Pope Urges Theologians in Humility of "Little Ones"

Notes How They Have to Catch Up to the Faith of God

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The People of God precede theology, thanks to the Holy Spirit’s gift that brings them to embrace the faith, and which can leave theologians struggling to explain what the faithful already know.

This suggestion was made today by Benedict XVI, when he spoke of Blessed Duns Scotus at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

Scotus was instrumental in explaining the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, positing the concept of “preventive redemption.”

The Holy Father focused on Scotus’ contribution in Mariology, and also in his Christocentric teaching on the Incarnation, and his instruction on liberty.

Regarding Scotus’ pivotal role in understanding the Immaculate Conception, the Pope said this: “In Duns Scotus’ times, the majority of theologians offered an objection that seemed insurmountable to the doctrine that Most Holy Mary was free from original sin from the first instant of her conception. In fact, the universality of the redemption wrought by Christ, at first glance, might seem compromised by such an affirmation, as if Mary had no need of Christ and of his redemption. Because of this theologians were opposed to this thesis.”

The Pontiff recounted how Scotus developed an argument that Pope Pius IX would go on to use in 1854 when he solemnly defined the dogma.

“And this argument,” Benedict XVI said, “is that of the ‘preventive redemption,’ according to which the Immaculate Conception represents the masterpiece of the redemption wrought by Christ, because in fact the power of his love and of his mediation obtained that the Mother be preserved from original sin. Hence Mary is totally redeemed by Christ, but already before her conception.”

Source of faith

In this context, the Pope highlighted how “valuable theologians […] enriched with their specific thought what the People of God already believed spontaneously about the Blessed Virgin, manifested in acts of piety, in the expressions of art and, in general, in Christian living.”

He noted how “faith in the Immaculate Conception or in the bodily assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpret it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. Thus the People of God precede theologians and all this thanks to that supernatural ‘sensus fidei,’ namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit, which qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith, with humility of heart and mind.”

The Holy Father continued, “In this sense, the People of God is ‘magisterium that precedes,’ and that later must be deepened and intellectually accepted by theology.”

And he expressed his hope that theologians will always be able to “listen to this source of faith and have the humility and simplicity of little ones!”

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29826?l=english

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