Venerabiles in Episcopatu Fratres, salutem et Apostolicam Benedictionem!
E FIDES ET RATIO binae quasi pennae videntur quibus veritatis ad contemplationem hominis attollitur animus. Deus autem ipse est qui veritatis cognoscendae studium hominum mentibus insevit, suique tandem etiam cognoscendi ut, cognoscentes Eum diligentesque, ad plenam pariter de se ipsis pertingere possint veritatem (cfr Ex 33,18; Ps 27,8-9; 63,2-3; Io 14,8; 1 Io 3,2).
[N] [E] Fieri quidem potest ut, tam in Orientis orbe quam in Occidentis solis plaga, iter quoddam dignoscatur quod, progredientibus saeculis eo usque hominum genus perduxerit ut cum veritate paulatim congrediatur seque cum illa componat. Hoc quidem iter sic explicatum est -- neque aliter accidere potuit -- intra prospectum quendam singularis hominum conscientiae: quo namque plenius res orbemque cognovit homo, eo magis ipsemet cognoscit se unica in sua natura, eodemque tempore instans fit interrogatio de significatione rerum suaeque ipsius exsistentiae. Quidquid se nobis obicit veluti cognitionis nostrae argumentum, hanc ipsam ob causam evadit[*] vitae nostrae elementum. Admonitio illa gnōthi seauton [γνῶθι σεαυτόν] in superliminari inscripta erat Delphis in templo, principalem ut veritatem testificaretur quae minima omni homini sumenda erat regula quicumque inter res creatas se extollere cupiebat veluti «hominem» scilicet «sui ipsius cognitorem».
[E] Candidus intuitus veteres in annales luculenter aliunde demonstrat, variis in orbis regionibus multiplici humano distinctis cultu, exsistere eodem tempore principales illas interrogationes quibus vita designatur hominum: Quis egomet sum? Unde venio? Quoque vado? Cur mala adsunt? Quid nos manet hanc post vitam? Haec quaesita reperiuntur in sacris Israelis scriptionibus, at insunt etiam scriptis Veda necnon Avesta; detegimus ea in operibus Confutii atque Lao-Tze, quemadmodum in praedicatione virorum Tirthankara ipsiusque Buddhae; exsistunt similiter ex Homeri carminibus ac tragoediis Euripidis et Sophoclis, perinde ac philosophicis in Platonis et Aristotelis tractatibus. Hae nempe interrogationes sunt quae ex illa communi profluunt inquisitione de sensu ipso quo numquam non hominis animus inquietatur: ex responsione vero, quae talibus redditur rogationibus, directio pendet quae vitae humanae est imprimenda.
[E] Aliena sane non est Ecclesia, neque esse potest, hoc ab inquirendi opere. Ab eo enim tempore, cum intra Paschale Mysterium postremam accepit de hominis vita veritatem uti donum, facta est illa vicissim peregrina per semitas orbis ut Christum Iesum esse praedicet "viam veritatem et vitam" (cfr Io 14,6). Diversa inter officia, quae hominibus ea offerat oportet, unum illud nimirum esse intellegit sibi plane proprium: Veritatis diaconiam. Hoc officium, una ex parte, facit ut credens ipsa communitas particeps evadat[*] communis illius operae qua homines attingere student veritatem;  altera vero ex parte, obstringitur communitas illa officio ut nuntia fiat rerum certarum quas cognovit, licet sibi conscia sit omnem veritatem captam unam dumtaxat stationem esse plenam ad illam veritatem quae ultima in Dei revelatione ostendetur: «Videmus enim nunc per speculum in aenigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem; nunc cognosco ex parte, tunc autem cognoscam, sicut et cognitus sum» (1 Cor 13,12).
[E] Multiplices sunt facultates quibus uti potest homo ut veritatum cognoscendarum foveat progressionem, unde exsistentiam suam humaniorem reddat. Inter has philosophia eminet, quae recta adiuvat ut et interrogatio ponatur de vitae sensu et ei responsio iam adumbretur: quapropter unum ipsa reperitur nobiliorum hominis munerum. «Philosophiae» vox Graecam ad originem «sapientiae amorem» designat. Etenim nata philosophia est atque eo tempore enucleata[*] quo coepit se ipsum homo interrogare de rerum causis finibusque. Diversis quidem formis modisque demonstrat philosophia ad ipsam hominis naturam pertinere veritatis cupiditatem. Innata est eius menti illa proprietas ut de rerum percontetur causis etiamsi responsiones paulatim inde redditae in formam quandam ingrediuntur quae diversas cultus humani species inter se complere manifesto ostendit.
[E] Impulsio vehemens illa, quam ad efformationem progressionemque culturae in orbe Occidentali adhibuit philosophia, facere haud debet ut obliviscamur quatenus ipsa quoque pervaserit vias etiam humanae vitae concipiendae ex quibus Orientalis etiam vivit orbis. Cuique enim populo nativa est atque pristina sapientia quae, tamquam verus animi culturarum thesaurus, eo tendit ut exprimatur et rationibus potissimum philosophicis maturetur. Quam sit hoc verum inde etiam comprobatur quod principalis quaedam philosophicae scientiae figura, nostris etiam temporibus, deprehendi potest in iis postulatis quibus leges Nationum et civitatum informantur ad socialem vitam moderandam.
[E] Quidquid autem id est, notetur oportet sub uno nomine diversas latere significationes. Praevia igitur explicatio necessaria evadit[*]. Concupiscens extremam vitae veritatem homo adipisci, illas universales studet comparare cognitiones quae ei facultatem dant melius se comprehendendi ulteriusque progrediendi ad se perficiendum. Fundamentales hae notiones illa ex admiratione emanant quam rerum creatarum contemplatio in eo excitat: rapitur enim homo stupens quod se in rerum universitatem videt insertum cum aliis sui similibus consociatum quibuscum etiam communicat sortem. Iter hinc incipit quod illum pervehet ad novos usque cognitionis orbes detegendos. Nisi obstupescens miraretur homo, in repetitionem quandam sterilem recideret ac, paulatim, facultatem amitteret vitae reapse personalis ducendae.
[E] Speculandi potestas, quae humani propria est intellectus, adiuvat ut, philosophicam per industriam, figura enucleetur[*] exactae cogitationis sicque ordinata exstruatur disciplina logico affirmationum consensu atque solido doctrinarum contextu distincta. Hanc propter rationem, variis in cultus humani formis diversisque pariter aetatibus, fructus percepti sunt qui elaborandis veris cogitationum modis profuerunt. Ad historiae fidem factum est ut istud induceret ad unam dumtaxat philosophiae viam confundendam cum tota philosophica disciplina. Constat vero, his in casibus, certam quandam exsistere «superbiam philosophicam» quae suos attollere audeat oculos longe prospicientes at imperfectos ad interpretationem aliquam universalem. Re vera quodque philosophiae corpus, quantumvis reverendum sua in summa et amplitudine sine ullis abusibus, agnoscere debet principatum philosophicae cogitationis, ex qua et suam ducit originem et cui congruenter serviat necesse est.
[E] Hoc modo, quamquam mutantur tempora cognitionesque progrediuntur, agnosci licet quasi nucleum quendam philosophicarum notionum, quae nonnumquam adsunt in hominum cogitantium historia. Cogitentur verbi gratia, principia non contradictionis, finalitatis ac causalitatis nec non cogitatum personae veluti subiecti liberi et intellegentis eiusque facultas Deum veritatem bonumque cognoscendi; cogitentur pariter nonnullae normae morales praecipuae quae omnium item sunt communes. Haec aliaque argumenta demonstrant, variis doctrinarum praetermissis scholis, corpus exsistere cognitionum in quibus introspici potest genus quoddam spiritalis hominum patrimonii. Ita fit ut ante oculos quasi philosophiam implicitam reperiamus cuius principia quisque homo se possidere sentiat, tametsi sub forma omnino universali neque conscia. Quoniam communicantur hae notiones quadamtenus ab omnibus, ipsae efficere debent medium quoddam punctum quo diversae philosophicae scholae confluunt. Quotiens ratio percipere valet atque exprimere prima et universalia vitae principia indeque recte consectaria propria deducere ordinis logici et deontologici, totiens appellari potest ratio recta sive, quemadmodum antiqui loquebantur, ὀρθός λόγος.
[E] Sua ex parte facere non potest Ecclesia quin magni officium rationis aestimet ad proposita illa consequenda unde ipsa hominum vita dignior reddatur. Etenim in philosophia viam ipsa conspicatur cognoscendi principales veritates hominum vitam tangentes. Eodem tempore, philosophiam iudicat instrumentum pernecessarium ut fidei intellectus altius inquiratur atque Evangelii veritas iis impertiatur qui eam nondum cognoverunt.
[E] Similia igitur Decessorum Nostrorum coepta prosecuti, cupimus etiam Nos ad hoc peculiare rationis humanae opus convertere oculos. Eo praesertim impellimur quod novimus his maxime temporibus veritatis ultimae inquisitionem saepius obscuratam videri. Haud dubitatur quin philosophiae recentiori laudi tribuatur quod mentes iam in hominem ipsum intenduntur. Hinc initio facto, quaedam ratio interrogationum plena ulterius propulit hominis cupiditatem plus plusque cognoscendi atque singula multo altius. Ita doctrinarum formae implexae exstructae sunt quae suos variis in cognitionis provinciis protulerunt fructus, progressui nempe faventes tum culturae tum historiae. Anthropologia, logica disciplina, scientiae naturales, historia et sermo ..., immo quodam modo universitas cognitionis humanae est assumpta. Effectus re percepti suadere aliunde non debent ut obscuretur quod ipsa ratio, ad investigandum uno solo ex latere hominem uti subiectum intenta, videtur esse omnino oblita eundem hominem semper invitari ut ad veritatem se transcendentem progrediatur. Deficiente habitudine ad illam, quisque homo exponitur arbitrio soli suo atque ipsius velut personae condicio in eo est ut regulis unis pragmaticis aestimetur quae suapte[*] natura experimentis innituntur, cum perperam credatur technicam artem necessario debere reliquis rebus dominari. Sic sane accidit ut, cum melius hanc intentionem ad veritatem exprimere deberet, gravata contra onere tot notitiarum ratio humana in se replicaretur atque de die in diem minus intuitum suum attollere in altiora posset ut veritatem exsistentiae consequi auderet. Recentior philosophia, omittens suas perquisitiones in ipsum «esse» dirigere, opus suum in cognitionibus hominum collocavit. Non ergo extulit facultatem quae homini data est veritatis cognoscendae, sed extollere eius limites maluit et condiciones.
[E] Multiplices hinc enatae sunt agnosticismi et relativismi formae quibus eo usque provecta est philosophica investigatio ut iam in mobili veluti scepticismi universalis tellure pererraret. Recentius praeterea variae invaluerunt doctrinae illuc tendentes ut etiam illae veritates imminuantur quas homo se iam adeptum esse putaverat. Licita sententiarum varietas iam indistincto concessit pluralismo, principio niso omnes opinationes idem prorsus valere: unum hoc est signorum latissime disseminatorum illius diffidentiae de veritate, quam hodiernis in adiunctis deprehendi passim licet. In idem diffidens iudicium incidunt etiam quaedam vitae notiones ex Oriente profectae; in iis, enim, veritati negatur propria eius indoles, cum pro concesso sumatur pari modo veritatem diversis indicari in doctrinis, vel inter se contradicentibus. Hoc in rerum prospectu cuncta ad opinationem quandam rediguntur. Percipitur quasi motus quidam fluctuans: cum hinc philosophica investigatio iam in illam viam se inserere potuit, quae propiorem eam reddit ad hominum vitam eiusque formas expressas, illinc tamen eadem inquisitio explicare iam vult deliberationes exsistentiales, hermeneuticas vel linguisticas quae alienae sunt a fundamentali hac quaestione de veritate cuiusque hominis vitae, exsistentiae atque Dei ipsius. Quapropter in homine nostrae aetatis, neque tantummodo quosdam apud philosophos, iam emerserunt affectus alicuius diffidentiae passim disseminatae nulliusque fiduciae de permagnis hominum cognoscendi facultatibus. Falso cum pudore quis contentus fit veritatibus ex parte et ad tempus, quin interrogationes radicales ponere iam contendat de sensu extremoque vitae humanae fundamento, in singulis hominibus et in ipsa societate. Brevi: spes iam interiit fieri posse ut talibus interrogationibus decretoriae responsiones reddantur.
[E] Ecclesia vigens auctoritate illa, quae ei obtingit quod Revelationis Iesu Christi est custos, confirmare cupit huius meditationis necessitatem super veritate. Hanc ipsam ob causam in animum induximus appellare tum vos Veneratos in Episcopatu Fratres quibuscum annuntiandi communicamus munus «in manifestatione veritatis» (2 Cor 4,2) tum etiam philosophos atque theologos quorum est diversos veritatis perscrutari aspectus, tum etiam homines omnes adhuc quaerentes, ut nonnullas participemus cogitationes de itinere quod conducit ad veram sapientiam, ut quicumque in pectore amorem ipsius habeat, rectam ingredi valeat viam ut eam consequatur, in eaque quietem reperiat suis a laboribus spiritalemque laetitiam.
[E] Ad hoc inceptum Nos adducit conscientia in primis quae verbis Concilii Vaticani II significatur cum Episcopos esse adfirmat «divinae et catholicae veritatis testes». Testificandae igitur veritatis officium est concreditum nobis Episcopis, quod deponere haud possumus quin simul ministerium acceptum deseramus. Fidei veritatem confirmantes, nostrae aetatis hominibus reddere possumus veram fiduciam de propriis cognoscendi facultatibus ipsique philosophicae disciplinae praebere provocationem ut suam plenam recuperare valeat explicareque dignitatem.
[E] Alia Nos quoque permovet causa ut has perscribamus deliberationes. Litteris in Encyclicis Veritatis splendor inscriptis animorum intentionem direximus ad quasdam «doctrinae catholicae fundamentales veritates quae in periculo versantur deformationis vel negationis ob rerum adiuncta aetatis nostrae». His Litteris pergere cupimus easdem meditationes ulterius persequi, mente videlicet conversa ad argumentum ipsius veritatis eiusque fundamentum quod spectat ad fidem. Etenim negari non potest hoc celerium et implicatarum mutationum tempore iuniores praesertim, ad quos pertinet ventura aetas et de quibus ea pendet, illi exponi sensui sive persuasioni se certis privari fundamentalibus principiis ad quae referantur. Necessitas alicuius solidi firmamenti, in quo vita singulorum hominum societatisque exstruatur, vehementius persentitur praesertim quotiens necesse est comprobare partialem naturam propositorum quae res transeuntes ad gradum alicuius ponderis tollunt, dum decipiunt potestatem ipsam assequendi verum vitae sensum. Ita profecto evenit ut multi suam vitam ad ipsum praecipitii marginem producant, nescientes interea quid ultra maneat. Inde hoc nempe accidit quod nonnumquam ii, quos munus fere proprium obstringebat ut culturae formis fructus proferrent suarum deliberationum, oculos a veritate abstraherent, cum laboris successum subitum praeferrent patientis inquisitionis labori earum rerum quae vivendo sunt experiendae. Strenue igitur pristinam suam vocationem recuperare debet philosophia cuius grave est officium cogitationem humanam informare nec non humanum ipsum cultum, perpetuo revocando homines ad veritatis perquisitionem. Hac omnino de causa non solam necessitatem sensimus, verum etiam morale officium ut de hoc argumento eloqueremur, ut hominum genus, limen tertii millenni christiani aetatis supergressurum, magis conscium sibi facultatum magnarum reddatur quae illi sunt concessae seque renovato animi fervore dedat salutis explendo consilio in quod ipsius est inserta historia.
[N] [E] Omni meditationi quam perficit Ecclesia subiacet conscientia apud ipsam nuntium depositum esse qui suam trahat originem ex Deo ipso (cfr 2 Cor 4,1-2). Haud ex propria consideratione provenit haec conscientia etiam profundissima quam hominibus ea praebet, verum ex verbi Dei in fide receptione (cfr 1 Thess 2,13). Ad vitae nostrae uti credentium originem congressio quaedam, sui generis unica, invenitur quae mysterii a saeculis absconditi designat illuminationem (cfr 1 Cor 2,7; Rom 16,25-26), quod autem nunc aperitur: «Placuit Deo in sua bonitate et sapientia seipsum revelare et notum facere sacramentum voluntatis suae (cfr Eph 1,9), quo homines per Christum, Verbum carnem factum, in Spiritu Sancto accessum habent ad Patrem et divinae naturae consortes efficiuntur». Hoc est plane gratuitum opus quod a Deo proficiscitur et ad homines pervenit ut illi salvi fiant. Tamquam amoris fons Deus se cupit cognosci atque cognitio quam illius habet homo omnem perficit aliam notitiam quam mens eius assequi potest de propriae exsistentiae sensu.
[E] Doctrinam fere verbatim repetens, quam Concilii Vaticani I Constitutio Dei Filius exhibet, rationemque ducens principiorum in Concilio Tridentino propositorum Constitutio Concilii Vaticani II Dei Verbum ulterius produxit saeculare iter intellectus fidei, Revelationem ad doctrinae biblicae institutionisque totius patristicae lucem ponderando. Concilii Vaticani I participes supernaturalem revelationis divinae extulerunt indolem. Negabat censura rationalistica, quae eo ipso tempore adversus fidem movebatur secundum falsas lateque disseminatas opinationes, omnem cognitionem quae rationis naturalium potestatum non esset consecutio. Hoc quidem Concilium induxit ut vehementer inculcaret ultra omnem rationis humanae cognitionem, quae suapte[*] natura ad Conditorem usque agnoscendum progredi valeret, cognitionem etiam reperiri quae fidei propria esset. Haec cognitio veritatem exprimit quae fundamentum invenit in Deo sese revelante quaeque veritas est certissima quandoquidem Deus nec fallit nec fallere cupit.
[E] Docet itaque Concilium Vaticanum I veritatem ex philosophica deliberatione perceptam atque Revelationis veritatem non confundi neutramque earum alteram reddere supervacaneam: «Duplicem esse ordinem cognitionis non solum principio, sed obiecto etiam distinctum: principio quidem, quia in altero naturali ratione, in altero fide divina cognoscimus; obiecto autem, quia praeter ea, ad quae naturalis ratio pertingere potest, credenda nobis proponuntur mysteria in Deo abscondita, quae, nisi revelata divinitus, innotescere non possunt». Quae Dei testimonio innititur fides atque supernaturali gratiae utitur adiumento, re vera ad alium pertinet ordinem ac philosophicae cognitionis. Sensuum enim haec perceptioni adnititur nec non experientiae ac se sub intellectus solius lumine movet. Philosophia atque scientiae in naturalis rationis versantur ordine, dum contra a Spiritu illuminata et gubernata fides agnoscit in ipso salutis nuntio «gratiae et veritatis plenitudinem» (cfr Io 1,14) quam per historiam patefacere decrevit Deus semelque in sempiternum per Filium suum Iesum Christum (cfr 1 Io 5,9; Io 5,31-32).
[E] In Concilio Vaticano II Patres intendentes in Iesum Revelatorem mentes, voluerunt naturam revelationis Dei salutiferam collustrare in historia, cuius hoc modo proprietatem ita significaverunt: «Hac itaque revelatione Deus invisibilis (cfr Col 1,15; 1 Tim 1,17) ex abundantia caritatis suae homines tamquam amicos alloquitur (cfr Ex 33,11; Io 15,14-15) et cum eis conversatur (cfr Bar 3,38), ut eos ad societatem secum invitet in eamque suscipiat. Haec Revelationis oeconomia fit gestis verbisque intrinsece inter se connexis, ita ut opera, in historia salutis a Deo patrata, doctrinam et res verbis significatas manifestent ac corroborent, verba autem opera proclament et mysterium in eis contentum elucident. Intima autem per hanc Revelationem tam de Deo quam de hominis salute veritas nobis in Christo illucescit, qui mediator simul et plenitudo totius revelationis exsistit».
[E] In tempus propterea inque historiae annales se interserit Dei revelatio. Immo evenit Iesu Christi incarnatio «in plenitudine temporis» (cfr Gal 4,4). Duobus ideo milibus annorum post illum eventum necesse esse rursus adseverare istud arbitramur: «Christiana in fide praecipuum habet pondus tempus». Intra tempus namque profertur in lucem totum creationis ac salutis opus at in primis elucet per Filii Dei incarnationem vivere nos et iam nunc id antecapere quod ipsius temporis erit complementum (cfr Heb 1,2).
[E] Quam veritatem homini Deus concredidit de eo ipso eiusque vita in tempus itaque se introducit nec non in historiam. Semel quidem in perpetuum enuntiata est in mysterio Iesu Nazareni. Hoc eloquentibus quidem verbis edicit Constitutio Dei Verbum: «Postquam vero multifariam multisque modis Deus locutus est in Prophetis, "novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio" (Heb 1,1-2). Misit enim Filium suum, aeternum scilicet Verbum, qui omnes homines illuminat, ut inter homines habitaret iisque intima Dei enarraret (cfr Io 1,1-18). Iesus Christus [...], Verbum caro factum, "homo ad homines" missus, "verba Dei loquitur" (Io 3,34), et opus salutare consummat quod dedit ei Pater faciendum (cfr Io 5,36; 17,4). Quapropter Ipse, quem qui videt, videt et Patrem (cfr Io 14,9), tota sui ipsius praesentia ac manifestatione, verbis et operibus, signis et miraculis, praesertim autem morte sua et gloriosa ex mortuis resurrectione, misso tandem Spiritu veritatis, Revelationem complendo perficit».
[E] Efficit itaque populo Dei historia haec iter quoddam ex toto percurrendum, ita ut revelata veritas omnem suam plene aperiat continentiam ob Spiritus Sancti continuam actionem (cfr Io 16,13). Id rursus Constitutio Dei Verbum docet cum adfirmat: «Ecclesia, volventibus saeculis, ad plenitudinem divinae veritatis iugiter tendit, donec in ipsa consummentur verba Dei».
[E] Locus ita evadit[*] historia ubi comprobare possumus Dei acta pro hominibus. Nos enim attingit ille in iis quae nobis maxime sunt familiaria et ad demonstrandum facilia, quia cotidiana nostra constituunt adiuncta, quibus submotis haud possemus nosmet ipsos intellegere.
[E] Permittit Dei Filii incarnatio ut perennis ac postrema summa videatur completa quam ex se profecta hominum mens numquam fingere sibi valuisset: Aeternum ingreditur tempus, Quod est Omne absconditur in parte, Deus hominis suscipit vultum. Christi in Revelatione igitur expressa veritas iam nullis circumscribitur artis locorum et culturarum finibus, verum cuivis viro et feminae aperitur quae eam complecti voluerit veluti sermonem penitus validum qui vitae tribuat sensum. In Christo omnes homines iam accessum habent ad Patrem; sua namque morte ac resurrectione Ipse vitam aeternam dono dedit quam primus respuerat Adamus (cfr Rom 5,12-15). Hanc per Revelationem ultima exhibetur homini de propria vita veritas deque historiae sorte: «Reapse nonnisi in mysterio Verbi incarnati mysterium hominis vere clarescit» adseverat Constitutio Gaudium et spes. Extra hunc rerum conspectum mysterium vitae singulorum hominum manet aenigma insolubile. Ubi reperire valet homo responsiones illis permoventibus interrogationibus, verbi gratia de dolore atque innocentis cruciatu ac de morte, nisi illo sub lumine quod ex mysterio passionis mortis resurrectionis Christi profluit?
[E] Non tamen oblivisci licebit Revelationem mysteriis abundare. Sane quidem cuncta sua ex vita Iesus vultum Patris revelat utpote qui venerit ut intima Dei enarraret;  verumtamen quam habemus talis vultus cognitio semper designatur incompleta quadam ratione atque etiam nostrae comprehensionis finibus. Sinit una fides nos in mysterium ingredi intimum, cuius congruentem fovet intellectum.
[E] Docet Concilium quod «Deo revelanti praestanda est "oboeditio fidei"». Perbrevi hac sed densa affirmatione principalis quaedam fidei christianae declaratur veritas. Dicitur, in primis, fidem esse oboedientiae responsionem Deo. Id poscit ut Ille sua agnoscatur in divinitate, sua in transcendentia supremaque libertate. Deus qui facit ut ipse cognoscatur ob suae absolutae transcendentiae auctoritatem, secum etiam adfert credibilitatem eorum quae revelat. Sua fide adsensum suum huiusmodi testificationi divinae tribuit homo. Hoc significat eum plene integreque agnoscere rerum revelatarum veritatem, quoniam ipse se pignus illarum exhibet Deus. Veritas haec, quae homini conceditur neque ab eo exigi potest, in contextum se introducit cuiusdam communicationis singularis inter personas rationemque ipsam humanam impellit ut ei se aperiat eiusque altam percipiat significationem. Hanc ob causam actus ille, quo nos Deo committimus, semper ab Ecclesia tamquam tempus habitus est cuiusdam electionis fundamentalis, qua tota involvitur persona. Usque ad extremum intellectus ac voluntas exercent spiritalem suam naturam ut subiecto humano permittatur actum perficere quo uniuscuiusque libertas pleno modo vivatur. In fide proinde non adest dumtaxat praesens libertas: etiam postulatur. Immo, ipsa fides unicuique facultatem dat suam enuntiandi meliore ratione libertatem. Aliis verbis: libertas non in electionibus contra Deum impletur. Quomodo enim verus libertatis usus iudicari posset nulla sese aperiendi voluntas ad id quod sinit homines se totos explicare? Credendo namque persona humana actum suae vitae significantissimum complet; hic enim veritatis certitudinem adsequitur veritas in eaque vivere decernit.
[E] In rationis adiumentum, quae mysterii quaerit intellectum, etiam signa praesentia in Revelatione occurrunt. Adiuvant ea ut altius perquiratur veritas utque mentem ex sese intra mysterium scrutari valeat. Quidquid id est, signa haec, si altera ex parte maiorem tribuunt rationi humanae vim quia sinunt eam propriis viribus, quarum ipsa est invidiosa custos, intra mysterium investigare, ex altera vero parte eam incitant ut eorum veluti signorum naturam transgrediatur ut ulteriorem percipiat significationem eorum quae in se continent. In iis ideoque iam abscondita subiacet veritas, ad quam dirigitur mens et a qua seiungi non potest quin simul signum ipsum illi praebitum deleatur.
[E] Quadamtenus revertimur ad sacramentalem Revelationis rationem atque, nominatim, ad eucharisticum signum ubi individua unitas inter rem ipsam eiusque significationem permittit ut mysterii capiatur altitudo. In Eucharistia revera praesens adest ac vivus Christus, suo cum Spiritu operatur, sed, quemadmodum praeclare sanctus Thomas edixit, «Quod non capis, quod non vides, animosa firmat fides, praeter rerum ordinem. Sub diversis speciebus, signis tantum, et non rebus, latent res eximiae». Refert idem philosophus Blasius Pascal: «Sicut Christus Iesus ignotus inter homines fuit, ita manet veritas eius, communes inter opinationes, sine ulla exteriore distinctione. Sic etiam Eucharistia restat inter panem communem».
[E] Fidei cognitio, demum, mysterium non exstinguit; illud evidentius dumtaxat reddit demonstratque veluti necessarium vitae hominis elementum: Christus Dominus «in ipsa Revelatione mysterii Patris Eiusque amoris, hominem ipsi homini plene manifestat eique altissimam eius vocationem patefacit», quae nempe ea est ut vitae trinitariae Dei particeps fiat.
[E] Verum novitatis prospectum recludunt ipsi scientiae philosophicae doctrinae binorum Conciliorum Vaticanorum. In hominum historiam inducit Revelatio necessitudinis punctum quoddam quo carere non potest homo, si ad suae vitae comprehendendum mysterium pervenire voluerit; aliunde vero haec cognitio continenter ad Dei refertur mysterium quod plane exhaurire mens non valet, sed dumtaxat percipere et in fide complecti. Intra haec duo tempora peculiare habet ratio humana spatium suum unde investigare ei licet atque comprehendere, quin tamen nulla alia re circumscribatur nisi finita natura suae indolis coram Dei infinito mysterio.
[E] Quapropter in historiam nostram Revelatio infert aliquam veritatem, universalem atque ultimam, quae hominis mentem incitat ne umquam consistat; immo vero, eam impellit ut suae cognitionis fines perpetuo dilatet, donec ea omnia se perfecisse intellegat quae in ipsius erant potestate, nulla praetermissa parte. Ad hanc autem deliberationem adiuvare nos festinat unum ex fecundissimis ingeniis maximeque significantibus in generis hominum historia, ad quem virum honorifice se convertunt tam philosophia quam theologia: sanctus Anselmus. Ille Cantuariensis Archiepiscopus sic sententiam suo in Proslogion eloquitur: «Ad quod cum saepe studioseque cogitationem converterem atque aliquando mihi videretur iam capi posse quod quaerebam, aliquando mentis aciem omnino fugeret, tandem desperans volui cessare, velut ab inquisitione rei, quam inveniri esset impossibile. Sed cum illam cogitationem, ne mentem meam frustra occupando, ab aliis, in quibus proficere possem, impediret, penitus a me vellem excludere, tunc magis ac magis, nolenti et defendenti se coepit cum importunitate quadam ingerere. [...] Sed heu! me miserum, unum de aliis miseris filiis Evae, elongatis a Deo! Quid incoepi? Quid effeci? Quo tendebam? Quo deveni? Ad quid aspirabam? In quibus suspiro? [...] Ergo, Domine, non solum es id quo maius cogitari nequit, sed es quiddam maius quam cogitari possit. Quoniam namque valet cogitari esse aliquid huiusmodi; si tu non es hoc ipsum, potest cogitari aliquid maius te: quod fieri nequit».
[E] Revelationis christianae veritas, quae cum Iesu Nazareno congreditur, quemlibet hominem percipere sinit propriae vitae «mysterium». Dum perinde ac suprema ipsa veritas observat illa autonomiam creaturae libertatemque eius illam etiam obstringit ut ad transcendentiam sese aperiat. Haec coniunctio libertatis ac veritatis maxima evadit[*] planeque Domini intellegitur sermo: «Cognoscetis veritatem, et veritas liberabit vos» (Io 8,32).
[E] Verum veluti astrum conductorium christiana Revelatio fit homini qui inter condiciones progreditur mentis cuiusdam immanentisticae nec non logicae technocraticae angustias; extrema est facultas quae a Deo praebetur ut pristinum amoris consilium, creatione ipsa inchoatum, denuo plene reperiatur. Hominibus verum cognoscere cupientibus, si ultra se adhuc prospicere valent et intuitum suum extra propria proposita attollere, potestas tribuitur veram necessitudinem cum sua vita recuperandi, viam persequendo veritatis. Ad hunc rerum statum bene dicta libri Deuteronomii adhiberi licet: «Mandatum hoc, quod ego praecipio tibi hodie, non supra te est neque procul positum nec in caelo situm, ut possis dicere: "Quis nobis ad caelum valet ascendere, ut deferat illud ad nos, et audiamus atque opere compleamus?". Neque trans mare positum, ut causeris dicas: "Quis nobis transfretare poterit mare et illud ad nos usque deferre, ut possimus audire et facere quod praeceptum est?". Sed iuxta te est sermo valde in ore tuo et in corde tuo, ut facias illum» (Dt 30,11-14). Quam notionem quasi vocis celebris imagine refert sententia sancti philosophi et theologi Augustini: «Noli foras ire, in te ipsum redi. In interiore homine habitat veritas».
[E] His praelucentibus deliberationibus prima iam imponitur conclusio: quam nobis Revelatio cognoscere permittit veritas non fructus est maturus neque summus alicuius cogitationis apex ratione humana enucleatae. Illa contra cum proprietatibus se exhibet gratuiti muneris, gignit notiones poscitque ut amoris tamquam declaratio suscipiatur. Haec veritas revelata locus iam anticipatus in hominum historia est illius postremae ac decretoriae Dei visionis, quae iis destinatur quotquot credunt eumque animo conquirunt sincero. Ultimus propterea singulorum hominum vitae finis tum philosophiae studium exstat tum etiam theologiae. Utraque, licet instrumentis diversis ac doctrinis, hanc "viam vitae" (cfr Ps 16,11) respicit quae, perinde ac praecipit nobis fides, novissimum repperit suum egressum plena in laetitia ac perpetua ex Dei Unius ac Trini contemplatione.
[N] [E] Quam sit inter fidei cognitionem ac scientiam rationis alta iunctura iam Sacris in Litteris significatur mirabilibus quibusdam perspicuitatis affirmationibus. Hoc comprobant Libri Sapientiales potissimum. Hoc quidem ferit oculos in hac lectione sine praeiudicatis opinationibus facta harum Scripturae paginarum, quod his in locis non sola Israelis concluditur fides, verum etiam thesaurus societatum et culturarum interea exstinctarum. Veluti ex peculiari quodam consilio Aegyptus et Mesopotamia faciunt ut sua iterum audiatur vox ac communes quaedam proprietates culturarum antiqui Orientis in his paginis revocentur ad vitam, quae nempe conceptionibus insigniter altis abundant.
[E] Non fortuito fit ut, cum hominem describere sapientem vult auctor sacer, eum depingat ut diligentem quaerentemque veritatem: «Beatus vir, qui in sapientia morabitur et qui in iustitia sua meditabitur et in sensu cogitabit circumspectionem Dei; qui excogitat vias illius in corde suo et in absconditis suis intellegens, vadens post illam quasi investigator et in viis illius consistens; qui respicit per fenestras illius et in ianuis illius audiens; qui requiescit iuxta domum illius et in parietibus illius figens palum, statuet casulam suam ad manus illius et requiescet in deversorio bonorum per aevum. Statuet filios suos sub tegmine illius et sub ramis eius morabitur; protegetur sub tegmine illius a fervore et in gloria eius requiescet» (Eccli 14,22-27).
[E] Uti patet, scriptori inspirato praebetur cognoscendi cupiditas tamquam proprietas simul omnium hominum communis. Propter intellectum cunctis, tum credentibus tum etiam non credentibus, facultas tribuitur «aquam profundam» cognitionis exhauriendi (cfr Prv 20,5). Procul dubio, apud antiquum Israelem orbis eiusque ostenta cognoscebantur non abstracta a rebus cogitatione, quemadmodum philosopho accidebat Ionico vel sapienti Aegyptio; tanto minus comprehendebat bonus tunc Israelita cognitionem humanam iis ipsis modis qui recentioris proprii sunt aetatis, cum magis ad scientiae partitionem tenditur. Nihilo tamen minus in latissimam provinciam totius cognoscendi rationis fecit orbis biblicus ut peculiares suae confluerent partes.
[E] Quales denique? Proprietas ea, qua textus biblicus signatur, in eo consistit quod persuadetur altam et continuam exsistere coniunctionem inter rationis cognitionem atque fidei. Mundus eaque omnia quae in illo contingunt, perinde ac historia variique populi eventus, res quidem sunt respiciendae explorandae et iudicandae propriis rationis instrumentis, fide tamen ab hoc processu haudquaquam subtracta. Ipsa non ideo intercedit ut autonomiam rationis deiciat aut eius actionis regionem deminuat, sed tantummodo ut homini explicet his in eventibus visibilem fieri agereque Deum Israelis. Fieri itaque non potest ut funditus mundus percipiatur eventaque historiae, nisi simul fides in Deum proferatur qui in illis operatur.
[E] Acuit interiorem intuitum fides dum mentem ipsam recludit ad operantem detegendam Providentiae praesentiam in progredientibus eventis. Libri Proverbiorum enuntiatio multum hac in re significat: «Cor hominis disponit viam suam, sed Domini est dirigere gressus eius» (Prv 16,9). Quod est: homo rationis lumine collustratus suam novit repperire viam, eam vero percurrere facile valet expediteque sine obicibus usque ad extremum, si recto animo inquisitionem suam in fidei inseruerit prospectum. Quam ob rem segregari ratio ac fides non possunt quin simul homini ipsa facultas deficiat mundum Deumque et seipsum congruo modo cognoscendi.
[E] Nihil igitur causae est cur inter se ratio ac fides aemulentur: in altera enim altera invenitur et proprium utraque habet spatium sui explicandi. Proverbiorum rursus liber in hanc nos dirigit partem cum exclamat: «Gloria Dei est celare verbum, est gloria regum investigare sermonem» (Prv 25,2). Collocantur suo quisque in orbe Deus et homo quasi unica in necessitudine. Omnium rerum origo reponitur in Deo in Eoque mysterii colligitur plenitudo: quod ipsius efficit gloriam; ad hominem officium pertinet veritatem sua ratione pervestigandi, quod eius profecto constituit nobilitatem. Alia hoc ad musivum opus additur tessella a Psalmista cum precatur «mihi autem nimis pretiosae cogitationes tuae, Deus; nimis gravis summa earum. Si denumerabo eas, super arenam multiplicabuntur; si ad finem pervenerim, adhuc sum tecum (Ps 139,17-18). Cognoscendi cupiditas ita magna est secumque talem infert dynamicam vim ut hominis animus, licet terminum experiatur quem praetergredi par non est, ad infinitam tamen adspiret ubertatem quae ultra iacet, quoniam in ea iam percipit responsionem custodiri consentaneam cuilibet quaestioni cui adhuc non est responsum.
[E] Quocirca adfirmari licet sua meditatione scivisse Israelem suae rationi viam ad mysterium pandere. In Dei Revelatione potuit altitudinem pertemptare, quousque ratione sua pertingere studebat non autem eo perveniens. Ex hac altiore cognitionis forma profectus, intellexit populus ille electus rationem quasdam observare oportere regulas praecipuas in quibus propriam naturam melius declararet. Prima in eo consistit regula ut ratio habeatur huius veritatis: in itinere constitutum esse hominem quod interrumpi non possit; secunda, ex conscientia nascitur neminem hanc in viam introire superbo animo eius qui omnia propriarum virium effecta esse arbitretur; consistit tertia in «timore Dei», cuius supremam agnoscere debet ratio transcendentiam simulque providum in gubernandis rebus amorem.
[E] Quotiens ab hisce receditur regulis, periculo obicitur homo ne deficiat deveniatque in «stulti condicionem». Ad Bibliae sententiam huic stultitiae inest minatio vitae. Se enim decipit stultus plura cognoscere, verum non potest reapse animum in res necessarias intendere. Hoc etiam eum impedit quominus suam recte ordinet mentem (cfr Prv 1,7) rectumque affectum sumat de se deque rebus circumsistentibus. Cum adseverat deinde «non est Deus» (cfr Ps 14,1) clarissime in posterum demonstrat quatenus sua cognitio desit et quam procul ipse a veritate rerum plena absit de rebus, de earum origine atque sorte.
[E] Magni momenti loci qui plus hoc super argumentum lucis effundunt in libro Sapientiae inveniuntur. Inibi loquitur sacer auctor de Deo qui per ipsam rerum naturam sese demonstrat. Penes antiquos naturalium scientiarum studium maxima ex parte cum philosophica cognitione consonabat. Postquam asseveravit sacer textus hominem sui intellectus virtute scire posse «dispositionem orbis terrarum et virtutes elementorum, [...] anni cursus et stellarum dispositiones, naturas animalium et iras bestiarum» (Sap 7,17.19-20), paucis verbis, philosophari eum valere, ulterius gressum facit et quidem praecipuum: repetens philosophiae Graecae notionem, ad quam hoc loco res referri videtur, affirmat auctor hominem omnino super natura ratiocinantem posse ad Deum ascendere: «A magnitudine enim et pulchritudine creaturarum cognoscibiliter potest Creator horum videri» (Sap 13,5). Primum ideo agnoscitur divinae Revelationis stadium quod mirabilis constituit «liber naturae», quo perlegendo homo rationis suae instrumentis ad Creatoris pertingere potest cognitionem. Si porro intellectu suo non eo usque advenit homo ut Deum omnium Conditorem cognoscat, hoc non tam deficienti instrumento est tribuendum, quantum potius impedimento libera ipsius voluntate ac peccatis propriis interiecto.
