Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Here is a short reflection on Pope Benedict's Scholarly Legacy by Don Briel, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at UST. Don emphasizes a point sorely missed by most of commentators in the popular press, with their reflexive attempts to fit everything into the easy categories of contemporary politics:
In the end, the insight of the scholar pope that the new evangelization must proceed not on the grounds of disputation but in the invitation to love, Deus Caritas Est, shaped a new understanding of the vitality of orthodoxy, not as a safe middle between the extremes of traditionalists and progressives but as a vital alternative to their frozen fascination with political accounts of the Church.
And how did Pope Benedict attempt to break this 'frozen fascination'? Briel writes:
As expected, he placed a strong emphasis on addressing the amnesia of European culture about its Christian roots, and in remarkably sophisticated presentations in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome he reminded secular governments about the essential role of faith in modern democratic assumptions and insisted that faith could not be reduced to a private principle and excluded from civic life. He forged unexpected relations with atheistic and agnostic public intellectuals like Marcello Pera and Jürgen Habermas, who testified to the dangers to the common good and to the human person in certain instrumental political developments in modern culture. As pope, his emphasis on the role of faith in the modern world led Ratzinger to a number of interreligious and ecumenical gestures despite his refusal to accept a lowest common denominator approach to interreligious dialogue.