1 Oct

The Pope's Regensburg Address

Category: Sound Thinking
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 10/01/06

Pope Benedict XVI's lecture at the University of Regensburg, which has incited wide-spread outrage among Muslims, addresses a subject to which much attention has been paid on back issues of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal: the relationship between faith and reason in the modern world. The work is titled Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections and is being touted as the second most important work to come from former Cardinal Ratzinger since he became Pope (the first being the encyclical Deus Caritas Est). Faith, Reason and the University attends to the question: Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? Pope Benedict writes about the origins of the idea that acting unreasonably is contrary to God's nature, and how different generations have tried to sunder the connection between faith and reason. Finally, he discusses the importance of and necessity for rejoining the two in a new way. 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 verifiable, 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.

The text of Faith, Reason and the University is available on-line. An article that resonates with the Pope's lecture is R. R. Reno's essay Theology's Continental Captivity, which was published in the April 2006 issue of First Things. Reno was a guest on Volume 67 of the Journal. For another Pontiff's studied and wise words on the connection between faith and reason, see the late Pope John Paul II's letter Fides et Ratio. When the letter was first delivered, the journal First Things dedicated to it many pages of discussion. The commentary is available on-line. [Posted October 2006, ALG]