[E] Hoc sub prospectu bene aestimatur ratio, sed nimium non existimatur. Quidquid assequitur illa verum esse potest, at plenam suam consequitur significationem tum solum cum notiones ampliorem in rerum prospectum proiciuntur, nempe ipsius fidei: «A Domino diriguntur gressus viri; quis autem hominum intellegere potest viam suam?» (Prv 20,24). Apud Vetus itaque Testamentum rationem fides liberat quatenus ei congruenter attingere permittit proprium cognitionis obiectum idque in supremo reponere ordine ubi omnia suum habent sensum. Brevi: veritatem ratione consequitur homo, quoniam fide collustratus altum rerum omnium detegit sensum ac nominatim suae exsistentiae. Iure igitur ac merito auctor sacer verae cognitionis initium plane collocat in Dei timore: «Timor Domini principium scientiae» (Prv 1,7; cfr Eccli 1,14).
[E] Non conditur, pro Veteris Testamenti hominibus, cognitio in observatione dumtaxat hominis et orbis et historiae, verum insolubilem poscit etiam coniunctionem cum fide cumque Revelationis doctrinis. Hic inveniuntur illae provocationes quibus occurrere populus electus debuit reddereque responsum. Hanc suam perpendens condicionem homo biblicus perspexit se intellegere non posse nisi «coniunctum» secum et cum populo, cum reliquo orbe ac cum Deo ipso. Haec ad mysterium patefactio, quae ex Revelatione ipsi contingebat, tandem fons illi verae cognitionis exstitit quae permisit rationi eius ut se in infinita spatia propelleret et sic comprehendere posset modis antehac omnino insperatis.
[E] Non deerat inquisitionis impetus, pro auctore sacro, ab illo labore qui oriebatur ex conflictione cum rationis humanae limitibus. Animadvertitur illud, verbi gratia, iis in vocibus quibus Proverbiorum liber fatigationem enarrat qua quis intellegere arcana Dei consilia conatur (cfr Prv 30,1-6). Verumtamen, quantumvis opus fatiget, credens manus non dat. Virtus illa, qua iter suum ad veritatem persequi potest, ei ex certa persuasione obtingit: Deum ipsum veluti «exploratorem» (cfr Eccle 1,13) creavisse eiusque munus esse nihil intemptatum relinquere, licet dubia perpetuo ei minitentur. Deo innixus, protenditur semper et ubique ille adversus ea omnia quae pulchra sunt, bona et vera.
[E] Primo in epistulae ad Romanos capite adiuvat nos sanctus Paulus quo melius percipiamus quam sit acuta Librorum Sapientialium deliberatio. Populari sermone argumentationem quandam philosophicam enodans Apostolus altam testificatur veritatem: per creata possunt «oculi mentis» ad Deum cognoscendum advenire. Nam ipse per creaturas facit ut ratio humana «virtutem» suam ac «divinitatem» intueatur (cfr Rom 1,20). Hominis rationi ergo illa adsignatur facultas quae excedere videtur ipsos eius naturae limites: non tantum intra sensuum cognitionem non circumscribitur, quoniam de iis critico iudicio meditari valet, sed de sensuum notitiis ratiocinando causam etiam tangere potest quae omnium rerum sensibilium subiacet origini. Philosophicis vocibus dici licet in pergravi loco illo Paulino potestatem hominis metaphysicam adfirmari.
[E] In prisco creationis proposito, iudicante Apostolo, rationis humanae praevisa erat facultas facile sensuum cognitiones excedendi ut ipsa omnium origo reperiretur: Creator. Propter inoboedientiam, qua maluit homo plena et absoluta libertate sese illi opponere qui eum condiderat, defecit haec potestas ad conditorem Deum revertendi.
[E] Figuris vivis describit Liber Genesis hanc hominis condicionem, narrans Deum eum collocavisse in hortis Eden quibus in mediis situm erat lignum «scientiae boni et mali» (cfr Gen 2,17). Luculenta est figura: non valebat homo pervidere ex seque statuere quid bonum esset quidve malum, at superius quoddam ad principium se referre debebat. Superbiae caecitas protoparentes nostros ita fefellit ut se supremos esse crederent suique plane iuris et posse idcirco excludere cognitionem a Deo profectam. Sua prima inoboeditione viros mulieresque omnes illi implicaverunt atque rationi humanae vulnera intulerunt quae progressionem illius ad plenam veritatem erant impeditura. Facultas humana veritatis cognoscendae iam obscurata erat repudiatione Eius qui fons est veritatis atque origo. Iterum Apostolus aperit quantopere cogitationes hominum, propter peccatum, «vanae» factae sint ipsaeque eorum ratiocinationes detortae ad falsumque ordinatae (cfr Rom 1,21-22). Mentis oculi iam non poterant perspicue videre: paulatim facta est ratio humana sui ipsius captiva. Christi dein adventus salutis eventus fuit quo sua ex infirmitate erepta est ratio atque impedimentis liberata quibus ipsa sese omnino incluserat.
[E] Postulat idcirco Christiani habitudo ad philosophiam fundamentale quoddam iudicium. In Novo Testamento, potissimum in sancti Pauli epistulis, illud manifestum elucet: «huius mundi sapientia» sapientiae a Deo in Christo Iesu patefactae opponitur. Revelatae sapientiae altitudo consuetos nostros deliberationum terminos perrumpit, utpote qui consentaneo modo eam exprimere nequeant.
[E] Funditus hanc difficultatem imponit initium Primae Epistulae ad Corinthios. Crucifixus Dei Filius ipse historicus est eventus ad quem eliditur omnis mentis conatus exstruendi defensionem de exsistentiae sensu congruam ex humanis dumtaxat ratiocinationibus. Verus enim nodus, quo omnis philosophia lacessitur, est Iesu Christi mors in cruce. Hic namque omne conamen redigendi Patris salutiferum consilium in humanam logicam puram ad interitum destinatur. «Ubi sapiens? ubi scriba? ubi conquisitor huius saeculi? Nonne stultam fecit Deus sapientiam huius mundi?», instanter percontatur Apostolus (1 Cor 1,20). Ad haec quae efficere cogitat Deus non amplius sola hominis sufficit prudentis sapientia, verum gressus decretorius quidam efflagitatur ad rem prorsus complectendam novam: «Quae stulta sunt mundi, elegit Deus, ut confundat sapientes [...] ignobilia mundi et contemptibilia elegit Deus, quae non sunt, ut ea quae sunt, destrueret» (1 Cor 1,27-28). Renuit hominis sapientia contueri sua in infirmitate fundamentum suae fortitudinis; at sanctus Paulus affirmare non haesitat: «Cum enim infirmor, tunc potens sum» (2 Cor 12,10). Non valet percipere homo quo pacto vitae fons amorisque mors esse possit, verumtamen ut sui salutis perficiendae consilii mysterium aperiret instituit Deus id quod humana ratio «stultitiam» et «scandalum» appellat. Sermone philosophorum suorum aequalium usus, sanctus Paulus attingit culmen magisterii sui atque illius paradoxi quod enuntiare cupit: «Elegit Deus, quae non sunt ut ea, quae sunt, destrueret» (1 Cor 1,28). Amoris demonstrati in cruce Christi gratuitam indolem ut declaret, nihil quidem dubitat Apostolus sermonem multo efficaciorem adhibere quam philosophi usurpabant ipsi suis in disceptationibus de Deo. Vacuefacere non potest ratio humana mysterium amoris quod crux exhibet, cum ex contrario eadem crux praebere potest rationi humanae responsum extremum quod ea conquirit. Non sane verborum sapientiam sed Verbum Sapientiae Paulus recenset veluti veritatis regulam simulque salutis.
[E] Crucis sapientia igitur omnem culturae limitem transgreditur quem ei aliunde imponere nitantur atque imperat ut quisque se aperiat universali veritatis naturae quam in se ipsa gerit. Qualis rationi nostrae obicitur provocatio, qualemve inde percipit utilitatem si se dederit! Philosophia, quae iam ex se agnoscere potest perpetuum hominis ascensum adversus veritatem, adiuvante fide potest se recludere ad recipiendum in «stultitia» Crucis criticum iudicium eorum qui falso arbitrantur se veritatem possidere, dum eam angustiis sui philosophici instituti involvunt. Inter fidem et philosophiam necessitudo in Christi crucifixi ac resuscitati praedicatione scopulum offendit ad quem naufragium facere potest, sed ultra quem patescere potest infinitum veritatis spatium. Hic liquido indicatur inter rationem ac fidem limes; at locus similiter clarus elucescit ubi ambae ipsae congredi possunt.
[N] [E] Lucas Evangelista in Actibus Apostolorum narrat Paulum, varia inter missionis itinera, Athenas pervenisse. Urbs illa, philosophorum sedes, simulacris affluebat, quae diversa idola ostentabant. In altare quoddam repente mentem intendit quare cito exordium sumpsit ad statuendum elementum commune unde nuntium kerigmaticum iniret: «Viri Athenienses, -- ait -- per omnia quasi superstitiosiores vos video; praeteriens enim et videns simulacra vestra inveni et aram, in qua scriptum erat: "Ignoto Deo". Quod ergo ignorantes colitis, hoc ego annuntio vobis» (Act 17, 22-23).
[E] Inde exorsus Paulus de Deo loquitur tamquam Creatore, de Eo nempe qui omnia superat et omnia vivificat. Sermonem dein ita prosequitur: «Fecitque ex uno omne genus hominum inhabitare super universam faciem terrae, definiens statuta tempora et terminos habitationis eorum, quaerere Deum si forte attrectent eum et inveniant, quamvis non longe sit ab unoquoque nostrum» (Act 17, 26-27).
[E] Apostolus in luce collocat veritatem quam Ecclesia uti thesaurum habere consuevit; in latebris cordis hominis flagrans Dei desiderium est seminatum. Quod vehementer recolit liturgia Feriae VI in Parasceve, cum, in precibus pro non credentibus, nos invitat ad orandum: «Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui cunctos homines condidisti, ut te semper desiderando quaererent et inveniendo quiescerent...». Iter igitur quoddam exstat quod homo sua ex voluntate emetiri potest: quod quidem initium sumit cum ratio facultate ditatur sese ultra res contingentes extollendi ut in infinitum peregrinetur.
[E] Diversa ratione ac diversa quoque aetate homo penitum hoc desiderium exprimere scivit. Litterae, ars musica, pictura, sculptura, architectura aliique fructus eius fecundae mentis instrumenta facta sunt quibus significatur desiderium investigandi. Philosophia hunc motum peculiarem in modum in se collegit et, per sua instrumenta et secundum proprios usus scientificos, enuntiavit hoc universale hominis desiderium.
[E] «Omnes homines scire volunt»  et huius desiderii obiectum veritas est. Ipsa vita cotidiana ostendit quantum studium inducat unumquemque nostrum ut, praeter ea quae tantum ex auditu percipiuntur, cognoscere valeat quomodo res vere se habeant. Homo solus est in universo visibili qui non solum facultate pollet sciendi, verum novit etiam se scire, atque hac de causa intendit animum authenticae veritati rerum quae illi obversantur. Nemo indifferens manere potest coram suae scientiae veritate. Si quid falsum homo invenit, eo ipso id respuit; si vero veritatem detegere potest, satiatum se sentit. Hanc doctrinam profitetur sanctus Augustinus scribens: «Multos expertus sum, qui vellent fallere, qui autem falli, neminem». Persona merito dicitur adultam aetatem attigisse tantum cum, pro viribus, vera a falsis diiudicare potest, constituens ita proprium iudicium de authentica rerum veritate. In hoc consistit tot vestigationum causa, praesertim in ambitu scientiarum, quae novissimis saeculis tantos obtinuerunt exitus, ut authenticae progressioni totius humanae societatis faverent.
[E] Non minus ponderis quam theoretica habet investigatio practica: dicimus veritatis investigationem ad bonum implendum intentam. Persona quidem, ethico more se gerens, si secundum liberum et rectum arbitrium operatur, viam beatitudinis ingreditur atque ad perfectionem intendit. Hoc quoque in casu agitur de veritate. Hanc sententiam confirmavimus in Litteris Encyclicis Veritatis splendor: «...sine libertate non datur moralitas... Si ius datur ut quisque observetur in itinere ad inquirendam veritatem, est tamen antea unicuique perquirendae veritatis gravis moralis obligatio eidemque cognitae adhaerescendi».
[E] Valores igitur, selecti et propriis viribus comparati, veri sint oportet, quandoquidem dumtaxat valores veri perficere possunt personam eiusque naturam ad effectum deducere. Hanc valorum veritatem homo invenit non in se ipse se recludens sed sese aperiens ad eam accipiendam etiam in modis humanam naturam excedentibus. Haec necessaria est condicio ut quisquis ipse sit et adolescat uti adultam et sapientem decet personam.
[E] Veritas ab exordiis instar interrogationis homini proponitur: habetne vita sensum? quo illa cursum suum tendit? Prima inspectione, exsistentia personalis ostendi posset sensu radicitus destituta. Necesse non est philosophos adire qui absurdum profitentur nec confugere ad provocatorias quaestiones quae inveniuntur in Libro Iob ut dubitetur de vitae sensu. Cotidiana doloris experientia, sive propria sive aliorum, nec non cognitio tot casuum qui sub lumine rationis inexplicabiles videntur, sufficiunt ut quaestio adeo dramatica de sensu vitae vitari nequeat. Huc addendum est quod prima veritas absolute certa nostrae exsistentiae, praeter quam quod iam exsistimus, est inevitabilis mortis nostrae condicio. Hac obstupescenti re praehabita, exhaustum responsum quaeratur oportet. Unusquisque optat -- immo tenetur -- cognoscere veritatem de proprio fine. Scire vult utrum mors sit definitiva conclusio eius exsistentiae an sit aliquid quod mortem praetergrediatur; utrum liceat illi in vita ulteriore spem reponere necne. Non absque re mens philosophica cursum decretorium recepit inde ab obitu Socratis quo plusquam duo millennia sic est insignita. Nec casu fit ut philosophi, ob mortis eventum, hanc quaestionem simul cum quaestione de vita deque immortalitate iterum atque iterum sibi proponant.
[E] Has interrogationes nemo fugere potest, nec philosophus nec homo plebeius. Ex responsis quae iisdem dantur suprema pendet investigationis pars: utrum fieri possit ut perveniatur necne ad veritatem universalem et absolutam. Ex se, quaevis veritas, etsi non integra, si est authentica, universalis exhibetur et absoluta. Quod verum est, pro omnibus et semper verum esse debet. Hanc praeter universalitatem, tamen, homo quaerit aliquid absolutum quod responsum ferre possit et sensum ad omnia quae vestigantur: ens quoddam supremum quod fundamentum exstet cuiusque rei. Ut aliis utamur verbis, homo quaerit definitivam dilucidationem, valorem quendam supremum, ultra quem nec sint nec esse possint interrogationes aut ulteriora addenda. Opiniones animos allicere possunt, non vero illis satisfacere. Momentum adventat pro omnibus, quo, sive admittitur sive non, necesse est ut propria exsistentia sustentetur veritate absoluta, quae certitudinem pariat nec amplius dubio subiciatur.
[E] Similem veritatem, per saeculorum decursum, philosophi detegere et exprimere curarunt, quandam condendo doctrinam seu scholam philosophicam. Praeter doctrinas philosophicas, tamen, sunt aliae expressiones quibus homo intendit suam «philosophiam» constituere: agitur de suasionibus vel experientiis privatis, de familiae culturaeque traditionibus vel de viis exsistentiae propriis, in quibus quisque alicuius magistri auctoritati se committit. In singulis his indiciis semper flagrans permanet studium assequendi certitudinem veritatis eiusque absoluti valoris.
[E] Veritatis investigatio non semper -- quod nobis est agnoscendum! -- simili ostenditur perspicuitate et congruentia. Naturalis limitatio rationis et animi iactatio investigationem cuiusque hominis obumbrant saepeque avertunt. Aliae personales diversae indolis utilitates obruere possunt veritatem. Fieri quoque potest ut homo vitet eam statim ut incipit illam cognoscere, quia eius postulationes metuit. Quo non obstante, etiam cum eam fugit, ipsa illius exsistentiam permovet. Numquam enim ille propriam vitam dubio, incertitudine vel mendacio fulcire posset; eiusmodi exsistentia metu et anxietate infestaretur. Homo igitur definiri potest ille qui veritatem quaeritat.
[E] Cogitari nequit investigationem, tam radicitus in hominis natura confirmatam, prorsus inutilem et inanem evadere[*]. Ipsa quaerendi veritatem facultas et interrogandi, ex se, primum iam constituit responsum. Homo quaerere non inciperet quod prorsus ignoraret aut impervium duceret. Tantummodo spes perveniendi ad quoddam responsum potest eum perducere ad primum ferendum gradum. Hoc quidem re accidit in scientifica pervestigatione: cum doctus vir, perspicientia eius quadam praehabita, cuiusdam phaenomeni explicationem logicam et probabilem quaerit, iam ab initio firmam nutrit spem responsum inveniendi, neque animo frangitur prae rebus male gestis. Inanem non considerat originalem intuitum tantummodo ex eo quod scopum non attigit; merito potius dicere poterit se aequum responsum nondum invenisse.
[E] Idem dicendum est de perquisitione veritatis in novissimarum quaestionum contextu. Veritatis sitis ita cordi hominis est insita ut, necessitas quaedam eam praetermittendi, propriam exsistentiam in discrimen adducat. Sufficit ut inquiratur in vitam cotidianam ut probetur quo modo demum unusquisque in seipso patiatur illam sollicitudinem quae fluit de quibusdam essentialibus quaesitis et simul quo modo in mente adumbrationem servet saltem illarum responsionum. Agitur de responsionibus, de quarum veritate conscii sumus, quoniam patet eas quoad substantiam non differre a responsionibus ad quas alii plures pervenerunt. Haud dubie quidem non quaelibet veritas quae acquiritur eodem fruitur pondere. Ex latis attamen exitibus simul sumptis confirmatur hominis facultas perveniendi, in universum, ad veritatem.
[E] Nunc expedit ut hae diversae veritatum formae properato percurrantur. Numerosiores quidem sunt veritates quae immediata nituntur evidentia vel experimento confirmantur; hae veritates cotidianam vitam scientificamque pervestigationem respiciunt. Alio sub gradu inveniuntur veritates indolis philosophicae, quas homo per speculativam intellectus facultatem attingit. Sunt denique veritates religiosae, quarum fundamenta quodammodo etiam in philosophia ponuntur. Hae continentur in responsionibus, quas diversae religiones, suas secundum cuiusque traditiones, novissimis offerunt interrogationibus.
[E] Quod ad philosophicas attinet veritates, notandum est eas non circumscribi solis doctrinis, interdum evanidis, eorum qui philosophiam profitentur. Omnis homo, ut dictum est, quodam sub modo philosophus est et suas possidet philosophicas notiones, quibus vitam gubernat suam: aliter atque aliter universum quisque sibi efformat conspectum responsumque de propriae exsistentiae sensu: hoc sub lumine rem personalem interpretatur atque sese gerendi modum gubernat. Ibidem interrogandum est de habitudine quae inter veritates philosophico-religiosas intercedit et veritatem in Christo Iesu revelatam. Priusquam huic quaestioni respondeatur, ulterior philosophiae cognitio perpendatur oportet.
[E] Homo creatus non est ut vitam degat solus. Ipse nascitur et crescit in familiae sinu, atque annorum decursu industria sua in societatem cooptatur. Itaque ab incunabulis variis inseritur traditionibus, ex quibus non tantum loquelam et culturae institutionem accipit, verum etiam plurimas veritates, quibus, quasi innata ratione, credit. Nihilominus adulescentia et personae maturatio efficiunt ut hae veritates in dubio collocentur et expurgentur per singularem criticam intellectus actionem. Quod non impedit quominus, post hunc transitum, hae eaedem veritates «recuperentur», sive per experientiam ex iisdem factam, sive per subsequentem ratiocinationem. Attamen, in vita hominis veritates simpliciter creditae numerosiores exstant quam illae quas ille obtinet per personalem recognitionem. Quisnam vero stricte cribrare potest innumeros scientiarum exitus, quibus hodierna nititur vita? Quis sua sponte inspicere potest cumulum notitiarum quas ex diversis orbis regionibus cotidie accepimus et quae, generaliter, uti verae habentur? Quis tandem potest iterum terere experientiae et cogitationis vias, per quas tot thesauri sapientiae et religiosi sensus humanae societatis sunt coacervati? Homo, ille nempe qui quaerit, est igitur etiam ille qui vivit alteri fidens.
[E] Unusquisque, in credendo, fidem ponit in cognitionibus quas aliae personae sunt adeptae. Hac in re agnoscenda est quaedam significans intentio: una ex parte, cognitio ex fiducia videtur imperfecta cognitionis forma, quae paulatim per evidentiam singillatim comparatam perfici debet; alia ex parte, fiducia divitior saepe exstat quam simplex evidentia, quoniam secum fert necessitudinem interpersonalem atque in discrimen committit non tantum personales intellectus facultates, verum etiam penitiorem facultatem sese aliis personis confidendi, validiorem et intimiorem cum illis necessitudinem statuendo.
[E] Expedit ut in luce ponatur veritates in hac interpersonali relatione adeptas ad rerum gestarum vel philosophiae ordinem non attinere. Quod potius petitur est ipsa personae veritas: nempe id quod ipsa est et quidquid intimae suae condicionis ostendit. Hominis enim perfectio non ponitur tantum in sola comparanda cognitione abstracta veritatis, verum stat etiam in vivificanti consuetudine deditionis et fidelitatis erga alterum. Hac in fidelitate, cuius vi homo se dedere novit, plenam invenit certitudinem et animi firmitatem. Eodem tamen tempore, cognitio per fiduciam, quae existimatione interpersonali nititur, non datur quin ad veritatem referatur: homo, credendo, veritati quam alter ostendit committitur.
[E] Quot exempla proferri possunt ad illustranda quae diximus! Cogitatio autem Nostra statim vertitur ad martyrum testimonium. Martyr, enim, integerrimus testis est veritatis de exsistentia. Bene novit ille se invenisse, coram Christo Iesu, veritatem de sua vita, quam certitudinem nemo ab eo abstrahere potest. Nec dolor nec saeva mors eum seiungere poterunt a veritate quam detegit cum obviam Christo occurrit. En ratio cur martyrum testimonium ad hodiernum diem admirationem moveat, auditionem inveniat et uti exemplum sumatur. Haec est causa cur eorum verbo confidatur: in illis invenitur evidentia illius amoris qui diuturnis colloquiis non indiget ad persuadendum, eo quod unicuique nostrum de eo quod penitus percepit uti verum et iam diu quaesitum loquitur. Martyr denique, altam in nobis excitat fiduciam, quoniam declarat quidquid nos percepimus et evidens reddit quod nos quoque aequa vi exprimere velimus.
[E] Ita intellegere possumus diversas huius quaestionis partes paulatim perfici. Homo ex natura sua veritatem perscrutatur. Haec perscrutatio non tantum destinatur acquisitioni veritatum quarundem partium quae ex eventibus pendent vel scientiis; homo non quaerit tamtummodo verum bonum pro singulis suis consiliis. Eius perscrutatio in ulteriorem intenditur veritatem quae sensum vitae dilucidare possit; quapropter de illa agitur perscrutatione, quae exitum invenire potest tantum in absoluto. Per facultates in mente insitas, homo similem veritatem et invenire et perspicere potest. Quatenus haec veritas vitalis est et essentialis ad eius exsistentiam, attingitur non tantum per viam rationis, sed etiam per fidentem relictionem in manibus eorum, qui certitudinem et authenticitatem eiusdem veritatis in tuto collocare possint. Facultas et selectio committendi semet ipsos propriamque vitam aliis constituunt sane, secundum anthropologiam, actum significantiorem et expressiorem inter plurimos.
[E] Meminisse liceat quoque rationem in sua perquisitione fidenti dialogo et authentica amicitia esse sustentandam. Suspicionis et diffidentiae aura, quae aliquando speculativam circumplectitur perquisitionem, facit ut in oblivionem detur doctrina priscorum philosophorum qui tenebant amicitiam esse inter contextus magis idoneos ad recte philosophandum.
[E] Ex hucusque dictis colligitur hominem quodam in itinere versari perquisitionis, quae humano sensu finiri nequit: est perquisitio veritatis et cuiusdam personae cui se committere possit. Christiana fides obviam venit ut ei offerat concretam facultatem contemplandi huius inquisitionis impletionem. Postquam enim gradus simplicis fidei superatur, haec hominem inserit in ordinem gratiae ut Christi mysterium participare possit, cuius vi vera et cohaerens Dei Unius et Trini cognitio offertur illi. Ita in Christo Iesu, qui est ipsa Veritas, fides agnoscit novissimam vocationem quae vertitur ad humanam societatem, ut implere possit id quod percipit uti flagrans desiderium.
[E] Haec veritas, quam Deus in Christo Iesu nobis revelat, minime opponitur veritatibus quae per philosophiam assumuntur. Immo, duo cognitionis gradus ducunt ad veritatis plenitudinem. Unitas veritatis est iam fundamentalis postulatus humanae rationis, qui principio non-contradictionis exprimitur. Revelatio offert certitudinem huius unitatis, ostendendo Deum Conditorem esse etiam Deum historiae salutis. Ipse idemque Deus, qui condit et vindicat facultatem intellegendi et ratiocinandi naturalem rerum ordinem, quo docti fidenter nituntur,  idem est qui revelatur Pater Domini nostri Iesu Christi. Haec unitas veritatis, naturalis et revelatae, viventem et personalem identitatem suam invenit in Christo, uti Apostolus memorat: «Veritas quae est in Iesu» (Eph 4,21; cfr Col 1,15-20). Ille est Verbum aeternum, in quo omnia creata sunt, simulque est Verbum incarnatum, qui in sua integra persona  revelat Patrem (cfr Io 1,14.18). Quidquid humana ratio «ignorans» (cfr Act 17,23) perscrutatur, tantummodo per Christum inveniri potest: quod enim in Ipso revelatur est «plenitudo veritatis» (cfr Io 1,14-16) cuiusque creaturae quae in Ipso et per Ipsum creata est, et ita in Ipso constat (cfr Col 1,17).
[E] In contextu huius summi prospectus, penitus inspiciatur oportet relatio inter veritatem revelatam et philosophiam. Haec relatio duplicem secumfert animadversionem, eo sensu quod veritas quae a Revelatione fluit, veritas est quae simul sub rationis lumine est intellegenda. Hoc duplici praehabito sensu, aequam necessitudinem revelatae veritatis cum cognitione philosophica definire licebit. Qua de re primum perpendamus relationes per saeculorum decursum habitas inter fidem et philosophiam. Hinc igitur quaedam detegi poterunt principia quae constituunt aspectus ad quos referendum est ut inter hos duos gradus cognitionis recta relatio suscipiatur.
[N] [E] Ut Actus Apostolorum testantur, nuntius christianus inde ab exordiis cum doctrinis philosophicis illius aetatis est collatus. Idem Liber narrat disceptationem quam Paulus Athenis habuit cum quibusdam philosophis Epicureis et Stoicis (Act 17,18). Exegeticum examen illius sermonis ad Areopagum habiti in luce posuit usitatas mentiones de variis opinionibus populi praesertim ex origine Stoica. Hoc quidem non fortuito factum est. Primi Christiani, ut a paganis recte perciperentur, in suis sermonibus auditores dumtaxat «ad Moysen et prophetas» remittere non poterant; niti quoque tenebantur naturali Dei cognitione et voce conscientiae moralis cuiusque hominis (cfr Rom 1,19-21; 2,14-15; Act 14,16-17). Cum autem haec cognitio naturalis apud paganos in idololatriam prolapsa esset (cfr Rom 1,21-32), Apostolus censuit sapientius esse sermonem coniungere cum doctrina philosophorum qui ab initio fabulis et cultibus mystericis opponebant conceptus divinam transcendentiam magis reverentes.
[E] Ex praecipuis propositis quae philosophi doctrinae classicae sunt amplexi, consilium exstitit expurgandi a formis mythologicis notionem quam homines de Deo profitebantur. Ut omnibus patet, etiam religio Graeca, non aliter ac pleraeque religiones cosmicae, polytheismum ita profitebatur, ut vel res et eventus naturae in deorum numerum deferret. Conatus hominis ad cognoscendam deorum originem et in eis universi originem, primam suam significationem invenerunt in arte poetica. Deorum origines primum hactenus habentur testimonium huius humanae investigationis. Munus fuit parentum philosophiae efficere ut vinculum ostenderetur inter rationem et religionem. Illi quidem contuitum dilatantes ad principia usque universalia, non amplius acquieverunt fabulis antiquis, sed voluerunt ut eorum fides de divinitate fundamento rationali sustentaretur. Ita susceptum est iter quod, relictis antiquis traditionibus particularibus, se immisit quandam in progressionem quae congruebat cum postulationibus rationis universalis. Scopus ad quem haec progressio tendebat erat criticum iudicium rerum in quas credebatur. Prima hoc in itinere utilitatem tulit divinitatis notio. Superstitiones uti tales sunt recognitae et religio, saltem partim, per rationalem recognitionem est expurgata. Hoc suffulti fundamento, Patres Ecclesiae fecundum instituerunt colloquium cum antiquis philosophis, iter aperientes ad nuntium et ad cognitionem Dei Christi Iesu.
[E] Dum mentionem facimus de hoc motu quo Christiani ad philosophiam accesserunt, merito memorari decet statum circumspectionis quem apud Christianos concitabant alia culturae paganae elementa, uti, exempli gratia, doctrina «gnostica». Philosophia, tamquam sapientia practica et schola vitae, facile misceri poterat cum cognitione indolis superioris, arcanae, paucis perfectis reservatae. Absque dubio Paulus ad hoc genus speculationum arcanarum mentem vertit, cum Colossenses ita admonet: «Videte, ne quis vos depraedetur per philosophiam et inanem fallaciam secundum traditionem hominum, secundum elementa mundi et non secundum Christum» (Col 2,8). Quam huius aetatis propria sunt Apostoli verba, si ea ad diversas arcanae doctrinae formas remittimus, quae hodie etiam mentes pervadunt quorundam fidelium qui debito critico sensu carent. Sancti Pauli vestigia sectantes, alii auctores I saeculi, praesertim s. Irenaeus et Tertullianus, vicissim exceptiones posuerunt circa excogitationem culturalem quae veritatem Revelationis interpretationi philosophorum subicere intendebat.
[E] Christianismi igitur cum philosophia conventio nec immediata nec facilis exstitit. Usus philosophiae et frequentatio scholarum primis Christianis conturbatio visa sunt potius quam lucrum. Primum et urgens eorum munus erat nuntius Christi a mortuis exsuscitati, qui singulis proponendus erat hominibus, unde illi ad mentis conversionem et ad Baptismi petitionem conducerentur. Quod tamen non significat eos munus ignoravisse perspiciendi cognitionem fidei eiusque causarum. Prorsus aliter! Iniqua ergo et simulata evadit[*] exprobratio Celsi qui Christianum «imperitissimum quemque et rusticissimum»  accusare ausus est. Causa huius contemptionis initialis aliunde est perquirenda. Revera, lectio Evangelii responsum ferebat tam satisfaciens quaestioni de vitae sensu, illactenus nondum solutae, ut philosophorum frequentatio res praeterita videretur et, quodammodo, superata.
[E] Quod quidem hodie clarius videtur, si ratio habeatur de contributione Christianismi vindicantis ius universale accedendi ad veritatem. Deiectis repagulis stirpis, ordinis socialis et sexus, Christianismus inde ab exordiis nuntiavit aequalitatem omnium hominum coram Deo. Primum huius conceptus consectarium respexit argumentum de veritate. Ita aperte superata est notio altioris societatis, cui apud antiquos perquisitio veritatis erat reservata. Quandoquidem accessus ad veritatem bonum est quod ducit ad Deum, omnibus patere debuit haec via percurrenda. Viae quae ducunt ad veritatem multiplices perstant; attamen, eo quod christiana veritas vim salvificam possidet, unaquaeque harum viarum percurri potest ea tamen condicione ut ad extremam metam conducant, videlicet ad Iesu Christi revelationem.
[E] Inter principes viros qui positivum nexum cum doctrina philosophica fovent, etsi cauta discretio sit habenda, memorandus est sanctus Iustinus: qui, licet summam professus est existimationem erga Graecam philosophiam, vehementer ac dilucide asseruit se in Christianismo «solam certam et frugiferam philosophiam»  invenisse. Pariter Clemens Alexandrinus Evangelium appellavit «veram philosophiam»,  et philosophiam interpretatus est finitimam Legi Moysis instar praeviae institutionis ad fidem christianam  et praeparationis ad Evangelium. Quoniam «philosophia illam appetit sapientiam quae est in probitate animae et verbi atque in integritate vitae, bene praeparatur ad sapientiam et omni ope annititur ad eam assequendam. Apud nos philosophi dicuntur ii qui diligunt illam sapientiam quae omnia condit et docet, id est, cognitionem Filii Dei». Primum philosophiae Graecae propositum, secundum auctorem Alexandrinum, non est perficere vel confirmare veritatem christianam; potius munus eius est fidem tueri: «Est quidem per se perfecta et nullius indiga Servatoris doctrina, cum sit Dei virtus et sapientia. Accedens autem Graeca philosophia veritatem non facit potentiorem; sed cum debiles efficiat sophistarum adversus eam argumentationes, et propulset dolosas adversus veritatem insidias, dicta est vineae apta sepes et vallus».
[E] Hac currente progressione, inspicere licet disputatores christianos cogitationem philosophicam stricto sensu sumpsisse. Prima inter exempla quae inveniri possunt, certe significantius exstat illud Origenis. Adversus impugnationes philosophi Celsi, Origenes ad argumenta responsaque eidem ferenda Platonica usus est philosophia. Memorans haud pauca doctrinae Platonicae elementa, rudimenta theologiae christianae excogitare coepit. Ipsum quidem nomen, una cum theologiae notione tamquam rationalis sermonis de Deo, ad illud tempus origini Graecae colligabatur. Verbi gratia, secundum Aristotelis philosophiam, nomen nobiliorem partem et verum culmen sermonis philosophici significabat. Sub lumine christianae Revelationis vero, id quod prius doctrinam generatim de deorum natura significabat, sensum prorsus novum assumpsit, eo quod descripsit considerationem quam fidelis faciebat ad veram de Deo doctrinam exhibendam. Haec nova christiana notio, quae iam diffundebatur, philosophia nitebatur, eodemque tamen tempore paulatim curabat ut sese ab illa secerneret. Historia docet eandem Platonicam doctrinam in theologia assumptam profundas subiisse mutationes, praesertim quod attinet ad notiones de immortalitate animae, de deificatione hominis et origine mali.
[E] Hoc in processu quo doctrina Platonica et Neoplatonica paulatim christianae redduntur, peculiarem in modum memoria digni sunt Patres Cappadoces, Dionysius dictus Areopagita ac maxime sanctus Augustinus. Magnus Doctor occidentalis colloquia instituere valuit cum diversis scholis philosophicis, a quibus tamen omni spe est destitutus. Cum vero christianae fidei veritas apparuit illi, tunc fortitudine roboratus est ad absolutam explendam conversionem, ad quam philosophi, crebro ab ipso frequentati, eum inducere nequiverant. Cuius causam ipsemet narrat: «Ex hoc tamen quoque iam praeponens doctrinam catholicam, modestius ibi minimeque fallaciter sentiebam iuberi ut crederetur quod non demonstrabatur (sive esset quid, sed cui forte non esset; sive nec quid esset), quam illic temeraria pollicitatione scientiae credulitatem irrideri; et postea tam multa fabulosissima et absurdissima, quia demonstrari non poterant, credenda imperari». Augustinus ipsos Platonicos, de quibus praecipuo iure mentionem facere consueverat, exprobravit, qui, quamvis scirent terminum ad quem tendere tenebantur, ignoraverant tamen viam illuc ducentem, nempe Verbum incarnatum. Episcopus Hipponensis edere potuit primam summam synthesim doctrinae philosophicae et theologicae, in quam conflueverant opiniones doctrinae Graecae et Latinae. In Ipso quoque summa scientiae unitas, quae biblica doctrina fulciebatur, summitate doctrinae speculativae confirmari et sustentari potuit. Synthesis quam sanctus Augustinus ad rem perduxit, per saecula habita est altissima speculationis philosophicae et theologicae methodus apud mundum Occidentalem. Propriis vitae gestis firmatus sanctimoniaeque spiritu suffultus, inserere etiam potuit in scripta sua innumera argumenta, quae, experientiae respectu habito, futuram quarundam doctrinarum philosophicarum progressionem portendebant.
[E] Diversi ergo fuerunt modi per quos Patres Orientales et Occidentales convenerunt cum scholis philosophicis. Hoc tamen non significat illos materiam nuntii eandem reddidisse ac systemata quae memorabant. Tertulliani interrogatio: «Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? Quid Academiae et Ecclesiae?»,  evidens iudicium est conscientiae criticae, qua christiani disputatores iam ab initio quaestionem experti sunt de habitudine inter fidem et philosophiam, summatim simul aspectus considerantes sive utilitatis sive limitationis. Non erant incauti disputatores. Quoniam materiam fidei impense vivebant, altiores speculationis formas attingere sciebant. Quapropter prorsus improbum est eorum operam ad solam translationem veritatum fidei in categorias philosophicas redigere. Immo plura adhuc fecerunt! Curarunt ut in plenam lucem orirentur omnia quae adhuc manebant implicita et propedeutica in priscorum philosophorum doctrina.  Hi enim, uti diximus, munus habuerunt docendi methodum qua mens, externis vinculis liberata, exire poterat ab angustiis fabularum et ad modum excedentem accommodatius sese aperire. Mens igitur purgata et iusta se extollere poterat ad altiores gradus meditationis, validum tribuens fundamentum ad intellegentiam creaturarum, entis transcendentis et absoluti.
[E] Hic vere inseritur novitas a Patribus excogitata. Illi in plenitudine acceperunt rationem apertam ad absolutum atque Revelationis divitias inseverunt in eam. Coniunctio facta est non tantum in ambitu culturarum, quarum altera alterius fascinationem passa est; illa contigit in intima animorum natura et coniunctio data est inter creaturam eiusque Creatorem. Ipsum praetergrediens finem versus quem inconscie ex natura sua tendebat, ratio summum bonum et summam veritatem in persona Verbi incarnati attingere potuit. Quod attinet ad philosophias, Patres non timuerunt agnoscere sive elementa communia sive diversitates quas illae ostendebant quod ad Revelationem. Huius confluentiae conscientia recognitionem diversitatum in eis non obscuravit.
[E] In theologia scholastica munus rationis ad philosophiam institutae luculentius efficitur sub impulsu Anselmianae interpretationis de intellectu fidei. Secundum sanctum Cantuariensem Archiepiscopum, primatus fidei certare non intendit cum investigatione rationis propria. Haec enim non vocatur ut iudicium ferat de materia fidei; id facere non potest, quia idoneitate caret. Potius eius munus est invenire sensum, detegere causas quae homines omnes ducere possint ad quandam fidei doctrinam intellegendam. Sanctus Anselmus lucide asserit intellectum investigare teneri quidquid diligat; quo plus diligit, eo plus cognoscere cupit. Qui pro veritate vivit protenditur ad quandam cognitionis formam quae magis magisque amore incenditur erga ea quae cognoscit, quamvis concedere teneatur se non fecisse omnia quae in suis votis fuerunt: «Ad te videndum factus sum; et nondum feci propter quod factus sum».  Desiderium itaque veritatis rationem impellit ad amplius progrediendum; quae, immo, quasi obruitur conscientia propriae facultatis quae in dies latior fit quam id quod attingit. Hic tamen et nunc ratio detegere potest ubinam iter suum perficiatur: «Sufficere namque debere existimo rem incomprehensibilem indaganti, si ad hoc ratiocinando pervenerit ut eam certissime esse cognoscat; etiamsi penetrare nequeat intellectu, quomodo ita sit. [...] Quid autem tam incomprehensibile, tam ineffabile, quam id quod supra omnia est? Quapropter si ea, quae de summa essentia hactenus disputata sunt, necessariis rationibus sunt asserta, quamvis sic intellectu penetrari non possint, ut et verbis valeant explicari; nullatenus tamen certitudinis eorum nutat soliditas. Nam, si superior consideratio rationabiliter comprehendit incomprehensibile esse, quomodo eadem summa sapientia sciat ea quae fecit, [...] quis explicet quomodo sciat aut dicat seipsam, de qua aut nihil, aut vix aliquid ab homine sciri possibile est?».
