choral works (just as with operas in Italy and symphonies in HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 195 - 202
Germany). Elgar wrote half a dozen such works and even though they are very extensive, they contain his best pages. His compositions reveal Richard Wagner’s and Johannes Brahms’ influence and are distinguished by their great lyrical beauty. He composed The Black Knight (1893) and Caractacus (1906) cantatas; the oratorios The Apostles (1903) and The Kingdom (1906); the violin concerto in B minor, Op. 61 (1910); the cello concerto in E minor, Op. 85 (1919), which has lately become his most famous work, as well as Five Marches of Pomp and Circumstances (1901-1907 and 1930). His outstanding orchestral works are the Overture Cockaigne (1902); the symphonic study Falstaff (1913) and two symphonies, one in A flat major (1908) through which he gained international distinction, and the other in A flat Major (1911). Elgar died on February 23, 1934, in Worcester while he worked on his Symphony Nº 3 and the opera The Spanish Lady. The Dream of Gerontius was first performed on October 3, 1900, at Birmingham’s Music Festival, being considered to be Sir Edward Elgar’s
The history of Gerontius
Elgar was not the first composer to consider John Henry Newman’s poem. Fifteen years previously The Dream of Gerontius had been contemplated by Dvorak who, in fact, conversed with Newman before abandoning the idea. Elgar had known the poem since 1885 and in 1889 had been given a copy of it as a wedding present, a manuscript which he examined over several years. In the autumn of 1889, after considering a different subject, he decided to take on the project, which by then he knew very well. The composition proceeded at a fast pace. Elgar and his editor August Jaeger exchanged frequent letters which show how Jaeger helped in the unfolding of the work and in particular in the climax of the exposition of the final judgement. The Birmingham choir had serious problems in mastering the complex composition and problems got worse after the choir conductor’s death. Hans Richter, the conductor of the first performance, received a copy of the score only the day before the first orchestral rehearsal. The soloists at the Birmingham Festival on October 3, 1900, were Marie Brema, Edward Lloyd and Harry Plunket Greene. As it is known, the first performance almost turned into a disaster. The choir could not sing the music properly and two of the soloists were reproved. Elgar was deeply upset by the debacle; however, many of the critics became aware of the significance of this work which would soon be recognized in Great Britain. Shortly after the first performance the conductor and the German choir director Julius Buths, translated the work into German achieving a successful performance in Düsseldorf in December 1901 and later in May 1902. Both the soloists and Elgar, who was present in the hall, were called twenty times to receive the audience’s applause. The first performance in London only took place in 1903, at Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral. The strong Catholicism of the work produced some objections in British influential circles, and so a number of Anglican clergymen insisted that in order that this work be performed in English cathedrals, Elgar had to adjust the text so as to play down the Roman Catholic Church. As a whole, there were no objections to Newman’s words, but the disapproval pointed to the doctrinal and dogmatic aspects contained inThe Dream of Gerontius, particularly on Purgatory. Later, the Dean of Gloucester would deny its performance until 1910, an attitude which prevailed until 1930 when the Dean of Peterborough also forbade the performance in the Cathedral.The Dream of Gerontius had its
masterpiece and one of the most important choral works in the world’s classical repertoire. The Dream of Gerontius, Op.38, also known as Gerontius, is based on the poem written by John Henry Newman. Its first performance was not very successful but later, in Germany, this work revealed its true value and dimension.
