VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has billed the healing of the cultural “schizophrenia” that separates faith from reason as one of today’s most important challenges.
The Holy Father made these comments today before reciting the Angelus with the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, on the calendar day that normally would be the liturgical memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), “a great doctor of the Church.”
The saint’s “charism of philosopher and theologian offers a valid model of harmony between reason and faith, dimensions of the human spirit, which are fully realized when they meet and dialogue,” the Pope said.
Quoting St. Thomas, Benedict XVI said that “human reason … ‘breathes,’ that is, it moves on a wide, open horizon in which it can experience the best of itself.”
Poor in faith
However, the Holy Father said, “when man limits himself to think only of material and experimental objects, he closes himself to the questions of life, about himself and about God, impoverishing himself.”
“The relationship between faith and reason is a serious challenge for the present prevailing culture in the Western world,” the Pope said.
Therefore, continued the Pontiff, “our beloved John Paul II wrote an encyclical, which was entitled precisely ‘Fides et Ratio’ — ‘Faith and Reason.'”
“I also took up this argument recently, in the address to the University of Regensburg,” Benedict XVI said, in reference to the address that sparked violent reactions from the Muslim world for some of its comments on Islam.
The Pope said: “The modern development of the sciences brings countless positive effects, which must always be acknowledged.
“At the same time, however, it must be admitted that the tendency to consider true only that which can be experienced constitutes a limitation for human reason and produces a terrible schizophrenia, evident to all, because of which rationalism and materialism, and hypertechnology and unbridled instincts, coexist.”
The Holy Father continued: “It is urgent, therefore, to rediscover in a new way human rationality open to the light of the divine ‘Logos’ and to its perfect revelation that is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man.
“When Christian faith is authentic it does not mortify freedom or human reason; then, why should faith and reason be afraid of one another, if on meeting one another and dialoguing they can express themselves in the best way?”
“Faith implies reason and perfects it, and reason, illuminated by faith, finds the strength to rise to knowledge of God and of spiritual realities,” the Pontiff said. “Human reason loses nothing when it is open to the contents of faith; what is more, the latter calls for its free and conscious adherence.”
According to the Pope, the “Christian synthesis between reason and faith … represents a precious patrimony for Western civilization, to which recourse can be taken also today to dialogue effectively with the great cultural and religious traditions of the East and South of the world.”
The Holy Father appealed to “Christians, especially those in the academic and cultural realm” to “be more able to express the reasonable character of their faith and to witness to it with a dialogue inspired by love.”