[E] Fundamentalis concordia inter cognitionem philosophicam et fidei cognitionem iterum confirmatur: fides postulat ut obiectum suum auxilio rationis comprehendatur; ratio, culmen investigationis attingens, necessarium ducit quidquid fides ostendit.
[E] Locus omnino singularis hoc in longo itinere sancto Thomae reservatur, non tantum ob ea quae in eius doctrina continentur, verum etiam ob habitudinem dialogicam quam ille tunc temporis interserere scivit cum Arabica et Hebraica doctrina. Illa quidem aetate, qua christiani disputatores reperiebant veteres thesauros philosophiae, et immediatius philosophiae Aristotelicae, summum eius exstitit meritum quod eminere fecerit concordiam inter rationem et fidem. Utriusque lumen, rationis scilicet et fidei, a Deo procedit, ille ratiocinatus est, idcirco inter se opponere nequeunt.
[E] Thomas adhuc acrius denotat naturam, obiectum proprium philosophiae, ad intellegentiam divinae revelationis conferre posse. Fides igitur rationem non metuit sed eam quaerit fiduciamque in ipsa collocat. Quemadmodum gratia supponit naturam eamque perficit,  ita fides supponit et perficit rationem. Quae, fidei lumine illustrata, eximitur a fragilitate et a limitatione quae ex peccati commissione proveniunt, et necessariam invenit fortitudinem, qua in cognitionem mysterii Dei Unius et Trini se sublevet. Etsi in luce vehementer ponit supernaturalem fidei indolem, Doctor Angelicus non est oblitus ipsius rationabilitatis praestantiam; immo, penitus descendere scivit et sensum illius sapientiae circumscribere. Fides quidem quodam modo est «exercitium cogitationis»; ratio hominis nec abrogatur nec minuitur, cum fidei veritatibus assentit; hae tamen veritates ex libera et conscia selectione attinguntur.
[E] Hac quidem de causa iure meritoque sanctus Thomas ab Ecclesia Magister doctrinae constanter est habitus et exemplum quod ad modum theologiam tractandi. Nos iuvat in memoriam revocare ea quae Dei Servus Decessor Noster Paulus VI scripsit septimo occurrente centenario ab obitu Doctoris Angelici: «Maxima profecto fuerunt s. Thomae et audacia in veritate quaerenda, et spiritus libertas in novis tractandis quaestionibus, et illa mentis probitas, eorum propria, qui, dum nullo modo patiuntur christianam veritatem contaminari profana philosophia, hanc tamen a priori minime respuunt. Quare, in christianae doctrinae historia eius nomen in numerum refertur praecursorum, quibus novus philosophiae atque scientiae universalis cursus debetur. Caput autem et quasi cardo doctrinae, qua ipse, ut summa et quasi prophetica ingenii acie praeditus erat, quaestionem dissolvit de novis mutuis relationibus inter rationem et fidem, in eo positum est, quod mundi saecularitatem cum arduis ac severis Evangelii postulatis composuit; atque hoc modo sese subduxit ab inclinatione, naturae aliena, ad mundum eiusque bona contemnenda, neque tamen descivit a supremis et indeclinabilibus principiis supernaturalis ordinis».
[E] Praecipuas inter perceptiones sancti Thomae illa est quae missionem respicit quam Spiritus Sanctus explicat cum humanam scientiam maturat in sapientia. Iam a primis paginis Summae Theologiae Aquinas Doctor primatum docere voluit illius sapientiae quae est donum Spiritus Sancti et quae ad divinarum rerum cognitionem ducit. Eius theologia nos docet sapientiae proprietatem in eius arta conglutinatione cum fide et cognitione divina. Illa cognoscit per connaturalitatem, fidem praesumit et efficit ut concipiatur rectum iudicium suum, initium sumens a veritate ipsius fidei: «...sapientia quae ponitur donum differt ab ea quae ponitur virtus intellectualis acquisita. Nam illa acquiritur studio humano: haec autem est "de sursum descendens", ut dicitur Iac. 3, 15. Similiter et differt a fide. Nam fides assentit veritati divinae secundum seipsam: sed iudicium quod est secundum veritatem divinam pertinet ad donum sapientiae».
[E] Primatus tamen huic sapientiae tributus non inducit Doctorem Angelicum ut duas alias additicias formas sapientiae obliviscatur: formam nempe philosophicam, quae fulcitur facultate qua intellectus, intra proprios limites, instruitur ad res investigandas; et formam theologicam, quae ex Revelatione pendet et fidei veritates scrutatur, ipsum Dei mysterium attingendo.
[E] Intime persuasus de eo quod «omne verum a quocumque dicatur a Spiritu Sancto est»,  sanctus Thomas nulla adductus utilitate, veritatem dilexit. Quaesivit eam ubicumque ea exprimi potuit, universalem eius indolem quam maxime illustrando. Magisterium Ecclesiae in ipso vidit et aestimavit ardens veritatis studium; doctrina illius, eo quod universalem, obiectivam et transcendentem veritatem semper asseruit, attigit culmina «quibus attingendis impar humana intelligentia est».  Merito quidem ille appellari potest «apostolus veritatis».  Quoniam indubitanter ad veritatem animum attendebat, revera obiectivum eius sensum agnoscere scivit. Eius vere est philosophia essendi et non apparendi dumtaxat.
[E] Primis conditis studiorum universitatibus, theologia propius cum aliis formis investigationis et scientificae cognitionis conferri potuit. Sanctus Albertus Magnus et sanctus Thomas, quamquam asserebant exsistentiam cuiusdam compagis inter theologiam et philosophiam, primi fuerunt viri docti qui necessariam agnoverunt autonomiam qua philosophia et scientiae indigebant, ut singulae argumentis propriae investigationis incumberent. Attamen, inde ab exeunte Medio Aevo legitima distinctio inter has duas cognitionis areas paulatim in nefastum discidium mutata est. Post nimiam animi rationalistarum cupiditatem, quorundam disputatorum propriam, sententiae talia posuerunt fundamenta, ut pervenirent ad philosophiam seiunctam et omnino autonomam quod ad fidei veritates. Varia inter consectaria huius seiunctionis diffidentia quaedam exstitit in dies validior quod attinet ad ipsam rationem. Quidam generalem, scepticam et agnosticam diffidentiam profiteri coeperunt, vel ad maius spatium fidei tribuendum, vel ad quamcumque evertendam de eadem mentionem rationalem.
[E] Ut breviter dicamus, quidquid doctrina Patrum doctorumque Medii Aevi cogitaverat atque exsecuta erat veluti profundam unitatem, causam cognitionis accommodatae ad altissimas speculationis formas, omnino reapse deletum est ope doctrinarum faventium defensioni cognitionis rationalis a fide seiunctae eamque substituentis.
[E] Extremae opinationes, quae magis valent, in occidentali praesertim historia, perbene noscuntur et videntur. Nihil est immodestiae edicere philosophicam disciplinam recentioris temporis magna ex parte esse progressam a christiana Revelatione gradatim disiunctam, eo usque opposita palam attingeret. Praeterito saeculo hic motus suum fastigium attigit. Quidam «idealismi» asseclae multifarie fidem eiusque elementa, vel Iesu Christi mortem ac resurrectionem, in dialecticas structuras ratione intellegibiles immutare contenderunt. Huic opinioni variae humanismi athei species, philosophice elucubratae, obstiterunt, quae fidem reputarunt perniciosam atque progressum plenae rationalitatis prohibentem. Haud veritae sunt ipsae ne novas religiones sese exhiberent quorundam consiliorum fulcimento utentes, quae in politica ac sociali ratione, in systemata quaedam evaserunt omnia complectentia humanitati exitiosa.
[E] In rebus scientificis vestigandis mens positivistica adolevit, quae non modo discessit ab omni significatione opinationis christianae de mundo, verum etiam, ac potissimum, omnia indicia metaphysicae moralisque rationis prolabi sivit. Inde factum est ut quidam scientiae periti, ethica mente omnino carentes, in periculo versati sint ne amplius persona eiusque tota vita medium teneret studii locum. Immo quidam illorum, de viribus technicae artis progressus plane conscii, concedere videntur sollicitationi, praeter mercatus rationes, demiurgicae potestati in naturam ac in ipsum hominem.
[E] Veluti consequens discriminis rationalismi tandem nihilismus crevit. Quatenus philosophia nullius rei, pro hominibus nostrae aetatis quandam suam habet pellicientem vim. Eius fautores inquisitionem putant in se ipsam conclusam, nulla data spe neque facultate adipiscendi veritatis metam. In nihilismi opinatione exsistentia dat tantum copiam quiddam sentiendi et experiendi, qua in re evanida primas agunt partes. Ex nihilismo illa opinio orta est de nullo officio definitive tenendo, quandoquidem fugacia et temporaria sunt omnia.
[E] Non est obliviscendum, ceterum, in hodierna cultura philosophiae partes esse immutatas. Ex sapientia et universali scientia, in unam quamlibet e multis scientiae provinciis redacta est; immo, quibusdam ex rationibus, partes omnino supervacanae eidem dumtaxat tribuuntur. Aliae interea rationalitatis formae magis magisque increbuerunt, quae philosophicae disciplinae leve pondus manifeste tribuerunt. Pro veritatis contemplatione atque finis ultimi sensusque vitae inquisitione, formae hae rationalitatis diriguntur -- vel saltem sunt convertibiles -- veluti «rationes instrumentales», quae inserviant utilitatis propositis, voluptatibus vel dominationi.
[E] Quam lubricum sit hanc viam decurrere inde a Nostris primis Litteris Encyclicis editis ediximus, cum scripsimus: «Nostrae aetatis homo semper urgeri videtur iis ipsis rebus, quas efficit, nempe proventu operis manuum suarum et magis etiam laboris mentis et voluntatum propensionum. Fructus huius multiformis industriae humanae obnoxii sunt -- nimis celeriter quidem ac saepe tali modo, qui praevideri non possit -- «alienationi», quatenus illis, qui eos protulerunt, simpliciter auferuntur: hoc non solum fieri contigit nec tanta ratione, quanta, saltem ex parte, in quodam ambitu ex eorum effectibus consequenter et oblique enato, iidem fructus contra hominem ipsum convertuntur. Haec videtur esse summa acerbissimae condicionis exsistentiae hominum nostri temporis, prout maxima et universali amplitudine patet. Quare homo maiore in dies afficitur timore. Metuit enim, ne fructus sui, non omnes quidem neque plerique, sed nonnulli et ii sane, qui singularem partem habent ingenii eius et industriae, contra se ipsum convertantur».
[E] His culturae immutationibus praepositis, nonnulli philosophi, veritatem ipsius causa inquirere desistentes, sibi hoc unum statuerunt ut obiectivam certitudinem practicamve utilitatem obtinerent. Proximum fuit ut vera rationis dignitas offunderetur, quae nempe facultatem amisit verum cognoscendi et absolutum vestigandi.
[E] Quod in postrema hac historiae philosophiae parte eminet, pertinet, igitur, ad contemplatam progredientem fidei a philosophica ratione distractionem. Omnino verum est quod, res attente cogitanti, in philosophica quoque cogitatione eorum qui operam dederunt spatio inter fidem et rationem dilatando, magni pretii germina cogitationum nonnumquam ostenduntur, quae penitus excussa et recta mente cordeque exculta, efficiunt ut veritatis iter reperiatur. Haec congitationis germina inveniri possunt, exempli gratia, in perpensis explicationibus de perceptione experientiaque, de specierum summa deque irrationali personalitate deque intersubiectivitate, de libertate bonisque, de tempore historiaque. Mortis quoque argumentum graviter unumquemquem philosophum compellare potest, ut in se ipse germanum suae vitae sensum reperiat. Id autem non sibi vult praesentem inter fidem et rationem necessitudinem subtilem iudicii conatum non postulare, quandoquidem tum ratio tum fides sunt extenuatae et sunt factae altera alteri debiles. Ratio, Revelatione nudata, devia itinera decucurrit, quae eandem in discrimen inferunt haud cernendi ultimam metam. Fides, ratione carens, animi sensum et experientiam extulit, atque sic in periculo versatur ne amplius sit universalis oblatio. Fallax est cogitare fidem, coram infirma ratione, plus posse; ipsa, contra, in grave periculum incidit ne in fabulam ac superstitionem evadat[*]. Eodem modo ratio, quae fidei firmatae non obversatur, ad novitatem et radicalitatem ipsius «esse» contuendas non lacessitur.
[E] Ne importuna igitur videatur gravis firmaque Nostra compellatio, ut fides et philosophia artam illam coniunctionem redintegrent, quae eas congruas efficiat earum naturae, autonomia vicissim servata. Fidei parrhesiae respondere debet rationis audacia.
[N] [E] Suam ipsius philosophiam non exhibet Ecclesia, neque quamlibet praelegit peculiarem philosophiam aliarum damno.  Recondita huius temperantiae causa in eo reperitur quod philosophia, etiam cum necessitudinem instituit cum theologia, secundum suam rationem suasque regulas agere debet; nullo modo alioquin cavetur ut illa ad veritatem vergat et ad eam per cursum ratione perpendendum tendat. Levis auxilii esset quaedam philosophia quae non procederet ratione gubernante secundum sua ipsius principia peculiaresque methodologias. Quod huius rei caput est, autonomiae radix, qua philosophia fruitur, in eo invenitur quod ratio natura sua ad veritatem vergit ipsaque praeterea ad eam consequendam necessaria habet instrumenta. Philosophia huius «statuti constitutivi» sibi conscia facere non potest quin servet necessitates quoque et perspicuitates veritatis revelatae proprias.
[E] Historia tamen demonstravit declinationes et errores in quos haud semel recentiore potissimum aetate philosophicae opinationes inciderint. Munus non est Magisterii neque officium opem ferre ad lacunas philosophicae cogitationis mancae implendas. Eius est, contra, palam et strenue obsistere, cum philosophicae sententiae dubiae periculum iniciunt ne revelatio recte intellegatur nec non cum falsae factiosaeque effunduntur opiniones, quae graves errores disseminant, exturbantes Dei populi simplicitatem et fidei sinceritatem.
[E] Ecclesiae ideo Magisterium, sub fidei lumine suum iudicium criticum de philosophicis opinationibus ac sententiis, quae cum doctrina christiana contendunt, ex auctoritate proferre potest ac debet.  Ad Magisterium in primis pertinet iudicare quae praesumptiones philosophicae et consecutiones veritati revelatae aversentur, pariterque postulata significare quae sub lumine fidei a philosophia requiruntur. In philosophicae praeterea scientiae progressu complures philosophantium scholae sunt ortae. Etiam plures hae disciplinae Magisterium compellant ad iudicium officiose enuntiandum an primigenia principia, quibus hae scholae nituntur, cum postulatis Dei verbi ac theologicae cogitationis propriis componi possint necne.
[E] Ecclesia quippe demonstrare debet id quod fidei alienum oriri potest in quadam philosophica disciplina. Complures namque philosophicae cogitationes, ut opiniones de Deo, de homine, de eius libertate deque eius ethica agendi ratione, Ecclesiam recta compellant, quandoquidem veritatem revelatam quam ipsa tuetur contingunt. Cum hoc iudicium enuntiamus, nos Episcopi «testes veritatis» esse debemus in diaconia sustinenda humili sed tenaci, quae singulis philosophis aestimanda est, in commodum «rectae rationis», rationis videlicet quae de vero congruenter cogitat.
[E] Hoc autem iudicium non quaedam infitiatio intellegi primo debet, proinde quasi Magisterium auferre vel imminuere quaslibet actiones velit. Immo eius cohortationes volunt in primis philosophicas vestigationes lacessere, promovere, incitare. Philosophi ceterum primi necessitatem percipiunt se ipsos iudicandi, errores, si qui sunt, corrigendi necnon nimis angustos fines transgrediendi in quibus eorum philosophica cogitatio gignitur. Illud praecipuum est considerandum, unam esse veritatem, quamvis eius significationes historiae vestigia exhibeant atque, insuper, e ratione humana propter peccatum sauciata et hebetata oriantur. Inde constat nullam historicam philosophiae formam legitime sibi vindicare posse facultatem totam veritatem complectendi, neque plene explanandi hominem, mundum, hominis necessitudinem cum Deo.
[E] Hodiernis porro temporibus, cum systemata, rationes, opinationes ac argumenta philosophica saepe minutatissime digesta multiplicentur, magis magisque sub fidei lumine acumen iudicii deposcitur. Quod iudicium est arduum, quia, si quidem iam est laboriosum ingenitas ac non alienabiles facultates rationis agnoscere, finibus constitutivis et historicis additis, multo incertius interdum erit iudicium discernendi, in singulis philosophicis notionibus, id quod, sub fidei respectu, validum et frugiferum exhibent, pro eo quod praebent falsum et periculosum. Ecclesia utique scit thesauros sapientiae et scientiae in Christo abscondi (cfr Col 2,3); quocirca operam dat ut philosophica inquisitio evolvatur, ne via intercludatur, quae ad mysterium agnoscendum ducit.
[E] Recentioribus non modo temporibus Ecclesiae Magisterium suam mentem de quibusdam philosophicis doctrinis patefecit. Ut quaedam supponamus exempla, sufficit ut memorentur saeculorum decursu declarationes de opinionibus quibusdam quae affirmabant animas praeexsistere,  itemque de variis idolatriae esoterismique superstitiosi obnoxiis formis quae in astrologicis enuntiationibus  continentur; ne obliviscamur scripta magis systematica adversus averroismi Latini sententias, quae christianae fidei aversantur.
[E] Si Magisterii verbum crebrius a superiore inde saeculo exauditum est, id accidit quod illa aetate non pauci catholici suum esse officium putarunt suam philosophiam opponere opinionibus recentiorum philosophorum. Tunc autem Ecclesiae Magisterium omnino coactum est ad vigilandum ne hae philosophicae doctrinae vicissim in formas falsas et negatorias transgrederentur. Sunt idcirco censura aequabiliter affecti hinc fideismus  et traditionalismus radicalis, propter eorum diffidentiam naturalium rationis facultatum, illinc rationalismus, et ontologismus, quandoquidem rationi naturali id tribuebant, quod solummodo fidei lumine cognosci potest. Quae valida in his disceptationibus continebantur Constitutione dogmantica Dei filius recepta sunt, qua primum Concilum Oecumenicum quoddam, Vaticanum scilicet I, sollemniter inter Revelationem ac fidem necessitudinem pertractavit. Doctrina quae in documento illo continetur penitus et salubriter philosophicam complurium fidelium inquisitionem affecit atque hodiernis quoque temporibus quiddam perstat praeceptivum ad quod tendere debemus ad iustam congruentemque christianam hac de re inquisitionem consequendam.
[E] Potius quam de singulis philosophorum sententiis, Magisterii effata de necessitate cognitionis naturalis atque, ideo, novissime philosophicae pro fide intellegenda tractaverunt. Concilium Vaticanum I, summatim referendo et sollemniter doctrinam confirmando quam ordinarium in modum constanterque fidelibus Magisterium pontificium ministravit, lucide edixit quam inseparabiles sint simulque plane seiunctae naturalis Dei cognitio et Revelatio, ratio et fides. Concilium ex praecipua postulatione sumpsit initium, quam ipsa Revelatio praesumebat, Deum scilicet esse naturaliter cognosci posse, rerum omnium principum et finem,  atque sollemni illa iam memorata enuntiatione desiit: «Duplicem esse ordinem cognitionis, non solum principio, sed obiecto etiam distinctum». Asseverare ideo contra omnes rationalismi species oportebat fidei mysteria a philosophicis inventis separari, illaque haec praecedere et transcendere; altera ex parte adversus proclivia ad fidem blandimenta, necesse fuit ut veritatis unitas confirmaretur ideoque etiam efficax emolumentum quod rationalis cognitio tribuere potest ac debet fidei cognitioni: «Verum etsi fides sit supra rationem, nulla tamen umquam inter fidem et rationem vera dissensio esse potest: cum idem Deus, qui mysteria revelat et fidem infundit, animo humano rationis lumen indiderit, Deus autem negare se ipsum non possit, nec verum vero umquam contradicere».
[E] Nostro quoque saeculo, Magisterium plus quam semel hanc rem agitavit, admonens de rationalismi blanditiis. Hoc in prospectu Pii PP. X est consideranda opera, qui animadvertit modernismi fundamentum illas esse philosophicas notiones, quae phaenomenismum, agnosticismum et immanentismum redolebant. Neque momentum pondusve obliviscendum catholicae detrectationis marxistarum philosophiae atque communismi athei.
[E] Pius PP. XII deinceps vocem suam intendit cum, in Litteris illis Encyclicis quarum titulus Humani generis, de erratis sententiis moneret, quae cum evolutionismi, exsistentialismi et historicismi opinionibus nectebantur. Idem Pontifex clarius edixit placita haec non a theologis esse elucubrata ac prolata, sed «extra ovile Christi»  originem traxisse; simul addidit tales errores non simpliciter eiciendos, sed iudicio critico ponderandos: «Iamvero theologis ac philosophis catholicis, quibus grave incumbit munus divinam humanamque veritatem tuendi animisque inserendi hominum, has opinationes plus minusve e recto itinere aberrantes neque ignorare neque neglegere licet. Quin immo ipsi easdem opinationes perspectas habeant oportet, tum quia morbi non apte curantur nisi rite praecogniti fuerint, tum quia nonnumquam in falsis ipsis commentis aliquid veritatis latet, tum denique quia eadem animum provocant ad quasdam veritates, sive philosophicas sive theologicas, sollertius perscrutandas ac perpendendas».
[E] Postremo etiam Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, peculiare suum explens officium pro universali Romani Pontificis magisterio,  iterum de periculo monuit in quo versari possunt quidam theologiae liberationis theologi sumendo sine iudicii acumine principia et rationes a marxismo mutuata.
[E] Superioribus igitur temporibus identidem ac diversimode de re philosophica iudicium discernendi exercuit Magisterium. Quod autem Decessores Nostri recolendae memoriae attulerunt magni pretii existimatur subsidium quod oblivione obruere haudquaquam licet.
[E] Si hodiernas condiciones consideramus, animadvertimus pristinas restitui quaestiones, easdemque proprietatibus novis. Non agitur tantum de quaestionibus quae singulas personas coetusve complectuntur, sed de cogitationibus inter homines serpentibus ita ut quodammodo in mentem communem iam convertantur. Talis est, exempli gratia, radicalis de ratione diffidentia, quam recentes multarum inquisitionum philosopharum explicationes ostendunt. Hac de re compluribus ex partibus audita est vox de «interitu metaphysicae»: est voluntas ut philosophia tenuioribus muneribus contenta sit, quae tantum versetur in factis intepretandis vel in vestigationibus de quibusdam certis argumentis humanae cognitionis vel eiusdem de structuris.
[E] In ipsa theologia quaedam praeteriti temporis iterum emergunt sollicitationes. In nonnullis huius aetatis theologicis scholis, exempli gratia, quidam rationalismus progreditur, praesertim cum placita, quae philosophice habentur valida, praeceptiva ad theologicam inquisitionem agendam iudicantur. Id potissimum accidit cum theologus, scientiae philosophicae expers, sine iudicio sententiis iam in communem loquelam cultumque receptis, at satis rationali fundamento carentibus, temperatur.
[E] Neque desunt qui in fideismum periculose regrediantur, quippe qui rationalis cognitionis philosophicaeque scientiae pondus ad fidem intellegendam, immo ad ipsam facultatem possidendam in Deum credendi, non agnoscat. Hodie pervagata opinio huius fideisticae propensionis est «bliblicismus», qui Sacrarum Litterarum lectionem earumque explicationem unicum arbitratur veridicae congruentiae caput. Sic evenit ut Dei verbum cum sola Sacra Scriptura aequetur, hoc modo Ecclesiae doctrinam perimendo, quam Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II palam confirmavit. Constitutio Dei Verbum postquam commonefecit simul in Sacris Libris simul in Traditione  inesse Dei verbum, graviter edicit: «Sacra Traditio et Sacra Scriptura unum verbi Dei sacrum depositum constituunt Ecclesiae commissum, cui inhaerens tota plebs sancta cum Pastoribus suis adunata, in doctrina Apostolorum et communione, fractione panis et orationibus iugiter perseverat (cfr Act 2,42)». Non ad Sacram Scripturam dumtaxat igitur sese refert Ecclesia. Etenim «suprema fidei eius regula»  ex unitate oritur quam inter Sacram Traditionem, Sacram Scripturam et Ecclesiae Magisterium posuit Spiritus, quae sic mutuo implicantur, ut haec tria seiunctim nullo modo esse possint.
[E] Non est porro subaestimandum periculum quod inest in proposito quodam Sacrae Scripturae veritatem eruendi ex una tantum adhibita methodologia, necessitate neglecta latioris exegesis, quae una cum tota Ecclesia ad textus plene intellegendos accedere sinat. Quotquot in Sacrae Scripturae studium incumbunt prae se usque ferre debent varias methodologias explanatorias in aliqua ipsas etiam inniti opinatione philosophica: est illa acumine pensitanda antequam sacris scriptis aptetur.
[E] Aliae absconditi fideismi formae agnosci possunt eo quod theologia speculativa parvi aestimatur ac pariter philosophia classica despicatui habetur, ex cuius notionibus sive fidei intellectus sive dogmaticae ipsae formulae verba exceperunt. Pius PP. XII, felicis recordationis, de hac traditionis philosophicae oblivione necnon de desertis translaticiis locutionibus monuit.
[E] Aliquo modo, postremo, effatis omnia complectentibus et absolutis diffidunt, ii potissimum qui arbitrantur ex consensu, non ex intellectu obiectivae realitati obnoxio depromi veritatem. Certe illud intellegi potest, in mundo qui in multas peculiaresque partes dispertitur, eum complexivum ultimumque vitae sensum difficulter agnosci, quem translaticia philosophia quaesivit. Verumtamen sub lumine fidei quae in Christo Iesu hunc ultimum sensum agnoscit, facere non possumus quin philosophos, christianos vel non christianos, incitemus ut rationis humanae facultati confidant neque metas in philosophandi arte nimis mediocres prae se ferant. Huius iam ad finem vergentis millenni historica lectio testatur hanc esse calcandam viam: oportet veritatis ultimae cupido vestigationisque desiderium non amittantur, quae cum audacia novos cursus detegendi coniunguntur. Fides ipsa rationem lacessit ad omnem secessionem deserendam et ad omnia periclitanda, ut persequatur quae pulchra, bona veraque sunt. Fides sic rationis fit certus atque suadens advocatus.
[E] Magisterium, utcumque, in erroribus notandis doctrinisque philosophorum aberrantibus non se continuit. Pari cura praecipua principia ad germanam philosophicae cogitationis renovationem assequendam confirmavit, definita demonstrando etiam curricula, quae sunt tenenda. Hac in re, Leo PP. XIII, Litteris suis encyclicis Æterni Patris, vere historicae significationis fecit illam pro Ecclesiae vita progressionem. Id scriptum ad hoc usque tempus unum exstat documentum pontificium illius gradus, quod philosophiae totum dicatur. Concilii Vaticani I eximius ille Pontifex doctrinam de necessitudine inter fidem et rationem repetiit atque amplificavit, idemque philosophicas cogitationes fidei ac theologicae scientiae summo esse auxilio demonstravit. Uno plus post saeculo complura illius scripti indicia sive re sive paedagogico usu nihil amiserunt utilitatis; primum ex omnibus est id quod ad incomparabilem sancti Thomae philosophiae praestantiam spectat. Doctoris Angelici doctrina restituta Leoni PP. XIII optima videbatur semita ad illum philosophiae usum recuperandum, quem postulabat fides. Sanctus Thoma -- scripsit ille -- «rationem, ut par est, a fide apprime distinguens, utramque tamen amice consocians, utriusque tum iura conservavit, tum dignitati consuluit».
[E] Quae feliciter consecuta sit haec Pontificis invitatio omnes noverunt. Sancti Thomae de doctrina inquisitiones nec non aliorum scholasticorum auctorum novum impetum habuerunt. Historica studia valde excitata sunt et hanc ob rem mediaevalium philosophorum iterum sunt repertae divitiae, quae tunc temporis fere ignorabantur, atque novae Thomisticae scholae ortae sunt. Historica adhibita methodologia, sancti Thomae operum cognitio admodum progressa est atque innumeri fuerunt vestigatores qui animose in rerum philosophicarum theologicarumque disputationes illius aetatis thomisticam traditionem induxerunt. Catholici theologi huius saeculi auctoritate praestantiores, quorum cogitationibus et vestigationibus multum debet Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, huius renovationis philosophiae Thomisticae filii sunt. Ecclesia, saeculo vertente XX, valida philosophorum turma uti sic potuit, qui Angelici Doctoris in schola sunt instituti.
[E] Thomistica utcumque et neothomistica renovatio, philosophicae repetitae cogitationis in cultura christianae indolis non fuit solum signum. Iam antea, atque una cum Leoniana invitatione, non pauci catholici philosophi exstiterant, qui recentioribus philosophantium cogitationibus innitentes, propria utentes methodologia, magnae auctoritatis duraturique momenti opera philosophica ediderant. Fuerunt qui sic altas summas composuerunt ut nihil ab his esset invidendum maximis idealismi commentis; alii porro ad fidem nova ratione tractandam, lumine praefulgente renovati intellectus conscientiae moralis, epistemologica fundamenta iecerunt; alii quandam induxerunt philosophiam quae, ab immanentia vestiganda sumpto initio, ad transcendentiam aditum reseravit; alii tandem in phaenomenologicae provinciam methodologiae fidei postulata inserere contenderunt. Diversis denique rationibus formae philosophicarum cogitationum sunt effectae, quae praeclaram christianae doctrinae traditionem in fidei rationisque unitate vitalem servaverunt.
[E] Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II autem pro parte sua de philosophia locupletissimam ac fertilissimam exhibet doctrinam. Oblivisci non possumus, his potissimum consideratis Litteris Encyclicis, Constitutionis Gaudium et spes integrum quoddam caput anthropologiae biblicae esse quasi compendium, idemque exstare pro philosophia quoque consilii fontem. Illis in paginis de humanae personae valore agitur, quae ad imaginem Dei creata est, eius dignitatis et praestantiae prae ceteris creaturis ratio affertur atque eius rationis transcendens facultas ostenditur. Atheismi quoque quaestionem Gaudium et spes considerat et illius philosophicae opinationis errorum apposite afferuntur causae, non alienabili praesertim personae spectata dignitate ac libertate. Procul dubio altam philosophicam significationem habent illarum paginarum sententiae, quas Nos in Nostras primas Litteras Encyclicas Redemptor hominis rettulimus, quaeque veluti firmum quoddam constituunt ad quod Nostra doctrina costanter convertitur: «Reapse nonnisi in mysterio Verbi incarnati mysterium hominis vere clarescit. Adam enim, primus homo, erat figura futuri (Rom 5,14), scilicet Christi Domini. Christus, novissimus Adam, in ipsa revelatione mysterii Patris eiusque anoris, hominem ipsi homini plene manifestat eidemque altissimam eius vocationem patefacit».
[E] Concilium de philosophia quoque discenda tractavit, cui ad sacerdotium candidati operam dare debent; quae cohortationes in universum sunt ad christianam totam institutionem convertendae. Affirmat enim Concilium: «Philosophicae disciplinae ita tradantur ut alumni imprimis ad solidam et cohaerentem hominis, mundi et Dei cognitionem acquirendam manuducantur, innixi patrimonio philosophico perenniter valido, ratione quoque habita philosophicarum investigationum progredientis aetatis».
[E] Haec praecepta etiam atque etiam sunt confirmata nec non in aliis Magisterii documentis explicata, ut solida philosophica institutio praestetur, iis praesertim qui ad theologicas disciplinas se comparant. Ipsi autem saepenumero huius institutionis pondus ostentavimus iis qui, in pastorali vita, aliquando cum hodierni mundi necessitatibus contendere et causas aliquorum morum intellegere debebunt, prompta responsa daturi.
[E] Si quidem compluribus temporibus necesse habuimus hanc questionem iterum attingere, cogitationum Doctoris Angelici vim confirmavimus atque ut eius philosophia comprehenderetur institimus, id ex eo ortum est quod Magisterii praescripta haud semper optanda animi promptitudine servata sunt. In catholicis scholis multis, annis post Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II finitum, huius rei quaedam visa est hebetatio propterea quod minoris aestimata est non modo philosophia scholastica, verum etiam in universum tota philosophica disciplina. Mirantes ac dolentes animadvertimus haud paucos theologos esse participes huius neglegentiae philosophicae disciplinae.
[E] Diversae numerantur rationes quae alienae huic voluntati subsunt. Diffidentia de ratione apprime est referenda, quam huius aetatis philosophia magnam partem ostendit, quippe quae metaphysicam de ultimis hominis quaestionibus inquisitionem late deserat, ut proprium studium in peculiaria regionaliaque negotia convertatur, quae nonnumquam mere sunt formalia. Huic rei praeterea accedit erratum iudicium quod circa praesertim «scientias humanas» exstitit. Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II saepe probandum pondus scientificae inquisitionis confirmavit, ut hominis mysterium altius intellegeretur. Si quidem theologi ad has scientias cognoscendas easdemque recte in suis inquisitionibus adhibendas invitantur, id tamen intellegi non debet ipsis implicite dari potestatem philosophiam segregandi vel amovendi in pastorali institutione ac «fidei praeparatione». Oblivisci denique non potest in fidei inculturationem reciperatum studium. Vita praesertim novensilium Ecclesiarum effecit ut, una cum praeclaris cogitationis formis, intellegeretur compluras inesse popularis sapientiae manifestationes, quae verum patrimonum culturae et traditionum constituunt. Harum tamen consuetudinum inquisitio una cum philosophiae vestigatione procedere debet. Haec ipsa sinet ut probanda popularis sapientiae lineamenta exsistant, dum necessario illa cum Evangelio enuntiando coniungit.
[E] Firmiter confirmare placet philosophiae disciplinam praecipuum habere momentum quod abstrahi non potest in studiorum theologicorum ratione et in alumnorum apud Seminaria institutione. Haud igitur inconsiderate studiorum theologicorum curriculum antecedat temporis quoddam spatium, quo peculiare philosophiae ediscendae praevideatur opus. Electio haec, quam Concilium Lateranense V confirmavit,  in experientia radices agit quam Media Aetas est adepta, cum convenientia inter philosophicam et theologicam disciplinam conspicuum obtinuit locum et momentum. Haec studiorum ratio affecit, iuvit et curavit, quamvis oblique, maximam partem promotionis recentioris philosophiae. Conspicuum exemplum exhibet beneficium, quod contulerunt Francisci Suarez Disputationes metaphysicae, quae etiam in Studiorum Universitatibus Germaniae Luteranis reperiebantur. Haec autem methologia relicta sive in sacerdotali institutione sive in theologica inquisitione grave detrimentum attulit. Conspiciatur, exempli gratia, cogitationis et hodiernae culturae indiligentia, quae effecit ut omnes dialogi formae tollerentur vel omnes philosophiae sine iudicio susciperentur.
[E] Magna Nos tenet spes has difficultates sublatum iri, prudenti intercedente philosophica et theologica institutione, quae numquam in Ecclesia desinere debet.
[E] Has propter rationes, Nobis visum est instantem esse rem, his Nostris Litteris Encyclicis, acre studium confirmare, quod philosophiae tribuit Ecclesia; immo artam coniunctionem, qua theologicum opus et philosophica inquisitio nenctuntur. Inde Magisterii officium oritur philosophicam scientiam discernendi et concitandi, quae fidei minime aversetur. Nostrum est quaedam principia et indicia exhibere, quae necessaria arbitramur, ut ordinata necessitudo et efficax inter theologiam et philosophiam instituatur. Eorum sub lumine clarius iudicari poterit an qualemve necessitudinem cum diversis philosophicis scholis opinationibusque instituere debeat theologia, quas hodiernus mundus exhibet.
[N] [E] Dei verbum singulis hominibus omni tempore et in omnibus terrarum orbis locis destinatur; et homo est naturaliter philosophus. Theologia autem, quatenus repercussa et scientifica elaboratio intellectus huius verbi sub fidei lumine, seu quasdam suas propter rationes seu ad peculiaria munia obeunda facere non potest quin necessitudinem cum philosophicis scholis instituat, quae reapse annorum decursu invaluerunt. Peculiaribus methodologiis theologis haud significatis, quod quidem ad Magisterium non pertinet, quaedam munia theologiae propria memorare potius volumus, in quibus ad philosophicas cogitationes ipsam propter naturam revelati Verbi est decurrendum.
[E] Theologia veluti scientia fidei ordinatur duobus statutis principiis methodologicis, quae sunt: auditus fidei et intellectus fidei. Altero principio ipsa Revelationis depositum obtinet, quemadmodum id pedetemptim collustraverunt Sacra Traditio, Sacrae Litterae et vivum Ecclesiae Magisterium. Altero, theologia cogitationis postulatis respondere vult per speculativam ratiocinationem.
[E] De congrua auditus fidei comparatione, philosophia theologiae suam peculiarem affert opem cum cognitionis personalisque communicationis structuram considerat atque nominatim varias species et officia loquelae. Aequum pariter est pondus quod confert philosophia ut ecclesialis Traditio, Magisterii effata nec non eximiorum theologiae magistrorum sententiae aptius intellegantur: hi enim mentem suam patefaciunt saepe per cogitata formasque cogitationis, quae a certa quadam philosophica traditione mutuo suscipiuntur. Hac in re theologus rogatur ut non modo significet notiones vocabulaque, quibus Ecclesia cogitat suamque docrinam definit, verum etiam ut penitus philosophicas opinationes intellegat quae forte tam notiones quam nomina affecerint, ut ad rectas congruasque significationes perveniatur.
[E] Si vero intellectus fidei ponderatur, animadvertendum est apprime divinam Veritatem «propositam nobis in Scripturis Sacris secundum doctrinam Ecclesiae intellectis»  propria fruere intellegibilitate tam logice congruenti ut proponatur veluti germana sapientia. Intellectus fidei hanc veritatem clarius recludit, non modo logicas intellectivasque structuras percipiens enuntiationum quibus Ecclesiae doctrina componitur, verum etiam, et in primis, salutis sensum extollens quam tales enuntiationes pro singulis et pro humanitate continent. Per has nimirum enuntiationes simul sumptas fidelis ad salutis historiam cognoscendam pervenit, cuius fastigium in persona Christi eiusdemque paschali mysterio reperitur. Fidei assentiendo fit ipse huius mysterii particeps.
[E] Theologia dogmatica, ex parte sua, facultatem possidere debet adipiscendi universalem sensum mysterii Dei Unius et Trini atque oeconomiae salutis simul per rationem narrationis, simul, potissimum per formam ratiocinationis. Id efficere debet, profecto, intellectivis adhibitis notionibus quae critico iudicio effinguntur cum omnibus communicabili. Etenim absque philosophiae adiumento res theologicae illustrari non possunt, quales exempli gratia, sermo de Deo, personales intra Trinitatem relationes, actio Dei in mundo creantis, necessitudo inter Deum et hominem, Christi identitas qui est verus Deus et verus homo. Idem in diversis theologiae moralis argumentis viget, ubi quaedam notiones immediate usurpantur, veluti lex moralis, conscientia, libertas, personalis responsalitas, culpa, et similia, quae ad philosophicae ethicae rationem definiuntur.
[E] Necesse est ideo ut fidelis ratio naturalem habeat, veram congruentemque cognitionem de rebus creatis, de mundo et de homine, quas res etiam revelatio divina tractat; magis etiam, ipsa facultatem habere debet moderandi hanc cognitionem per modum intellectionis et argumentationis. Quapropter theologia dogmatica speculativa praesumit et complectitur philosophiam hominis, mundi atque, altius, ipsius «esse», quae quidem in obiectiva veritate innititur.