The poem Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), a mystic poet, is the author of the text on which Elgar’s work is based. Newman wrote the text of Gerontius at the age of sixty, already being a
catholic priest, a decade before Leon XIII named him cardinal. Newman’s poem tells the story of the voyage of a soul towards death and offers a poetic meditation of scatological view on the catholic theory of Purgatory. Gerontius, whose name was derived from the Greek word geron (old man), is a devout common man on his death bed. The text tells of his passing from this world full of shadows to the invisible one of eternity, before facing God’s judgement. It is considered a song of Purgatory, where the soul which has already saved and pervaded with peace, is purified so that it can enjoy the infinite bliss of the saints, who are the only ones who
first performance in the United States in 1903 at Carnegie Hall, conducted by Frank Damrosch. The premiere in Vienna took place in 1905, in Paris in 1906 and in Toronto in 1911, under Elgar’s own conduction. Many years later, towards the end of the fifties, the Italian towns of Rome and Perugia would hear the first performance of this work conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, an eminent Elgar connoisseur who devoted great energy in divulging The Dream of Gerontius in the main European countries. Barbirolli’s performance in Perugia in 1958 remains unforgettable due to his translation of the Choir of Demons into the nepolitan dialect, with the result Barbirolli himself would describe as “electrifying.” The following year, 1959, Barbirolli had the honour of conducting it before Pope Pius XII at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, making a great impression on the Pope who, once the performance was over said to the conductor: Figlio mio, questo è un capolavoro sublime! Last September 18th, on the eve of the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman presided by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, The Dream of Gerontius was presented again in the Town Hall – where it had been first performed in 1900- in the presence of the Duchess of Kent, cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, and before an audience that filled the hall and followed the performance with intense emotion. The performance was conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore, with mezzo-soprano Anna Stephany, tenor Adrian Thompson and bass Roderick Williams, with The Orchestra of the Age Enlightment and the Ex Catedra XL choir. The tenors Gervase Elwes and John Coates were outstanding as Gerontius in the first decade of the history of this work by Elgar, while Louise Kirkby Lunn, Gerhardt Elena and Julia Culp were admired as The Angel. Later the singers Muriel Foster, Clara Butt, Kathleen Ferrier and Janet Baker would excel as The Angel, whilst Stuart Wilson and Richard Lewis would stand out as Gerontius. At present The Dream of Gerontius is considered to be Elgar’s best choral composition. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians qualify it “among his three best works” and the Catalogue of Recordings as Elgar’s masterpiece, for its grandeur and great sense of depth. In The Oxford Dictionary Michael Kennedy writes: “The choral work has become as popular among the British as ‘The Messiah’ and ‘Elijah’, though its popularity has not yet sufficiently crossed the boundaries of the United Kingdom.” Elgar’s music is wonderful in its heroic melancholy. Nobody can remain indifferent after hearing the exhortation of The Priest to Gerontius: “Profiscere, anima Christiana” towards the end of Part I, and the emotional feeling of the choir when it sings “Praise to the Holiest” in Part II, in the form of antiphony, all this of course without diminishing the beauty of the whole context.
can see God’s face. Gerontius’ vision is also a meditation on the soul’s immortality, expressed in a deliberate and reflexive manner, with exquisite musical moments such as, for instance, when we hear the interpretation of Angel Farewell, performed by the soloists and the choir.
The musical work The Dream of Gerontius, Op.38, is written for voices and orchestra, in two parts. The main characters are Gerontius, Gerontius’ Soul, The Angel, The Priest, The Angel of the Agony, choir and orchestra.
Elgar’s work uses the main section of the text of the first part of Newman’s poem, which takes place on Earth, but it also omits many of the more reflective sections of the second part, in the other world which are much longer, thus reducing the course of the narration. In the first part we hear Gerontius as a dying man of faith, successively both fearful and hopeful, but always trustful. A group of friends (also called helpers in the text) join him in prayer and meditation. He dies in peace and a priest, together with the helpers, sending him on his way with a farewell. In the second part Gerontius, now called The Soul, awakes in a place
The British Museum's receipt for the original manuscript of Cardinal Newman`s The Dream of Gerontius. Frances Taylor kept the document which Newman gave The Month until the Congregation sold it to the Museum for 30 pounds in order to support the work which the Sisters carried out in London for the poor.
