Benedict and Reason


A reader writes:

Like you I too believe "we need to breathe new life into [the rationality of faith] in a world where religion is too often described as an irrational leap or 'submisson' to an illogical God" and I find the Pope's lecture very interesting. But, with his major role in the drafting of Dominus Iesus, I can't help but wonder if we are to hear a double-meaning in his appeal to logos. Specifically, John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Word is, of course, identified with Jesus and has been since the early Church Fathers. Thus, if we read this double meaning into Benedict's lecture, his penultimate sentence takes a different meaning, one which echoes Dominus Iesus and the controversy it generated:

"It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

It is to this Christian conception of God as Father and the belief that through his Son, the Word (logos) made flesh, that salvation lies.

In addition this invitation to a "dialogue of cultures" is itself a new and controversial development in interreligious relations between the Church and non-Christian religions. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald was removed from his post at the Vatican as the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and was made nuncio to Egypt. At the same time, the PCID was subsumed under the Pontifical Council for Culture. Money quote:

According to several sources, sending Archbishop Fitzgerald from the Vatican to Egypt could signal a shift in the Holy See's approach to dialogue with the other religions, a tougher stance in the relations with Islam, and a greater insistence on evangelization and the preaching of Jesus Christ as the one savior of humanity.

Pope Benedict has made it clear that he does consider true theological dialogue with non-Christian religions impossible (with the exception of Judaism). Instead of theological engagement, he sees only cultural dialogue; this is major shift from Pope John Paul II.

(Photo: The Polish Government.)