[E] Theologia fundamentalis, suam propter disciplinae indolem quae officium sustinet rationem fidei reddendi (cfr 1 Pt 3,15), munus in se recipere debebit comprobandi et enodandi necessitudinem inter fidem et philosophicam scientiam. Concilium iam Vaticanum I, doctrinam resumens Pauli (cfr Rom 1,19-20), in id iam animos converterat, quasdam scilicet exstare veritates quae naturaliter, ideoque phlosophice, cognosci possunt. Earum cognitio necessario anteponitur ad Dei revelationem suscipiendam. In revelatione eiusque credibilitate vestiganda una cum consentaneo fidei actu, theologia fundamentalis demonstrare debet, sub cognitionis per fidem lumine, quasdam eminere veritates, quas iam ratio suo in autonomo vestigationis itinere percipit. Iisdem plenitudinis sensum tribuit Revelatio, dum eas ad divitias dirigit mysterii revelati, in quo ultimum finem reperiunt. Cogitetur, exempli gratia, de naturali Dei cognitione, de facultate divinam revelationem ab aliis phaenomenis secernendi vel de eius credibilitate agnoscenda, de humana loquela habili, facta ad loquendum significanti veroque modo de illis etiam rebus, quae humanam experientiam praegrediuntur. Omnibus ex his veritatibus mens ducitur ad exsistentiam agnoscendam cuiusdam viae quae est fidei reapse praeparatoria, quae in revelationem accipiendam recidere potest, propriis principiis propriaque autononia haud declinatis.
[E] Simili modo theologia fundamentalis intimam convenientiam ostendere debebit inter fidem eiusque praecipuam necessitatem sese explicandi per rationem, quae maxima cum libertate consentire potest. Fides poterit hoc modo «iter plene demonstrare rationi illi, quae sincere veritatem requirit. Sic fides, Dei donum, quamvis ratione haudquaquam innitatur, nullo pacto ea carere potest; similiter exstat necessitas, ut ratio ex fide vim sumat, novosque fines consequatur, ad quos sola pervenire non potest».
[E] Theologia moralis fortasse etiam maiore indiget philosophiae auxilio. In Novo Foedere enim humana vita multo minus temperatur quam in Vetere Testamento. Vita in Spiritu fideles ducit ad libertatem responsalitatemque quae ipsam Legem transgrediuntur. Evangelium utcumque et apostolica scripta sive universalia christiane agendi principia ministrant sive doctrinam praeceptaque singularia. Ut eadem peculiaribus vitae individualis et socialis condicionibus accommodentur, oportet Christianus suam conscientiam funditus obstringere possit suique ratiocinii vim. Aliis verbis, id requirit ut theologia moralis recto philosophico prospectu utatur sive quod ad naturam humanam societatemque spectat sive quod ad ethicae deliberationis principia universalia.
[E] Quispiam fortasse obiciat in praesenti condicione theologo esse deveniendum ut opem recipiat, potius quam a philosophia, ab aliis humanae scientiae formis quae sunt historia ac potissimum scientiae, quarum omnes homines singulares mirantur recentiores progressus. Alii autem, post auctum de necessitudine inter fidem et culturam sensum, affirmant theologiam esse convertendam potius ad translaticias sapientias quam ad philosophiam quae ex Graecia orta est quaeque Eurocentrica dicitur. Alii denique, initium ex falsa culturarum pluralismi opinatione sumentes, universale plane respuunt patrimonii philosophici bonum, quod recepit Ecclesia.
[E] Hae aestimationes, quae ceterum in conciliari doctrina reperiuntur,  aliquam veritatem prae se ferunt. Eo quod ratio fit ad scientias, quae ratio compluribus in casibus utilis est quandoquidem pleniorem de obiecto vestigando cognitionem praebet, necessaria tamen non est obliviscenda pars quam agit cogitatio proprie philosophica, critica et in universalem rem vergens, quae ceterum a feraci culturarum permutatione requiritur. Illud proprie confirmare cupimus in uno certoque casu non esse consistendum, princeps munus neglegendo, ostendendi videlicet universalem indolem obiecti fidei. Hoc praeterea non est obliviscendum: quod philosophica cogitatio peculiariter confert, intellegere sinit tum in diversis vitae opinationibus tum in culturis, «non quid homines senserint, sed qualiter se habeat veritas rerum».  Non variae hominum opiniones, sed veritas dumtaxat theologiae opitulari potest.
[E] Peculiariter autem est ponderandum argumentum, quod convenientiam tangit inter culturas, etiamsi necessario de ea re penitus non edisseratur, propter implicationes quae inde sive in re philosophica sive in re theologica oriuntur. Quod Ecclesia convenit culturas et cum iisdem contendit, id usque ab Evangelii praedicati initio experta est Ecclesia. Christi praeceptum discipulis datum lustrandi omnia loca, «usque ad ultimum terrae» (Act 1,8), ut ab Eo revelata Veritas transmitteretur, copiam communitati christianae dedit probandi continuo nuntii universalitatem atque impedimenta ex culturarum diversitate inducta. Locus epistulae sancti Pauli ad Ephesios efficacem opem fert, ut intellegatur quemadmodum primaeva christiana communitas hoc negotium egerit. Apostolus scribit: «Nunc autem in Christo Iesu vos, qui aliquando eratis longe, facti estis prope in sanguine Christi. Ipse est enim pax nostra, qui fecit utraque unum et medium parietem maceriae solvit» (Eph 2,13-14).
[E] Eiusmodi scripto ob oculos habito, nostra cogitatio latius panditur et mutationem attingit quae facta est postquam Gentiles ad fidem pervenerunt. Pro divitiis salutis, quam Christus attulit, decidunt impedimenta quae varias culturas dissociant. Dei repromissio in Christo fit nunc donatio universalis: non amplius circumscripta cuiusdam populi proprietatibus, eius sermone et moribus, sed cunctis destinatur ut patrimonium ex quo quisque haurire libere potest. Locis ex diversis ac consuetudinibus omnes in Christo ad unitatem participandam familiae filiorum Dei vocantur. Christus ipse sinit ut duo populi «unum» sint. Qui erant «longinqui», novitatis beneficio quam paschale mysterium attulit «proximi» fiunt. Iesus divisionis parietes diruit et peculiari consummatoque modo per participationem sui mysterii unitatem efficit. Haec unitas tam est alta ut cum sancto Paolo effari possit Ecclesia: «Ergo iam non estis extranei et advenae, sed estis concives sanctorum et domestici Dei» (Eph 2,19).
[E] Hac tam simplici enuntiatione luculenta veritas significatur: fidei concursus cum diversis culturis reapse effecit novam rem. Culturae, cum altius radices in natura humana agunt, testimonium secum ferunt illius apertionis ad universalitatem et transcendentiam quae propria est hominis. Ipsae ideo exhibent diversas ad veritatem accessiones, quae perutiles sunt homini, cui valores praebent qui magis magisque humanam reddere valent eius exsistentiam. Eo quod culturae antiquarum consuetudinum repetunt valores, ipsae secum ferunt -- etiamsi implicite, sed hanc propter rationem haud minus vere -- indicium, quod remittit ad Deum in natura sese manifestantem, sicut antea demonstratum est cum de sapientialibus scriptis et de sancti Pauli doctrina sermo factus est.
[E] Culturae, quippe quae cum hominibus eorumque historia arte coniungantur, eosdem communicant cursus ad quos humanum tempus manifestatur. Immutationes ideo progressionesque recensentur, inductae a congressionibus quas homines inter se convenientes effecerunt quasque mutuae communicationes eorum vitae exemplarium pepererunt. Culturae aluntur bonorum communicatione, earumque vis vitalis ac diuturnitas pendent ex facultate patendi novitatibus suscipiendis. Quomodo hi motus explicantur? Quisque homo in quadam cultura illigatur, ex ea pendet, eandemque magnopere afficit. Ipse est simul filius perinde ac pater culturae in qua defigitur. In omnibus vitae significationibus, is aliquid secum comportat quod eum inter creaturas denotat: id est, duratura ad mysterium apertio eiusque inexplebile cognitionis desiderium. Quapropter unaquaeque cultura habet in se et patefacit inustam intentionem in aliquam consummationem. Itaque dici potest culturam habere in se facultatem suscipiendi divinam revelationem.
[E] Ratio ipsa, secundum quam Christiani suam fidem experiuntur, cultura imbuitur illius loci qui proximus est et efficit vicissim ut eiusdem natura procedente tempore effingatur. Unicuique culturae Christiani immutabilem Dei veritatem praebent, quam Ipse in populi historia et cultura revelavit. Saeculorum sic decursu ille repetitur eventus cuius testes fuerunt peregrini qui die illo Pentecostes Hierosolymis adstabant. Cum Apostolos audivissent, rogaverunt: «Nonne ecce omnes isti, qui loquuntur, Galilaei sunt? Et quomodo nos audimus unusquisque propria lingua nostra, in qua nati sumus? Parthi et Medi et Elamitae, et qui habitant Mesopotamiam, Iudaeam quoque et Cappadociam, Pontum et Asiam, Phrygiam quoque et Pamphyliam, Aegyptum et partes Libyae, quae est circa Cyrenem, et advenae Romani, Iudaei quoque et proselyti, Cretes et Arabes, audimus loquentes eos nostris linguis magnalia Dei» (Act 2,7-11). Evangelium diversis in culturis enuntiatum, dum a singulis quibus destinatur fidei adhaesionem requirit, non impedit quominus ii suam culturalem proprietatem retineant. Id nullam discretionem gignit, quandoquidem baptizatorum populus illa universalitate distinguitur, quae omnes humanos cultus recipit, progressum iuvando illius rei quae in ea implicatur, ad plenam in veritate explicationem consequendam.
[E] Quapropter id quod est cultura numquam fieri potest iudicandi norma, minus ac minus norma veritatis novissima pro Dei revelatione. Huic illive culturae non aversatur Evangelium, proinde quasi, eam conveniens, id quod ad eam pertinet eripere velit eandemque cogat extrarias formas et alienas sumere. Nuntius contra, quem in mundum atque in culturas defert fidelis, vera est liberationis forma ab omni perturbatione a peccato effecta, itemque est vocatio ad plenam veritatem. Hac in conspiratione, non modo culturae nulla re exuuntur, sed concitantur potius ut sese ad veritatem evangelicam aperiant, unde incitamenta ad alios progressus assequendos nanciscantur.
[E] Eo quod evangelizationis missio suo in cursu philosophiam Graecam primam convenit, id haudquaquam significat ceteros aditus excludi. Hodie, quotiescumque Evangelium culturae ambitus attingit ad quos christiana doctrina antea non accessit, nova exsurgunt inculturationis opera. Eaedem fere quaestiones, quas primaeva aetate enodare debuit Ecclesia, hodiernis hominibus afferuntur.
[E] Cogitationes Nostrae sua sponte ad orientales plagas convertuntur, quae perantiquis pietatis philosophiaeque traditionibus locupletantur. Inter eas India conspicuum obtinet locum. Grandis spiritalis impetus Indianam impellit mentem ad eam experientiam adipiscendam, quae, temporis spatiique impedimentis animo expedito, absolutum bonum attingat. In huius liberationis exquirendae processu, praecipuae metaphysicae scholae ponuntur.
[E] Huius temporis Christianorum est, praesertim Indianorum, locupleti ex eiusmodi patrimonio elementa illa depromere quae cum illorum fide coniungi possunt, ita ut christiana doctrina ditior fiat. Hac in discretione agenda, quae ex conciliari Declaratione Nostrae aetate sumit consilium, quasdam iudicandi normas ii ob oculos habebunt. Prima norma est humani spiritus universalitas cuius postulata in diversissimis culturis eadem reperiuntur. Altera, quae ex prima oritur, haec est: cum Ecclesia maioris momenti convenit culturas antea haud attactas, id, quod per inculturationem Graecae et Latinae disciplinae adepta est, posthabere non potest. Talis si repudiaretur hereditas, providum Dei consilium oppugnaretur, qui per temporis historiaeque semitam suam ducit Ecclesiam. Haec, ceteroqui, iudicandi lex propria est Ecclesiae omnium aetatum, etiam subsequentis, quae se persentiet divitem factam iis ex rebus quas adepta erit per orientalium culturarum hodiernum accessum, et in hac hereditate nova indicia reperiet, ut frugifer instituatur dialogus cum culturis illis, quas humanitas iuvabit ut prosperent in suo ad futuram aetatem itinere. Tertio, cavebitur ne legitima proprietatis singularitatisque Indianae philosophiae expostulatio cum sententia illa confundetur, culturalem scilicet traditionem sua in diversitate concludi debere eamque per dissidentiam cum ceteris traditionibus emergere, quod quidem naturae humani spiritus ipsi est contrarium.
[E] Quod de India dictum est, adscribitur patrimonio praestantium culturarum Sinensium et Iaponensium aliarumque Asiae Nationum itemque refertur thesauro culturarum Africae translaticiarum, quae verbis potissimum sunt transmissae.
[E] His rebus consideratis, necessitudo quae inter theologiam et philosophiam opportune institui debet notam habebit cuiusdam circularis progressionis. Theologiae initium atque primigenius fons est Dei verbum in historia revelatum, dum ultimum propositum necessario erit ipsius intellectio quae sensim est perspecta succedentibus aetatibus. Quandoquidem autem Dei verbum est Veritas (cfr Io 17,17), fieri non potest quin ad eiusdem aptiorem intellectum opem conferat humanae veritatis inquisitio, philosophans scilicet mens, quae suis servatis legibus explicatur. Non agitur de hac vel illa notione vel parte cuiusdam systematis philosophici in theologico sermone simpliciter adhibenda; decretorium est quod fidelis ratio suae cogitationis facultatem exerceat ad verum reperiendum quendam intra motum, qui, initium ex Dei verbo sumens, consequi conatur pleniorem eiusdem comprehensionem. Omnino porro liquet, agendo has intra duas res -- Dei verbum scilicet altioremque eius cognitionem -- rationem paene percipi et quodammodo gubernari, ut semitas illas vitet quae extra Veritatem revelatam eandem perducant ac, tandem, simpliciter extra ipsam veritatem; immo ea incitatur ad explorandas semitas, quas sola ne suspicatur quidem se illas decurrere posse. Hoc ex circulari motu cum Dei verbo philosophia locupletior evadit[*], quia novos et inexspectatos attingit fines.
[E] Ubertatis comprobatio huius necessitudinis exhibetur personalibus eventibus clarorum theologorum christianorum, qui ut philosophi etiam eximii enituerunt, qui scripta sic altae speculativae praestantiae reliquerunt, ut iure antiquae philosophiae aequarentur doctoribus. Id tum de Ecclesiae Patribus dici potest, inter quos saltem sanctus Gregorius Nazianzenus atque sanctus Augustinus annumerantur, tum de Doctoribus mediaevalibus, inter quos trias illa elucet quam constituunt sancti Anselmus, Bonaventura et Thomas Aquinas. Fecunda illa philosophiae verbique Dei consociatio etiam ex magnanima emergit investigatione a recentioribus doctis provecta, in quibus memorare placet ex orbe occidentali homines veluti Ioannem Henricum Newman, Antonium Rosmini, Iacobum Maritain, Stephanum Gilson, Edith Stein simulque ex orientali orbe studiosos ut Vladimirum S. Solov'ev, Paulum A. Florenskij, Petrum K. Caadaev, Vladimirum N. Lossky. Uti paret, hi cum memorantur auctores, quibuscum alia pariter proferri possunt nomina, non omnem eorum doctrinae aestimationem prodere cupimus, verum exempla quaedam praestantiora illius efferre itineris investigationum philosophicarum ad quod beneficia singularia comparatio attulit cum fidei doctrinis. De hoc autem non est ambigendum: horum doctorum spiritalis itineris contemplatio non poterit quin progredienti veritatis inquisitioni proficiat atque usui consectariorum in hominum utilitatem. Sperari oportet hanc eximiam philosophicam-theologicam traditionem nunc et futuro de tempore suos successores necnon pro Ecclesiae humanitatisque bono cultores esse inventuram.
[E] Quemadmodum patet ex historia necessitudinum inter fidem et philosophiam sicut supra paucis dictum est, diversi philosophiae status prae fide christiana distingui possunt. Primus status philosophiam a Revelatione evangelica penitus distractam complectitur: philosophiae est condicio quae aetatibus illis ante Redemptorem natum historice exstitit atque post Eum in regionibus nondum ab Evangelio contactis. Hac in condicione philosophia legitime affectat se sui iuris esse inceptum, quae videlicet secundum suas ipsius leges agit, quae suis unis viribus innititur. Quamvis de gravibus limationibus conscii simus, quae ingenitae humanae debilitati adscribuntur, haec affectatio est sustentanda et roboranda. Philosophicum namque studium, prout ad veritatem intra naturalem provinciam perquirendam tendit, saltem implicite rei supernaturali patens est.
[E] Immo magis: etiam cum theologicus ipse sermo philosophicis notionibus et argumentationibus utitur, cogitationis rectae autonomiae necessitas est servanda. Etenim argumentatio, quae secundum strictas normas rationales evolvitur, effecta quaedam universaliter valida consequitur et praestat. Etiam hic viget principium, secundum quod gratia non destruit, sed perficit naturam: fidei assensus, qui tum intellectum tum voluntatem obstringit, liberum arbitrium cuiusque fidelis rem revelatam suscipientis haud dissolvit sed perficit.
[E] Ex hoc congruo postulato penitus opinio illa digreditur sic dictae philosophiae «seiunctae», quam complures philosophi recentiores persequuntur. Potius quam ut aequam philosophandi autonomiam affirmet, ipsa sibi arrogat ius quidlibet sua in provincia excogitandi, quod quidem, ut patet, illegitimum est: veritatis adiumenta respuere, quae ex divina revelatione oriuntur, idem est ac aditum intercludere ad altiorem veritatem cognoscendam, ipsius philosophiae detrimento contingente.
[E] Alter philosophiae status locutione philosophiae christianae a multis designatur. Haec appellatio legitima est, dummodo ipsa in ambiguum ne detrahatur: id enim non significat Ecclesiam philosophiam publicam suam habere, quandoquidem fides qua talis non est philosophia. Hac locutione ars designatur christiane philosophandi, meditatio scilicet philosophica quae vitaliter cum fide coniungitur. Non agitur ideo simpliciter de philosophia quadam a christianis philosophis confecta, qui suis in inquisitionibus aliquid contra fidem dicere noluerunt. Cum de philosophia christiana sermo fit, omnes comprehendi debent praestantes illi progressus philosophicae disciplinae, qui numquam contigissent nisi opem directe vel oblique christiana fides attulisset.Duae ergo sunt christianae philosophiae species, quarum altera est subiectiva, secundum quam fides purificat rationem. Ut theologalis virtus, ipsa rationem a nimia confidentia exsolvit, ad quam illecebram facile philosophi inclinant. Iam sanctus Paulus Ecclesiaeque Patres, atque nobis proximi philosophi veluti Pascal et Kierkegaard, censura quadam id notarunt. Humiliter animum colligit philosophus ut quasdam quaestiones tractet, quas difficulter explicare valet haud consideratis Revelationis elementis. Puta, exempli gratia, mali dolorisque quaestiones, personalem Dei identitatem atque interrogationem de vitae sensu vel, strictius, quaestionem metaphysicam radicalem: «Cur est aliquid?».
[E] Pars exinde adest obiectiva, quae ad ipsam materiam spectat: lucide quasdam exhibet veritates Revelatio, quas tametsi attingere potest ratio, nunquam tamen easdem repperisset si suis unis viribus innixa esset. Hoc in rerum prospectu quaestiones ponuntur, veluti notio Dei personalis, liberi et creatoris, quae ad philosophicae cogitationis progressum tantum pondus habuit, potissimum quod spectat ad philosophiam respicientem «esse». Ad hanc provinciam ipsa peccati realitas quoque pertinet, quemadmodum ipsa fidei lumine manifestatur, quae quidem operam dat ut quaestio de malo congruenti ratione philosophice ponatur. Persona quoque, quae veluti spiritale quiddam consideratur, est peculiaris fidei proprietas: dignitatis christianus nuntius, aequalitatis ac libertatis hominum procul dubio vim habuit in philosophica cogitata, quae recentiores philosophi pepererunt. Ad propiora tempora accedentes, id memorare debemus quod agnitum est momentum quod induit etiam pro philosophia historicus eventus, christianae Revelationis culmen. Non casu ille cuiusdam historiae philosophiae factus est cardo, qui veluti novum veritatis humanae inquisitionis caput exhibetur.
[E] Inter obiectiva philosophiae christianae elementa necessitas quoque adnumeratur perquirendi rationalitatem nonnullarum veritatum, quae in Sacris Scripturis significantur, veluti supernaturalis vocationis hominis possibilitas atque peccatum ipsum originale. Haec munia rationem lacessunt ad agnoscendum quiddam inibi inesse veri rationalisque, longe multumque ultra illos angustos fines quibus ipsa se conclusura erat. Argumenta haec reddunt re rationis provinciam laxiorem.
[E] Has agitantes rationes, philosophi haud facti sunt theologi, propterea quod fidei veritatem intellegere et collustrare non studuerunt sumpto initio a Revelatione. Sua in ipsorum provincia, via meraque ratione sua usi agere perrexerunt, sed suam inquisitionem ad novos veri ambitus explicaverunt. Asseverare licet quod sine hac Dei verbi acri opera, philosophiae recentioris ac recentissimae magna pars haud exsisteret. Res suum praecipuum habet momentum, quamvis christianam orthodoxiam a compluribus novissimorum horum saeculorum philosophis deseri observetur.
[E] Alius philosophiae significans status habetur cum ipsa theologia ad philosophiam provocat. Theologia reapse semper philosophico indiguit adiumento atque indiget. Cum sub fidei lumine rationis criticae sit opera, theologica inquisitio rationem cognitionibus et argumentationibus excultam et figuratam tota in sua vestigatione praesumit atque deposcit. Theologia porro philosophia indiget quacum paene dialogum instituat, ut comprobet intellegibilitatem universalemque principiorum suorum veritatem. Non casu accidit ut philosophiae non christianae susciperentur ab Ecclesiae Patribus et mediaevalibus theologis explicandi causa. Haec historica res praestantiam demonstrat autononiae quam etiam hoc in suo tertio statu servat philosophia, sed necessarias praecipuasque immutationes pariter ostendit, quas ipsa pati debet.
[E] Hoc ipsum propter necessarium insigneque adiumentum a Patrum usque aetate ancilla theologiae vocitata est philosophia. Nomen istud minime usurpatum est ad subiectionem servitutemque quandam significandam vel munus demonstrandum merae functionis philosophiae in theologiam collatum. Locutio potius significatione adhibita est qua usus est Aristoteles, cum de scientiis experimentalibus quasi de «ancillis primae philosophiae» dissereret. Eiusmodi locutio, quae difficulter hodie propter autonomiae principia, quemadmodum supra dictum est, adhibetur, saeculorum decursu iuvit ut necessaria inter duas scientias necessitudo significaretur earumque dissociationis impossibilitas.
[E] Si autem theologus recusaret philosophia uti, periculum esset ne ipse inscius philosopharetur seque concluderet structuris cogitationis fidei intellegendae parum aptis. Philosophus, ex parte sua, si quodlibet excludendum esse cogitaret cum theologia commercium, per se fidei christianae principia capessere suum esse sentiret, sicut nonnullis recentioribus philosophis contigit. In utroque casu periculum exstaret ne delerentur primaria autonomiae principia, quae omnis scientia servare vult.
[E] Hic philosophiae status quem consideravimus, quandoquidem in Revelatione intellegenda implicatur, una cum theologia sub Magisterii eiusque iudicii auctoritate strictius ponitur, sicut antea demonstravimus. Ex fidei namque veritatibus quaedam necessitates derivant, quas philosophia servare debet cum necessitudinem instituit cum theologia.
[E] His praepositis cogitationibus, probe intellegitur cur subinde laudaverit Magisterium sancti Thomae philosophiae merita eundemque putaverit ductorem atque theologicae disciplinae exemplar. Nihil intererat philosophicas quasdam quaestiones complecti, neque imperare peculiares opinationes ut tenerentur. Magisterii propositum erat, atque est, significare quemadmodum sanctus Thomas germanum sit exemplar illorum qui veritatem perquirunt. Eius enim in meditatione rationis postulata et fidei vis altissimam invenerunt summam ex iis quae humana cogitatio unquam attigit, quippe qui Revelationis proprietatem radicitus tuitus sit, proprium rationis cursum numquam deprimendo.
[E] Clarius quae antea edixit Magisterium ostendentes, novissima hac in parte quaedam postulata enuntiare volumus, quae theologia -- immo, antehac Dei verbum -- philosophicae cogitationi ac recentioribus philosophicis hodie exhibet. Quemadmodum supra dictum est, ad suas regulas agere suisque principiis inniti debet philosophus; nisi una tamen esse non potest veritas. Revelatio, et quae in ea continentur, rationis inventa eiusque legitimam autonomiam numquam comprimere possunt; at ratio, ex parte sua, sese interrogandi et percontandi facultatem numquam amittere debet, sibi omnino conscia se absolutum quiddam propriumque non esse. Veritas revelata, clare id quod est collustrando sumens initium ex splendore quem efficit id quod per se Est, philosophicae cogitationis iter illuminabit. Revelatio christiana verus fit, itaque, locus ubi philosophica et theologica disciplina, mutuam necessitudinem instituentes, coniunguntur et reciprocantur. Optandum igitur est ut theologi ac philosophi a sola veritatis auctoritate temperentur ita ut philosophia cum Dei verbo congruens contexatur. Philosophia haec locus erit ubi humani cultus et christiana fides convenient, consensionis erit sedes inter fideles et non fideles. Opem feret ut fideles sibi sint altius conscii altitudinem sinceritatemque fidei iuvari dum nectitur cum cogitatione dumque eam non recusat. Patrum rursus doctrina in hanc nos persuasionem perducit: «Et ipsum credere, nihil aliud est, quam cum assensione cogitare [...] Omnis qui credit, et credendo cogitat, et cogitando credit [...] quoniam fide si non cogitatur nulla est». Et etiam: «Si tollatur assensio fides tollitur, quia sine assensione nihil creditur».
[N] [E] Continent Sacrae Litterae, tam explicito quam modo implicito, complura elementa ex quibus haurire licet claram cuiusdam philosophicae crassitudinis aestimationem hominis orbisque. Gradatim conscii facti sunt Christiani iis in paginis sacris divitem concludi thesaurum. Inde quidem elucet id quod experimur non esse absolutum, non esse increatum neque ex se ipso generatum. Deus est Absolutus unus. De Bibliorum paginis praeterea manifesto apparet species hominis veluti Dei imaginis, quae certa prae se fert indicia de eius essentia ac libertate nec non animae immortalitate. Quandoquidem orbis creatus non sibi solus sufficit, omnis deceptio autonomiae, quae creaturas omnes a Deo suapte[*] natura pendere proindeque hominem etiam negaverit, ad calamitates perducit quae rationabilem harmoniae inquisitionem sensusque humanae vitae delent.
[E] Mali pariter moralis quaestio, quod omnium est tristissimum, in Bibliis agitatur, ubi illud dicitur haud posse ad aliquod vitium materiae debitum redigi, verum vulnus potius esse quod ex inordinata libertatis humanae affirmatione proficiscitur. Verbum Dei, denique, quaestionem providet de ipsius vitae sensu suumque praebet responsum dum ad Christum Iesum, incarnatum Dei Filium, dirigit hominem qui vitam humanam plenissime complet. Aliae similiter rationes enucleari possunt ex textus sacri lectione; attamen repudiatio inde elucet cuiuslibet formae relativismi, materialismi, pantheismi.
[E] Primaria huius»philosophiae» in Bibliis repositae persuasio haec est: humana vita et mundus ipse aliquid significant et ordinantur ad sui perfectionem quam in Christo Iesu eveniunt. Incarnationis mysterium manebit semper veluti medium punctum ad quod quis referatur ut comprehendere possit arcanum vitae humanae, orbis conditi et Dei ipsius. Hoc in mysterio extremae fiunt philosophiae provocationes, quoniam incitatur ratio humana ut suam efficiat logicam viam ad deruendos muros quibus periculum est ne ipsa circumdetur. Hic, vero, tantummodo vitae humanae sensus in summum evadit[*]. Intima enim Dei hominisque essentia intellegibilis redditur: in Verbi Incarnati mysterio, divina natura atque humana cum suis cuiusque proprietatibus servantur simulque declaratur necessitudo singularis qua colligantur in coniunctione mutua sine permixtione.
[E] Animadverti oportet inter significantiora hodiernae nostrae condicionis elementa esse «discrimen significationis». Iudicia, saepe indolis scientificae, de vita et mundo eatenus sunt multiplicata ut praebeatur nobis re vera species aliqua divisarum notitiarum. Istud efficit ut difficulter ac nonnumquam frustra sensus sive significatio rerum conquiratur. Immo vero -- id quod magis animum obturbat -- in hac datorum factorumque congerie quibus hodie vivitur et quae videntur condere ipsius vitae viam, sunt qui interrogent utrum adhuc interrogare attineat de ipso rerum sensu. Opinationum multitudo inter quas disputatur cui sit respondendum, aut etiam variae rationes interpretandi et contemplandi mundum hominisque vitam, nihil aliud perficiunt nisi ut exsecutam efficiant intimam hanc dubitationem quae facile in scepticismi atque indifferentiae affectionem transit vel etiam varias in nihilismi indicationes.
[E] Hinc autem consequitur ut hominum animus quadam forma ambiguae cogitationis occupetur, quae eo illos permovet ut magis etiam in se concludantur intra propriae immanentiae fines, nulla habita transcendentis ratione. Philosophia quae caret omni interrogatione de vitae humanae significatione magno obicitur periculo ne humana ratio in usum dumtaxat alicuius instrumenti reducatur, omni vero veritatis inquirendae studio sublato.
[E] Ut autem verbo Dei conveniat necesse in primis est philosophia suam reperiat sapientialem amplitudinem quaerendi novissimum ac omnia complectentem sensum vitae. Haec prima necessitas, si res bene ponderantur, ipsi philosophiae addit perutile incitamentum ut suae ipsius naturae accomodetur. Id agens, enim, non erit dumtaxat decretoria quaedam et critica postulatio quae diversis scientiae partibus earum fundamentum ac limitem designat, verum proponetur etiam veluti extrema facultas colligandi totam scientiam actionemque hominum, dum ad unum finem eos concurrere cogit adque sensum ultimum. Haec sapientialis amplitudo eo magis hodie poscitur quia amplior technicae humani generis potentiae auctus renovatam peracutamque petit bonorum supremorum conscientiam. Si technica haec instrumenta forma alicuius ordinationis ad finem non solum utilitatis deficiant, cito videri illa possint inhumana, immo in generis humani potentiales eversores aliquando se convertere.
[E] Ultimum hominis finem patefacit verbum Dei universalemque addit sensum ipsius actionibus in terris. Hanc ob causam philosophiam illud hortatur ut se dedat reperiendo naturali sensus huius fundamento, qui nempe religiosa cuiusque hominis constitutio est. Quaecumque philosophia negare voluerit hunc ultimum et universalem sensum reperiri posse, erit non modo impar verum etiam erronea.
[E] Ceterum hoc sapientiae munus non potest aliqua philosophia explere quae ipsa vicissim non est vera solidaque scientia, quae scilicet non tantum dirigitur ad elementa peculiaria et relativa -- sive functiones tangunt sive formas vel utilitates -- rerum ipsarum, sed ad totam ultimamque earum veritatem, id est ad essentiam ipsam obiectorum cognitionis. Ecce itaque secunda postulatio: ut hominis comprobetur facultas adipiscendae veritatis cognitionis; quae, ceterum, cognitio obiectivam attingat veritatem, per illam adaequationem rei et intellectus quam Scholasticae disciplinae doctores appellaverunt. Haec postulatio, fidei plane propria, explicatis verbis in Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II est rursus inculcata: «Intellegentia enim non ad sola phaenomena coarctatur, sed realitatem intellegibilem cum vera certitudine adipisci valet, etiamsi, ex sequela peccati, ex parte obscuratur et debilitatur». 
[E] Philosophia prorsus phaenomenorum aut rerum aequivocarum haud idonea erit quae hoc suppeditet auxilium divitiis verbi Dei altius perscrutandis. Etenim, pro concesso semper Sacra Sacriptura habet hominem, licet falsitatis sit reus fallaciaeque, cognoscere tamen posse et comprehendere perlucidam semplicemque veritatem. Libris Sacris ac praesertim Novo Testamento, insunt loci et adfirmationes indolis omnino ontologicae. Veras enim declarationes potuerunt proferre auctores inspirati, quae nempe res denotarent obiectivas. Dici non potest Traditionem catholicam ullo modo erravisse cum dicta quaedam sancti Ioannis ac sancti Pauli accepit velut sententias de ipsa Christi essentia. Cum his affirmationibus et intelligendis et exponendis dat operam, theologia subsidio proinde indiget alicuius philosophiae quae facultatem cognitionis obiective verae non neget, quantumvis perfici illa possit. Hoc pariter de conscientiae moralis valet iudiciis, quae Sacrae Litterae concedunt esse posse obiective vera.
[E] Priores hae postulationes tertiam secum important: opus est philosophia naturae vere metaphysicae, quae excedere nempe valeat empirica indicia ut, veritatem conquirens, ad aliquid absolutum ultimum, fundamentale pertingat. Haec postulatio iam implicita reperitur in cognitionibus indolis sapientialis tum etiam analyticae; est necessitas praesertim cognitionum de bono morali cuius extremum fundamentum est Bonum supremum, Deus ipse. Nolumus hic loqui de metaphysica re tamquam de peculiari schola aut particulari consuetudine historica. Adfirmare id dumtaxat interest realitatem ac veritatem transcendere facta et elementa empirica; refert etiam defendere hominis potestatem cuius vi hanc rationem transcendentem ac metaphysicam percipiat modo vero certoque, licet imperfecto et analogico. Ita quidem metaphysica disciplina non respicienda est tamquam anthropologiae opposita, quandoquidem metaphysica ipsa sinit solide stabiliri dignitatis personae conceptum ex eius spiritali natura. Persona, nominatim, locum constituit praecipuum ut quis congrediatur cum actu essendi ac, propterea, cum meditatione metaphysica.
[E] Ubicumque praesentem quandam appellationem ad absolutum et transcendens detegit homo, inibi ei aperitur indicatio metaphysicae rerum interpretationis: in veritate ac pulchritudine, in bonis moralibus ac personis ceteris, in esse ac in Deo. Magna manet nos provocatio hoc exeunte millennio, ut nempe transitum facere sciamus tam necessarium quam urgentem a phaenomeno ad fundamentum. Non ideo licet in sola experientia consistere; etiam quotiens haec exprimit et ostendit interiorem hominis naturam eiusque spiritalitatem, necesse est speculativa ponderatio spiritalem substantiam attingat nec non fundamentum cui innititur. Philosophica notio ideo quae omne metaphysicum spatium negaverit ex se prorsus inepta erit nec idonea ut officium congruum expleat mediationis ad Revelationem comprehendendam.
[E] Perpetuo se verbum Dei ad ea refert quae experientiam praetergrediuntur atque etiam hominum cogitationem; at hoc «mysterium» patefieri non posset neque theologia illud quadamtenus intelligibile efficere valeret,  si humana cognitio artis experientiae sensuum limitibus circumscriberetur. Quocirca metaphysica exsistit tamquam quaedam intercessio praestans in theologica inquisitione. Theologia quidem, prospectu metaphysico destituta, ultra experientiae religiosae investigationem progredi non poterit neque permittere ut intellectus fidei congruenter universalem veritatis revelatae transcendentemque vim significet.
[E] Si metaphysicae partes tantopere extollimus, hoc ideo accidit quod persuasum Nobis habemus necessariam hanc esse viam ad statum discriminis superandum, in quo hodie philosophia magna ex parte omnino versatur, et ad quosdam improbos nostra in societate diffusos emendandos mores.
[E] Manifestius etiam elucet metaphysici operis pondus si progressus expenduntur quos hodie scientiae hermeneuticae iam efficiunt nec non variae sermonis humani pervestigationes. Consectaria quae his effluxerunt ex studiis utilissima esse possunt ad fidei intellectum, quatenus structuram cogitationis humanae sermocinationisque patefaciunt atque omnem sensum in sermone inclusum. Verumtamen earundem disciplinarum cultores sunt qui suis inquisitionibus eo dumtaxat adveniunt ut explicent quo pacto intellegatur et quo modo exprimatur rerum universitas, non tamen rationis humanae facultatem probant ut rerum essentia detegatur. Quomodo non dispici potest hoc in affectu confirmatio illius discriminis fiduciae, quod aetas nostra patitur, de rationis humanae potestate? Cum vero, ex praemissis quibusdam gratuitis, hae sententiae iam fidei doctrinam obscurant eiusve universalem denegant virtutem, tunc non modo rationem demittunt, verum sese ipsas omnino excludunt. Fides etenim luculenter postulat ut hominum sermo via quadam universali -- etiam vocibus analogicis tamen non ideo minus significantibus -- realitatem divinam ac transcendentem.  Res nisi ita se haberent, Dei verbum, quod semper divinum est licet lingua humana contineatur, nihil de Deo significare posset. Huius Verbi interpretatio non huc illuc ab explicatione alia in aliam explicationem conicere nos potest, ad nullam nos adducens affirmationem simpliciter veram; alioquin nulla esset Dei revelatio, sed tantummodo significatio humanarum notionum de Deo et de iis quae existimatur ille de nobis cogitare.
[E] Probe novimus postulata haec, a philosophia ipsi Dei verbo iniuncta, videri posse ardua multis qui hodiernam investigationis philosophicae experiuntur condicionem. Hanc omnino ob causam, ea omnia Nostra facientes quae iam complures annos Summi Pontifices docere non desistunt quaeque rursus inculcavit Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, vehementer confitemur Nobis esse persuasum hominem visionem unicam et ordinatam scientiae assequi posse. Hoc unum officiorum est quod christiana cogitatio proximo quidem christianae aetatis millennio in se recipere debebit. Multiplex scientiae humanae partitio, quatenus partim tantum ad veritatem accedere sinit ideoque etiam sensum ipsum perfringit, interiorem hominis hodierni impedit unitatem. Quare de his omnibus non potest sollicitari Ecclesia? Hoc sapientiae munus in eius pastores recta via ex Evangelio defluit neque ipsi se subducere possunt officio illius muneris explendi.
[E] Quotquot hodie veluti philosophi respondere cupiant illis postulationibus quas cogitationi humanae Dei verbum imponit, eos credimus omnino suum debere explicare sermonem secundum easdem postulationes nec non continuam cohaerentiam cum diuturna illa traditione quae, ab antiquis profecta, transit per Ecclesiae Patres atque scholasticae disciplinae magistros, ut tandem ad intellegendos cogitationis recentioris atque huius aequalis temporis praecipuos fructus adveniat. Philosophus si hanc traditionem usurpare noverit seque ex ea dirigere, certe non poterit ipse fidelem se non demonstrare ipsi necessitati autonomiae philosophicarum investigationum.
[E] Hoc sensu plurimum id significat, quod nempe quidam philosophi hodiernis in adiunctis se exhibeant fautores iterum detecti pergravis ponderis traditionum ad rectam cognitionis formam. Appellatio enim ad traditionem non sola praeteriti temporis recordatio est; agnoscit potius illa patrimonium culturae quod pertinet omnes ad homines. Par immo est dicere nos ad traditionem pertinere neque licere statuere de ea uti velimus. Hinc plane, quod radices in ipsam traditionem aguntur, permittitur nobis hodie ut cogitationem aliquam primam et novam et de futuro tempore providam enuntiemus. Eadem haec appellatio magis etiam pertinet ad theologiam. Non solum quia vivam Ecclesiae Traditionem ipsa possidet tamquam primigenum rerum fontem,  verum etiam quod idcirco theologia posse debet tum revocare altam traditionem theologicam quae priora saecula signavit, tum perennem illius philosophiae traditionem quae novit spatii temporisque fines excedere suam ob sapientiam.
