Reason, Revelation and The Catholic Mind

Posted by Censor Librorum on Oct 3, 2009 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Popes

During Pope Benedict XVI’s recent trip to the Czech Republic, the pope emphasized   that Europe had been deeply shaped by its Christian roots. Invoking his own background as an academic, he warned the Czech academic community against allowing a modern-day preoccupation with reason to cancel out faith. pope visit

“What will happen if our culture builds itself only on fashionable arguments, with little reference to a genuine historical intellectual tradition, or on the viewpoints that are most vociferously promoted and most heavily funded,” he asked.

In another address to Czech academics in Prague, the pope inveighed against the perils of relativism. He also underlined the need to mend “the breach between science and religion.”

Some young Christians said they felt alienated by the pope’s “moral absolutism” who appeared more intent on preserving the church’s traditions than an adapting to modern times.

“A pope’s visit should energize all Christians,” said Daniel Barton, 25, a youth leader in the country’s largest protestant denomination, “but I find his social conservatism quite ridiculous.”

“The Vatican and this pope have been absolutizing the traditions of the past without thinking of the reasoning behind these rules, which is what Jesus was fighting against.”

The very week that he returned, an editor of Zenit, a news agency specializing in coverage of the Holy Father, life in the Holy See, and events of interest to the Church, published an interview with Jesuit Fr. James V. Schall, a professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University in Washinton, DC. Fr. Schall is also the author of The Mind that is Catholic: Philosophical and Political Essays. The book was published by Catholic University of America Press in November 2008.   The book explores the habits of being that allow one to use the tools of faith and reason to explore all things seen and unseen. The mind

“It is characteristic of the Catholic mind,” states Fr. Schall, “to insist that all that is knowable and considered by us in our reflections on reality. ”

“It was Aristotle who warned us that the reason we do not accept the truth even when it is presented to us is because we do not really want to know it. Knowing it would force us to change our ways. If we do not want to change our ways, we will invent a “theory” whereby we can live without the truth.”

“The ‘primary’ source of the Catholic mind is reality itself,” said Fr. Schall, “including the reality of revelation.”   “The source of our knowledge,” he goes on to say, “is not a book but experience of being and living, an experience that will often include those whose lives are already touched by grace.” schallimage

Pope Benedict XVI is an intellectual, an academician who happens to be pope.   A bookish man, and probably the most conservation and ecologically-minded pontiff we have ever had, you would think he would be open to nature being a source of revelation of God and humanity–but he is not. He is stiffly fixated on homosexual sex and relationships as unnatural.

In his December 2008 address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration, the Pope himself described behavior beyond traditional heterosexual relations as “a destruction of God’s work”.

He said the Roman Catholic Church had a duty to “protect man from the destruction of himself” and urged respect for the “nature of the human being as man and woman.”

The pontiff added: “The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”

Can lived experience can be an instrument of God’s revelation? If so, what is God saying about the increasing openness and acceptance of loving gay and lesbian relationships and commitments? That is something for the Catholic Mind, including the Holy Father’s, to grapple with–not dismiss out-of-hand as a product of relativism.

I hope he picks up this book.

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4 Responses to “Reason, Revelation and The Catholic Mind”

  1. Itzik Janowitz Says:

    Since when does the religion have to pander to the wills of those that are supposedly following that religion? The Pope is 100% correct in this idea, that homosexuality, and lesbianism, are aberrations of Gods intent of Sex. Had Moses pandered to the Jews, finding them sacrificing to the Golden Calf, with the 10 commandments in his hands,then the whole Jewish people would have probably been destroyed, by God turning his back on them. Those that engage in the unnatural appeal of sex with the same gender, have brought down judgement on themselves, and are looking to have more and more people accept them, not caring what the consequences for those that follow them are.
    Not being satisfied that the Aides infection was contained amonst themselves, they spread the disease by having sex with heterosexual
    partners, just to have the disease spread to them, and whatever heterosexuals they have sex with. Then say, “See, it is not just us that have it”. That was the roll that the ACLU took when the prisons noted the disease, and wanted to quarantine those that had the disease, the ACLU fought that idea, liberalism at its best. That is what the Modernists want for the Catholic faith Then let them join themselves to the Protestant faith, the Catholic faith is the faith that was handed down by Jesus through Peter, and those doctrines should not be changed, no matter what the world is about.
    The world eventually will destroy itself, and not by destroying the forests, but by giving them the liberties their bodies yearn for.
    In over 2000 years, mankind has not learned one single thing, and keep following the mistakes of the past. A look at proverbs will depict the nature of man, then, and now. We had been warned of the deeds of the flesh, immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, drunkeness, are just as prevalent today as they were over 2000 years ago. That is what the people are yearning for, and for the Pope to give in to them, will not lead to salvation, but destruction, and not just of the body, but of the imortal soul.
    JMHO, Itzik

  2. Karen Doherty Says:

    Dear Itzik,

    I have to say I don’t agree with your interpretation of either God’s intent for sexual expression or the possible scenarios for the destruction of the world. It is my belief harm to human beings and the rest of God’s creation begins with an individual’s lack of charity and compassion–the root of turning away from God, His commandments and the Gospels. That is the work of the Church–the whole people of God–to encourage brotherhood and sisterhood by personal example. That is hard work.

    In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus was clear that he did not believe marriage was for everyone. “Marriage” at that time constituted a formal pairing between a man and a woman. Jesus said that without any condemnation, and not in any Gospel passage can you find one word condemning homosexuality or homosexuals.

    However, he did have something to say about men who divorced their wives to marry someone else; and he also stood by a woman accused of adultery and told the crowd a person without sin could cast the first stone.

    Do you think many of the people ready to throw a stone at an accused sinner are really throwing that stone at themselves–something they fear, something they’re ashamed of, something they wish they didn’t see and could kill?

    -Censor Librorum

  3. Terence Says:

    Benedict is full of contradictions. He laments that modern culture has “little reference to a genuine historical intellectual tradition”. but the Catholic church itself pays scant heed to any historical tradition outside its own magisterium. On numerous issues, from the idea that the papacy traces its lineage directly to Peter & Paul, to the development of teaching on homosexuality, the church simply ignores teh findings of independent scholars and considers only its own theological arguments: theology is not history.

    He also “underlined the need to mend “the breach between science and religion.” If he is serious here, the first thing he needs to do is to revisit Humanae Vitae, which was adopted against the recommendations of the church’s own scientific advisors, and his own statement tha homosexuality is fundamentally “disordered”, which contradicts all the scientific evidence from medicine, psychology,sociology, anthropology and zoology, as well as history.

  4. Terence Says:

    To Itzik

    “We had been warned of the deeds of the flesh, immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, drunkeness, are just as prevalent today as they were over 2000 years ago.”

    Fair enough – but none of this has anything to do with natural sexual expression, which has included same gender expression in numerous societies acroos the world, through history, and in almost all animal species. Nor does it support you earlier implied claim that homosexuality is reposible for the collapse in moral standards.

    What is unnatural is not homoerotic attraction, but the insistence against all evidence that the hererosexual orientation is the only one possible.

    Did you know that the earliest usage of the word “heterosexual” was a medical one, used to denote a pathological fascination with he opposite sex?.

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