Cardinal Newmanâ€™s famous poem saw the light thanks to the persistent intervention of Frances Taylor, who will become the foundress of the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. Frances Taylor, daughter of a protestant pastor, converted to catholicism and was once editor of The Month and needed a subject for the next number of her review.
apparently with no space or time, and becomes aware of the presence of its guardian angel expressing its happiness at the fulfillment of its task. (Newman conceived The Angel as a male whilst Elgar turned it into a woman singer). After a long dialogue they travel towards the judgement throne. They pass before a group of demons with no difficulty and move towards choirs of angels eternally praising God for his grace and his forgiveness. The Angel of the Agony bids Jesus to forgive the souls of the faithful. Finally Gerontius perceives God and is instantly judged. The guardian angel takes Gerontius down to Purgatoryâ€™s appeasing lake with a final blessing and the promise of a new awakening to glory.
The interpretative force This work requires a very large orchestra, typical of the late romantic period: a double choir with a half-choir and, in general, three
soloists. Gerontius is interpreted by a tenor and The Angel by a mezzo-soprano. The bass part of The Priest is written for a baritone whilst The Angel of the Agony is more adequate for a bass. Given that both these parts are short they are usually sung by the same singer, though in some performances both parts are sung by different singers. The choir plays various roles: helpers and friends, demons, Angelicas (only women) and angels, as well as the souls in Purgatory. At different stages it works as a four part chorus, as a double-chorus in eight parts or as antyphonal singing. The half-chorus is used in music of lighter texture and is generally sung by a few singers from the main choir. However, Elgar himself preferred that the half-choir be placed at the front of the stage. The required instrumentation is composed of 2 flutes (double piccolo), two oboes and English horn, two clarinets in A and a bass clarinet, two bassoons and a double bassoon,
three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, kettle drums and three percussionists, harp, organ and strings. Elgar required an additional harp when possible, as well as three more trumpets (and any number of disposable percussion) in order to reinforce the climax in Part II, just before Gerontius’ vision of God. The Dream of Gerontius is a masterpiece in which, for the first time in English choral music the orchestra is treated with the same expressiveness as the voices. The music written as a unit reflects a great harmonic flexibility and a fluid chromaticism combining both magnificent and meditative moments. In Elgar’s own words “there is music in the air and the only thing you have to do is to take as much as you need.”
Part I (commentary)
Each of the two parts is divided in different sections, but it differs from the traditional oratorio in that the music flows with no important pauses. Elgar did not call his work an oratorio and rejected the term which others used for it. Part I lasts approximately 35 minutes and Part II about 60 minutes.
The work begins with an orchestral prelude which presents the main themes. In a detailed analysis, Elgar’s friend and editor, August Jaeger, identified and named these themes according to their purpose in the work. Gerontius sings a prayer knowing his life is abandoning him and, crying out his fear, asks his friends to pray with him. During a great part of the soloists’ music, Elgar composes in a style which alternates between the strictly written, fully accompanied recitative and the lightly arioso styled phrases accompaniment. The choir adds pious texts written as a four part fugue. The next delivery by Gerontius is the extensive aria of Sanctus fortis, a long credo which finally goes back to the expressions of sorrow and fear. Once more, in a combination of conventional chorus and recitative, the friends plead for him. Gerontius, now in peace, surrenders and the Priest recites the blessing “Go on your voyage, Christian soul.” (translation of the litany Ordo commendationis animae). This leads to a long chorus for the combined forces, which brings Part I to an end.