[E] Inculcata haec necessitas solidi vinculi continuationis deliberationum philosophicarum cum inquisitionibus traditionis christianae illuc spectat ut praevertatur periculo quod quibusdam hodie latius diffusis sententiis subest. Quamquam breviter, opportunum censemus immorari iis in sententiis quarum ostendantur errores indeque pericula philosophicae industriae intenta.
[E] Eorum quidem primum (periculum) voce eclecticismi nuncupatur, quo nomine illius hominis describitur affectio qui, in investigando, in docendo et in argumentatione theologica, singulas notiones accipere solet diversis perceptas ex philosophiis, nulla earum habita ratione cohaerentiae neque ordinatae coniunctionis nec historicae collocationis. Hoc pacto ita se praebet ut veritatis partem in aliqua notione distinguere ab aliis erratis vel imperfectis rebus nequeat. Extrema eclecticismi dispici potest forma etiam rhetorico in abusu vocabulorum philosophicorum quae aliqui theologi interdum usurpant. Non utilis est similis abusus inquisitioni veritatis neque mentem sive theologicam sive philosophicam instituit ut modo serio doctoque argumentetur. Grave et altum doctrinarum philosophicarum studium tum etiam proprii earum sermonis et contextus ex quo sunt enatae, multum adiuvat ut eclecticismi pericula vincantur permittitque aptam in earum argumentationes theologicas ingressionem.
[E] Error ipsius methodi est eclecticismus, qui tamen in se opinationes etiam historicismi contegere potest. Recte ut praeteriti temporis comprehendatur doctrina, ea necesse est sua in historiae atque culturae inseratur adiuncta. Primaria historicismi sententia, ex contrario, ea est ut philosophiae cuiusdam veritas sustineatur natura propria sua ad aliquod certum tempus aptata aut ad definitum historicum munus. Ita quidem, saltem implicite, perennis veri virtus negatur. Id quod aliqua aetate valebat ut verum, potest cessare id esse alio tempore, uti defendet historicista. Notionum humanarum historia, demum, ad eius iudicium paulo plus est quam archeologicum inventum ex quo haurire licet ut sententiae prioris temporis demonstrentur iam maximam partem praetermissae et in praesentia omni significatione carentes. Contra, potius reminiscendum est, etiamsi ipsa veritatis formula temporibus quadamtenus et culturae formis vinciatur, veritates vel errores inibi repertos posse nihilominus agnosci et uti tales aestimari, quantumvis spatio temporeve distent.
[E] Intra theologicam meditationem plerumque se praebet historicismus quadam sub ratione «modernismi». Dum enim quis merito studet sermonem theologicum accommodum et pervium reddere aequalibus suis, affirmationibus et dictionibus philosophicis tantummodo recentioribus utitur, criticis neglectis iudiciis quae ad traditionis lumen tandem aliquando proferenda sunt. Haec modernismi via, quoniam veritatem praesenti pro utilitate permutat, haud idonea reperitur ad veritatis satisfaciendum postulatis quibus respondeat theologia oportet.
[E] Aliud expendendum est periculum, nempe scientismus. Haec philosophiae notio respuit tamquam validas omnes cognitionis formas alienas iis quae sunt scientiarum positivarum propriae atque in provinciam solorum phantasmatum reicit tum religiosam et theologicam cognitionem tum ethicam et aestheticam scientiam. Praeteritis temporibus eadem notio intra positivismum et neo-positivismum declarabatur, qui sensu destitutas iudicabant affirmationes metaphysicae indolis. Censura epistemologica omnem huic sententiae abstulit fidem, sed ecce novo renascitur sub scientismi vestitu. Hoc sub prospectu, bona ad animi motuum dumtaxat effecta rediguntur atque «essendi» notio praeteritur ut aliquid spatii nudis et simplicibus tribuatur factis. Sese igitur scientia praeparat ut per technologicos progressus omnibus dominetur vitae humanae partibus. Felices qui nullo modo possunt negari successus scientificae investigationes nec non horum temporum technologiae plurimum adiuverunt ut mens scientistica disseminaretur quae nullis iam videtur finibus circumscribi, cum in varias iam intraverit culturae formas et mutationes fundamentales ibi quoque effecerit.
[E] Pro dolor, quod ad interrogationem pertinet de vitae sensu, notandum est a fautoribus scientismi eandem haberi quaestionem tamquam propriam orbis irrationalis aut omnino ficti. Non minus autem deludit huius mentis tractatio magnis de aliis philosophiae quaesitis quae, si iam non omnino praetermittuntur, aliqua deliberatione agitantur quae similitudinibus apparentibus fulcitur, fundamento carentibus omnino rationali. Hoc humanam rerum ponderationem reddit pauperiorem, cui fundamentales quaestiones illae subtrahuntur quas rationale animal, inde suis ab initiis in terra, perpetuo sibi proposuit. Postquam, hanc secundum sententiam, criticum iudicium ex ethica aestimatione est omissum, scientistarum doctrina efficere valuit ut plures sibi persuaderent id quod technica ratione fieri possit hanc ipsam ob causam morali ratione accipi posse.
[E] Haud minorum periculorum praenuntius est ipse pragmatismus, qui animi affectus ad eum maxime pertinet qui, suis in electionibus, usum recusat deliberationum theoreticarum vel existimationum ethicis principiis innitentium. Insignia sunt practica consectaria quae ab eiusmodi mentis opinatione profluxerunt. Nominatim vero eo deventum est ut popularis regiminis opinatio proferretur quae nullo modo ad fundamenta ordinis officiorum et debitorum referretur ac propterea immutabilia: honestas vel inhonestas quorundam morum secundum maioris partis suffragia in senatibus statuitur.  Patent autem huiusmodi iudicationis consectaria: praecipuae morales sententiae sive pronuntiationes paulatim disputationibus subduntur quorundam institutorum. Praeterea: ipsa anthropologica disciplina graviter afficitur, proposita una dumtaxat hominis visione, a qua longe absunt ethicae dubitationes nec non vitales explicationes de sensu doloris ac sacrificii, vitae et mortis.
[E] Hucusque recensitae opinationes perducunt vicissim ad latiorem quandam notionem quae hodie efficere videtur communem multarum philosophiarum prospectum quae iam a sensu essendi recesserunt. Loquimur enim de interpretatione nihilista quae simul omnis fundamenti repudiationem continet omnisque veritatis obiectivae negationem. Nihilismus est humanitatis hominis ipsius negatio et eius proprietatis, prius quam adversetur postulationibus et doctrinis verbi Dei propriis. Etenim haud oblivisci licet neglectum ipsius «esse» necessario secum etiam longinquitatem adferre ab obiectiva veritate ac, proinde, ab ipso fundamento illo quod hominis sustinet dignitatem. Fieri sic potest ut de vultu hominis illae submoveantur partes et species quae similitudinem Dei patefaciunt, unde paulatim aut ad destructivam potentiae cupiditatem adducitur aut solitudinis ad desperationem. Amota enim semel hominis veritate, omnino quis decipitur se liberum illum facere contendens. Nam veritas atque libertas aut coniunguntur simul aut simul misere amittuntur.
[E] Explanantes principia sententiarum modo propositarum noluimus integram praebere descriptionem hodiernae philosophiae condicionis: ceterum difficulter redigi illa potest unicam ad aestimationem. Adseverare Nostra potius interest haereditatem scientiae ac sapientiae revera pluribus locupletari in regionibus. Satis memorare est logicam, sermonis philosophiam, epistemologiam, naturae philosophiam, anthropologiam, altiorem investigationem affectuum cognitionis, existentialem accessum ad libertatis explicationem. E contrario, principii immanentiae affirmatio, quae veluti media subiacet postulatis rationalistis, iam a priore saeculo responsiones excitavit quibus altissima dubitatio inducta est de aliis postulatis de quibus eo usque disputatum non erat. Enatae ita sunt sententiae irrationales, simulque criticum iudicium aperuit manifesto vacuam omnino postulationem absoluti dominii rationis.
[E] A quibusdam subtilioribus auctoribus aetas nostra uti tempus «post-modernum» est designata. Vocabulum istud, saepius quidem adhibitum de rebus inter se dissidentibus, indicat emergentem quandam elementorum novorum summam quae sua amplitudine et efficacitate graves manentesque perficere potuerunt mutationes. Ita verbum idem primum omnium adhibitum est de notionibus ordinis aesthetici et socialis et technologici. In provinciam deinde philosophiae est translatum, at certa semper ambiguitate signatum, tum quia iudicium de iis quae uti «post-moderna» appellantur nunc affirmans nunc negans esse potest, tum quia nulla est consensio in perdifficili quaestione de variarum aetatum historicarum terminis. Verumtamen unum illud extra omnem dubitationem invenitur: rationes et cogitationes quae ad spatium post-modernum referuntur congruam merentur ponderationem. Secundum enim quasdam earum opinationes certitudinum tempus dicitur iam sine remedio transiisse et homini ipsi iam discendum esse in rerum quodam prospectu vivere ubi nullus reperiatur sensus, sub nomine nempe rerum fugientium ac temporariarum. Omnem certitudinem iudicio suo delentes, complures auctores, necessariis neglectis distinctionibus, in dubium etiam fidei certitudines deducunt.
[E] Quadamtenus confirmatur hic nihilismus in terrifica malorum experientia quibus aetas nostra est distincta. Ante calamitosum huius experimenti casum, optimismus rationalista, qui in historia deprehendebat victricem rationis progressionem, felicitatis libertatisque fontem, haud restitit ita ut iam ex maximis periculis et minis huius exeuntis saeculi invitatio sit ad desperationem.
[E] Verum nihilominus est certam quandam mentem positivistam etiam nunc fidem tribuere deceptioni, cuius vi, propter reperta scientifica et technica, homo veluti demiurgus assequi ex se solo possit sibique obtinere plenum suam in fortunam dominatum.
[E] Quatenus est Revelationis intellegentia, variis in historiae aetatibus theologia semper cognovit sibi diversarum culturarum postulationes esse suscipiendas ut intra eas, consentanea cum doctrinae explicatione, fidei elementa tradere posset. Hodie quoque duplex ad eam pertinet munus. Altera ex parte opus explicet illa oportet quod Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II suo tempore ei commisit: suas ut proprias renovaret docendi rationes quo evangelizationi efficacius inserviret. Hac in re quis recordari non potest de verbis a Summo Pontifice Ioanne XXIII prolatis dum aperiret Concilium? Dixit enim tunc: «Oportet ut, quemadmodum cuncti sinceri rei christianae, catholicae, apostolicae fautores vehementer exoptant, eadem doctrina amplius et altius cognoscatur eaque plenius animi imbuantur atque formentur; oportet ut haec doctrina certa et immutabilis, cui fidele obsequium est praestandum, ea ratione pervestigetur et exponatur quam tempora postulant nostra». 
[E] Ex altera vero parte oculos theologia intendat necesse est ultimam in veritatem quam ei commendat Revelatio ipsa neque sibi satis esse existimet in mediis consistere intervallis. Decet enim reminisci theologum opus suum respondere «ad vim dynamicam, quae in ipsa fide inest» suaeque inquisitionis argumentum id esse: «Veritas, Deus vivus eiusque salutis consilium per Iesum Christum revelatum».  Hoc munus, quod ante omnia afficit theologiam, simul quidem philosophiam provocat. Quaestionum enim multitudo, quae hodie premunt, communem poscit operam etiamsi multiplicibus rationibus illa expletur, ut cognoscatur denuo veritas atque exprimatur. Veritas, quae Christus est, ubique auctoritate universali se imponit quae gubernat, incitat et prosperat tum theologiam tum etiam philosophiam.
[E] Quod creditur veritatem ubique validam cognosci posse, haud prorsus inde oritur intollerantia; condicio contra necessaria est ad verum sincerumque inter homines dialogum. Hac sola condicione fieri potest ut discidia vincantur et iter ad unam integram veritatem percurratur secundum eas semitas quas solus Domini resuscitati Spiritus cognoscit.  Nunc ipsum cupimus explicare quo pacto unitatis necessitas hodie in re conformetur, inspectis praesentibus theologiae officiis.
[E] Propositum princeps quod explere vult theologia in eo consistit, ut Revelationis intellectus praebeatur fideique doctrina. Media propterea ipsius pars ac veluti centrum eius deliberationum erit mysterii ipsius Dei Unius et Trini contemplatio. Huc per mysterii Incarnationis Filii Dei ponderationem acceditur: eo quod ipse factus est homo ac deinde occuccurrit passioni et morti, quod mysterium in gloriosam eius resurrectionem atque ascensionem ad dexteram Patris evasit, unde veritatis Spiritum misit suam ad constituendam et animandam Ecclesiam. Hoc in rerum prospectu principale theologiae munus fit Dei kenosis intellectus, quod magnum humanae menti restat mysterium quae vix credibile opinatur dolorem mortemque posse amorem illum declarare qui nihil vicissim expetens sese dono concedit. Hac autem in re primaria quaedam necessitas iniungitur urgensque simul locorum ipsorum intenta pervestigatio: in primis Sacrarum Litterarum, deinde eorum quibus viva Ecclesiae Traditio profertur. Hic autem hodie nonnullae emergunt quaestiones, ex parte dumtaxat novae, quibus addi non potest solutio neglectis philosophiae officiis.
[E] Respicit prima difficilis quaestio necessitudinem inter significationem et veritatem. Quemadmodum omnibus aliis in textibus accidit, ita etiam fontes, quos interpretatur theologus, ante omnia aliquam transmittunt significationem quae illuminanda est atque explananda. Nunc vero se exhibet haec significatio tamquam de Deo veritatem, quae a Deo ipso sacrum per textum traditur. Quocirca hominum in sermone incorporatur Dei sermo, qui suam veritatem communicat, ea admirabili «indulgentia» quae logicam Incarnationis rationem refert.  Revelationis ideo interpretans fontes oportet theologus se ipse interroget quae alta et germana sit veritas quam Scripturarum loci aperire volunt etiam intra sermonis limites.
[E] Ad Bibliorum quod attinet locos ac praesertim Evangeliorum, minime quidem redigitur eorum veritas in eventuum dumtaxat historicorum narrationem vel in factorum nudorum patefactionem, perinde ac positivismus historicista contendit.  Hi ex contrario loci proponunt eventus quorum veritas ponitur ultra simplicem historiae casum: in eorum significatione in et pro salutis historia reperitur. Plene haec explicatur veritas illo ex perenni usu quem Ecclesia fecit illorum textuum saeculorum decursu, pristinam eorundem servando significationem. Pernecessarium itaque est ut etiam philosophice de necessitudinis ratione interrogetur quae inter factum eiusque significatum intercedit; haec necessitudo proprium historiae efficit sensum.
[E] Non uni populo neque aetati uni destinatur Dei verbum. Dogmaticae similiter pronuntiationes, quantumvis temporis illius culturam referant quo eduntur, constantem tamen et decretoriam efferunt veritatem. Hinc ergo quaestio exsistit quomodo inter se concilientur absoluta universalisque veritatis indoles atque inevitabiles historiae culturaeque condiciones earum formularum quibus eadem significatur veritas. Uti superius iam diximus, historicismi opinationes haud possunt defendi. Usus autem disciplinae hermeneuticae, quae ad metaphysicae scientiae patet postulata, demonstrare valet quo pacto ex adiunctis historicis et incertis, in quibus textus sacri maturuerunt, ad veritatem transitus fiat ibidem patefactam, quae easdem illas praetergreditur condiciones.
[E] Suo historico circumscriptoque sermone licet homini veritates expromere quae linguarum transcendunt usum. Etenim numquam potest nec tempore nec aliqua culturae forma coarctari veritas; intra historiam cognoscitur at historiam ipsam egreditur.
[E] Sinit, haec consideratio, nos alterius iam difficultatis providere solutionem: de perpetua agitur auctoritate et vi sermonum conceptuumque adhibitorum in conciliorum definitionibus. Venerabilis iam Noster Decessor Pius XII hanc eandem quaestionem suis Encyclicis Litteris Humani generis pertractavit. 
[E] Hoc de argumento non facile disceptatur, quandoquidem serio animo ratio habeatur oportet ipsius significationis quam variis in culturae regionibus temporumque aetatibus verba sibi sumpserunt. Cogitationis humanae historia utcumque luculenter comprobat per progressionem varietatemque culturarum quasdam principales notiones universalem suam adservare cognoscendi vim proindeque veritatem earum affirmationum quam recludunt.  Res ita si non sese haberent, philosophia atque scientiae inter se haud quidquam communicare valerent neque percipi apud culturas diversas ab iis a quibus excogitatae sunt et elaboratae. Restat propterea hermeneutica quaestio, at solvi potest. Ceterum multarum notionum vera vis non prohibet quin imperfecta sit earum significatio; qua in re philosophica disceptatio multum efficere potest. Optatur, incirco, ut peculiari studio coniunctio pervestigetur inter sermonem intellectivum et veritatem, atque etiam proponantur apta itinera ad rectam eius intellegentiam.
[E] Si grave theologiae officium est fontium interpretatio, aliud etiam et maioris prudentiae necessitatisque est revelatae veritatis perceptio sive intellectus fidei explicatio. Sicut iam superius innuimus, intellectus fidei postulat ut philosophia essendi partes quae in primis sinant ut theologia dogmatica consentaneo modo expleat sua munia. Dogmaticus primorum annorum huius saeculi pragmatismus, ad quem fidei veritates nihil aliud quam morum normae esse dicuntur, iam redargutus est atque reiectus;  nihilominus semper quis allicitur ut has intellegat veritates modo plane functionali. Tunc enim res recidet in rationem quandam prorsus inopportunam, reductivam ac necessaria gravitate speculativa destitutam. Verbi causa, Christologia, quae «de basi» dumtaxat proficiscatur, quemadmodum hodie dicere consueverunt, vel ecclesiologia ad societatis civilis exemplum solummodo composita, talis reductionis periculum declinare non possent.
[E] Si traditionis theologicae universos complecti vult intellectus fidei thesauros, ad philosophiam essendi decurrere debet. Haec enim necessario quaestionem essendi rursus proponet secundum postulationes atque totius traditionis philosophicae etiam recentioris utilitates adlatas, omni omissa opportunitate in superatas iam philosophicas rationes futiliter recidendi. Intra metaphysicae christianae traditionis prospectum philosophia essendi est philosophia actuosa seu dynamica quae ipsis in suis ontologicis, causalibus et communicativis structuris praebet veritatem. Impetum suum ac perennem impulsum in eo reperit quod actu ipso «essendi» sustentatur, unde plena et generalis permittitur ad solidam rerum universitatem patefactio, omnibus excessis terminis ut Ille qui rebus omnibus consumationem tribuit attingatur.  Ea in theologia, quae sua ex Revelatione desumit principia tamquam a novo cognitionis fonte, haec omnino confirmatur indicandi ratio intimum secundum illud vinculum inter fidem et metaphysicam rationalitatem.
[E] Explicari similes possunt deliberationes etiam ratione habita moralis theologiae. Philosophiae redintegratio postulatur etiam ut intellegatur fides ad credentium vitam actionemque spectans. Ante oculos constitutis provocationibus hodiernis in re sociali, oeconomica, in re politica ac scientifica, ethica hominis conscientia confunditur. In Litteris Encyclicis Veritatis splendor docuimus Nos complures in orbe nostro exsistentes difficultates inde oriri quod est «crisis circa veritatem. Amissa notione veritatis universalis de bono quod ab humana mente percipi potest, necessario de conscientia opinio est immutata, quae iam suo in primigenio statu non consideratur, tamquam scilicet actus intellectus personae cuius est adhibere universalem cognitionem boni in peculiari quadam condicione et iudicium facere de honesto eligendo hic et nunc; eo tenditur ut personae conscientiae privilegium tribuatur statuendi autonoma ratione normam boni malique, indeque agendi. Mens haec arte coniungitur cum individualistica ethica, secundum quam quisque cum sua confertur veritate, quae ab aliorum veritate differt». 
[E] Totas per easdem Encyclicas Litteras praecipuas extulimus partes attinentes ad veritatem morali in provincia. Veritas haec de plerisque ethicis quaestionibus, quae magis hodie premunt, a theologia morali intentam exposcit meditationem quae eius in Dei verbo radices illuminet. Suum ut expleat hoc munus, debet ideo moralis theologia uti ethica philosophiae disciplina, quae bonorum veritatem respicit; ethica videlicet utatur oportet disciplina quae neque subiectiva sit neque utilitati soli serviat. Haec postulata ethica ratio importat atque ante flagitat philosophicam anthropologiam nec non metaphysicam bonorum tractationem. Hanc unicam rerum iudicationem adhibens, quae cum christiana vitae sanctitate virtutumque humanarum et supernaturalium exercitatione cohaeret, moralis theologia diversas sua in regione quaestiones agitare poterit -- cuius generis sunt pax socialisque iustitia, familia, vitae defensio locorumque naturae custodia -- multo quidem efficacius et plenius.
[E] Theologicum Ecclesiae opus ad fidem et catechesim in primis nuntiandam deputatur.  Nuntiatio sive «kerygma» ad conversionem vocat, Christi proponendo veritatem quae eius consummatur paschali in Mysterio: in Christo, enim, uno veritatis agnosci potest plenitudo quae homines salvat (cfr Act 4,12; 1 Tim 2,4-6).
[E] Hinc probe pariter intellegitur cur praeter theologiam sibi etiam catechesis adsumat maius quoddam pondus: in se enim haec complectitur philosophica aliqua consectaria fidei sub lumine vestiganda. Doctrina intra catechesim tradita aliquid certe ad instituendam personam humanam confert. Debet catechesis, quae etiam communicatio est facta per verba, Ecclesiae Magisterium tota ex ipsius integritate praebere,  coniunctionem illius etiam cum credentium vita demonstrans.  Unicum ita efficitur doctrinam inter et vitam vinculum quod aliter attingi non potest. Non sane veritatum intellectivarum corpus in catechesi traditur, verum viventis Dei mysterium. 
[E] Plurimum aequabiliter philosophica disputatio confert ad necessitudinem collustrandam inter veritatem et vitam, inter eventum et doctrinalem veritatem ac, praesertim, rationem inter transcendentem veritatem et sermonem qui humanitus intellegi potest.  Mutua consociatio inter disciplinas theologicas et exitus variis ex opinationibus philosophicis perceptos exprimet, itaque, veram fecunditatem in fide communicanda altiusque in ea comprehendenda.
[N] [E] Quandoquidem iam transierunt plus quam centum anni cum Leonis XIII Litterae Encyclicae Æterni Patris prodierunt, quas saepenumero hoc in Nostro scripto commemoravimus, necessarium Nobis visum est de necessitudine inter fidem et philosophiam distinctius sermonem repetere. Omnino manifestum est momentum quod habet philosophica cogitatio in cultura explicanda et in personalibus socialibusque moribus temperandis. Ipsa multum potest, quod haud semper clare percipitur, etiam circa theologiam eiusdemque diversas disciplinas. Has propter causas consentaneum necessariumque esse iudicavimus vim confirmare quam philosophia pro fidei intellectu finibusque habet, quibus ipsa occurrit cum obliviscitur vel Revelationis veritates denegat. Ecclesia enim persuasissimum habet fidem et rationem «opem sibi mutuam» ferre,  dum utraque simul iudicium criticum et purificatorium exercet, simul stimulum admovet ad inquisitionem producendam et altius perscrutandas res.
[E] Si autem opinationum historiam respicimus, in occidentali potissimum parte, commode percipiuntur divitiae quae ad hominum progressum a philosophiae et theologiae occursu atque ab earum ipsarum acquisitionum permutationibus manarunt. Theologia, quae dono apertionem recepit proprietatemque quarum vi tamquae fidei scientia exsistere valet, rationem certe lacessivit ut radicali novitati pateret, quam Dei revelatio secum fert. Hoc sine dubio philosophiae fuit utilitati, quae hoc modo novos prospectus in alias significationes comparere vidit, quae rationi altius sunt perscrutandae.
[E] His quidem consideratis rebus, quemadmodum confirmavimus theologiae esse sinceram cum philosophia necessitudinem redintegrare, ita similiter iterare debemus philosophiae pro cogitationis bono et progressu recuperandam esse cum theologia necessitudinem. Reperiet in ea non singulorum hominum cogitationem, quae, quamvis alta locuplesque sit, unius personae tamen limitibus et lineamentis circumscribitur, sed communis cogitationis divitias. Theologia namque in veritate perquirenda, sua natura, nota ecclesialitatis  sustentatur itemque Dei Populi traditione cum multiformitate sapientiae et culturarum in fidei unitate.
[E] In momento et philosophicae cogitationis vera magnitudine hoc modo innitens, Ecclesia tum hominis dignitatem tum evangelicum nuntium tuetur. Nihil hodie plus quam haec praeparatio instat, perducendi scilicet homines ad eorum detegendam facultatem cognoscendi verum  inveniendique anhelitum versus summam consummatamque exsistentiae significationen. Harum altarum rationum in prospectu, quas Deus in hominum natura inscripsit, liquidius humana apparet significatio Dei verbi, quod humaniores reddit homines. Philosophiae beneficio, quae etiam vera facta est sapientia, huius temporis homo sic agnoscet se tanto esse humaniorem quanto plus, Evangelio confidendo, Christo pateat.
[E] Philosophia, praeterea, est tamquam speculum in quod populorum cultus repercutitur. Philosophia, quae, theologicis necessitatibus impellentibus, una cum fide concorditer progreditur, particeps est illius «culturae evangelizationis», quam Paulus VI inter praecipua evengelizationis proposita annumeravit. 
[E] Dum autem novae evangelizationis necessitatem iterare numquam intermittimus, philosophos compellamus, qui altius veri, boni et pulchri granditatem vestigent, quibus Dei verbum aditum patere sinit. Id magis instat, si provocationes expenduntur, quas novum millennium secum ferre videtur: ipsae peculiari ratione regiones antiquaeque traditionis christianae culturas afficiunt. Haec quoque consideratio veluti praecipuum originaleque ad novam evangelizationem persequendam habendum est adiumentum.
[E] Philosophica in disciplina saepe solummodo invenitur consensus et dialogus instituitur cum illis qui nostram fidem haud communicant. Hodiernus philosophicus motus postulat ut philosophi attente periteque fideles agant partes facultatibusque polleant ea percipiendi quae hodiernis temporibus exspectantur, recluduntur et agitantur. Dum secundum rationem eiusque regulas argumentatur, christianus philosophus, qui illo semper intellectu dirigitur quem Dei verbum subministrat, quandam ratiocinationem agere potest quae etiam ab illis, qui nondum omnem veritatem capiunt quam divina Revelatio ostendit, intellegi et sensu percipi potest. Provincia haec in qua consensus ac dialogus reperiuntur eo plus habet momenti propterea quod quaestiones quae impensius humanitati opponuntur -- puta quaestionem oecologicam, pacis quaestionem vel convictum stirpium et culturarum -- communi opera eaque perspicua et sincera Christianorum et asseclarum aliarum religionum expediri possunt necnon illorum quibus, quamvis nullius sint religionis, cordi est hominum renovatio. Id quidem confirmavit Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II: «Desiderium talis colloquii, quod sola caritate erga veritatem ducatur, servata utique congrua prudentia, ex nostra parte neminem excludit, neque illos qui praeclara animi humani bona colunt, eorum vero Auctorem nondum agnoscunt, neque illos qui Ecclesiae opponuntur eamque variis modis persequuntur».  Philosophia illa, in qua aliquid Christi veritatis splendet, qui est humanarum quaestionum una ac postrema responsio,  fulcimentum erit illius ethicae verae simulque omnem orbem complectentis, qua hodiernus homo indiget.
[E] His Litteris encyclicis finem imponentibus, Nobis placet cumprimis ad theologos mentem Nostram postremo convertere, qui peculiari animi intentione philosophicas Dei verbi implicationes observent ac cogitationes in illa re defigant, unde speculativa ac practica scientiae theologicae granditas emergat. De ecclesiali opera iis gratias agere cupio. Artus inter sapientiam philosophicam et theologicam disciplinam nexus in singularissimis christianae traditionis divitiis de revelata veritate vestiganda ponitur. Quapropter eosdem cohortamur ut recipiant et veritatis metaphysicam rationem clarius extollant ad criticum et impellentem dialogum instituendum sive cum nostrae aetatis philosophia sive cum omni philosophica traditione, quae cum Dei verbo concinat aut dissonet. Ob oculos continenter habeant sententiam praeclari cogitationis spiritalitatisque magistri, sancti Bonaventurae scilicet, qui legentem suum in Itinerarium mentis in Deum introducens, eundem monet «ne forte credat, quod sibi sufficiat lectio sine unctione, speculatio sine devotione, investigatio sine admiratione, circumspectio sine exultatione, industria sine pietate, scientia sine caritate, intelligentia sine humilitate, studium absque divina gratia, speculum absque sapientia divinitus inspirata». 
[E] Mens quoque Nostra ad eos dirigitur quorum est sacerdotibus institutionem tradere, tam academicam quam pastoralem, ut peculiari studio philosophicam praeparationem curent illorum qui hodiernis hominibus Evangelium enuntiare debebunt, ac magis illorum qui theologiae perquirendae et docendae operam dabunt. Ad Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II praescripta  et subsequentia praecepta operari contendant, ex quibus instans officium oritur, quod a nemine posthaberi potest, quodque nos omnes alligat, ut opem sincere profundeque feramus ad fidei veritatem communicandam. Grave porro officium non est obliviscendum magistrorum antea convenienterque instituendorum, qui in Seminariis et ecclesiasticis Institutis philosophiam tradant.  Necesse est hoc docendi opus congruentem scientificam institutionem secum ferat, ordinatam rationem exhibeat, magnum traditionis christianae suppeditando patrimonium efficiaturque denique debito iudicio, hodiernis spectatis Ecclesiae mundique necessitatibus.
[E] Ad philosophos praeterea Nos convertimus et eos qui philosophiam docent, ut, ob oculos philosophica traditione usque probabili habita, animose repetant sincerae sapientiae veritatisque, metaphysicae etiam, philosophicae disciplinae rationes. Se illis interrogari patiantur postulationibus, quae e Dei verbo effluunt ac strenue suam ratiocinationem et argumentationem agant ut ei interrogationi respondeatur. Ad veritatem usque tendant atque ad bonum quod verum continet sint intenti. Hoc modo sinceram illam ethicam effingere poterunt, qua homines, his potissimum annis, omnino indigent. Ecclesia attente et amabiliter eorum inquisitiones spectat; pro certo ideo habeant eam iustam eorum scientiae autonomiam colere. Credentibus praesertim animum addere volumus, qui in philosophica provincia agunt, ut varios ambitus humanae industriae per rationem illam collustrent quae securior acriorque fit propter adiumentum quod fides ministrat.
[E] Facere denique non possumus quin scientiae peritos alloquamur, qui suis inquisitionibus de mundo in universum plus plusque cognitionum praebent deque incredibili varietate ipsius elementorum, tum animalium tum inanimorum, quae multiplices structuras atomicas et moleculares exhibent. Hoc potissimum saeculo ii tam progressi sunt ac tales attigerunt metas, ut admiratione nos subinde afficiamur. Dum admiramur ac simul incitamus hos scientificae inquisitionis vestigatores principes, quibus multum praesentis prosperitatis debet humanitas, eos cohortemur oportet ut suos labores usque persequantur, semper in illa sapientiae provincia manentes, in qua cum scientiae technicaeque artis fructibus bona philosophica et ethica coniunguntur, quibus peculiariter et artissimo vinculo persona humana significatur. Scientiae cultor prorsus sibi est conscius veritatis vestigationem numquam desinere, etiam cum ad quandam finitam mundi hominisve partem spectat; ad quiddam reicit enim quod locatur supra proxima studiorum obiecta, ad interrogationes scilicet quae Mysterii aditum recludunt. 
[E] Omnes rogamus ut penetralia contueantur hominis, quem Christus suo in amoris mysterio servavit, quique usque veritatem sensumque perquirit. Complures philosophicae scholae, eum fallentes, ei persuaserunt ipsum absolutum esse sui dominum, qui de fortuna sua deque eventura sorte per se decernere possit, sibimet ipsi suisque dumtaxat fidens viribus. Numqua haec erit hominis praestantia. Illud tantum eum efficiet quod in veritatem se inseri eligit, sub Sapientiae umbra suum struens domicilium ibique inhabitans. Hoc solummodo in veritatis prospectu intelleget plane exprimi suam libertatem ac suam ad dilectionem Deique congnitionem vocationem, veluti summam sui explicationem.
[E] Postremam Nostram cogitationem ad Eam convertimus, quae Ecclesiae deprecatione Sedes Sapientiae invocatur. Ipsius vita vera est parabola quae collustrare poterit quae antea a Nobis dicta sunt. Etenim inter vocationem Beatae Virginis et verae philosophiae strictam consonantiam prospicere licet. Quemadmodum namque ad suam humanitatem et femininam naturam tradendam ipsa vocata est, unde Dei Verbum carnem sumere posset fieretque unus ex nobis, sic ad operam sustinendam, rationalem videlicet et criticam, vocatur philosophia, ut theologia, veluti fidei intellectio, fecunda sit et efficax. Atque sicut Maria, Gabrielis nuntio assentiendo, nihil suae verae humanitatis ac libertatis amisit, sic philosophica disciplina, in his accipiendis quae Evangelii veritas suppeditat, nihil suae autonomiae amittit, sed omnes suas inquisitiones ad summam perfectionem propelli experitur. Hanc quidem veritatem plane intellexerunt sancti antiquitatis christianae monachi, a quibus Maria «fidei mensa intellectualis»  appellabatur. Ipsam congruentem verae philosophiae effigiem respiciebant sibique erant conscii se debere cum Maria philosophari.
[E] Sedes Sapientiae iis qui sapientiae vestigandae dependunt vitam portus sit tutus. Ad sapientiam iter, quod est postremum sincerumque omnis scientiae propositum, ab omnibus impedimentis expediat intercedendo Ea quae, Veritatem parturiens eandemque in corde servans, in sempiternum tota cum humanitate ipsam communicavit.
Datum Romae, apud S. Petrum, die XIV mensis Septembris, in festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis, anno MCMXCVIII, Pontificatus Nostri vicesimo.
IOANNES PAULUS PP.II
 Iam primis Nostris in Litteris Encyclicis Redemptor hominis inscriptis ediximus: «Inde huius muneris Christi, prophetae, participes facti sumus et ex eodem munere cum eo servimus veritati divinae in Ecclesia. Officium circa hanc veritatem assumptum etiam idem valet atque eam amare et curare, quo penitius cognoscatur, ita ut ad eam, cum tota vi salvifica, qua pollet, cum splendore, quo nitet, cum profunditate simul et simplicitate, quibus distinguitur, propius accedamus». N. 19: AAS 71 , 306.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 16.
 Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 25.
 N. 4: AAS 85 , 1136.
 Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 2.
 Cfr Const. dogm. de fide catholica Dei Filius, III: DS 3008.
 Ibid., IV: DS 3015; memoratum etiam in Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 59.
 Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 2.
 Litt. Ap. Tertio millennio adveniente (10 Novembris 1994), 10: AAS 87 , 11.
 N. 4.
 N. 8.
 N. 22.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 4.
 Ibid., 5.
 Concilium Vaticanum I, ad quod superior haec prolata refertur sententia, docet fidei oboeditionem opus postulare tum intellectus tum voluntatis: «Cum homo a Deo tamquam creatore et Domino suo totus dependeat et ratio creata increatae Veritati penitus subiecta sit, plenum revelanti Deo intellectus et voluntatis obsequium fide praestare tenemur» (Constitutio dogm. de fide catholica Dei Filius, III; DS 3008).
 Sequentia in sollemnitate Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Domini.
 Pensées, 789 (ed. L. Brunschvicg).
 Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 22.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 2.
 Prooemium et nn. 1. 15: PL 158, 223-224.226; 235.
 De vera religione, XXXIX, 72: CCL 32, 234.
 «Ut te desiderando quaererent et inveniendo quiescerent»: Missale Romanum.
 Aristoteles, Metaphysica, I, 1.
 Confessiones, X, 23, 33: CCL 27, 173.
 N. 34: AAS 85 , 1160-1161.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Ap. Salvifici doloris (11 Februarii 1984), 9: AAS 76 , 209-210.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Declaratio de Ecclesiae habitudine ad religiones non-christianas Nostra aetate, 2.
 Haec est ratiocinatio cui iam dudum studemus quamque saepius exprimimus: «Quid est homo, quis defectus, et quae est utilitas illius? Et quid est bonum, aut quid nequam illius?» (Eccli 18, 7). [...] Queste domande sono nel cuore di ogni uomo, come ben dimostra il genio poetico di ogni tempo e di ogni popolo, che, quasi profezia dell'umanità, ripropone continuamente la domanda seria che rende l'uomo veramente tale. Esse esprimono l'urgenza di trovare un perché all'esistenza, ad ogni istante, alle sue tappe salienti e decisive così come ai suoi momenti più comuni. In tali questioni è testimoniata la ragionevolezza profonda dell'esistere umano, poiché l'intelligenza e la volontà dell'uomo vi sono sollecitate a cercare liberamente la soluzione capace di offrire un senso pieno alla vita. Questi interrogativi, pertanto, costituiscono l'espressione più alta della natura dell'uomo; di conseguenza la risposta ad esse misura la profondità del suo impegno con la propria esistenza. In particolare quando il perché delle cose viene indagato con integralità alla ricerca della risposta ultima e più esauriente, allora la ragione umana tocca il suo vertice e si apre alla religiosità. In effetti, la religiosità rappresenta l'espressione più elevata della persona umana, perché è il culmine della sua natura razionale. Essa sgorga dall'aspirazione profonda dell'uomo alla verità ed è alla base della ricerca libera e personale che egli compie del divino»: Udienza Generale, 19 ottobre 1983, 1-2: Insegnamenti VI, 2 , 814-815.
 «[Galilée] a declaré explicitement que les deux vérités, de foi et de science, ne peuvent jamais se contredire, "L'Ecriture sainte et la nature procédant également du Verbe divin, la première comme dictée par l'Esprit Saint, la seconde comme exécutrice très fidèle des ordres de Dieu", comme il l'a écrit dans sa lettre au Père Benedetto Castelli le 21 décembre 1613. Le Concile Vatican II ne s'exprime pas autrement; il reprend même des expressions semblables lorsqu'il enseigne: "Ideo inquisitio methodica in omnibus disciplinis, si... iuxta normas morales procedit, numquam fidei revera adversabitur, quia res profanae et res fidei ab eodem Deo originem ducunt" (Gaudium et spes, n. 36). Galilée ressent dans sa recherche scientifique la présence du Créateur qui le stimule, qui prévient et aide ses intuitions, en agissant au plus profond de son esprit». Ioannes Paulus II, Discorso alla Pontificia Accademia delle Scienze, 10 Novembris 1979: Insegnamenti, II, 2 , 1111-1112.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 4.
 Origenes, Contra Celsum, 3, 55: SC 136, 130.
 Dialogus cum Tryphone Iudaeo, 8, 1: PG 6, 492.
 Stromata I, 18, 90, 1: SC 30, 115.
 Cfr ibid. I, 16, 80, 5: SC 30, 108.
 Cfr ibid. I, 5, 28, 1: SC 30, 65.
 Ibid. VI, 7, 55, 1-2: PG 9, 277.
 Ibid. I, 20, 100, 1: SC 30, 124.
 S. Augustinus, Confessiones VI, 5, 7: CCL 27, 77-78.
 Cfr ibid., VII, 9, 13-14: CCL 27, 101-102.
 De praescriptione haereticorum, VII, 9: SC 46, 98.
 Cfr Congregatio de Institutione Catholica, Instructio de Patrum Ecclesiae studio in sacerdotali institutione (10 Novembris 1989), 25: AAS 82 , 617-618.
 S. Anselmus, Proslogion, 1: PL 158, 226.
 Id., Monologion, 64: PL 158, 210.
 Cfr Summa contra Gentiles I, VII.
 Cfr Summa Theologiae, I, 1, 8 ad 2: «cum enim gratia non tollat naturam sed perficiat».
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Allocutio ad participes IX Congressus Thomistici Internationalis (29 Septembris 1990): Insegnamenti, XIII, 2 , 770-771.
 Litt. Ap. Lumen Ecclesiae (20 Novembris 1974), 8: AAS 66 , 680.
