Chilean scholars reflect on main themes of Papal speech in Regengburg

.- A group of renowned Chilean scholars have offered a series of reflections about the main themes of Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial lecture last September in Regensburg, Germany.

The Catholic Pontifical University of Chile and the magazine “Humanitas” held a forum this week to discuss the meaning and impact of the Pope’s remarks.

Pedro Morande Court, a consulter of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Pope’s speech was a reflection on Western culture.  “His essential affirmation, summarized by the statement of a 14th century Byzantine emperor—‘to not act according to reason, to not with logos, is contrary to the nature of God’—supports the argument that ‘the spread of the faith through violence is irrational,” Morande said.

“Some have read that through the prism of Christian-Muslim relations, but its import reaches all aspects of the relation between faith and reason, including dialogue with modern Western thought,” he stressed.

When the social and human sciences exclude “the problem of God” and refer to it as a problem that lies outside the realm of science, Morande continued, the result is a “reductionist position regarding reason,” which leaves no room for dialogue between the world’s cultures and religions.

The natural sciences, he said, should leave to philosophy and theology those questions about which they can only assume.  “The Pope seems to want to convey that Christianity is reasonable because of the realism with which it sees man and the world from the basis of the revelation of a Christ-Logos who assumes human nature,” he observed.

Juan de Dios Vial Larraín, another prominent Chilean scholar, addressed the relation between faith and reason in Benedict XVI’s remarks.  He said the healthy encounter between the Catholic faith and Greek thought, which helped shape much of Christian Philosophy and Theology, has been repeatedly diminished over the last centuries.  The rupture of that connection marks “the dehellenization of Christianity.”  

“The rupture of the faith has occurred within Christian culture,” Vial noted, placing God definitively beyond the reach of man.  “It is true that the differences between God and man are infinitely greater than the similarities, but God does not become more divine just because we push Him away.”  

“In his lecture the Pope calls for a ‘widening of reason’ that will allow it to overcome the limits that have been imposed on it and open a more lively, more up-to-date and more mature discussion about the reason of faith,” he added.

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