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!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Regensburg Address: Important for Catholic Education! (Part 3)

This is a three part series on Pope Benedict XVI and his Regensburg Address. Part 3 is here posted; Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.


Beginning of Benedict XVI’s lecture:

Does God exist? Yes, of course He does. How can we answer that though? How do we know? This should seem as a fairly amusing question because of its implied simplicity. We can know there is a God simply by using pure reason.

Yet in university circles all throughout the globe, this question bears little to no weight. In fact, in circles European and American academia, placing God in the context of discussions on topics such as, Creation, one might be committing career suicide; only to be ostracized by contemporary movements to move God entirely out of the arena of discussion.

Benedict XVI starts off his lecture remembering how when he taught as a professor in a University, there were two schools of theology—Catholic & Protestant. The implication in both of course places God as the focus of theological discourse. He goes on to assert that in the realm of reason, disbelief in God is not a valid or persuasive argument.

Continuing on from that starting point he shortly mentions the Islamic faith in contrast to Christianity’s view of God. As stated before, the pope makes a historical reference to a Byzantine Emperor Manuel II and a Persian thinker in order to highlight core differences between Christianity and Islam. Again, the aim was to signify the importance of the three-person-unity in the Godhead and the importance in the reasonableness of the Incarnation.

It seems that his aim is to provide a quick and sharp disagreement to the idea that God can contradict himself. This improper understanding of God seeks to authenticate immoral and contradictory actions of violence and opposition in the name of God.

This is really important. God cannot shift human reasoning, or we cannot claim to do that on behalf of God, in order to make what is evil into what is good. We live in a world where people act on an impulse of what is claimed to be God’s will, even if it goes against what God actually says.

The questions Benedict XVI is asking are this: Is God’s Word, the divine logos, a constant and universally fixed thing? Is truth, given to us as a gift from God, true always and everywhere; true for us in all times?

Violence in the name of God does not come from Christianity. God will never make actions of that violent sort, a pursuable good. They are inherently evil.

Note that the comment on Islam is only one short set of sentences. The Holy Father is pointing to something else, or someone else. He is pointing to education at the university level. He is pointing to popular culture in the global society today.

It is here where the Regensburg Address takes off and soars—the professor and priest made Bishop, made Cardinal, made Pastoral Shepherd & Pope, sounding off his lesson for the day!

Core message in the Regensburg Address: Important for Catholic Education today

Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary! It actually happened. God showed up to help save us from our sins because we could not do it ourselves. This is important.

What is also important is when and where Christ showed up! The Evangelists and the Patristic Fathers began the Catholic Church & Christian Faith. This is essentially important to the history of philosophy and theology and also to faith & reason.

The early Christians, the Evangelists, and the Patristic Fathers had to deal with the burden of articulating what they experienced in Christ’s ministry, passion & death, and resurrection. They went to Greek systems of reason to articulate those experiences and their importance.

Perhaps it is significant that John’s Gospel took the longest amount of time to form. Scriptural critical research tells us that John’s Gospel was written about 90-100 A.D. — at the end of the 1st century. The three Synoptic Gospels came before John's. Did John’s community and the Christian Faith need a germinating period to develop the great truth about who Christ is? What Benedict XVI is identifying as crucially important today, is remembering that the contents of the Christian faith are rooted in the Word of God—the Logos—made incarnate in Christ. If we abandon that truth, we abandon one of the most essential elements of the Christian Faith.

Was the critically purified Greek Heritage of the faith just a “happening” of coincidental circumstance or was it significant in God’s plan for salvation? What occurred was our ability to use systems of reason to make core distinctions about things, about what is real and what is not. This form of thinking is what all science and human discovery is founded on.

It cannot be an anonymous or chanced happening. God, the Father chose Abraham and the nation of Israel for a reason. Christ lived during a certain period of time and in a certain place that is significant to that reason. The philosophical and theological presuppositions used by the Evangelists in the Gospels make theological discourse and development possible throughout history. This is why keeping the roots of the Christian Faith well in-tact is so important.

History of philosophical systems of reason:

One of the great things about this address is that any philosophical anthropology professor could use it as a text to teach the course. The sections of such a course on modern European philosophy would use this lecture as a truly helpful tool.

The premise Benedict XVI is working from is common assessment of most university models of philosophy today—models based on an over-emphasized focus on relativism and skeptical rationalism.

We live in the “Third Stage of De-Hellenization” that began with Martin Luther and the Reformation. This third stage is significantly harsher than the other two, as the last 50 years have almost broken Christianity and Catholicism entirely with its heritage; almost broken with the very foundations where Revelation occurred. This is really serious. Its implications on how the world lives and operates are evident in so many of the global conditions we struggle to manage today.

Many in universities across the West doubts the efficaciousness of human reason, stating that there is no truth to what we can know and believe in life. Many believe faith is something that does not belong to anything near the realm of reason, nor does reason help articulate anything universally true as claimed by assertions of faith.

It is true that Pope Benedict XVI has his hands full with a European continent that is falling further into decline. What is important to note is that his message is important because it is in the very continent of Europe and its corridor into the Middle East where Revelation took place and the foundations of faith and reason as we know today were born.

Furthermore, when we look at the lack of even the simplest identification of "God" in our modern cultures we see where the "decline" originates. It begins by not even acknowledging God, His existence, and importance.

What makes Christianity so unique to other word religions is that God is not an ideology. Rather, God is a person. God is something that exists totally separate from ourselves. Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity and the person who actually is God. God revealed himself as a person in Christ.

So when our recognition of God through conclusions of a chain of systematic reasoning declines, combined with a denial of the possibility of truth existing in Sacred Scripture, we lose the most vital fact there is--God is in fact real, and he made himself known to us through Divine Revelation.

The results of denying God as even a legitimate basis of reasoning lends itself to reject truth in Scripture and, the consequences are catastrophic. Look out the window at the world today and see the massive volume of injustice and human suffering. All of it is at its core, the product of this "decline."

What we can do with these insights Benedict XVI gives us:

The University and our systems of education in the modern world started with the Catholic Church. Socio-political, economic, morality, and ethical issues that deal with the human condition, start in the systematic models of reasoning we use to operate within them. Pope Benedict XVI knows this so well and teaches it even better.

Beginning with the areas we can fix, Catholics need to apply these insights to its models of Catholic Education. Catholics need to apply these insights to the liturgical style and liturgical practices. Catholics need to do this now, immediately, with a sense of excitement, hope and encouragement. Proper Catholic Education and Worship will lend itself into life praxis and good decisions in life. It can change how the world works.


The Regensburg Address is perhaps one of the greatest addresses given by Pope Benedict XVI. It is like a beacon that sounds off to us, telling us where we came from, how we got here, and what we can do about it moving forward.

The main point is to know that there is a right and there is a wrong when teaching and thinking about who God is and his relation to humanity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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