 Cfr ibid., I, 1, 6: «Praeterea, haec doctrina per studium acquiritur. Sapientia autem per infusionem habetur, unde inter septem dona Spiritus Sancti connumeratur».
 Ibid., II, II, 45, 1 ad 2; cfr etiam II, II, 45, 2.
 Ibid. I, II, 109, 1 ad 1 ubi notam Ambrosiastri In 1 Cor 12, 3 dictionem resumit: PL 17, 258.
 Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Æterni Patris (4 Augusti 1879): ASS 11 (1878-1879), 109.
 Paulus VI, Litt. Ap. Lumen Ecclesiae (20 Novembris 1974), 8: AAS 66 , 683.
 Litt. Encycl. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 15: AAS 71 , 286.
 Cfr Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Humani generis (12 Augusti 1950): ASS 42 , 566.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. I, Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Christi Pastor aeternus: DS 3070; Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de Ecclesia Lumen gentium, 25 c.
 Cfr Synodus Constantinopolitana, DS 403.
 Cfr Concilium Toletanum I, DS 205; Concilium Bracarense I, DS 459-460; Xystus V, Bulla Coeli et terrae Creator (5 Ianuarii 1586); Bullarium Romanum 4/4, Romae 1747, 176-179; Urbanus VIII, Inscrutabilis iudiciorum (1 Aprilis 1631): Bullarium Romanum, 6/1, Romae 1758, 268-270.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Viennense, Decr. Fidei catholicae, DS 902; Conc. Oecum. Laternanese V, Bulla Apostolici regiminis, DS 1440.
 Cfr Theses a Ludovico Eugenio Bautain iussu sui Episcopi subscriptae (8 Septembris 1840), DS, 2751-2756; Theses a Ludovico Eugenio Bautain ex mandato S. Congr. Episcoporum et Religiosorum subscriptae (26 Aprilis 1884), DS 2765-2769.
 Cfr S. Congr. Indicis, Decr. Theses contra traditionalismum Augustini Bonnetty (11 Iunii 1855), DS 2811-2814.
 Cfr Pius IX, Breve Eximiam tuam (15 Iunii 1857), DS 2828-2831; Breve Gravissimas inter (11 Decembris 1862) DS 2850-2861.
 Cfr S. Congr. S. Officii, Decr. Errores ontologistarum (18 Septembris 1861), DS 2841-2847.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. I, Cost. dogm. de fide catholica Dei Filius, II: DS 3004; et can. 2,1: DS 3026.
 Ibid., IV: DS 3015, memoratum in Conc. Vat. II, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 59.
 Conc. Oecum. Vat. I, Const. dogm. de fide catholica Dei Filius, IV: DS 3017.
 Cfr Litt. Encycl. Pascendi dominici gregis (8 Septembris 1907): ASS 40 , 596-597.
 Cfr Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Divini Redemptoris (19 Martii 1937): AAS 29 , 65-106.
 Litt. Encycl. Humani generis (12 Augusti 1950): AAS 42 , 562-563.
 Ibid., l.m., 563-564.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Const. Ap. Pastor Bonus (28 Iunii 1988), artt. 48-49: AAS 80 , 873: Congr. de Doctrina Fidei, Istructio de ecclesiali theologi vocatione Donum veritatis (24 Maii 1990), 18: AAS 82 , 1558.
 Cfr Instr. de quibusdam aspectibus «theologiae liberationis» Libertatis nuntius (6 Augusti 1984), VII-X: AAS 76 , 890-903.
 Concilium Vaticanum I claris iam verbis et auctoritate hunc errorem iam condemnavit «Hanc vero fidem [...] Ecclesia catholica profitetur, virtutem esse supernaturalem, qua, Dei aspirante et adiuvante gratia, ab ea revelata esse credimus, non propter intrinsecam rerum veritatem naturali rationis lumine perspectam, sed propter auctoritatem ipsius Dei revelantis, qui nec falli nec fallere potest»: Const. dogm. Dei Filius, III: DS 3008, et can. 3.2: DS 3032. Ceterum idem Concilium sic iudicat: «ratio numquam idonea redditur ad ea percipienda instar veritatum, quae proprium ipsius obiectum constituunt»: ibid., IV: DS 3016. Sic haec conclusio: «Quapropter omnes christiani fideles huiusmodi opiniones, quae fidei doctrinae contrariae esse cognoscuntur, maxime si ab Ecclesia reprobatae fuerint, non solum prohibentur tamquam legitimas scientiae conclusiones defendere, sed pro erroribus potius, qui fallacem veritatis speciem prae se ferant, habere tenentur omnino»: ibid., IV: DS 3018.
 Cfr nn. 9-10.
 Ibid., 10.
 Ibid., 21.
 Cfr ibid., 10.
 Cfr Litt. Encycl. Humani generis (12 Augusti 1950): AAS 42 , 565-567: 571-573.
 Cfr Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Æterni Patris (4 Augusti 1879): ASS 11 (1878-1879), 97-115.
 Ibid., l.m. 109.
 Cfr nn. 14-15.
 Cfr ibid., 20-21.
 Ibid., 22; cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Encycl. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 8: AAS 71 , 271-272.
 Decr. de institutione sacerdotali Optatam totius, 15.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Const. Ap. Sapientia christiana (15 Aprilis 1979), art. 79-80: AAS 71 , 495-496; Adhort. Ap. postsynodalis Pastores dabo vobis (25 Martii 1992), 52: AAS 84 , 750-751. Cfr quoque quaedam S. Thomae de philosophia commenta: Discorso al Pontificio Ateneo Internazionale Angelicum (17 Novembris 1979): Insegnamenti II, 2 , 1177-1189; Discorso ai partecipanti dell'VIII Congresso Tomistico Internazionale (13 Septembris 1980): Insegnamenti III, 2 , 604-615); Discorso ai partecipanti al Congresso Internazionale della Società «San Tommaso» sulla dottrina dell'anima in S. Tommaso (4 Ianuarii 1986): Insegnamenti IX, 1 , 18-24. Praeterea S. Congr. pro Educatione Catholica, Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis (6 Ianuarii 1970), 70-75: ASS 62 , 366-368; Decr. Sacra Theologia (20 Ianuarii 1972): AAS 64 , 583-586.
 Cfr Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 57; 62.
 Cfr ibid., 44.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Lateranense V, Bulla Apostolici regiminis sollicitudo, Sessio VIII: Conc. Oecum. Decreta, 1991, 605-606.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de Divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 10.
 S. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, 5, 3 ad 2.
 «Eo quod condiciones perquiruntur in quibus homo per se ipse praecipuas quaestiones de vitae sensu, de fine ad eam tribuendo atque de ea re quae post mortem erit, interrogat, id pro theologia fundamentali constituit necessarium exordium, ut hodiernis quoque temporibus fides plene iter ipsi rationi ostendat, quae sincere veritatem requirit». Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Lettera ai partecipanti al Congresso internazionale di Teologia Fondamentale a 125 anni dalla «Dei Filius» (30 Septembris 1995), 4: L'Osservatore Romano (3 Octobris 1995), p. 8.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 15; Decr. de activitate missionali Ecclesiae Ad gentes, 22.
 S. Thomas Aquinas, De Caelo, 1, 22.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 53-59.
 S. Augustinus, De praedestinatione sanctorum, 2, 5: PL 44, 963.
 Id., De fide, spe et caritate, 7: CCL 46, 61.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Chalcedonense, Symbolum, Definitio: DS 302.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Encycl. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 15: AAS 71 , 286-289.
 Cfr verbi causa S. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 16,1; S. Bonaventura, Coll. in Hex., 3,8,1.
 Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 15.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Encycl. Veritatis splendor (6 Augusti 1993), 57-61: AAS 85 , 1179-1182.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. I, Const. dogm. de fide catholica Dei Filius, IV: DS 3016.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Lateranense IV, De errore abbatis Ioachim, II: DS 806.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 24; Decr. de institutione sacerdotali Optatam totius, 16.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Encycl. Evangelium vitae (25 Martii 1995), 69: AAS 87 , 481.
 Eandem in sententiam primis Nostris in Litteris Encyclicis, cum Evangelii sancti Ioannis exponeremus dictionem «cognoscetis veritatem, et veritas liberabit vos» (8,32), sic elocuti sumus: «Haec verba principalem in se necessitatem continent simulque admonitionem: necessitatem videlicet animi honesti erga veritatem uti condicionis verae libertatis; admonitionem pariter, ut declinetur quaevis simulata tantum libertas, quaelibet levis unique tantum parti favens libertas, omnis demum libertas, quae totam veritatem de homine ac mundo non permeet. Etiam hodie, duobus annorum milibus post, Christus nobis comparet tamquam ille, qui homini libertatem in veritate innixam affert, ille, qui hominem ab omnibus liberat, quae istam libertatem coarctant, minuunt et quasi perfringunt ipsis in eius radicibus, nempe in hominis anima, corde, conscientia»: Litt. Encycl. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 12: AAS 71 , 280-281.
 Allocutio qua Concilium est inchoatum (11 Octobris 1962): AAS 54 , 792.
 Congr. pro Doctrina Fidei, Instr. de vocatione ecclesiali theologi Donum veritatis (24 Maii 1990), 7-8: AAS 82 , 1552-1553.
 In Litteris Encyclicis Dominum et vivificantem explicantes locum Io 16,12-13 scripsimus: «Iesus Paraclitum, Spiritum veritatis, exhibet ut eum qui "docebit et suggeret", ut eum qui ei "testimonium perhibebit"; nunc vero ait "deducet vos in omnem veritatem". Locutio "deducet vos in omnem veritatem", prout ad ea refertur, quae Apostoli "non possunt portare modo", imprimis necessario coniungitur cum exinanitione Christi, passione et Cruce peracta, quae eo tempore, quo has protulit voces, iam impendebat. Postea tamen patefit illud "deducere in omnem veritatem" necti non solum cum scandalo Crucis, sed etiam cum iis omnibus, quae Christus «fecit et docuit» (Act 1,1). Re enim vera mysterium Christi, ut totum, postulat fidem, cum haec hominem in mysterii revelati "realitatem" opportune inducat. Illud ergo "deducere in omnem veritatem" in fide et per fidem ad effectum adducitur: quod Spiritus veritatis operatur, idque ex eius actione in homine promanat. Hac in re Spiritus Sanctus est hominis summus magister, est lux spiritus humani», n. 6: AAS 78 , 815-816.
 Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. de divina Revelatione Dei Verbum, 13.
 Cfr Pontificia Commissio Biblica, Instr. de historica Evangeliorum veritate (21 Aprilis 1964): AAS 56 , 713.
 «Liquet etiam Ecclesiam non cuilibet systemati philosophico, brevi temporis spatio vigenti, devinciri posse: sed ea quae communi consensu a catholicis doctoribus composita per plura saecula fuere ad aliquam dogmatis intellegentiam attingendam, tam caduco fundamento procul dubio non nituntur. Nituntur enim principiis ac notionibus ex vera rerum creatarum cognitione deductis; in quibus quidem deducendis cognitionibus humanae menti veritas divinitus revelata, quasi stella, per Ecclesiam illuxit. Quare mirum non est aliquas huiusmodi notiones a Conciliis Oecumenicis non solum adhibitas, sed etiam sancitas esse, ita ut ab eis discedere nefas sit»: Litt. Encycl. Humani generis (12 Augusti 1950): AAS 42 , 566-567; cfr Commissio Theologica Internationalis, docum. Interpretationis problema (Octobre 1989): Ench. Vat. 11, nn. 2717-2811.
 «Ipse autem sensus formularum dogmaticarum semper verus ac secum constans in Ecclesia manet, etiam cum magis dilucidatur et plenius intellegitur. Christifideles ergo se avertant oportet ab opinione secundum quam [...] formulae dogmaticae (aut quaedam earum genera) non possint significare determinate veritatem, sed tantum eius commutabiles approximationes, ipsam quodammodo deformantes seu alterantes». S. Congr. Pro Doctrina Fidei, Decl. circa Catholicam Doctrinam de Ecclesia contra nonnullos errores hodiernos tuendam Mysterium Ecclesiae (24 Iunii 1973), 5: AAS 65 , 403.
 Cfr Congr. S. Officii, Decr. Lamentabili (3 Iulii 1907), 26: ASS 40 , 473.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Allocutio apud Pontificium Athenaeum «Angelicum» (17 Novembris 1979), 6: Insegnamenti, II, 2 , 1183-1185.
 N. 32: AAS 85 , 1159-1160.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Adhort. Ap. Catechesi tradendae (16 Octobris 1979), 30: AAS 71 , 1302-1303; Congr. pro Doctrina Fidei, Instr. de vocatione ecclesiali theologi Donum veritatis (24 Maii 1990), 7: AAS 82 , 1552-1553.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Adhort. Ap. Catechesi tradendae (16 Octobris 1979), 30: AAS 71 , 1302-1303.
 Cfr ibid., 22, l.m., 1295-1296.
 Cfr ibid., 7, l.m., 1282.
 Cfr ibid., 59, l.m., 1325.
 Conc. Oecum. Vat. I, Const. dogm. de fide catholica Dei Filius, IV: DS 3019.
 «Nemini idcirco licet theologiam tractare, quasi de quibusdam agatur notionum eius collectaneis: sed quivis sciat oportet se arcte coniunctum esse debere cum hoc munere docendi, cum hoc munere veritatem docendi, quod Ecclesiae ipsi incumbat». Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. Encycl. Redemptor hominis (4 Martii 1979), 19: AAS 71 , 308.
 Cfr. Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Declaratio de libertate religiosa Dignitatis humanae, 1-3.
 Cfr Adhort. Ap. Evangelii nuntiandi (8 Decembris 1975), 20: AAS 68 , 18-19.
 Const. past. de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis Gaudium et spes, 92.
 Cfr ibid., 10.
 Prologus, 4: Opera omnia, Firenze 1891, t. V, 296.
 Cfr Decr. de institutione sacerdotali Optatum totius, 15.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Const. Ap. Sapientia christiana (15 Aprilis 1979), artt. 67-68: AAS 71 , 491-492.
 Ioannes Paulus II, Discorso all'Università di Cracovia per 600o anniversario dell'Alma Mater Jagellonica (8 Iunii 1997), 4: L'Osservatore Romano, 9-10 Iunii 1997, p. 12.
 «he noerà tés písteos trápeza»: S.P.N. EPHIFANIUS, Homilia in laudes Sanctae Mariae Deiparae: PG 43, 493.
© Copyright 1998 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
ēnucleō, ēnucleāre, --, --: take out the kernel; lay open, explain in detail.
ēvādō, ēvādere, ēvāsī, ēvāsus: escape; turn out, become, come to, result, prove to be, end in.
My Venerable Brother Bishops, Health and the Apostolic Blessing!
L Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth -- in a word, to know himself -- so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
[L] In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded -- as it must -- within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as “human beings”, that is as those who “know themselves”.
[L] Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.
[L] The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be. From the moment when, through the Paschal Mystery, she received the gift of the ultimate truth about human life, the Church has made her pilgrim way along the paths of the world to proclaim that Jesus Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth. This mission on the one hand makes the believing community a partner in humanity's shared struggle to arrive at truth;  and on the other hand it obliges the believing community to proclaim the certitudes arrived at, albeit with a sense that every truth attained is but a step towards that fullness of truth which will appear with the final Revelation of God: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully” (1 Cor 13:12).
[L] Men and women have at their disposal an array of resources for generating greater knowledge of truth so that their lives may be ever more human. Among these is philosophy, which is directly concerned with asking the question of life's meaning and sketching an answer to it. Philosophy emerges, then, as one of noblest of human tasks. According to its Greek etymology, the term philosophy means “love of wisdom”. Born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose, philosophy shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself. It is an innate property of human reason to ask why things are as they are, even though the answers which gradually emerge are set within a horizon which reveals how the different human cultures are complementary.
[L] Philosophy's powerful influence on the formation and development of the cultures of the West should not obscure the influence it has also had upon the ways of understanding existence found in the East. Every people has its own native and seminal wisdom which, as a true cultural treasure, tends to find voice and develop in forms which are genuinely philosophical. One example of this is the basic form of philosophical knowledge which is evident to this day in the postulates which inspire national and international legal systems in regulating the life of society.
[L] Nonetheless, it is true that a single term conceals a variety of meanings. Hence the need for a preliminary clarification. Driven by the desire to discover the ultimate truth of existence, human beings seek to acquire those universal elements of knowledge which enable them to understand themselves better and to advance in their own self-realization. These fundamental elements of knowledge spring from the wonder awakened in them by the contemplation of creation: human beings are astonished to discover themselves as part of the world, in a relationship with others like them, all sharing a common destiny. Here begins, then, the journey which will lead them to discover ever new frontiers of knowledge. Without wonder, men and women would lapse into deadening routine and little by little would become incapable of a life which is genuinely personal.
[L] Through philosophy's work, the ability to speculate which is proper to the human intellect produces a rigorous mode of thought; and then in turn, through the logical coherence of the affirmations made and the organic unity of their content, it produces a systematic body of knowledge. In different cultural contexts and at different times, this process has yielded results which have produced genuine systems of thought. Yet often enough in history this has brought with it the temptation to identify one single stream with the whole of philosophy. In such cases, we are clearly dealing with a “philosophical pride” which seeks to present its own partial and imperfect view as the complete reading of all reality. In effect, every philosophical system, while it should always be respected in its wholeness, without any instrumentalization, must still recognize the primacy of philosophical enquiry, from which it stems and which it ought loyally to serve.
[L] Although times change and knowledge increases, it is possible to discern a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole. Consider, for example, the principles of non-contradiction, finality and causality, as well as the concept of the person as a free and intelligent subject, with the capacity to know God, truth and goodness. Consider as well certain fundamental moral norms which are shared by all. These are among the indications that, beyond different schools of thought, there exists a body of knowledge which may be judged a kind of spiritual heritage of humanity. It is as if we had come upon an implicit philosophy, as a result of which all feel that they possess these principles, albeit in a general and unreflective way. Precisely because it is shared in some measure by all, this knowledge should serve as a kind of reference-point for the different philosophical schools. Once reason successfully intuits and formulates the first universal principles of being [vitae] and correctly draws from them conclusions which are coherent both logically and ethically, then it may be called right reason or, as the ancients called it, orthós logos, recta ratio.
[L] On her part, the Church cannot but set great value upon reason's drive to attain goals which render people's lives ever more worthy. She sees in philosophy the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life. At the same time, the Church considers philosophy an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of faith and for communicating the truth of the Gospel to those who do not yet know it.
[L] Therefore, following upon similar initiatives by my Predecessors, I wish to reflect upon this special activity of human reason. I judge it necessary to do so because, at the present time in particular, the search for ultimate truth seems often to be neglected. Modern philosophy clearly has the great merit of focusing attention upon man. From this starting-point, human reason with its many questions has developed further its yearning to know more and to know it ever more deeply. Complex systems of thought have thus been built, yielding results in the different fields of knowledge and fostering the development of culture and history. Anthropology, logic, the natural sciences, history, linguistics and so forth -- the whole universe of knowledge has been involved in one way or another. Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them. Sundered from that truth, individuals are at the mercy of caprice, and their state as person ends up being judged by pragmatic criteria based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all. It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned.
[L] This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread scepticism. Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. While, on the one hand, philosophical thinking has succeeded in coming closer to the reality of human life and its forms of expression, it has also tended to pursue issues -- existential, hermeneutical or linguistic -- which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God. Hence we see among the men and women of our time, and not just in some philosophers, attitudes of widespread distrust of the human being's great capacity for knowledge. With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence. In short, the hope that philosophy might be able to provide definitive answers to these questions has dwindled.
[L] Sure of her competence as the bearer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Church reaffirms the need to reflect upon truth. This is why I have decided to address you, my venerable Brother Bishops, with whom I share the mission of “proclaiming the truth openly” (2 Cor 4:2), as also theologians and philosophers whose duty it is to explore the different aspects of truth, and all those who are searching; and I do so in order to offer some reflections on the path which leads to true wisdom, so that those who love truth may take the sure path leading to it and so find rest from their labours and joy for their spirit.
[L] I feel impelled to undertake this task above all because of the Second Vatican Council's insistence that the Bishops are “witnesses of divine and catholic truth”. To bear witness to the truth is therefore a task entrusted to us Bishops; we cannot renounce this task without failing in the ministry which we have received. In reaffirming the truth of faith, we can both restore to our contemporaries a genuine trust in their capacity to know and challenge philosophy to recover and develop its own full dignity.
[L] There is a further reason why I write these reflections. In my Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, I drew attention to “certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied”. In the present Letter, I wish to pursue that reflection by concentrating on the theme of truth itself and on its foundation in relation to faith. For it is undeniable that this time of rapid and complex change can leave especially the younger generation, to whom the future belongs and on whom it depends, with a sense that they have no valid points of reference. The need for a foundation for personal and communal life becomes all the more pressing at a time when we are faced with the patent inadequacy of perspectives in which the ephemeral is affirmed as a value and the possibility of discovering the real meaning of life is cast into doubt. This is why many people stumble through life to the very edge of the abyss without knowing where they are going. At times, this happens because those whose vocation it is to give cultural expression to their thinking no longer look to truth, preferring quick success to the toil of patient enquiry into what makes life worth living. With its enduring appeal to the search for truth, philosophy has the great responsibility of forming thought and culture; and now it must strive resolutely to recover its original vocation. This is why I have felt both the need and the duty to address this theme so that, on the threshold of the third millennium of the Christian era, humanity may come to a clearer sense of the great resources with which it has been endowed and may commit itself with renewed courage to implement the plan of salvation of which its history is part.
[L] Underlying all the Church's thinking is the awareness that she is the bearer of a message which has its origin in God himself (cf. 2 Cor 4:1-2). The knowledge which the Church offers to man has its origin not in any speculation of her own, however sublime, but in the word of God which she has received in faith (cf. 1 Th 2:13). At the origin of our life of faith there is an encounter, unique in kind, which discloses a mystery hidden for long ages (cf. 1 Cor 2:7; Rom 16:25-26) but which is now revealed: “In his goodness and wisdom, God chose to reveal himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of his will (cf. Eph 1:9), by which, through Christ, the Word made flesh, man has access to the Father in the Holy Spirit and comes to share in the divine nature”. This initiative is utterly gratuitous, moving from God to men and women in order to bring them to salvation. As the source of love, God desires to make himself known; and the knowledge which the human being has of God perfects all that the human mind can know of the meaning of life.
[L] Restating almost to the letter the teaching of the First Vatican Council's Constitution Dei Filius, and taking into account the principles set out by the Council of Trent, the Second Vatican Council's Constitution Dei Verbum pursued the age-old journey of understanding faith, reflecting on Revelation in the light of the teaching of Scripture and of the entire Patristic tradition. At the First Vatican Council, the Fathers had stressed the supernatural character of God's Revelation. On the basis of mistaken and very widespread assertions, the rationalist critique of the time attacked faith and denied the possibility of any knowledge which was not the fruit of reason's natural capacities. This obliged the Council to reaffirm emphatically that there exists a knowledge which is peculiar to faith, surpassing the knowledge proper to human reason, which nevertheless by its nature can discover the Creator. This knowledge expresses a truth based upon the very fact of God who reveals himself, a truth which is most certain, since God neither deceives nor wishes to deceive.
[L] The First Vatican Council teaches, then, that the truth attained by philosophy and the truth of Revelation are neither identical nor mutually exclusive: “There exists a twofold order of knowledge, distinct not only as regards their source, but also as regards their object. With regard to the source, because we know in one by natural reason, in the other by divine faith. With regard to the object, because besides those things which natural reason can attain, there are proposed for our belief mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, cannot be known”. Based upon God's testimony and enjoying the supernatural assistance of grace, faith is of an order other than philosophical knowledge which depends upon sense perception and experience and which advances by the light of the intellect alone. Philosophy and the sciences function within the order of natural reason; while faith, enlightened and guided by the Spirit, recognizes in the message of salvation the “fullness of grace and truth” (cf. Jn 1:14) which God has willed to reveal in history and definitively through his Son, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Jn 5:9; Jn 5:31-32).
[L] Contemplating Jesus as revealer, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stressed the salvific character of God's Revelation in history, describing it in these terms: “In this Revelation, the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17), out of the abundance of his love speaks to men and women as friends (cf. Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15) and lives among them (cf. Bar 3:38), so that he may invite and take them into communion with himself. This plan of Revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. By this Revelation, then, the deepest truth about God and human salvation is made clear to us in Christ, who is the mediator and at the same time the fullness of all Revelation”.
[L] God's Revelation is therefore immersed in time and history. Jesus Christ took flesh in the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4); and two thousand years later, I feel bound to restate forcefully that “in Christianity time has a fundamental importance”. It is within time that the whole work of creation and salvation comes to light; and it emerges clearly above all that, with the Incarnation of the Son of God, our life is even now a foretaste of the fulfilment of time which is to come (cf. Heb 1:2).
[L] The truth about himself and his life which God has entrusted to humanity is immersed therefore in time and history; and it was declared once and for all in the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth. The Constitution Dei Verbum puts it eloquently: “After speaking in many places and varied ways through the prophets, God 'last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son' (Heb 1:1-2). For he sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all people, so that he might dwell among them and tell them the innermost realities about God (cf. Jn 1:1-18). Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, sent as 'a human being to human beings', 'speaks the words of God' (Jn 3:34), and completes the work of salvation which his Father gave him to do (cf. Jn 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see his Father (Jn 14:9). For this reason, Jesus perfected Revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially though his death and glorious Resurrection from the dead and finally his sending of the Spirit of truth”.
[L] For the People of God, therefore, history becomes a path to be followed to the end, so that by the unceasing action of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) the contents of revealed truth may find their full expression. This is the teaching of the Constitution Dei Verbum when it states that “as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly progresses towards the fullness of divine truth, until the words of God reach their complete fulfilment in her”.
[L] History therefore becomes the arena where we see what God does for humanity. God comes to us in the things we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday life, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves.
[L] In the Incarnation of the Son of God we see forged the enduring and definitive synthesis which the human mind of itself could not even have imagined: the Eternal enters time, the Whole lies hidden in the part, God takes on a human face. The truth communicated in Christ's Revelation is therefore no longer confined to a particular place or culture, but is offered to every man and woman who would welcome it as the word which is the absolutely valid source of meaning for human life. Now, in Christ, all have access to the Father, since by his Death and Resurrection Christ has bestowed the divine life which the first Adam had refused (cf. Rom 5:12-15). Through this Revelation, men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own life and about the goal of history. As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes puts it, “only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light”. Seen in any other terms, the mystery of personal existence remains an insoluble riddle. Where might the human being seek the answer to dramatic questions such as pain, the suffering of the innocent and death, if not in the light streaming from the mystery of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection?
[L] It should nonetheless be kept in mind that Revelation remains charged with mystery. It is true that Jesus, with his entire life, revealed the countenance of the Father, for he came to teach the secret things of God. But our vision of the face of God is always fragmentary and impaired by the limits of our understanding. Faith alone makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently.
[L] The Council teaches that “the obedience of faith must be given to God who reveals himself”. This brief but dense statement points to a fundamental truth of Christianity. Faith is said first to be an obedient response to God. This implies that God be acknowledged in his divinity, transcendence and supreme freedom. By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals. By faith, men and women give their assent to this divine testimony. This means that they acknowledge fully and integrally the truth of what is revealed because it is God himself who is the guarantor of that truth. They can make no claim upon this truth which comes to them as gift and which, set within the context of interpersonal communication, urges reason to be open to it and to embrace its profound meaning. This is why the Church has always considered the act of entrusting oneself to God to be a moment of fundamental decision which engages the whole person. In that act, the intellect and the will display their spiritual nature, enabling the subject to act in a way which realizes personal freedom to the full. It is not just that freedom is part of the act of faith: it is absolutely required. Indeed, it is faith that allows individuals to give consummate expression to their own freedom. Put differently, freedom is not realized in decisions made against God. For how could it be an exercise of true freedom to refuse to be open to the very reality which enables our self-realization? Men and women can accomplish no more important act in their lives than the act of faith; it is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth and chooses to live in that truth.
[L] To assist reason in its effort to understand the mystery there are the signs which Revelation itself presents. These serve to lead the search for truth to new depths, enabling the mind in its autonomous exploration to penetrate within the mystery by use of reason's own methods, of which it is rightly jealous. Yet these signs also urge reason to look beyond their status as signs in order to grasp the deeper meaning which they bear. They contain a hidden truth to which the mind is drawn and which it cannot ignore without destroying the very signs which it is given.
[L] In a sense, then, we return to the sacramental character of Revelation and especially to the sign of the Eucharist, in which the indissoluble unity between the signifier and signified makes it possible to grasp the depths of the mystery. In the Eucharist, Christ is truly present and alive, working through his Spirit; yet, as Saint Thomas said so well, “what you neither see nor grasp, faith confirms for you, leaving nature far behind; a sign it is that now appears, hiding in mystery realities sublime”. He is echoed by the philosopher Pascal: “Just as Jesus Christ went unrecognized among men, so does his truth appear without external difference among common modes of thought. So too does the Eucharist remain among common bread”.
[L] In short, the knowledge proper to faith does not destroy the mystery; it only reveals it the more, showing how necessary it is for people's lives: Christ the Lord “in revealing the mystery of the Father and his love fully reveals man to himself and makes clear his supreme calling”, which is to share in the divine mystery of the life of the Trinity.
[L] From the teaching of the two Vatican Councils there also emerges a genuinely novel consideration for philosophical learning. Revelation has set within history a point of reference which cannot be ignored if the mystery of human life is to be known. Yet this knowledge refers back constantly to the mystery of God which the human mind cannot exhaust but can only receive and embrace in faith. Between these two poles, reason has its own specific field in which it can enquire and understand, restricted only by its finiteness before the infinite mystery of God.
[L] Revelation therefore introduces into our history a universal and ultimate truth which stirs the human mind to ceaseless effort; indeed, it impels reason continually to extend the range of its knowledge until it senses that it has done all in its power, leaving no stone unturned. To assist our reflection on this point we have one of the most fruitful and important minds in human history, a point of reference for both philosophy and theology: Saint Anselm. In his Proslogion, the Archbishop of Canterbury puts it this way: “Thinking of this problem frequently and intently, at times it seemed I was ready to grasp what I was seeking; at other times it eluded my thought completely, until finally, despairing of being able to find it, I wanted to abandon the search for something which was impossible to find. I wanted to rid myself of that thought because, by filling my mind, it distracted me from other problems from which I could gain some profit; but it would then present itself with ever greater insistence... Woe is me, one of the poor children of Eve, far from God, what did I set out to do and what have I accomplished? What was I aiming for and how far have I got? What did I aspire to and what did I long for?... O Lord, you are not only that than which nothing greater can be conceived (non solum es quo maius cogitari nequit), but you are greater than all that can be conceived (quiddam maius quam cogitari possit)... If you were not such, something greater than you could be thought, but this is impossible”.
[L] The truth of Christian Revelation, found in Jesus of Nazareth, enables all men and women to embrace the “mystery” of their own life. As absolute truth, it summons human beings to be open to the transcendent, whilst respecting both their autonomy as creatures and their freedom. At this point the relationship between freedom and truth is complete, and we understand the full meaning of the Lord's words: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32).
[L] Christian Revelation is the true lodestar of men and women as they strive to make their way amid the pressures of an immanentist habit of mind and the constrictions of a technocratic logic. It is the ultimate possibility offered by God for the human being to know in all its fullness the seminal plan of love which began with creation. To those wishing to know the truth, if they can look beyond themselves and their own concerns, there is given the possibility of taking full and harmonious possession of their lives, precisely by following the path of truth. Here the words of the Book of Deuteronomy are pertinent: “This commandment which I command you is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven that you should say, 'Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?' But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that you can do it” (Dt 30:11-14). This text finds an echo in the famous dictum of the holy philosopher and theologian Augustine: “Do not wander far and wide but return into yourself. Deep within man there dwells the truth” (Noli foras ire, in te ipsum redi. In interiore homine habitat veritas).
[L] These considerations prompt a first conclusion: the truth made known to us by Revelation is neither the product nor the consummation of an argument devised by human reason. It appears instead as something gratuitous, which itself stirs thought and seeks acceptance as an expression of love. This revealed truth is set within our history as an anticipation of that ultimate and definitive vision of God which is reserved for those who believe in him and seek him with a sincere heart. The ultimate purpose of personal existence, then, is the theme of philosophy and theology alike. For all their difference of method and content, both disciplines point to that “path of life” (Ps 16:11) which, as faith tells us, leads in the end to the full and lasting joy of the contemplation of the Triune God.
[L] Sacred Scripture indicates with remarkably clear cues how deeply related are the knowledge conferred by faith and the knowledge conferred by reason; and it is in the Wisdom literature that this relationship is addressed most explicitly. What is striking about these biblical texts, if they are read without prejudice, is that they embody not only the faith of Israel, but also the treasury of cultures and civilizations which have long vanished. As if by special design, the voices of Egypt and Mesopotamia sound again and certain features common to the cultures of the ancient Near East come to life in these pages which are so singularly rich in deep intuition.
[L] It is no accident that, when the sacred author comes to describe the wise man, he portrays him as one who loves and seeks the truth: “Happy the man who meditates on wisdom and reasons intelligently, who reflects in his heart on her ways and ponders her secrets. He pursues her like a hunter and lies in wait on her paths. He peers through her windows and listens at her doors. He camps near her house and fastens his tent-peg to her walls; he pitches his tent near her and so finds an excellent resting-place; he places his children under her protection and lodges under her boughs; by her he is sheltered from the heat and he dwells in the shade of her glory” (Sir 14:20-27).
[L] For the inspired writer, as we see, the desire for knowledge is characteristic of all people. Intelligence enables everyone, believer and non-believer, to reach “the deep waters” of knowledge (cf. Prov 20:5). It is true that ancient Israel did not come to knowledge of the world and its phenomena by way of abstraction, as did the Greek philosopher or the Egyptian sage. Still less did the good Israelite understand knowledge in the way of the modern world which tends more to distinguish different kinds of knowing. Nonetheless, the biblical world has made its own distinctive contribution to the theory of knowledge.
[L] What is distinctive in the biblical text is the conviction that there is a profound and indissoluble unity between the knowledge of reason and the knowledge of faith. The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason's autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them.
[L] Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (Prv 16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.
[L] There is thus no reason for competition of any kind between reason and faith: each contains the other, and each has its own scope for action. Again the Book of Proverbs points in this direction when it exclaims: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out” (Prov 25:2). In their respective worlds, God and the human being are set within a unique relationship. In God there lies the origin of all things, in him is found the fullness of the mystery, and in this his glory consists; to men and women there falls the task of exploring truth with their reason, and in this their nobility consists. The Psalmist adds one final piece to this mosaic when he says in prayer: “How deep to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I try to count them, they are more than the sand. If I come to the end, I am still with you” (Ps 139:17-18). The desire for knowledge is so great and it works in such a way that the human heart, despite its experience of insurmountable limitation, yearns for the infinite riches which lie beyond, knowing that there is to be found the satisfying answer to every question as yet unanswered.
[L] We may say, then, that Israel, with her reflection, was able to open to reason the path that leads to the mystery. With the Revelation of God Israel could plumb the depths of all that she sought in vain to reach by way of reason. On the basis of this deeper form of knowledge, the Chosen People understood that, if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules. The first of these is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a journey which allows no rest; the second stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal conquest; a third rule is grounded in the “fear of God” whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize.
[L] In abandoning these rules, the human being runs the risk of failure and ends up in the condition of “the fool”. For the Bible, in this foolishness there lies a threat to life. The fool thinks that he knows many things, but really he is incapable of fixing his gaze on the things that truly matter. Therefore he can neither order his mind (Prov 1:7) nor assume a correct attitude to himself or to the world around him. And so when he claims that “God does not exist” (cf. Ps 14:1), he shows with absolute clarity just how deficient his knowledge is and just how far he is from the full truth of things, their origin and their destiny.
[L] The Book of Wisdom contains several important texts which cast further light on this theme. There the sacred author speaks of God who reveals himself in nature. For the ancients, the study of the natural sciences coincided in large part with philosophical learning. Having affirmed that with their intelligence human beings can “know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements... the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the natures of animals and the tempers of wild beasts” (Wis 7:17, 19-20) -- in a word, that he can philosophize -- the sacred text takes a significant step forward. Making his own the thought of Greek philosophy, to which he seems to refer in the context, the author affirms that, in reasoning about nature, the human being can rise to God: “From the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wis 13:5). This is to recognize as a first stage of divine Revelation the marvellous “book of nature”, which, when read with the proper tools of human reason, can lead to knowledge of the Creator. If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.
[L] Seen in this light, reason is valued without being overvalued. The results of reasoning may in fact be true, but these results acquire their true meaning only if they are set within the larger horizon of faith: “All man's steps are ordered by the Lord: how then can man understand his own ways?” (Prov 20:24). For the Old Testament, then, faith liberates reason in so far as it allows reason to attain correctly what it seeks to know and to place it within the ultimate order of things, in which everything acquires true meaning. In brief, human beings attain truth by way of reason because, enlightened by faith, they discover the deeper meaning of all things and most especially of their own existence. Rightly, therefore, the sacred author identifies the fear of God as the beginning of true knowledge: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7; cf. Sir 1:14).
[L] For the Old Testament, knowledge is not simply a matter of careful observation of the human being, of the world and of history, but supposes as well an indispensable link with faith and with what has been revealed. These are the challenges which the Chosen People had to confront and to which they had to respond. Pondering this as his situation, biblical man discovered that he could understand himself only as “being in relation” -- with himself, with people, with the world and with God. This opening to the mystery, which came to him through Revelation, was for him, in the end, the source of true knowledge. It was this which allowed his reason to enter the realm of the infinite where an understanding for which until then he had not dared to hope became a possibility.
[L] For the sacred author, the task of searching for the truth was not without the strain which comes once the limits of reason are reached. This is what we find, for example, when the Book of Proverbs notes the weariness which comes from the effort to understand the mysterious designs of God (cf. Prov 30:1-6). Yet, for all the toil involved, believers do not surrender. They can continue on their way to the truth because they are certain that God has created them “explorers” (cf. Qoh 1:13), whose mission it is to leave no stone unturned, though the temptation to doubt is always there. Leaning on God, they continue to reach out, always and everywhere, for all that is beautiful, good and true.
[L] In the first chapter of his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul helps us to appreciate better the depth of insight of the Wisdom literature's reflection. Developing a philosophical argument in popular language, the Apostle declares a profound truth: through all that is created the “eyes of the mind” can come to know God. Through the medium of creatures, God stirs in reason an intuition of his “power” and his “divinity” (cf. Rom 1:20). This is to concede to human reason a capacity which seems almost to surpass its natural limitations. Not only is it not restricted to sensory knowledge, from the moment that it can reflect critically upon the data of the senses, but, by discoursing on the data provided by the senses, reason can reach the cause which lies at the origin of all perceptible reality. In philosophical terms, we could say that this important Pauline text affirms the human capacity for metaphysical enquiry.
[L] According to the Apostle, it was part of the original plan of the creation that reason should without difficulty reach beyond the sensory data to the origin of all things: the Creator. But because of the disobedience by which man and woman chose to set themselves in full and absolute autonomy in relation to the One who had created them, this ready access to God the Creator diminished.
[L] This is the human condition vividly described by the Book of Genesis when it tells us that God placed the human being in the Garden of Eden, in the middle of which there stood “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17). The symbol is clear: man was in no position to discern and decide for himself what was good and what was evil, but was constrained to appeal to a higher source. The blindness of pride deceived our first parents into thinking themselves sovereign and autonomous, and into thinking that they could ignore the knowledge which comes from God. All men and women were caught up in this primal disobedience, which so wounded reason that from then on its path to full truth would be strewn with obstacles. From that time onwards the human capacity to know the truth was impaired by an aversion to the One who is the source and origin of truth. It is again the Apostle who reveals just how far human thinking, because of sin, became “empty”, and human reasoning became distorted and inclined to falsehood (cf. Rom 1:21-22). The eyes of the mind were no longer able to see clearly: reason became more and more a prisoner to itself. The coming of Christ was the saving event which redeemed reason from its weakness, setting it free from the shackles in which it had imprisoned itself.