1. Andantino 2. I went to sleep (Soul of Gerontius) 3. My work is done (Angel) 4. It is a member of that family... All hail, my child and brother ( Soul / Angel) 5. A presage fell upon thee (Angel / Soul) 6. But hark! upon my sense... Low-born clods of brute earth (Soul / Angel / chorus) 7. Disposessed, aside thrust, chucked down (chorus / Angel) 8. The mind bold and independent (chorus) 9. I see not those false spirits...There was a mortal (Soul / Angel) 10. Praise to the Holiest… We know they have passed the gate (half-chorus / chorus / Angel)
The musical form
Prelude (lento, mistico / moderatoandantino / Come prima) 2. Jesu, Maria– I am near to death (Gerontius) 3. Kyrie eleison... Holy Mary, pray for him (half chorus / chorus) 4. Rouse thee, my fainting soul (Gerontius) 5. Be merciful, be gracious (chorus) 6. Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus (Gerontius) 7. I can no more (Gerontius) 8. Rescue him, oh Lord... Noah from the waters (chorus / Gerontius / half chorus) 9. Novissima hora est (Gerontius) 10. Profiscere, anima Christiana (Priest) 11. Go in the name of Angels and Archangels (chorus / Priest / half-chorus)
11. Glory to Him... But hear! a grand mysterious harmony (chorus / halfchorus / Angel /Soul) 12. And now the threshold... Praise to the Holiest (Angel / chorus) 13. Thy judgement now is near (Angel / Soul) 14. Jesus! for that shuddering dread (Angel of the Agony / Soul) 15. I go before my Judge... Be merciful, be gracious (Soul / half-chorus / chorus) 16. Praise to His name! Take me away (Angel / Soul) 17. Lord, thou hast been our refuge (chorus) 18. Softly and gently (Angel / chorus / half chorus)
Part II (commentary) In a complete change of essence, Part II begins with a simple phrase of four notes for the viols, introducing a gentle, rocking theme for the strings. This section is in ternary form, as is most of the second part. The music for The Soul shows amazement at its new surroundings and then The Angel is heard conveying a quiet joyfulness on the completion of its task. Both of them confer in an extensive duo, again combining recitatives with purely sung passages. A music with upsurging motion announces the appearance of the demons: fallen angels who express an intense spitefulness towards men, who are plain mortals who have supplanted them. At first the men of the choir sing short phrases in close harmony but as their anger increases the music turns into a loud fugue, interrupted by screams of mocking laughter. Gerontius cannot see the demons and asks whether he will soon behold his God. In a retitave sparsely accompanied which is reminiscent of the work’s overture, the Angel warns him that it is going to be an almost unbearable experience and describes, in a veiled way, the stigmas of St. Francis. Angels are heard offering their praises over and over again. Little
by little the intensity grows until finally the whole choir sings an arrangement of a section which begins with “Praise to the Holiest in the Height.” After a short orchestral passage, The Soul hears the echos of the friends he left on Earth who are still praying for him. He meets The Angel of the Agony whose exhortation was written for the bass as a passionate aria. Knowing that the awaited moment has come, The Angel of the Soul sings a Hallelujah. The Soul now goes before God and, in an enormous orchestral explosion, is instantly judged. At this point Elgar asks that “for a moment each instrument has to exercise all its strength.” This did not appear in Elgar’s original scheme but was added because of Jaeger’s insistence and now remains as a witness of the positive musical influence of his great friendship with Elgar. In an anguished aria The Soul entreats to be seized. A chorus of souls sing the first lines of Psalm 90 (Lord, thou hast been our refuge) and finally Gerontius joins them in Purgatory. The last section blends The Angel, the chorus and the half-chorus in a prolonged farewell song, and the work ends in superimposed amens.
The dedication Elgar followed Bach’s practice when he dedicated his work “To God’s greater Glory,” (ad maiorem Dei gloriam or AMDG) together with a phrase of the poet Virgil and a quotation from John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies. Richter, the orchestral conductor, also signed a copy of the score with the following words: “We may forget the chorus or the characters but we shall never be able to forget the wings of such an original genius.” The Dream of Gerontius represents old age and the proximity of death, which John Henry Newman consciously felt while he was writing his poem, a document of poetical and theological value and, furthermore, a fearful testimony of a man who begins to perceive
Another marvel; someone has me fast Within his ample palm; ‘tis not a grasp Such as they use on earth, but all around Over the surface of my subtle being, As though I were a sphere, and capable To be accosted thus, a uniform And gentle pressure tells me I am not Self-moving, but borne forward on my way. And hark! I hear a singing; yet in sooth I cannot of that music rightly say Whether I hear or touch or taste the tones. Oh what a heart-subduing melody!
