The former Professor Joseph Ratzinger returned to his old university today to hold a conference on the relation of faith and reason. Pope Benedict XVI told professors and students at the University of Regensburg that, “only if reason and faith come together in a new way” can mankind face the dangerous possibilities now facing it.
Following a series of musical performances, by the university’s choirs and orchestra, the Pope began what he described as a “moving experience” by reflecting on his life in the academy. The Pope mentioned his time at the University of Bonn in 1959, when, he said, the university as a whole was open to raising the question of God through the use of reason, in the context of the Christian tradition. The Pope said such an open interplay between the various faculties is necessary.
Benedict said, that without doubt, “the positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us.”
However, he said, “while we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them.”
“We will succeed in doing so,” Benedict offered, “only if reason and faith come together in a new way…if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons.”
“In this sense,” he said, “theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.”
“The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.”
In addition to being equipped to answer moral questions, Benedict continued, regaining such an understanding of reason will equip the West to better understand “the world’s profoundly religious cultures.”
“A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures,” the Pope insisted, “is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”
See the full text of the Pope’s address here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/bavaria06/message9.htm