Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Regensburg Address: Important for Catholic Education! (Part 1)

This will be a three part series on Pope Benedict XVI and his Regensburg Address. Part 1 is here posted, the others will soon follow.



On September 12, 2006, Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI delivered one of the most important messages of his entire papacy; perhaps of all papacies. While it was not a formal papal encyclical, it serves as a teaching tool for all of us when we examine Catholic Education. We can use this address, along with many of his other speeches, as a reference point in making decisions on teaching and practicing the Catholic Faith.

Now this blog is perhaps a little “late to the prom” on this subject; the address was given in 2006. Nonetheless, this is very important for Catholic Education. Even beyond Catholics, it is important for all educational institutions — in particular, high school and collegiate education in the United States and Europe.

The reason why this lecture’s messages are important is that they address the very root of all education, the liberal arts, sciences, and the system of reasoning by which we all make decisions every day. It speaks to the fundamental recognition of our Creator God's existence and his essential importance in our lives.

This bright, penetrating, stunning, and totally awesome academic lecture given at the University of Regensburg, is an example of why the Catholic Church is the premier leader, or shepherd, in the intellectual realm of dialogue on the relationship between faith and reason.

First and foremost, this lecture is mostly a commentary on reason. It tells us what reason is and how it has ebbed and flowed through the epochs of Christianity, and Eastern & Western history. In particular, it delves into the period of the Reformation, continuing to today’s post-modern era.

The scope and breadth of this lecture is efficiently sharp, while at the same time, extensively particular for a special university address. Yet, it is also approachable to the non-academic who is willing to make an effort to ask the right questions. The point is that Benedict XVI played the role of a university professor and an educating pastor all at once. This is just one of the ways that makes this address outstanding!

When you read this lecture you can tell that this is a monumental address for all of us to look at, read, read again, and then come back to it again and again. The Holy Father’s messages in this address are colossally important!

Benedict XVI has the appropriate answer for the modern man, the current problems in the ideologically divided Catholic Church, and the world at large which is filled with conflicted torment and massive human suffering. His answer is for us to look at the relationship between faith and reason and how it helps us understand God.

His answer lends itself directly to today’s fundamental and systematized structures of human reasoning, along with how the world looks, or does not look, at our Creator God who is present to us always. This message is certainly not new to us — Pope John Paul II laid down this very point all throughout his papacy.

Following John Paul II (The Great) perfectly, yet in his own way:

Benedict XVI often comments on how he is picking up right where John Paul II’s (The Great) papacy left off. We know that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger often met with John Paul II as the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, offering suggestions to many of John Paul II’s publications and messages. Both men are brilliant thinkers and witnesses to Christ. We are so blessed to have had, and currently have, both of them as our Pope.

Yet, Pope Benedict’s lecture reads fairly easily for those who don't regularly read philosophy and those not so familiar with the content of his lecture. This is why this lecture is approachable for those willing to make the effort to research answers to questions about its content. If John Paul II was at heart a true philosopher, Benedict XVI is the awesome theologian with the ability to articulate the scope of philosophical systems that explain theology for everyone.

In the Regensburg Address, Benedict XVI critically surveys the entire history of philosophy, systems of reason, their historical relevancy, and how it all references back to the Greek Heritage of the Catholic Faith best described by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

This history laid out for us is how Benedict XVI follows John Paul II’s lead, but is distinct to Benedict's own take on faith and reason — what makes Catholicism, well...Catholic!

The premise behind this is that the Catholic Church and Catholicism are the custodian of truth.

Combine those efforts with the sense of a “new springtime of re-evangelization in the Church,” in the proper way — true to a continuous line of Scripture and Tradition - and we have a very good picture forming for the future.

This highlights the most distinguishing facet of Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Address. He specifically identifies how not all systems of reason that attempt to articulate and form the Catholic Faith are not adequate for the job. In fact, some systems have failed. Keeping in line with the Christmas Address he gave to the Roman Curia in December of 2005, Benedict XVI explains in the Regensburg Address how we are living in a “Third Age of De-Hellenization” which began with the Reformation.

His December 2005 discourse to the Roman Curia calls us to look at the Second Vatican Council with a “hermeneutic of continuity,” understanding it within the context of the entire scope of the Tradition of Christianity. This way we can keep the Christian faith healthily alive, now and for the future. We should not forget our roots and should be true to them at all times.

The premise behind this is that, unfortunately, some people during the last 50 years have produced an exponential jolt in this “Third Stage of De-Hellenization.” This is the core message that Benedict XVI articulates to us in this Regensburg Address.

Perhaps this is what makes some people call Pope Benedict XVI somewhat of a “lightning rod” in Catholic and Ecumenical circles. This comment is made "tongue-in-cheek;" the irony is that of course he is - he is the pope. Nevertheless, we know that there are Catholics who downright do not care for him. That is truly sad and unfortunate. However, he is our pope and we follow his direction. He points us in the proper direction in faith and love. He is our shepherd and he leads us in his pastoral vision for Christ’s Church. Being a leader is hard and requires making difficult decisions and, at times, saying difficult things.

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.