[L] This is why the Christian's relationship to philosophy requires thorough-going discernment. In the New Testament, especially in the Letters of Saint Paul, one thing emerges with great clarity: the opposition between “the wisdom of this world” and the wisdom of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The depth of revealed wisdom disrupts the cycle of our habitual patterns of thought, which are in no way able to express that wisdom in its fullness.
[L] The beginning of the First Letter to the Corinthians poses the dilemma in a radical way. The crucified Son of God is the historic event upon which every attempt of the mind to construct an adequate explanation of the meaning of existence upon merely human argumentation comes to grief. The true key-point, which challenges every philosophy, is Jesus Christ's death on the Cross. It is here that every attempt to reduce the Father's saving plan to purely human logic is doomed to failure. “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the learned? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor 1:20), the Apostle asks emphatically. The wisdom of the wise is no longer enough for what God wants to accomplish; what is required is a decisive step towards welcoming something radically new: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise...; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not to reduce to nothing things that are” (1 Cor 1:27-28). Human wisdom refuses to see in its own weakness the possibility of its strength; yet Saint Paul is quick to affirm: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). Man cannot grasp how death could be the source of life and love; yet to reveal the mystery of his saving plan God has chosen precisely that which reason considers “foolishness” and a “scandal”. Adopting the language of the philosophers of his time, Paul comes to the summit of his teaching as he speaks the paradox: “God has chosen in the world... that which is nothing to reduce to nothing things that are” (cf. 1 Cor 1:28). In order to express the gratuitous nature of the love revealed in the Cross of Christ, the Apostle is not afraid to use the most radical language of the philosophers in their thinking about God. Reason cannot eliminate the mystery of love which the Cross represents, while the Cross can give to reason the ultimate answer which it seeks. It is not the wisdom of words, but the Word of Wisdom which Saint Paul offers as the criterion of both truth and salvation.
[L] The wisdom of the Cross, therefore, breaks free of all cultural limitations which seek to contain it and insists upon an openness to the universality of the truth which it bears. What a challenge this is to our reason, and how great the gain for reason if it yields to this wisdom! Of itself, philosophy is able to recognize the human being's ceaselessly self-transcendent orientation towards the truth; and, with the assistance of faith, it is capable of accepting the “foolishness” of the Cross as the authentic critique of those who delude themselves that they possess the truth, when in fact they run it aground on the shoals of a system of their own devising. The preaching of Christ crucified and risen is the reef upon which the link between faith and philosophy can break up, but it is also the reef beyond which the two can set forth upon the boundless ocean of truth. Here we see not only the border between reason and faith, but also the space where the two may meet.
[L] In the Acts of the Apostles, the Evangelist Luke tells of Paul's coming to Athens on one of his missionary journeys. The city of philosophers was full of statues of various idols. One altar in particular caught his eye, and he took this as a convenient starting-point to establish a common base for the proclamation of the kerygma. “Athenians,” he said, “I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god'. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22-23). From this starting-point, Saint Paul speaks of God as Creator, as the One who transcends all things and gives life to all. He then continues his speech in these terms: “From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him -- though indeed he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
[L] The Apostle accentuates a truth which the Church has always treasured: in the far reaches of the human heart there is a seed of desire and nostalgia for God. The Liturgy of Good Friday recalls this powerfully when, in praying for those who do not believe, we say: “Almighty and eternal God, you created mankind so that all might long to find you and have peace when you are found”. There is therefore a path which the human being may choose to take, a path which begins with reason's capacity to rise beyond what is contingent and set out towards the infinite.
[L] In different ways and at different times, men and women have shown that they can articulate this intimate desire of theirs. Through literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture and every other work of their creative intelligence they have declared the urgency of their quest. In a special way philosophy has made this search its own and, with its specific tools and scholarly methods, has articulated this universal human desire.
[L] “All human beings desire to know”, and truth is the proper object of this desire. Everyday life shows how concerned each of us is to discover for ourselves, beyond mere opinions, how things really are. Within visible creation, man is the only creature who not only is capable of knowing but who knows that he knows, and is therefore interested in the real truth of what he perceives. People cannot be genuinely indifferent to the question of whether what they know is true or not. If they discover that it is false, they reject it; but if they can establish its truth, they feel themselves rewarded. It is this that Saint Augustine teaches when he writes: “I have met many who wanted to deceive, but none who wanted to be deceived”. It is rightly claimed that persons have reached adulthood when they can distinguish independently between truth and falsehood, making up their own minds about the objective reality of things. This is what has driven so many enquiries, especially in the scientific field, which in recent centuries have produced important results, leading to genuine progress for all humanity.
[L] No less important than research in the theoretical field is research in the practical field -- by which I mean the search for truth which looks to the good which is to be performed. In acting ethically, according to a free and rightly tuned will, the human person sets foot upon the path to happiness and moves towards perfection. Here too it is a question of truth. It is this conviction which I stressed in my Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor: “There is no morality without freedom... Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known”.
[L] It is essential, therefore, that the values chosen and pursued in one's life be true, because only true values can lead people to realize themselves fully, allowing them to be true to their nature. The truth of these values is to be found not by turning in on oneself but by opening oneself to apprehend that truth even at levels which transcend the person. This is an essential condition for us to become ourselves and to grow as mature, adult persons.
[L] The truth comes initially to the human being as a question: Does life have a meaning? Where is it going? At first sight, personal existence may seem completely meaningless. It is not necessary to turn to the philosophers of the absurd or to the provocative questioning found in the Book of Job in order to have doubts about life's meaning. The daily experience of suffering -- in one's own life and in the lives of others -- and the array of facts which seem inexplicable to reason are enough to ensure that a question as dramatic as the question of meaning cannot be evaded. Moreover, the first absolutely certain truth of our life, beyond the fact that we exist, is the inevitability of our death. Given this unsettling fact, the search for a full answer is inescapable. Each of us has both the desire and the duty to know the truth of our own destiny. We want to know if death will be the definitive end of our life or if there is something beyond -- if it is possible to hope for an after-life or not. It is not insignificant that the death of Socrates gave philosophy one of its decisive orientations, no less decisive now than it was more than two thousand years ago. It is not by chance, then, that faced with the fact of death philosophers have again and again posed this question, together with the question of the meaning of life and immortality.
[L] No-one can avoid this questioning, neither the philosopher nor the ordinary person. The answer we give will determine whether or not we think it possible to attain universal and absolute truth; and this is a decisive moment of the search. Every truth -- if it really is truth -- presents itself as universal, even if it is not the whole truth. If something is true, then it must be true for all people and at all times. Beyond this universality, however, people seek an absolute which might give to all their searching a meaning and an answer -- something ultimate, which might serve as the ground of all things. In other words, they seek a final explanation, a supreme value, which refers to nothing beyond itself and which puts an end to all questioning. Hypotheses may fascinate, but they do not satisfy. Whether we admit it or not, there comes for everyone the moment when personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognized as final, a truth which confers a certitude no longer open to doubt.
[L] Through the centuries, philosophers have sought to discover and articulate such a truth, giving rise to various systems and schools of thought. But beyond philosophical systems, people seek in different ways to shape a “philosophy” of their own -- in personal convictions and experiences, in traditions of family and culture, or in journeys in search of life's meaning under the guidance of a master. What inspires all of these is the desire to reach the certitude of truth and the certitude of its absolute value.
[L] The search for truth, of course, is not always so transparent nor does it always produce such results. The natural limitation of reason and the inconstancy of the heart often obscure and distort a person's search. Truth can also drown in a welter of other concerns. People can even run from the truth as soon as they glimpse it because they are afraid of its demands. Yet, for all that they may evade it, the truth still influences life. Life in fact can never be grounded upon doubt, uncertainty or deceit; such an existence would be threatened constantly by fear and anxiety. One may define the human being, therefore, as the one who seeks the truth.
[L] It is unthinkable that a search so deeply rooted in human nature would be completely vain and useless. The capacity to search for truth and to pose questions itself implies the rudiments of a response. Human beings would not even begin to search for something of which they knew nothing or for something which they thought was wholly beyond them. Only the sense that they can arrive at an answer leads them to take the first step. This is what normally happens in scientific research. When scientists, following their intuition, set out in search of the logical and verifiable explanation of a phenomenon, they are confident from the first that they will find an answer, and they do not give up in the face of setbacks. They do not judge their original intuition useless simply because they have not reached their goal; rightly enough they will say that they have not yet found a satisfactory answer.
[L] The same must be equally true of the search for truth when it comes to the ultimate questions. The thirst for truth is so rooted in the human heart that to be obliged to ignore it would cast our existence into jeopardy. Everyday life shows well enough how each one of us is preoccupied by the pressure of a few fundamental questions and how in the soul of each of us there is at least an outline of the answers. One reason why the truth of these answers convinces is that they are no different in substance from the answers to which many others have come. To be sure, not every truth to which we come has the same value. But the sum of the results achieved confirms that in principle the human being can arrive at the truth.
[L] It may help, then, to turn briefly to the different modes of truth. Most of them depend upon immediate evidence or are confirmed by experimentation. This is the mode of truth proper to everyday life and to scientific research. At another level we find philosophical truth, attained by means of the speculative powers of the human intellect. Finally, there are religious truths which are to some degree grounded in philosophy, and which we find in the answers which the different religious traditions offer to the ultimate questions.
[L] The truths of philosophy, it should be said, are not restricted only to the sometimes ephemeral teachings of professional philosophers. All men and women, as I have noted, are in some sense philosophers and have their own philosophical conceptions with which they direct their lives. In one way or other, they shape a comprehensive vision and an answer to the question of life's meaning; and in the light of this they interpret their own life's course and regulate their behaviour. At this point, we may pose the question of the link between, on the one hand, the truths of philosophy and religion and, on the other, the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. But before tackling that question, one last datum of philosophy needs to be weighed.
[L] Human beings are not made to live alone. They are born into a family and in a family they grow, eventually entering society through their activity. From birth, therefore, they are immersed in traditions which give them not only a language and a cultural formation but also a range of truths in which they believe almost instinctively. Yet personal growth and maturity imply that these same truths can be cast into doubt and evaluated through a process of critical enquiry. It may be that, after this time of transition, these truths are “recovered” as a result of the experience of life or by dint of further reasoning. Nonetheless, there are in the life of a human being many more truths which are simply believed than truths which are acquired by way of personal verification. Who, for instance, could assess critically the countless scientific findings upon which modern life is based? Who could personally examine the flow of information which comes day after day from all parts of the world and which is generally accepted as true? Who in the end could forge anew the paths of experience and thought which have yielded the treasures of human wisdom and religion? This means that the human being -- the one who seeks the truth -- is also the one who lives by belief.
[L] In believing, we entrust ourselves to the knowledge acquired by other people. This suggests an important tension. On the one hand, the knowledge acquired through belief can seem an imperfect form of knowledge, to be perfected gradually through personal accumulation of evidence; on the other hand, belief is often humanly richer than mere evidence, because it involves an interpersonal relationship and brings into play not only a person's capacity to know but also the deeper capacity to entrust oneself to others, to enter into a relationship with them which is intimate and enduring.
[L] It should be stressed that the truths sought in this interpersonal relationship are not primarily empirical or philosophical. Rather, what is sought is the truth of the person -- what the person is and what the person reveals from deep within. Human perfection, then, consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of the truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others. It is in this faithful self-giving that a person finds a fullness of certainty and security. At the same time, however, knowledge through belief, grounded as it is on trust between persons, is linked to truth: in the act of believing, men and women entrust themselves to the truth which the other declares to them.
[L] Any number of examples could be found to demonstrate this; but I think immediately of the martyrs, who are the most authentic witnesses to the truth about existence. The martyrs know that they have found the truth about life in the encounter with Jesus Christ, and nothing and no-one could ever take this certainty from them. Neither suffering nor violent death could ever lead them to abandon the truth which they have discovered in the encounter with Christ. This is why to this day the witness of the martyrs continues to arouse such interest, to draw agreement, to win such a hearing and to invite emulation. This is why their word inspires such confidence: from the moment they speak to us of what we perceive deep down as the truth we have sought for so long, the martyrs provide evidence of a love that has no need of lengthy arguments in order to convince. The martyrs stir in us a profound trust because they give voice to what we already feel and they declare what we would like to have the strength to express.
[L] Step by step, then, we are assembling the terms of the question. It is the nature of the human being to seek the truth. This search looks not only to the attainment of truths which are partial, empirical or scientific; nor is it only in individual acts of decision-making that people seek the true good. Their search looks towards an ulterior truth which would explain the meaning of life. And it is therefore a search which can reach its end only in reaching the absolute. Thanks to the inherent capacities of thought, man is able to encounter and recognize a truth of this kind. Such a truth -- vital and necessary as it is for life -- is attained not only by way of reason but also through trusting acquiescence to other persons who can guarantee the authenticity and certainty of the truth itself. There is no doubt that the capacity to entrust oneself and one's life to another person and the decision to do so are among the most significant and expressive human acts.
[L] It must not be forgotten that reason too needs to be sustained in all its searching by trusting dialogue and sincere friendship. A climate of suspicion and distrust, which can beset speculative research, ignores the teaching of the ancient philosophers who proposed friendship as one of the most appropriate contexts for sound philosophical enquiry.
[L] From all that I have said to this point it emerges that men and women are on a journey of discovery which is humanly unstoppable -- a search for the truth and a search for a person to whom they might entrust themselves. Christian faith comes to meet them, offering the concrete possibility of reaching the goal which they seek. Moving beyond the stage of simple believing, Christian faith immerses human beings in the order of grace, which enables them to share in the mystery of Christ, which in turn offers them a true and coherent knowledge of the Triune God. In Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, faith recognizes the ultimate appeal to humanity, an appeal made in order that what we experience as desire and nostalgia may come to its fulfilment.
[L] This truth, which God reveals to us in Jesus Christ, is not opposed to the truths which philosophy perceives. On the contrary, the two modes of knowledge lead to truth in all its fullness. The unity of truth is a fundamental premise of human reasoning, as the principle of non-contradiction makes clear. Revelation renders this unity certain, showing that the God of creation is also the God of salvation history. It is the one and the same God who establishes and guarantees the intelligibility and reasonableness of the natural order of things upon which scientists confidently depend, and who reveals himself as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This unity of truth, natural and revealed, is embodied in a living and personal way in Christ, as the Apostle reminds us: “Truth is in Jesus” (cf. Eph 4:21; Col 1:15-20). He is the eternal Word in whom all things were created, and he is the incarnate Word who in his entire person  reveals the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18). What human reason seeks “without knowing it” (cf. Acts 17:23) can be found only through Christ: what is revealed in him is “the full truth” (cf. Jn 1:14-16) of everything which was created in him and through him and which therefore in him finds its fulfilment (cf. Col 1:17).
[L] On the basis of these broad considerations, we must now explore more directly the relationship between revealed truth and philosophy. This relationship imposes a twofold consideration, since the truth conferred by Revelation is a truth to be understood in the light of reason. It is this duality alone which allows us to specify correctly the relationship between revealed truth and philosophical learning. First, then, let us consider the links between faith and philosophy in the course of history. From this, certain principles will emerge as useful reference-points in the attempt to establish the correct link between the two orders of knowledge.
[L] The Acts of the Apostles provides evidence that Christian proclamation was engaged from the very first with the philosophical currents of the time. In Athens, we read, Saint Paul entered into discussion with “certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers” (Acts 17:18); and exegetical analysis of his speech at the Areopagus has revealed frequent allusions to popular beliefs deriving for the most part from Stoicism. This is by no means accidental. If pagans were to understand them, the first Christians could not refer only to “Moses and the prophets” when they spoke. They had to point as well to natural knowledge of God and to the voice of conscience in every human being (cf. Rom 1:19-21; 2:14-15; Acts 14:16-17). Since in pagan religion this natural knowledge had lapsed into idolatry (cf. Rom 1:21-32), the Apostle judged it wiser in his speech to make the link with the thinking of the philosophers, who had always set in opposition to the myths and mystery cults notions more respectful of divine transcendence.
[L] One of the major concerns of classical philosophy was to purify human notions of God of mythological elements. We know that Greek religion, like most cosmic religions, was polytheistic, even to the point of divinizing natural things and phenomena. Human attempts to understand the origin of the gods and hence the origin of the universe find their earliest expression in poetry; and the theogonies remain the first evidence of this human search. But it was the task of the fathers of philosophy to bring to light the link between reason and religion. As they broadened their view to include universal principles, they no longer rested content with the ancient myths, but wanted to provide a rational foundation for their belief in the divinity. This opened a path which took its rise from ancient traditions but allowed a development satisfying the demands of universal reason. This development sought to acquire a critical awareness of what they believed in, and the concept of divinity was the prime beneficiary of this. Superstitions were recognized for what they were and religion was, at least in part, purified by rational analysis. It was on this basis that the Fathers of the Church entered into fruitful dialogue with ancient philosophy, which offered new ways of proclaiming and understanding the God of Jesus Christ.
[L] In tracing Christianity's adoption of philosophy, one should not forget how cautiously Christians regarded other elements of the cultural world of paganism, one example of which is gnosticism. It was easy to confuse philosophy -- understood as practical wisdom and an education for life -- with a higher and esoteric kind of knowledge, reserved to those few who were perfect. It is surely this kind of esoteric speculation which Saint Paul has in mind when he puts the Colossians on their guard: “See to it that no-one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8). The Apostle's words seem all too pertinent now if we apply them to the various kinds of esoteric superstition widespread today, even among some believers who lack a proper critical sense. Following Saint Paul, other writers of the early centuries, especially Saint Irenaeus and Tertullian, sound the alarm when confronted with a cultural perspective which sought to subordinate the truth of Revelation to the interpretation of the philosophers.
[L] Christianity's engagement with philosophy was therefore neither straight-forward nor immediate. The practice of philosophy and attendance at philosophical schools seemed to the first Christians more of a disturbance than an opportunity. For them, the first and most urgent task was the proclamation of the Risen Christ by way of a personal encounter which would bring the listener to conversion of heart and the request for Baptism. But that does not mean that they ignored the task of deepening the understanding of faith and its motivations. Quite the contrary. That is why the criticism of Celsus -- that Christians were “illiterate and uncouth” -- is unfounded and untrue. Their initial disinterest is to be explained on other grounds. The encounter with the Gospel offered such a satisfying answer to the hitherto unresolved question of life's meaning that delving into the philosophers seemed to them something remote and in some ways outmoded.
[L] That seems still more evident today, if we think of Christianity's contribution to the affirmation of the right of everyone to have access to the truth. In dismantling barriers of race, social status and gender, Christianity proclaimed from the first the equality of all men and women before God. One prime implication of this touched the theme of truth. The elitism which had characterized the ancients' search for truth was clearly abandoned. Since access to the truth enables access to God, it must be denied to none. There are many paths which lead to truth, but since Christian truth has a salvific value, any one of these paths may be taken, as long as it leads to the final goal, that is to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
[L] A pioneer of positive engagement with philosophical thinking -- albeit with cautious discernment -- was Saint Justin. Although he continued to hold Greek philosophy in high esteem after his conversion, Justin claimed with power and clarity that he had found in Christianity “the only sure and profitable philosophy”. Similarly, Clement of Alexandria called the Gospel “the true philosophy”, and he understood philosophy, like the Mosaic Law, as instruction which prepared for Christian faith  and paved the way for the Gospel. Since “philosophy yearns for the wisdom which consists in rightness of soul and speech and in purity of life, it is well disposed towards wisdom and does all it can to acquire it. We call philosophers those who love the wisdom that is creator and mistress of all things, that is knowledge of the Son of God”. For Clement, Greek philosophy is not meant in the first place to bolster and complete Christian truth. Its task is rather the defence of the faith: “The teaching of the Saviour is perfect in itself and has no need of support, because it is the strength and the wisdom of God. Greek philosophy, with its contribution, does not strengthen truth; but, in rendering the attack of sophistry impotent and in disarming those who betray truth and wage war upon it, Greek philosophy is rightly called the hedge and the protective wall around the vineyard”.
[L] It is clear from history, then, that Christian thinkers were critical in adopting philosophical thought. Among the early examples of this, Origen is certainly outstanding. In countering the attacks launched by the philosopher Celsus, Origen adopts Platonic philosophy to shape his argument and mount his reply. Assuming many elements of Platonic thought, he begins to construct an early form of Christian theology. The name “theology” itself, together with the idea of theology as rational discourse about God, had to this point been tied to its Greek origins. In Aristotelian philosophy, for example, the name signified the noblest part and the true summit of philosophical discourse. But in the light of Christian Revelation what had signified a generic doctrine about the gods assumed a wholly new meaning, signifying now the reflection undertaken by the believer in order to express the true doctrine about God. As it developed, this new Christian thought made use of philosophy, but at the same time tended to distinguish itself clearly from philosophy. History shows how Platonic thought, once adopted by theology, underwent profound changes, especially with regard to concepts such as the immortality of the soul, the divinization of man and the origin of evil.
[L] In this work of christianizing Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought, the Cappadocian Fathers, Dionysius called the Areopagite and especially Saint Augustine were important. The great Doctor of the West had come into contact with different philosophical schools, but all of them left him disappointed. It was when he encountered the truth of Christian faith that he found strength to undergo the radical conversion to which the philosophers he had known had been powerless to lead him. He himself reveals his motive: “From this time on, I gave my preference to the Catholic faith. I thought it more modest and not in the least misleading to be told by the Church to believe what could not be demonstrated -- whether that was because a demonstration existed but could not be understood by all or whether the matter was not one open to rational proof -- rather than from the Manichees to have a rash promise of knowledge with mockery of mere belief, and then afterwards to be ordered to believe many fabulous and absurd myths impossible to prove true”. Though he accorded the Platonists a place of privilege, Augustine rebuked them because, knowing the goal to seek, they had ignored the path which leads to it: the Word made flesh. The Bishop of Hippo succeeded in producing the first great synthesis of philosophy and theology, embracing currents of thought both Greek and Latin. In him too the great unity of knowledge, grounded in the thought of the Bible, was both confirmed and sustained by a depth of speculative thinking. The synthesis devised by Saint Augustine remained for centuries the most exalted form of philosophical and theological speculation known to the West. Reinforced by his personal story and sustained by a wonderful holiness of life, he could also introduce into his works a range of material which, drawing on experience, was a prelude to future developments in different currents of philosophy.
[L] The ways in which the Fathers of East and West engaged the philosophical schools were, therefore, quite different. This does not mean that they identified the content of their message with the systems to which they referred. Consider Tertullian's question: “What does Athens have in common with Jerusalem? The Academy with the Church?”. This clearly indicates the critical consciousness with which Christian thinkers from the first confronted the problem of the relationship between faith and philosophy, viewing it comprehensively with both its positive aspects and its limitations. They were not naive thinkers. Precisely because they were intense in living faith's content they were able to reach the deepest forms of speculation. It is therefore minimalizing and mistaken to restrict their work simply to the transposition of the truths of faith into philosophical categories. They did much more. In fact they succeeded in disclosing completely all that remained implicit and preliminary in the thinking of the great philosophers of antiquity. As I have noted, theirs was the task of showing how reason, freed from external constraints, could find its way out of the blind alley of myth and open itself to the transcendent in a more appropriate way. Purified and rightly tuned, therefore, reason could rise to the higher planes of thought, providing a solid foundation for the perception of being, of the transcendent and of the absolute.
[L] It is here that we see the originality of what the Fathers accomplished. They fully welcomed reason which was open to the absolute, and they infused it with the richness drawn from Revelation. This was more than a meeting of cultures, with one culture perhaps succumbing to the fascination of the other. It happened rather in the depths of human souls, and it was a meeting of creature and Creator. Surpassing the goal towards which it unwittingly tended by dint of its nature, reason attained the supreme good and ultimate truth in the person of the Word made flesh. Faced with the various philosophies, the Fathers were not afraid to acknowledge those elements in them that were consonant with Revelation and those that were not. Recognition of the points of convergence did not blind them to the points of divergence.
[L] In Scholastic theology, the role of philosophically trained reason becomes even more conspicuous under the impulse of Saint Anselm's interpretation of the intellectus fidei. For the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury the priority of faith is not in competition with the search which is proper to reason. Reason in fact is not asked to pass judgement on the contents of faith, something of which it would be incapable, since this is not its function. Its function is rather to find meaning, to discover explanations which might allow everyone to come to a certain understanding of the contents of faith. Saint Anselm underscores the fact that the intellect must seek that which it loves: the more it loves, the more it desires to know. Whoever lives for the truth is reaching for a form of knowledge which is fired more and more with love for what it knows, while having to admit that it has not yet attained what it desires: “To see you was I conceived; and I have yet to conceive that for which I was conceived (Ad te videndum factus sum; et nondum feci propter quod factus sum)”. The desire for truth, therefore, spurs reason always to go further; indeed, it is as if reason were overwhelmed to see that it can always go beyond what it has already achieved. It is at this point, though, that reason can learn where its path will lead in the end: “I think that whoever investigates something incomprehensible should be satisfied if, by way of reasoning, he reaches a quite certain perception of its reality, even if his intellect cannot penetrate its mode of being... But is there anything so incomprehensible and ineffable as that which is above all things? Therefore, if that which until now has been a matter of debate concerning the highest essence has been established on the basis of due reasoning, then the foundation of one's certainty is not shaken in the least if the intellect cannot penetrate it in a way that allows clear formulation. If prior thought has concluded rationally that one cannot comprehend (rationabiliter comprehendit incomprehensibile esse) how supernal wisdom knows its own accomplishments..., who then will explain how this same wisdom, of which the human being can know nothing or next to nothing, is to be known and expressed?”.
[L] The fundamental harmony between the knowledge of faith and the knowledge of philosophy is once again confirmed. Faith asks that its object be understood with the help of reason; and at the summit of its searching reason acknowledges that it cannot do without what faith presents.
[L] A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.
[L] More radically, Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfilment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness; indeed he was able to plumb the depths and explain the meaning of this reasonableness. Faith is in a sense an “exercise of thought”; and human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice.
[L] This is why the Church has been justified in consistently proposing Saint Thomas as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology. In this connection, I would recall what my Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, wrote on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the death of the Angelic Doctor: “Without doubt, Thomas possessed supremely the courage of the truth, a freedom of spirit in confronting new problems, the intellectual honesty of those who allow Christianity to be contaminated neither by secular philosophy nor by a prejudiced rejection of it. He passed therefore into the history of Christian thought as a pioneer of the new path of philosophy and universal culture. The key point and almost the kernel of the solution which, with all the brilliance of his prophetic intuition, he gave to the new encounter of faith and reason was a reconciliation between the secularity of the world and the radicality of the Gospel, thus avoiding the unnatural tendency to negate the world and its values while at the same time keeping faith with the supreme and inexorable demands of the supernatural order”.
[L] Another of the great insights of Saint Thomas was his perception of the role of the Holy Spirit in the process by which knowledge matures into wisdom. From the first pages of his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas was keen to show the primacy of the wisdom which is the gift of the Holy Spirit and which opens the way to a knowledge of divine realities. His theology allows us to understand what is distinctive of wisdom in its close link with faith and knowledge of the divine. This wisdom comes to know by way of connaturality; it presupposes faith and eventually formulates its right judgement on the basis of the truth of faith itself: “The wisdom named among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the wisdom found among the intellectual virtues. This second wisdom is acquired through study, but the first 'comes from on high', as Saint James puts it. This also distinguishes it from faith, since faith accepts divine truth as it is. But the gift of wisdom enables judgement according to divine truth”.
[L] Yet the priority accorded this wisdom does not lead the Angelic Doctor to overlook the presence of two other complementary forms of wisdom -- philosophical wisdom, which is based upon the capacity of the intellect, for all its natural limitations, to explore reality, and theological wisdom, which is based upon Revelation and which explores the contents of faith, entering the very mystery of God.
[L] Profoundly convinced that “whatever its source, truth is of the Holy Spirit” (omne verum a quocumque dicatur a Spiritu Sancto est)  Saint Thomas was impartial in his love of truth. He sought truth wherever it might be found and gave consummate demonstration of its universality. In him, the Church's Magisterium has seen and recognized the passion for truth; and, precisely because it stays consistently within the horizon of universal, objective and transcendent truth, his thought scales “heights unthinkable to human intelligence”. Rightly, then, he may be called an “apostle of the truth”. Looking unreservedly to truth, the realism of Thomas could recognize the objectivity of truth and produce not merely a philosophy of “what seems to be” but a philosophy of “what is”.
[L] With the rise of the first universities, theology came more directly into contact with other forms of learning and scientific research. Although they insisted upon the organic link between theology and philosophy, Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas were the first to recognize the autonomy which philosophy and the sciences needed if they were to perform well in their respective fields of research. From the late Medieval period onwards, however, the legitimate distinction between the two forms of learning became more and more a fateful separation. As a result of the exaggerated rationalism of certain thinkers, positions grew more radical and there emerged eventually a philosophy which was separate from and absolutely independent of the contents of faith. Another of the many consequences of this separation was an ever deeper mistrust with regard to reason itself. In a spirit both sceptical and agnostic, some began to voice a general mistrust, which led some to focus more on faith and others to deny its rationality altogether.
[L] In short, what for Patristic and Medieval thought was in both theory and practice a profound unity, producing knowledge capable of reaching the highest forms of speculation, was destroyed by systems which espoused the cause of rational knowledge sundered from faith and meant to take the place of faith.
[L] The more influential of these radical positions are well known and high in profile, especially in the history of the West. It is not too much to claim that the development of a good part of modern philosophy has seen it move further and further away from Christian Revelation, to the point of setting itself quite explicitly in opposition. This process reached its apogee in the last century. Some representatives of idealism sought in various ways to transform faith and its contents, even the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, into dialectical structures which could be grasped by reason. Opposed to this kind of thinking were various forms of atheistic humanism, expressed in philosophical terms, which regarded faith as alienating and damaging to the development of a full rationality. They did not hesitate to present themselves as new religions serving as a basis for projects which, on the political and social plane, gave rise to totalitarian systems which have been disastrous for humanity.
[L] In the field of scientific research, a positivistic mentality took hold which not only abandoned the Christian vision of the world, but more especially rejected every appeal to a metaphysical or moral vision. It follows that certain scientists, lacking any ethical point of reference, are in danger of putting at the centre of their concerns something other than the human person and the entirety of the person's life. Further still, some of these, sensing the opportunities of technological progress, seem to succumb not only to a market-based logic, but also to the temptation of a quasi-divine power over nature and even over the human being.
[L] As a result of the crisis of rationalism, what has appeared finally is nihilism. As a philosophy of nothingness, it has a certain attraction for people of our time. Its adherents claim that the search is an end in itself, without any hope or possibility of ever attaining the goal of truth. In the nihilist interpretation, life is no more than an occasion for sensations and experiences in which the ephemeral has pride of place. Nihilism is at the root of the widespread mentality which claims that a definitive commitment should no longer be made, because everything is fleeting and provisional.
[L] It should also be borne in mind that the role of philosophy itself has changed in modern culture. From universal wisdom and learning, it has been gradually reduced to one of the many fields of human knowing; indeed in some ways it has been consigned to a wholly marginal role. Other forms of rationality have acquired an ever higher profile, making philosophical learning appear all the more peripheral. These forms of rationality are directed not towards the contemplation of truth and the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of life; but instead, as “instrumental reason”, they are directed -- actually or potentially -- towards the promotion of utilitarian ends, towards enjoyment or power.
[L] In my first Encyclical Letter I stressed the danger of absolutizing such an approach when I wrote: “The man of today seems ever to be under threat from what he produces, that is to say from the result of the work of his hands and, even more so, of the work of his intellect and the tendencies of his will. All too soon, and often in an unforeseeable way, what this manifold activity of man yields is not only subject to 'alienation', in the sense that it is simply taken away from the person who produces it, but rather it turns against man himself, at least in part, through the indirect consequences of its effects returning on himself. It is or can be directed against him. This seems to make up the main chapter of the drama of present-day human existence in its broadest and universal dimension. Man therefore lives increasingly in fear. He is afraid of what he produces -- not all of it, of course, or even most of it, but part of it and precisely that part that contains a special share of his genius and initiative -- can radically turn against himself”.
[L] In the wake of these cultural shifts, some philosophers have abandoned the search for truth in itself and made their sole aim the attainment of a subjective certainty or a pragmatic sense of utility. This in turn has obscured the true dignity of reason, which is no longer equipped to know the truth and to seek the absolute.
[L] This rapid survey of the history of philosophy, then, reveals a growing separation between faith and philosophical reason. Yet closer scrutiny shows that even in the philosophical thinking of those who helped drive faith and reason further apart there are found at times precious and seminal insights which, if pursued and developed with mind and heart rightly tuned, can lead to the discovery of truth's way. Such insights are found, for instance, in penetrating analyses of perception and experience, of the imaginary and the unconscious, of personhood and intersubjectivity, of freedom and values, of time and history. The theme of death as well can become for all thinkers an incisive appeal to seek within themselves the true meaning of their own life. But this does not mean that the link between faith and reason as it now stands does not need to be carefully examined, because each without the other is impoverished and enfeebled. Deprived of what Revelation offers, reason has taken side-tracks which expose it to the danger of losing sight of its final goal. Deprived of reason, faith has stressed feeling and experience, and so run the risk of no longer being a universal proposition. It is an illusion to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition. By the same token, reason which is unrelated to an adult faith is not prompted to turn its gaze to the newness and radicality of being.
[L] This is why I make this strong and insistent appeal -- not, I trust, untimely -- that faith and philosophy recover the profound unity which allows them to stand in harmony with their nature without compromising their mutual autonomy. The parrhesia of faith must be matched by the boldness of reason.
[L] The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others. The underlying reason for this reluctance is that, even when it engages theology, philosophy must remain faithful to its own principles and methods. Otherwise there would be no guarantee that it would remain oriented to truth and that it was moving towards truth by way of a process governed by reason. A philosophy which did not proceed in the light of reason according to its own principles and methods would serve little purpose. At the deepest level, the autonomy which philosophy enjoys is rooted in the fact that reason is by its nature oriented to truth and is equipped moreover with the means necessary to arrive at truth. A philosophy conscious of this as its “constitutive status” cannot but respect the demands and the data of revealed truth.
[L] Yet history shows that philosophy -- especially modern philosophy -- has taken wrong turns and fallen into error. It is neither the task nor the competence of the Magisterium to intervene in order to make good the lacunas of deficient philosophical discourse. Rather, it is the Magisterium's duty to respond clearly and strongly when controversial philosophical opinions threaten right understanding of what has been revealed, and when false and partial theories which sow the seed of serious error, confusing the pure and simple faith of the People of God, begin to spread more widely.
[L] In the light of faith, therefore, the Church's Magisterium can and must authoritatively exercise a critical discernment of opinions and philosophies which contradict Christian doctrine. It is the task of the Magisterium in the first place to indicate which philosophical presuppositions and conclusions are incompatible with revealed truth, thus articulating the demands which faith's point of view makes of philosophy. Moreover, as philosophical learning has developed, different schools of thought have emerged. This pluralism also imposes upon the Magisterium the responsibility of expressing a judgement as to whether or not the basic tenets of these different schools are compatible with the demands of the word of God and theological enquiry.
[L] It is the Church's duty to indicate the elements in a philosophical system which are incompatible with her own faith. In fact, many philosophical opinions -- concerning God, the human being, human freedom and ethical behaviour -- engage the Church directly, because they touch on the revealed truth of which she is the guardian. In making this discernment, we Bishops have the duty to be “witnesses to the truth”, fulfilling a humble but tenacious ministry of service which every philosopher should appreciate, a service in favour of recta ratio, or of reason reflecting rightly upon what is true.
[L] This discernment, however, should not be seen as primarily negative, as if the Magisterium intended to abolish or limit any possible mediation. On the contrary, the Magisterium's interventions are intended above all to prompt, promote and encourage philosophical enquiry. Besides, philosophers are the first to understand the need for self-criticism, the correction of errors and the extension of the too restricted terms in which their thinking has been framed. In particular, it is necessary to keep in mind the unity of truth, even if its formulations are shaped by history and produced by human reason wounded and weakened by sin. This is why no historical form of philosophy can legitimately claim to embrace the totality of truth, nor to be the complete explanation of the human being, of the world and of the human being's relationship with God.
[L] Today, then, with the proliferation of systems, methods, concepts and philosophical theses which are often extremely complex, the need for a critical discernment in the light of faith becomes more urgent, even if it remains a daunting task. Given all of reason's inherent and historical limitations, it is difficult enough to recognize the inalienable powers proper to it; but it is still more difficult at times to discern in specific philosophical claims what is valid and fruitful from faith's point of view and what is mistaken or dangerous. Yet the Church knows that “the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ (Col 2:3) and therefore intervenes in order to stimulate philosophical enquiry, lest it stray from the path which leads to recognition of the mystery.
[L] It is not only in recent times that the Magisterium of the Church has intervened to make its mind known with regard to particular philosophical teachings. It is enough to recall, by way of example, the pronouncements made through the centuries concerning theories which argued in favour of the pre-existence of the soul, or concerning the different forms of idolatry and esoteric superstition found in astrological speculations, without forgetting the more systematic pronouncements against certain claims of Latin Averroism which were incompatible with the Christian faith.
[L] If the Magisterium has spoken out more frequently since the middle of the last century, it is because in that period not a few Catholics felt it their duty to counter various streams of modern thought with a philosophy of their own. At this point, the Magisterium of the Church was obliged to be vigilant lest these philosophies developed in ways which were themselves erroneous and negative. The censures were delivered even-handedly: on the one hand, fideism  and radical traditionalism, for their distrust of reason's natural capacities, and, on the other, rationalism  and ontologism  because they attributed to natural reason a knowledge which only the light of faith could confer. The positive elements of this debate were assembled in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, in which for the first time an Ecumenical Council -- in this case, the First Vatican Council -- pronounced solemnly on the relationship between reason and faith. The teaching contained in this document strongly and positively marked the philosophical research of many believers and remains today a standard reference-point for correct and coherent Christian thinking in this regard.
[L] The Magisterium's pronouncements have been concerned less with individual philosophical theses than with the need for rational and hence ultimately philosophical knowledge for the understanding of faith. In synthesizing and solemnly reaffirming the teachings constantly proposed to the faithful by the ordinary Papal Magisterium, the First Vatican Council showed how inseparable and at the same time how distinct were faith and reason, Revelation and natural knowledge of God. The Council began with the basic criterion, presupposed by Revelation itself, of the natural knowability of the existence of God, the beginning and end of all things, and concluded with the solemn assertion quoted earlier: “There are two orders of knowledge, distinct not only in their point of departure, but also in their object”. Against all forms of rationalism, then, there was a need to affirm the distinction between the mysteries of faith and the findings of philosophy, and the transcendence and precedence of the mysteries of faith over the findings of philosophy. Against the temptations of fideism, however, it was necessary to stress the unity of truth and thus the positive contribution which rational knowledge can and must make to faith's knowledge: “Even if faith is superior to reason there can never be a true divergence between faith and reason, since the same God who reveals the mysteries and bestows the gift of faith has also placed in the human spirit the light of reason. This God could not deny himself, nor could the truth ever contradict the truth”.
[L] In our own century too the Magisterium has revisited the theme on a number of occasions, warning against the lure of rationalism. Here the pronouncements of Pope Saint Pius X are pertinent, stressing as they did that at the basis of Modernism were philosophical claims which were phenomenist, agnostic and immanentist. Nor can the importance of the Catholic rejection of Marxist philosophy and atheistic Communism be forgotten.
[L] Later, in his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII warned against mistaken interpretations linked to evolutionism, existentialism and historicism. He made it clear that these theories had not been proposed and developed by theologians, but had their origins “outside the sheepfold of Christ”. He added, however, that errors of this kind should not simply be rejected but should be examined critically: “Catholic theologians and philosophers, whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural truth and instill it in human hearts, cannot afford to ignore these more or less erroneous opinions. Rather they must come to understand these theories well, not only because diseases are properly treated only if rightly diagnosed and because even in these false theories some truth is found at times, but because in the end these theories provoke a more discriminating discussion and evaluation of philosophical and theological truths”.