Soul Now know I surely that I am at length Out of the body: had I part with earth, I never could have drunk those accents in, And not have worshipp’d as a god the voice That was so musical; but now I am So whole of heart, so calm, so self-possess’d, With such a full content, and with a sense So apprehensive and discriminant, As no temptation can intoxicate. Nor have I ever terror at the thought That I am clasp’d by such a saintliness.
Soul Take me away, and in the lowest deep There let me be, And there in hope the lone night-watches keep, Told out for me. There, motionless and happy in my pain, Lone, not forlorn,— There will I sing my sad perpetual strain, Until the morn. There will I sing, and soothe my stricken breast, Which ne’er can cease To throb, and pine, and languish, till possest Of its Sole Peace. There will I sing my absent Lord and Love:— Take me away, That sooner I may rise, and go above, And see Him in the truth of everlasting day.
* Strophes of the poem The dream of Gerontius by John Henry Newman.
INTENSIFYING ON THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS
Most of the recordings are directed by British conductors with the exception of a 1960 recording in Germany, conducted by Hans Swarowsky and another in Russia in 1983 (sung in English), conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov. The first complete recording of this work, made by EMI in 1945, was conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent with the Huddersfield Choral Society and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The first stereo recording, made by EMI in 1965 was conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. This recording is still in the catalogues because of the outstanding interpretation of British mezzo-soprano Janet Baker as The Angel, together with tenor Richard Lewis as Gerontius and The Soul of Gerontius, and the bass Kim Borg as The Priest and The Angel of the Agony. This version is highly recommended for its extraordinary interpretative level. Benjamin Britten also recorded this work for Decca in 1971, and is remembered for its strict adherence to Elgar’s score and its great interpretative force.
that he is about to face his soul’s destiny. As an ascetic person, Newman must have had this feeling all his life, but we must not forget that he did not write Gerontius all at once, but when he had reached full maturity, with a closer intuition of his mortality, thus revealing that Gerontius was no other than Newman himself. The subject of Gerontius is related to death.
Translated by Juana Subercaseaux
Gerontius’ subject is death, but from a religious perspective, not as an annihilation but as a passing into another state. Gerontius, the central character in Part I is replaced in Part II by The Soul of Gerontius. Thus Newman’s poem is an authentic monument of hope, deeply lived and wonderfully set to music by Sir Edward Elgar’s genius.
About the Authors JOSÉ GRANADOS, DCJM. Assistant professor of theology and philosophy of the body at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. ALEKSANDER MEN. Orthodox priest, theologian, biblical scholar, preacher and writer. In September 1990, he was killed on the way to church. ANTONIO MARÍA CARD. ROUCO VARELA. Archbishop of Madrid, Spain. Member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. TRACEY ROWLAND. Writer. Dean and Permanent Fellow of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Melbourne). CARDINAL ANGELO SCOLA. Patriarch of Venice 2002-2011, at present Archbishop of Milan. Former Rector of the Lateranense Pontifical University. Member of the Council of Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review. PEDRO MORANDÉ. PhD in Sociology. Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile. JUAN DE DIOS VIAL LARRAÍN. Former Rector of the University of Chile. National Prize for Humanities and Social Sciences l997. Member of the Academy of Social Political and Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile. ANTONIO LIVI. Professor Emeritus of the Philosophical Faculty, Lateran University (Rome), President of the International “Sensus Communis” Association. MAURO MATTHEI O.S.B. Benedictine monk and priest. Historian. TONY ANATRELLA S.J. Psychoanalyst and specialist in social psychiatry. Consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.
cal Lateranense University, Rome. Member of the Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review. WILLIAM CARROLL. Aquinas Fellow in Theology and Science, Blackfriars. Faculty of Theology. University of Oxford. Member of the Council of Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review. NIKOLAUS LOBKOWICZ. Director of the Eastern and Central European Studies Institute, University of Eichstätt, Germany. Member of the Council of Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review. JAVIER MARTÍNEZ FERNÁNDEZ. Archbishop of Granada, Spain. Member of the Council of Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review.
