Monday, June 25, 2007

God with a Human Face: Reason, Humanism, and Our Vocation

Here's another reason why I just love this Pope: he's all over what ails our post-modern mentality.

Lord, give us grace to think rationally and pray fervently.


Benedict XVI says the crisis of modernity arises from an attempt to separate the human person from his "full truth," which includes his "transcendent vocation."
The Pope said this Saturday when he received in audience in Paul VI Hall the participants in the European Meeting of University Professors.Their four-day meeting, which ended Sunday, was dedicated to the theme "A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities."The Holy Father invited the participants to consider three concrete themes of reflection, which he called "foundational issues."

He first encouraged "a comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity."He said this crisis "has less to do with modernity's insistence on the centrality of man and his concerns, than with the problems raised by a 'humanism' that claims to build a ' regnum hominis' detached from its necessary ontological foundation."The Pontiff continued: "A false dichotomy between theism and authentic humanism, taken to the extreme of positing an irreconcilable conflict between divine law and human freedom, has led to a situation in which humanity, for all its economic and technical advances, feels deeply threatened."As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, stated, we need to ask 'whether in the context of all this progress, man, as man, is becoming truly better, that is to say, more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible and more open to others.'"

Benedict XVI encouraged consideration of the entirety of the human person: "The anthropocentrism which characterizes modernity can never be detached from an acknowledgment of the full truth about man, which includes his transcendent vocation."

The Pope also called for a "broadening of our understanding of rationality."He said that responding to the challenges of contemporary culture means taking a critical approach toward "narrow and ultimately irrational attempts to limit the scope of reason."The Holy Father affirmed: "The concept of reason needs instead to be 'broadened' in order to be able to explore and embrace those aspects of reality which go beyond the purely empirical. This will allow for a more fruitful, complementary approach to the relationship between faith and reason."

Benedict XVI further encouraged investigation on the "contribution which Christianity can make to the humanism of the future."He said: "The question of man, and thus of modernity, challenges the Church to devise effective ways of proclaiming to contemporary culture the 'realism' of her faith in the saving work of Christ. Christianity must not be relegated to the world of myth and emotion, but respected for its claim to shed light on the truth about man, to be able to transform men and women spiritually, and thus to enable them to carry out their vocation in history."

The Pope referred to a speech he made in his recent apostolic journey to Brazil. "I voiced my conviction that 'unless we do know God in and with Christ, all of reality becomes an indecipherable enigma.'"He added: "Knowledge can never be limited to the purely intellectual realm; it also includes a renewed ability to look at things in a way free of prejudices and preconceptions, and to allow ourselves to be 'amazed' by reality, whose truth can be discovered by uniting understanding with love.

"Only the God who has a human face, revealed in Jesus Christ, can prevent us from truncating reality at the very moment when it demands ever new and more complex levels of understanding. The Church is conscious of her responsibility to offer this contribution to contemporary culture."

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