Creation as a Basis for Dialogue

Interview With Theologian Father Santiago Sanz

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2005 ( Creation is a good starting point for understanding between believers and nonbelievers, and between followers of other religions, says a recently lauded theologian.

Father Santiago Sanz received a papal medal last week for his doctoral thesis on «The Relationship between Creation and Covenant in Contemporary Theology.» The Coordination Council of the Pontifical Academies recommended him for the award.

This priest, who was born in Spain in 1972, is incardinated in the Opus Dei Prelature and teaches theology at the University of the Holy Cross, in Rome. He expounded on his views about creation, in this interview with ZENIT.

Q: What did the Pontifical Academies highlight of your work?

Father Sanz: Insofar as they told me, we were given this award because both the winner as well as the other two of us who received a papal medal are young, and with it they hoped to encourage us in our dedication to research.

For my part, perhaps, they were interested in my work because the topic has much to do with current issues related to Christian humanism.

Q: «Creation» and «covenant» are concepts that today lend themselves to many interpretations. What is the vision you have wished to present based on Christian humanism?

Father Sanz: I hoped to contribute to stress the importance that the truth of creation has in the present context, where the Church finds herself in the midst of keen and at the same time exciting challenges and problems.

I am thinking above all of dialogue, not only with believers of the different religions of the world, but also with nonbelievers.

In a society drifting toward relativism, as Benedict XVI himself often mentions, many — including among those who do not share a religious belief — are realizing that we need to come to an agreement on some fundamental ethical values that are in consonance with the dignity of the person.

In this connection, I think the truth of creation can be a valid point of take off, as it is shared by so many religions and at the same time moves on the horizon of the search that human reason undertakes naturally when wondering about the origin and meaning of our existence and of the whole of reality.

Q: Can you summarize your doctoral thesis in a few words?

Father Sanz: I think the debate on creation and covenant must relate two fundamental needs: on one hand, that creation is above all a mystery of faith and therefore must be understood in profound connection with the covenant that God offers us in Jesus Christ; this is the theological need highlighted primarily in the second half of the 20th century.

On the other hand, that the Christian proclamation has always considered the truth of creation as a point of contact with human reason, as it is a truth that, up to a certain point, can be understood by the intelligence of one who still does not believe; this need, highlighted again more recently, calls for a certain autonomy from the idea of creation.

If both needs are taken into account, one can then speak, in theological language, of a relationship of circularity between creation and covenant.

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