AUTHORS OF THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD, BOOKS AND MUSIC VITTORIO MESSORI. Italian writer. ROCCO BUTTIGLIONE. Italian political philosopher. Member of the Council of Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review. JOSÉ LUIS RESTÁN. Spanish journalist. JAIME ANTÚNEZ ALDUNATE. Director of Humanitas review. Member of the Academy of Social, Political and
Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile.
ANDRÉS ARTEAGA. Assistant Bishop of Santiago, professor at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Member of the Council of Consultants and Collaborators of Humanitas review. ELENA VIAL. Journalist. FRANCISCO J. TAGLE. Journalist. FERNANDO MARTÍNEZ GUZMÁN. Director of Music in Humanitas review.
STANISLAW GRYGIEL. Full Professor Chair John Paul II Pontifi-
EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Jaime Antúnez. Director of Humanitas review. PhD in Philosophy. Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile. Hernán Corral. PhD in Law. Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Law, University of Los Andes. Samuel Fernández. PhD in Theology. Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Director of the Padre Alberto Hurtado Study Center. Gabriel Guarda O.S.B. Abott Emeritus of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Trinity of Las Condes. National Prize for History, l984. Member of the History Academy of the Institute of Chile. René Millar. PhD in History. Former Dean of the Faculty of History, Geography and Political Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Full Professor of the History Institute. Member of the History Academy of the Institute of Chile. Ricardo Riesco. PhD in Geography. Rector of the University of San Sebastián. Francisco Rosende. Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Master of Arts in Economics, Chicago. Juan de Dios Vial Correa. Former Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Former President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Chile. Arturo Yrarrazával. PhD in Law. Former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
Council of Consultants and Collaborators Héctor Aguer: Archbishop of La Plata, Argentina. Anselmo Álvarez O.S.B: Abbot of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos. Carl Anderson: Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Andrés Arteaga: Assistant Bishop of Santiago, professor at the Faculty for Theology, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC). Francisca Alessandri: Professor, Faculty for Journalism, PUC. Antonio Amado: Professor of Metaphysics, Universidad de los Andes. Felipe Bacarreza: Bishop of Los Ángeles, Chile. Jean-Louis Bruguès O.P: Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Bishop Emeritus of Angers, France. Massimo Borghesi: Italian philosopher, senior professor of the University of Perugia, Italy. Rocco Buttiglione: Italian political philosopher. Carlos Francisco Cáceres: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra: Archbishop of Bolonia, Italy. Cardinal Antonio Cañizares: Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Cult and the Discipline of Sacraments. Jorge Cauas Lama: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Guzmán Carriquiry: Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. William E. Carroll: Aquinas Fellow in Theology and Science, Blackfriars. Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford. Alberto Caturelli: Argentine philosopher. Cesare Cavalleri: Director of Studi Cattolici, Milan, Italy. Fernando Chomalí: Archbishop of Concepción. Member of the Pontifical Academia Pro Vita, PUC. Francisco Claro: Dean of the Faculty for Education, PUC. Jesús Colina: Director of Aleteia. Ricardo Couyoumdjian: Professor History Institute, PUC. Member of the History Academy, Institute of Chile. Mario Correa Bascuñán: Secretary General PUC, professor at the Law Faculty, PUC. Francesco D’Agostino: Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University Tor Vergata of Rome, former President of the National Bioethic Committee of Italy. Adriano Dell’Asta: Professor, Catholic University, Milan, Italy. Vittorio di Girólamo: Professor, Universidad Gabriela Mistral. Carmen Domínguez: Lawyer, Director of the PUC Centre for the Family. Carlos José Errázuriz: Consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, professor at Pontifical Università della Santa Croce. Luis Fernando Figari: Founder of “Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana”, Lima, Peru. Alfredo García Quesada: Pontifical Consultant for the Cultural Council, professor of the Pontifical and Civil Faculty of Theology, Lima, Peru. Juan Ignacio González: Bishop of San Bernardo, Chile. Stanislaw Grygiel: Polish philosopher, tenured lecturer of the John Paul II Chair, Lateranense University, Rome. Raúl Hasbun: Priest of the Schöenstatt Congregation, professor at the Pontifical Senior Seminary of Santiago. Henri Hude: French philosopher, former Rector of the Stanislas College, Paris. Lydia Jiménez: Director of the Secular Institute Cruzadas de Santa María. Gonzalo Ibáñez Santa-María: Professor and former Rector of Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. José Miguel Ibáñez Langlois: Theologian and poet. Raúl Irarrázabal Covarrubias: Architect, President of the Chilean Association of the Order of Malta. Paul Johnson: British historian. Jean Laffitte: Bishop of Entrevaux. Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Nikolaus Lobkowicz: Director of the Eastern and Central
European Studies Institute, University of Eichstätt, Germany. Alfonso López Quintás: Spanish philosopher. Regular member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Alejandro Llano: Spanish philosopher, former Rector of the University of Navarra, Spain. Raúl Madrid: Professor, Law Faculty, PUC. Patricia Matte Larraín: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Mauro Matthei O.S.B: Benedictine monk and priest. Historian. Cardinal Jorge Medina: Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Javier Martínez Fernández: Archbishop of Granada, Spain. Carlos Ignacio Massini Correas: Professor at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina. Livio Melina: President of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family. Augusto Merino: Political Scientist, professor at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Dominic Milroy O.S.B: Monk at Ampleforth, former Rector of the Ampleforth College, York (G.B.). Antonio Moreno: Archbishop Emeritus of Concepción, Chile. Fernando Moreno: Philosopher, Director of the Political Science Program, Universidad Gabriela Mistral. Rodrigo Moreno Jeria: Member of the Chilean Academy of History. Máximo Pacheco Gómez: Former Minister of State, Ambassador to the Holy See, member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. José Miguel Oriol: President of Editorial Encuentro, Madrid, Spain. Francesco Petrillo O.M.D: General Superior of the Orden de la Madre de Dios. Bernardino Piñera: Archbishop Emeritus of La Serena, Chile. Aquilino Polaino-Lorente: Spanish psychiatrist. Cardinal Paul Poupard: President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Javier Prades: Dean of the Faculty for Theology at San Dámaso, Madrid, Spain. Member of the International Theological Commission. Dominique Rey: Bishop of Tréjus-Toulon, France. Héctor Riesle: Former Ambassador to the Holy See and the UNESCO. Florián Rodero L.C: Professor of Theology, Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Rome. Alejandro San Francisco: Professor at the Institute of History, PUC. Romano Scalfi: Director of the Christian Russia Center, Milan, Italy. Cardinal Angelo Scola: Archbishop of Milan. David L. Schindler: Director of the John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family, Washington D.C., U.S.A. Josef Seifert: President of the Liechtenstein International Academy of Philosophy, Granada, Spain. Gisela Silva Encina: Writer. Robert Spaemann: German philosopher. Paulina Taboada: Medical doctor, member of the Pontifical Academy Pro Vita. William Thayer Arteaga: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Olga Uliánova: Ph. D. in History, University of Lomonosov, Moscow. Researcher at the Universidad de Santiago. Luis Vargas Saavedra: Professor, Faculty of Literature, PUC. Miguel Ángel Velasco: Director of Alfa y Omega, Madrid, Spain. Juan Velarde Fuertes: Member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Príncipe de Asturias Prize in Social Sciences (1992). Aníbal Vial: Former Rector of Universidad Santo Tomás. Pilar Vigil: Medical doctor, member of the Pontifical Academy Pro Vita. Richard Yeo O.S.B: Abbot and President of the Benedictine Congregation, England. Diego Yuuki S.J: Former Director of the Museum of the 26 Martyrs of Japan, Nagasaki.
Published on Jun 5, 2012