[L] In accomplishing its specific task in service of the Roman Pontiff's universal Magisterium, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has more recently had to intervene to re-emphasize the danger of an uncritical adoption by some liberation theologians of opinions and methods drawn from Marxism.
[L] In the past, then, the Magisterium has on different occasions and in different ways offered its discernment in philosophical matters. My revered Predecessors have thus made an invaluable contribution which must not be forgotten.
[L] Surveying the situation today, we see that the problems of other times have returned, but in a new key. It is no longer a matter of questions of interest only to certain individuals and groups, but convictions so widespread that they have become to some extent the common mind. An example of this is the deep-seated distrust of reason which has surfaced in the most recent developments of much of philosophical research, to the point where there is talk at times of “the end of metaphysics”. Philosophy is expected to rest content with more modest tasks such as the simple interpretation of facts or an enquiry into restricted fields of human knowing or its structures.
[L] In theology too the temptations of other times have reappeared. In some contemporary theologies, for instance, a certain rationalism is gaining ground, especially when opinions thought to be philosophically well founded are taken as normative for theological research. This happens particularly when theologians, through lack of philosophical competence, allow themselves to be swayed uncritically by assertions which have become part of current parlance and culture but which are poorly grounded in reason.
[L] There are also signs of a resurgence of fideism, which fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith, indeed for the very possibility of belief in God. One currently widespread symptom of this fideistic tendency is a “biblicism” which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth. In consequence, the word of God is identified with Sacred Scripture alone, thus eliminating the doctrine of the Church which the Second Vatican Council stressed quite specifically. Having recalled that the word of God is present in both Scripture and Tradition, the Constitution Dei Verbum continues emphatically: “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture comprise a single sacred deposit of the word of God entrusted to the Church. Embracing this deposit and united with their pastors, the People of God remain always faithful to the teaching of the Apostles (cf. Acts 2:42)”. Scripture, therefore, is not the Church's sole point of reference. The “supreme rule of her faith”  derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without the others.
[L] Moreover, one should not underestimate the danger inherent in seeking to derive the truth of Sacred Scripture from the use of one method alone, ignoring the need for a more comprehensive exegesis which enables the exegete, together with the whole Church, to arrive at the full sense of the texts. Those who devote themselves to the study of Sacred Scripture should always remember that the various hermeneutical approaches have their own philosophical underpinnings, which need to be carefully evaluated before they are applied to the sacred texts.
[L] Other modes of latent fideism appear in the scant consideration accorded to speculative theology, and in disdain for the classical philosophy from which the terms of both the understanding of faith and the actual formulation of dogma have been drawn. My revered Predecessor Pope Pius XII warned against such neglect of the philosophical tradition and against abandonment of the traditional terminology.
[L] In brief, there are signs of a widespread distrust of universal and absolute statements, especially among those who think that truth is born of consensus and not of a consonance between intellect and objective reality. In a world subdivided into so many specialized fields, it is not hard to see how difficult it can be to acknowledge the full and ultimate meaning of life which has traditionally been the goal of philosophy. Nonetheless, in the light of faith which finds in Jesus Christ this ultimate meaning, I cannot but encourage philosophers -- be they Christian or not -- to trust in the power of human reason and not to set themselves goals that are too modest in their philosophizing. The lesson of history in this millennium now drawing to a close shows that this is the path to follow: it is necessary not to abandon the passion for ultimate truth, the eagerness to search for it or the audacity to forge new paths in the search. It is faith which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and true. Faith thus becomes the convinced and convincing advocate of reason.
[L] Yet the Magisterium does more than point out the misperceptions and the mistakes of philosophical theories. With no less concern it has sought to stress the basic principles of a genuine renewal of philosophical enquiry, indicating as well particular paths to be taken. In this regard, Pope Leo XIII with his Encyclical Letter Æterni Patris took a step of historic importance for the life of the Church, since it remains to this day the one papal document of such authority devoted entirely to philosophy. The great Pope revisited and developed the First Vatican Council's teaching on the relationship between faith and reason, showing how philosophical thinking contributes in fundamental ways to faith and theological learning. More than a century later, many of the insights of his Encyclical Letter have lost none of their interest from either a practical or pedagogical point of view -- most particularly, his insistence upon the incomparable value of the philosophy of Saint Thomas. A renewed insistence upon the thought of the Angelic Doctor seemed to Pope Leo XIII the best way to recover the practice of a philosophy consonant with the demands of faith. “Just when Saint Thomas distinguishes perfectly between faith and reason”, the Pope writes, “he unites them in bonds of mutual friendship, conceding to each its specific rights and to each its specific dignity”.
[L] The positive results of the papal summons are well known. Studies of the thought of Saint Thomas and other Scholastic writers received new impetus. Historical studies flourished, resulting in a rediscovery of the riches of Medieval thought, which until then had been largely unknown; and there emerged new Thomistic schools. With the use of historical method, knowledge of the works of Saint Thomas increased greatly, and many scholars had courage enough to introduce the Thomistic tradition into the philosophical and theological discussions of the day. The most influential Catholic theologians of the present century, to whose thinking and research the Second Vatican Council was much indebted, were products of this revival of Thomistic philosophy. Throughout the twentieth century, the Church has been served by a powerful array of thinkers formed in the school of the Angelic Doctor.
[L] Yet the Thomistic and neo-Thomistic revival was not the only sign of a resurgence of philosophical thought in culture of Christian inspiration. Earlier still, and parallel to Pope Leo's call, there had emerged a number of Catholic philosophers who, adopting more recent currents of thought and according to a specific method, produced philosophical works of great influence and lasting value. Some devised syntheses so remarkable that they stood comparison with the great systems of idealism. Others established the epistemological foundations for a new consideration of faith in the light of a renewed understanding of moral consciousness; others again produced a philosophy which, starting with an analysis of immanence, opened the way to the transcendent; and there were finally those who sought to combine the demands of faith with the perspective of phenomenological method. From different quarters, then, modes of philosophical speculation have continued to emerge and have sought to keep alive the great tradition of Christian thought which unites faith and reason.
[L] The Second Vatican Council, for its part, offers a rich and fruitful teaching concerning philosophy. I cannot fail to note, especially in the context of this Encyclical Letter, that one chapter of the Constitution Gaudium et Spes amounts to a virtual compendium of the biblical anthropology from which philosophy too can draw inspiration. The chapter deals with the value of the human person created in the image of God, explains the dignity and superiority of the human being over the rest of creation, and declares the transcendent capacity of human reason. The problem of atheism is also dealt with in Gaudium et Spes, and the flaws of its philosophical vision are identified, especially in relation to the dignity and freedom of the human person. There is no doubt that the climactic section of the chapter is profoundly significant for philosophy; and it was this which I took up in my first Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis and which serves as one of the constant reference-points of my teaching: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (Rom 5:14), Christ the Lord. Christ, the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”.
[L] The Council also dealt with the study of philosophy required of candidates for the priesthood; and its recommendations have implications for Christian education as a whole. These are the Council's words: “The philosophical disciplines should be taught in such a way that students acquire in the first place a solid and harmonious knowledge of the human being, of the world and of God, based upon the philosophical heritage which is enduringly valid, yet taking into account currents of modern philosophy”.
[L] These directives have been reiterated and developed in a number of other magisterial documents in order to guarantee a solid philosophical formation, especially for those preparing for theological studies. I have myself emphasized several times the importance of this philosophical formation for those who one day, in their pastoral life, will have to address the aspirations of the contemporary world and understand the causes of certain behaviour in order to respond in appropriate ways.
[L] If it has been necessary from time to time to intervene on this question, to reiterate the value of the Angelic Doctor's insights and insist on the study of his thought, this has been because the Magisterium's directives have not always been followed with the readiness one would wish. In the years after the Second Vatican Council, many Catholic faculties were in some ways impoverished by a diminished sense of the importance of the study not just of Scholastic philosophy but more generally of the study of philosophy itself. I cannot fail to note with surprise and displeasure that this lack of interest in the study of philosophy is shared by not a few theologians.
[L] There are various reasons for this disenchantment. First, there is the distrust of reason found in much contemporary philosophy, which has largely abandoned metaphysical study of the ultimate human questions in order to concentrate upon problems which are more detailed and restricted, at times even purely formal. Another reason, it should be said, is the misunderstanding which has arisen especially with regard to the “human sciences”. On a number of occasions, the Second Vatican Council stressed the positive value of scientific research for a deeper knowledge of the mystery of the human being. But the invitation addressed to theologians to engage the human sciences and apply them properly in their enquiries should not be interpreted as an implicit authorization to marginalize philosophy or to put something else in its place in pastoral formation and in the praeparatio fidei. A further factor is the renewed interest in the inculturation of faith. The life of the young Churches in particular has brought to light, together with sophisticated modes of thinking, an array of expressions of popular wisdom; and this constitutes a genuine cultural wealth of traditions. Yet the study of traditional ways must go hand in hand with philosophical enquiry, an enquiry which will allow the positive traits of popular wisdom to emerge and forge the necessary link with the proclamation of the Gospel.
[L] I wish to repeat clearly that the study of philosophy is fundamental and indispensable to the structure of theological studies and to the formation of candidates for the priesthood. It is not by chance that the curriculum of theological studies is preceded by a time of special study of philosophy. This decision, confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council, is rooted in the experience which matured through the Middle Ages, when the importance of a constructive harmony of philosophical and theological learning emerged. This ordering of studies influenced, promoted and enabled much of the development of modern philosophy, albeit indirectly. One telling example of this is the influence of the Disputationes Metaphysicae of Francisco Suárez, which found its way even into the Lutheran universities of Germany. Conversely, the dismantling of this arrangement has created serious gaps in both priestly formation and theological research. Consider, for instance, the disregard of modern thought and culture which has led either to a refusal of any kind of dialogue or to an indiscriminate acceptance of any kind of philosophy.
[L] I trust most sincerely that these difficulties will be overcome by an intelligent philosophical and theological formation, which must never be lacking in the Church.
[L] For the reasons suggested here, it has seemed to me urgent to re-emphasize with this Encyclical Letter the Church's intense interest in philosophy -- indeed the intimate bond which ties theological work to the philosophical search for truth. From this comes the Magisterium's duty to discern and promote philosophical thinking which is not at odds with faith. It is my task to state principles and criteria which in my judgement are necessary in order to restore a harmonious and creative relationship between theology and philosophy. In the light of these principles and criteria, it will be possible to discern with greater clarity what link, if any, theology should forge with the different philosophical opinions or systems which the world of today presents.
[L] The word of God is addressed to all people, in every age and in every part of the world; and the human being is by nature a philosopher. As a reflective and scientific elaboration of the understanding of God's word in the light of faith, theology for its part must relate, in some of its procedures and in the performance of its specific tasks, to the philosophies which have been developed through the ages. I have no wish to direct theologians to particular methods, since that is not the competence of the Magisterium. I wish instead to recall some specific tasks of theology which, by the very nature of the revealed word, demand recourse to philosophical enquiry.
[L] Theology is structured as an understanding of faith in the light of a twofold methodological principle: the auditus fidei and the intellectus fidei. With the first, theology makes its own the content of Revelation as this has been gradually expounded in Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Church's living Magisterium. With the second, theology seeks to respond through speculative enquiry to the specific demands of disciplined thought.
[L] Philosophy contributes specifically to theology in preparing for a correct auditus fidei with its study of the structure of knowledge and personal communication, especially the various forms and functions of language. No less important is philosophy's contribution to a more coherent understanding of Church Tradition, the pronouncements of the Magisterium and the teaching of the great masters of theology, who often adopt concepts and thought-forms drawn from a particular philosophical tradition. In this case, the theologian is summoned not only to explain the concepts and terms used by the Church in her thinking and the development of her teaching, but also to know in depth the philosophical systems which may have influenced those concepts and terms, in order to formulate correct and consistent interpretations of them.
[L] With regard to the intellectus fidei, a prime consideration must be that divine Truth “proposed to us in the Sacred Scriptures and rightly interpreted by the Church's teaching”  enjoys an innate intelligibility, so logically consistent that it stands as an authentic body of knowledge. The intellectus fidei expounds this truth, not only in grasping the logical and conceptual structure of the propositions in which the Church's teaching is framed, but also, indeed primarily, in bringing to light the salvific meaning of these propositions for the individual and for humanity. From the sum of these propositions, the believer comes to know the history of salvation, which culminates in the person of Jesus Christ and in his Paschal Mystery. Believers then share in this mystery by their assent of faith.
[L] For its part, dogmatic theology must be able to articulate the universal meaning of the mystery of the One and Triune God and of the economy of salvation, both as a narrative and, above all, in the form of argument. It must do so, in other words, through concepts formulated in a critical and universally communicable way. Without philosophy's contribution, it would in fact be impossible to discuss theological issues such as, for example, the use of language to speak about God, the personal relations within the Trinity, God's creative activity in the world, the relationship between God and man, or Christ's identity as true God and true man. This is no less true of the different themes of moral theology, which employ concepts such as the moral law, conscience, freedom, personal responsibility and guilt, which are in part defined by philosophical ethics.
[L] It is necessary therefore that the mind of the believer acquire a natural, consistent and true knowledge of created realities -- the world and man himself -- which are also the object of divine Revelation. Still more, reason must be able to articulate this knowledge in concept and argument. Speculative dogmatic theology thus presupposes and implies a philosophy of the human being, the world and, more radically, of being, which has objective truth as its foundation.
[L] With its specific character as a discipline charged with giving an account of faith (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), the concern of fundamental theology will be to justify and expound the relationship between faith and philosophical thought. Recalling the teaching of Saint Paul (cf. Rom 1:19-20), the First Vatican Council pointed to the existence of truths which are naturally, and thus philosophically, knowable; and an acceptance of God's Revelation necessarily presupposes knowledge of these truths. In studying Revelation and its credibility, as well as the corresponding act of faith, fundamental theology should show how, in the light of the knowledge conferred by faith, there emerge certain truths which reason, from its own independent enquiry, already perceives. Revelation endows these truths with their fullest meaning, directing them towards the richness of the revealed mystery in which they find their ultimate purpose. Consider, for example, the natural knowledge of God, the possibility of distinguishing divine Revelation from other phenomena or the recognition of its credibility, the capacity of human language to speak in a true and meaningful way even of things which transcend all human experience. From all these truths, the mind is led to acknowledge the existence of a truly propaedeutic path to faith, one which can lead to the acceptance of Revelation without in any way compromising the principles and autonomy of the mind itself.
[L] Similarly, fundamental theology should demonstrate the profound compatibility that exists between faith and its need to find expression by way of human reason fully free to give its assent. Faith will thus be able “to show fully the path to reason in a sincere search for the truth. Although faith, a gift of God, is not based on reason, it can certainly not dispense with it. At the same time, it becomes apparent that reason needs to be reinforced by faith, in order to discover horizons it cannot reach on its own”.
[L] Moral theology has perhaps an even greater need of philosophy's contribution. In the New Testament, human life is much less governed by prescriptions than in the Old Testament. Life in the Spirit leads believers to a freedom and responsibility which surpass the Law. Yet the Gospel and the Apostolic writings still set forth both general principles of Christian conduct and specific teachings and precepts. In order to apply these to the particular circumstances of individual and communal life, Christians must be able fully to engage their conscience and the power of their reason. In other words, moral theology requires a sound philosophical vision of human nature and society, as well as of the general principles of ethical decision-making.
[L] It might be objected that the theologian should nowadays rely less on philosophy than on the help of other kinds of human knowledge, such as history and above all the sciences, the extraordinary advances of which in recent times stir such admiration. Others, more alert to the link between faith and culture, claim that theology should look more to the wisdom contained in peoples' traditions than to a philosophy of Greek and Eurocentric provenance. Others still, prompted by a mistaken notion of cultural pluralism, simply deny the universal value of the Church's philosophical heritage.
[L] There is some truth in these claims which are acknowledged in the teaching of the Council. Reference to the sciences is often helpful, allowing as it does a more thorough knowledge of the subject under study; but it should not mean the rejection of a typically philosophical and critical thinking which is concerned with the universal. Indeed, this kind of thinking is required for a fruitful exchange between cultures. What I wish to emphasize is the duty to go beyond the particular and concrete, lest the prime task of demonstrating the universality of faith's content be abandoned. Nor should it be forgotten that the specific contribution of philosophical enquiry enables us to discern in different world-views and different cultures “not what people think but what the objective truth is”. It is not an array of human opinions but truth alone which can be of help to theology.
[L] Because of its implications for both philosophy and theology, the question of the relationship with cultures calls for particular attention, which cannot however claim to be exhaustive. From the time the Gospel was first preached, the Church has known the process of encounter and engagement with cultures. Christ's mandate to his disciples to go out everywhere, “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), in order to pass on the truth which he had revealed, led the Christian community to recognize from the first the universality of its message and the difficulties created by cultural differences. A passage of Saint Paul's letter to the Christians of Ephesus helps us to understand how the early community responded to the problem. The Apostle writes: “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the wall of hostility” (Eph 2:13-14).
[L] In the light of this text, we reflect further to see how the Gentiles were transformed once they had embraced the faith. With the richness of the salvation wrought by Christ, the walls separating the different cultures collapsed. God's promise in Christ now became a universal offer: no longer limited to one particular people, its language and its customs, but extended to all as a heritage from which each might freely draw. From their different locations and traditions all are called in Christ to share in the unity of the family of God's children. It is Christ who enables the two peoples to become “one”. Those who were “far off” have come “near”, thanks to the newness brought by the Paschal Mystery. Jesus destroys the walls of division and creates unity in a new and unsurpassed way through our sharing in his mystery. This unity is so deep that the Church can say with Saint Paul: “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).
[L] This simple statement contains a great truth: faith's encounter with different cultures has created something new. When they are deeply rooted in experience, cultures show forth the human being's characteristic openness to the universal and the transcendent. Therefore they offer different paths to the truth, which assuredly serve men and women well in revealing values which can make their life ever more human. Insofar as cultures appeal to the values of older traditions, they point -- implicitly but authentically -- to the manifestation of God in nature, as we saw earlier in considering the Wisdom literature and the teaching of Saint Paul.
[L] Inseparable as they are from people and their history, cultures share the dynamics which the human experience of life reveals. They change and advance because people meet in new ways and share with each other their ways of life. Cultures are fed by the communication of values, and they survive and flourish insofar as they remain open to assimilating new experiences. How are we to explain these dynamics? All people are part of a culture, depend upon it and shape it. Human beings are both child and parent of the culture in which they are immersed. To everything they do, they bring something which sets them apart from the rest of creation: their unfailing openness to mystery and their boundless desire for knowledge. Lying deep in every culture, there appears this impulse towards a fulfilment. We may say, then, that culture itself has an intrinsic capacity to receive divine Revelation.
[L] Cultural context permeates the living of Christian faith, which contributes in turn little by little to shaping that context. To every culture Christians bring the unchanging truth of God, which he reveals in the history and culture of a people. Time and again, therefore, in the course of the centuries we have seen repeated the event witnessed by the pilgrims in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Hearing the Apostles, they asked one another: “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:7-11). While it demands of all who hear it the adherence of faith, the proclamation of the Gospel in different cultures allows people to preserve their own cultural identity. This in no way creates division, because the community of the baptized is marked by a universality which can embrace every culture and help to foster whatever is implicit in them to the point where it will be fully explicit in the light of truth.
[L] This means that no one culture can ever become the criterion of judgment, much less the ultimate criterion of truth with regard to God's Revelation. The Gospel is not opposed to any culture, as if in engaging a culture the Gospel would seek to strip it of its native riches and force it to adopt forms which are alien to it. On the contrary, the message which believers bring to the world and to cultures is a genuine liberation from all the disorders caused by sin and is, at the same time, a call to the fullness of truth. Cultures are not only not diminished by this encounter; rather, they are prompted to open themselves to the newness of the Gospel's truth and to be stirred by this truth to develop in new ways.
[L] In preaching the Gospel, Christianity first encountered Greek philosophy; but this does not mean at all that other approaches are precluded. Today, as the Gospel gradually comes into contact with cultural worlds which once lay beyond Christian influence, there are new tasks of inculturation, which mean that our generation faces problems not unlike those faced by the Church in the first centuries.
[L] My thoughts turn immediately to the lands of the East, so rich in religious and philosophical traditions of great antiquity. Among these lands, India has a special place. A great spiritual impulse leads Indian thought to seek an experience which would liberate the spirit from the shackles of time and space and would therefore acquire absolute value. The dynamic of this quest for liberation provides the context for great metaphysical systems.
[L] In India particularly, it is the duty of Christians now to draw from this rich heritage the elements compatible with their faith, in order to enrich Christian thought. In this work of discernment, which finds its inspiration in the Council's Declaration Nostra Aetate, certain criteria will have to be kept in mind. The first of these is the universality of the human spirit, whose basic needs are the same in the most disparate cultures. The second, which derives from the first, is this: in engaging great cultures for the first time, the Church cannot abandon what she has gained from her inculturation in the world of Greco-Latin thought. To reject this heritage would be to deny the providential plan of God who guides his Church down the paths of time and history. This criterion is valid for the Church in every age, even for the Church of the future, who will judge herself enriched by all that comes from today's engagement with Eastern cultures and will find in this inheritance fresh cues for fruitful dialogue with the cultures which will emerge as humanity moves into the future. Thirdly, care will need to be taken lest, contrary to the very nature of the human spirit, the legitimate defense of the uniqueness and originality of Indian thought be confused with the idea that a particular cultural tradition should remain closed in its difference and affirm itself by opposing other traditions.
[L] What has been said here of India is no less true for the heritage of the great cultures of China, Japan and the other countries of Asia, as also for the riches of the traditional cultures of Africa, which are for the most part orally transmitted.
[L] In the light of these considerations, the relationship between theology and philosophy is best construed as a circle. Theology's source and starting-point must always be the word of God revealed in history, while its final goal will be an understanding of that word which increases with each passing generation. Yet, since God's word is Truth (cf. Jn 17:17), the human search for truth -- philosophy, pursued in keeping with its own rules -- can only help to understand God's word better. It is not just a question of theological discourse using this or that concept or element of a philosophical construct; what matters most is that the believer's reason use its powers of reflection in the search for truth which moves from the word of God towards a better understanding of it. It is as if, moving between the twin poles of God's word and a better understanding of it, reason is offered guidance and is warned against paths which would lead it to stray from revealed Truth and to stray in the end from the truth pure and simple. Instead, reason is stirred to explore paths which of itself it would not even have suspected it could take. This circular relationship with the word of God leaves philosophy enriched, because reason discovers new and unsuspected horizons.
[L] The fruitfulness of this relationship is confirmed by the experience of great Christian theologians who also distinguished themselves as great philosophers, bequeathing to us writings of such high speculative value as to warrant comparison with the masters of ancient philosophy. This is true of both the Fathers of the Church, among whom at least Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Saint Augustine should be mentioned, and the Medieval Doctors with the great triad of Saint Anselm, Saint Bonaventure and Saint Thomas Aquinas. We see the same fruitful relationship between philosophy and the word of God in the courageous research pursued by more recent thinkers, among whom I gladly mention, in a Western context, figures such as John Henry Newman, Antonio Rosmini, Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson and Edith Stein and, in an Eastern context, eminent scholars such as Vladimir S. Soloviev, Pavel A. Florensky, Petr Chaadaev and Vladimir N. Lossky. Obviously other names could be cited; and in referring to these I intend not to endorse every aspect of their thought, but simply to offer significant examples of a process of philosophical enquiry which was enriched by engaging the data of faith. One thing is certain: attention to the spiritual journey of these masters can only give greater momentum to both the search for truth and the effort to apply the results of that search to the service of humanity. It is to be hoped that now and in the future there will be those who continue to cultivate this great philosophical and theological tradition for the good of both the Church and humanity.
[L] As appears from this brief sketch of the history of the relationship between faith and philosophy, one can distinguish different stances of philosophy with regard to Christian faith. First, there is a philosophy completely independent of the Gospel's Revelation: this is the stance adopted by philosophy as it took shape in history before the birth of the Redeemer and later in regions as yet untouched by the Gospel. We see here philosophy's valid aspiration to be an autonomous enterprise, obeying its own rules and employing the powers of reason alone. Although seriously handicapped by the inherent weakness of human reason, this aspiration should be supported and strengthened. As a search for truth within the natural order, the enterprise of philosophy is always open -- at least implicitly -- to the supernatural.
[L] Moreover, the demand for a valid autonomy of thought should be respected even when theological discourse makes use of philosophical concepts and arguments. Indeed, to argue according to rigorous rational criteria is to guarantee that the results attained are universally valid. This also confirms the principle that grace does not destroy nature but perfects it: the assent of faith, engaging the intellect and will, does not destroy but perfects the free will of each believer who deep within welcomes what has been revealed.
[L] It is clear that this legitimate approach is rejected by the theory of so-called “separate” philosophy, pursued by some modern philosophers. This theory claims for philosophy not only a valid autonomy, but a self-sufficiency of thought which is patently invalid. In refusing the truth offered by divine Revelation, philosophy only does itself damage, since this is to preclude access to a deeper knowledge of truth.
[L] A second stance adopted by philosophy is often designated as Christian philosophy. In itself, the term is valid, but it should not be misunderstood: it in no way intends to suggest that there is an official philosophy of the Church, since the faith as such is not a philosophy. The term seeks rather to indicate a Christian way of philosophizing, a philosophical speculation conceived in dynamic union with faith. It does not therefore refer simply to a philosophy developed by Christian philosophers who have striven in their research not to contradict the faith. The term Christian philosophy includes those important developments of philosophical thinking which would not have happened without the direct or indirect contribution of Christian faith.
[L] Christian philosophy therefore has two aspects. The first is subjective, in the sense that faith purifies reason. As a theological virtue, faith liberates reason from presumption, the typical temptation of the philosopher. Saint Paul, the Fathers of the Church and, closer to our own time, philosophers such as Pascal and Kierkegaard reproached such presumption. The philosopher who learns humility will also find courage to tackle questions which are difficult to resolve if the data of Revelation are ignored -- for example, the problem of evil and suffering, the personal nature of God and the question of the meaning of life or, more directly, the radical metaphysical question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”.
[L] The second aspect of Christian philosophy is objective, in the sense that it concerns content. Revelation clearly proposes certain truths which might never have been discovered by reason unaided, although they are not of themselves inaccessible to reason. Among these truths is the notion of a free and personal God who is the Creator of the world, a truth which has been so crucial for the development of philosophical thinking, especially the philosophy of being. There is also the reality of sin, as it appears in the light of faith, which helps to shape an adequate philosophical formulation of the problem of evil. The notion of the person as a spiritual being is another of faith's specific contributions: the Christian proclamation of human dignity, equality and freedom has undoubtedly influenced modern philosophical thought. In more recent times, there has been the discovery that history as event -- so central to Christian Revelation -- is important for philosophy as well. It is no accident that this has become pivotal for a philosophy of history which stakes its claim as a new chapter in the human search for truth.
[L] Among the objective elements of Christian philosophy we might also place the need to explore the rationality of certain truths expressed in Sacred Scripture, such as the possibility of man's supernatural vocation and original sin itself. These are tasks which challenge reason to recognize that there is something true and rational lying far beyond the straits within which it would normally be confined. These questions in fact broaden reason's scope for action.
[L] In speculating on these questions, philosophers have not become theologians, since they have not sought to understand and expound the truths of faith on the basis of Revelation. They have continued working on their own terrain and with their own purely rational method, yet extending their research to new aspects of truth. It could be said that a good part of modern and contemporary philosophy would not exist without this stimulus of the word of God. This conclusion retains all its relevance, despite the disappointing fact that many thinkers in recent centuries have abandoned Christian orthodoxy.
[L] Philosophy presents another stance worth noting when theology itself calls upon it. Theology in fact has always needed and still needs philosophy's contribution. As a work of critical reason in the light of faith, theology presupposes and requires in all its research a reason formed and educated to concept and argument. Moreover, theology needs philosophy as a partner in dialogue in order to confirm the intelligibility and universal truth of its claims. It was not by accident that the Fathers of the Church and the Medieval theologians adopted non-Christian philosophies. This historical fact confirms the value of philosophy's autonomy, which remains unimpaired when theology calls upon it; but it shows as well the profound transformations which philosophy itself must undergo.
[L] It was because of its noble and indispensable contribution that, from the Patristic period onwards, philosophy was called the ancilla theologiae. The title was not intended to indicate philosophy's servile submission or purely functional role with regard to theology. Rather, it was used in the sense in which Aristotle had spoken of the experimental sciences as “ancillary” to “prima philosophia”. The term can scarcely be used today, given the principle of autonomy to which we have referred, but it has served throughout history to indicate the necessity of the link between the two sciences and the impossibility of their separation.
[L] Were theologians to refuse the help of philosophy, they would run the risk of doing philosophy unwittingly and locking themselves within thought-structures poorly adapted to the understanding of faith. Were philosophers, for their part, to shun theology completely, they would be forced to master on their own the contents of Christian faith, as has been the case with some modern philosophers. Either way, the grounding principles of autonomy which every science rightly wants guaranteed would be seriously threatened.
[L] When it adopts this stance, philosophy, like theology, comes more directly under the authority of the Magisterium and its discernment, because of the implications it has for the understanding of Revelation, as I have already explained. The truths of faith make certain demands which philosophy must respect whenever it engages theology.
[L] It should be clear in the light of these reflections why the Magisterium has repeatedly acclaimed the merits of Saint Thomas' thought and made him the guide and model for theological studies. This has not been in order to take a position on properly philosophical questions nor to demand adherence to particular theses. The Magisterium's intention has always been to show how Saint Thomas is an authentic model for all who seek the truth. In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason.
[L] Developing further what the Magisterium before me has taught, I intend in this final section to point out certain requirements which theology -- and more fundamentally still, the word of God itself -- makes today of philosophical thinking and contemporary philosophies. As I have already noted, philosophy must obey its own rules and be based upon its own principles; truth, however, can only be one. The content of Revelation can never debase the discoveries and legitimate autonomy of reason. Yet, conscious that it cannot set itself up as an absolute and exclusive value, reason on its part must never lose its capacity to question and to be questioned. By virtue of the splendour emanating from subsistent Being itself, revealed truth offers the fullness of light and will therefore illumine the path of philosophical enquiry. In short, Christian Revelation becomes the true point of encounter and engagement between philosophical and theological thinking in their reciprocal relationship. It is to be hoped therefore that theologians and philosophers will let themselves be guided by the authority of truth alone so that there will emerge a philosophy consonant with the word of God. Such a philosophy will be a place where Christian faith and human cultures may meet, a point of understanding between believer and non-believer. It will help lead believers to a stronger conviction that faith grows deeper and more authentic when it is wedded to thought and does not reject it. It is again the Fathers who teach us this: “To believe is nothing other than to think with assent... Believers are also thinkers: in believing, they think and in thinking, they believe... If faith does not think, it is nothing”. And again: “If there is no assent, there is no faith, for without assent one does not really believe”.
[L] In Sacred Scripture are found elements, both implicit and explicit, which allow a vision of the human being and the world which has exceptional philosophical density. Christians have come to an ever deeper awareness of the wealth to be found in the sacred text. It is there that we learn that what we experience is not absolute: it is neither uncreated nor self-generating. God alone is the Absolute. From the Bible there emerges also a vision of man as imago Dei. This vision offers indications regarding man's life, his freedom and the immortality of the human spirit. Since the created world is not self-sufficient, every illusion of autonomy which would deny the essential dependence on God of every creature -- the human being included -- leads to dramatic situations which subvert the rational search for the harmony and the meaning of human life.
[L] The problem of moral evil -- the most tragic of evil's forms -- is also addressed in the Bible, which tells us that such evil stems not from any material deficiency, but is a wound inflicted by the disordered exercise of human freedom. In the end, the word of God poses the problem of the meaning of life and proffers its response in directing the human being to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who is the perfect realization of human existence. A reading of the sacred text would reveal other aspects of this problem; but what emerges clearly is the rejection of all forms of relativism, materialism and pantheism.
[L] The fundamental conviction of the “philosophy” found in the Bible is that the world and human life do have a meaning and look towards their fulfilment, which comes in Jesus Christ. The mystery of the Incarnation will always remain the central point of reference for an understanding of the enigma of human existence, the created world and God himself. The challenge of this mystery pushes philosophy to its limits, as reason is summoned to make its own a logic which brings down the walls within which it risks being confined. Yet only at this point does the meaning of life reach its defining moment. The intimate essence of God and of the human being become intelligible: in the mystery of the Incarnate Word, human nature and divine nature are safeguarded in all their autonomy, and at the same time the unique bond which sets them together in mutuality without confusion of any kind is revealed.
[L] One of the most significant aspects of our current situation, it should be noted, is the “crisis of meaning”. Perspectives on life and the world, often of a scientific temper, have so proliferated that we face an increasing fragmentation of knowledge. This makes the search for meaning difficult and often fruitless. Indeed, still more dramatically, in this maelstrom of data and facts in which we live and which seem to comprise the very fabric of life, many people wonder whether it still makes sense to ask about meaning. The array of theories which vie to give an answer, and the different ways of viewing and of interpreting the world and human life, serve only to aggravate this radical doubt, which can easily lead to scepticism, indifference or to various forms of nihilism.
[L] In consequence, the human spirit is often invaded by a kind of ambiguous thinking which leads it to an ever deepening introversion, locked within the confines of its own immanence without reference of any kind to the transcendent. A philosophy which no longer asks the question of the meaning of life would be in grave danger of reducing reason to merely accessory functions, with no real passion for the search for truth.
[L] To be consonant with the word of God, philosophy needs first of all to recover its sapiential dimension as a search for the ultimate and overarching meaning of life. This first requirement is in fact most helpful in stimulating philosophy to conform to its proper nature. In doing so, it will be not only the decisive critical factor which determines the foundations and limits of the different fields of scientific learning, but will also take its place as the ultimate framework of the unity of human knowledge and action, leading them to converge towards a final goal and meaning. This sapiential dimension is all the more necessary today, because the immense expansion of humanity's technical capability demands a renewed and sharpened sense of ultimate values. If this technology is not ordered to something greater than a merely utilitarian end, then it could soon prove inhuman and even become potential destroyer of the human race.
[L] The word of God reveals the final destiny of men and women and provides a unifying explanation of all that they do in the world. This is why it invites philosophy to engage in the search for the natural foundation of this meaning, which corresponds to the religious impulse innate in every person. A philosophy denying the possibility of an ultimate and overarching meaning would be not only ill-adapted to its task, but false.
[L] Yet this sapiential function could not be performed by a philosophy which was not itself a true and authentic knowledge, addressed, that is, not only to particular and subordinate aspects of reality -- functional, formal or utilitarian -- but to its total and definitive truth, to the very being of the object which is known. This prompts a second requirement: that philosophy verify the human capacity to know the truth, to come to a knowledge which can reach objective truth by means of that adaequatio rei et intellectus to which the Scholastic Doctors referred. This requirement, proper to faith, was explicitly reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council: “Intelligence is not confined to observable data alone. It can with genuine certitude attain to reality itself as knowable, though in consequence of sin that certitude is partially obscured and weakened”. 
[L] A radically phenomenalist or relativist philosophy would be ill-adapted to help in the deeper exploration of the riches found in the word of God. Sacred Scripture always assumes that the individual, even if guilty of duplicity and mendacity, can know and grasp the clear and simple truth. The Bible, and the New Testament in particular, contains texts and statements which have a genuinely ontological content. The inspired authors intended to formulate true statements, capable, that is, of expressing objective reality. It cannot be said that the Catholic tradition erred when it took certain texts of Saint John and Saint Paul to be statements about the very being of Christ. In seeking to understand and explain these statements, theology needs therefore the contribution of a philosophy which does not disavow the possibility of a knowledge which is objectively true, even if not perfect. This applies equally to the judgements of moral conscience, which Sacred Scripture considers capable of being objectively true. 
[L] The two requirements already stipulated imply a third: the need for a philosophy of genuinely metaphysical range, capable, that is, of transcending empirical data in order to attain something absolute, ultimate and foundational in its search for truth. This requirement is implicit in sapiential and analytical knowledge alike; and in particular it is a requirement for knowing the moral good, which has its ultimate foundation in the Supreme Good, God himself. Here I do not mean to speak of metaphysics in the sense of a specific school or a particular historical current of thought. I want only to state that reality and truth do transcend the factual and the empirical, and to vindicate the human being's capacity to know this transcendent and metaphysical dimension in a way that is true and certain, albeit imperfect and analogical. In this sense, metaphysics should not be seen as an alternative to anthropology, since it is metaphysics which makes it possible to ground the concept of personal dignity in virtue of their spiritual nature. In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry.
[L] Wherever men and women discover a call to the absolute and transcendent, the metaphysical dimension of reality opens up before them: in truth, in beauty, in moral values, in other persons, in being itself, in God. We face a great challenge at the end of this millennium to move from phenomenon to foundation, a step as necessary as it is urgent. We cannot stop short at experience alone; even if experience does reveal the human being's interiority and spirituality, speculative thinking must penetrate to the spiritual core and the ground from which it rises. Therefore, a philosophy which shuns metaphysics would be radically unsuited to the task of mediation in the understanding of Revelation.
[L] The word of God refers constantly to things which transcend human experience and even human thought; but this “mystery” could not be revealed, nor could theology render it in some way intelligible,  were human knowledge limited strictly to the world of sense experience. Metaphysics thus plays an essential role of mediation in theological research. A theology without a metaphysical horizon could not move beyond an analysis of religious experience, nor would it allow the intellectus fidei to give a coherent account of the universal and transcendent value of revealed truth.
[L] If I insist so strongly on the metaphysical element, it is because I am convinced that it is the path to be taken in order to move beyond the crisis pervading large sectors of philosophy at the moment, and thus to correct certain mistaken modes of behaviour now widespread in our society.
[L] The importance of metaphysics becomes still more evident if we consider current developments in hermeneutics and the analysis of language. The results of such studies can be very helpful for the understanding of faith, since they bring to light the structure of our thought and speech and the meaning which language bears. However, some scholars working in these fields tend to stop short at the question of how reality is understood and expressed, without going further to see whether reason can discover its essence. How can we fail to see in such a frame of mind the confirmation of our present crisis of confidence in the powers of reason? When, on the basis of preconceived assumptions, these positions tend to obscure the contents of faith or to deny their universal validity, then not only do they abase reason but in so doing they also disqualify themselves. Faith clearly presupposes that human language is capable of expressing divine and transcendent reality in a universal way -- analogically, it is true, but no less meaningfully for that.  Were this not so, the word of God, which is always a divine word in human language, would not be capable of saying anything about God. The interpretation of this word cannot merely keep referring us to one interpretation after another, without ever leading us to a statement which is simply true; otherwise there would be no Revelation of God, but only the expression of human notions about God and about what God presumably thinks of us.
[L] I am well aware that these requirements which the word of God imposes upon philosophy may seem daunting to many people involved in philosophical research today. Yet this is why, taking up what has been taught repeatedly by the Popes for several generations and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council itself, I wish to reaffirm strongly the conviction that the human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge. This is one of the tasks which Christian thought will have to take up through the next millennium of the Christian era. The segmentation of knowledge, with its splintered approach to truth and consequent fragmentation of meaning, keeps people today from coming to an interior unity. How could the Church not be concerned by this? It is the Gospel which imposes this sapiential task directly upon her Pastors, and they cannot shrink from their duty to undertake it.
[L] I believe that those philosophers who wish to respond today to the demands which the word of God makes on human thinking should develop their thought on the basis of these postulates and in organic continuity with the great tradition which, beginning with the ancients, passes through the Fathers of the Church and the masters of Scholasticism and includes the fundamental achievements of modern and contemporary thought. If philosophers can take their place within this tradition and draw their inspiration from it, they will certainly not fail to respect philosophy's demand for autonomy.
[L] In the present situation, therefore, it is most significant that some philosophers are promoting a recovery of the determining role of this tradition for a right approach to knowledge. The appeal to tradition is not a mere remembrance of the past; it involves rather the recognition of a cultural heritage which belongs to all of humanity. Indeed it may be said that it is we who belong to the tradition and that it is not ours to dispose of at will. Precisely by being rooted in the tradition will we be able today to develop for the future an original, new and constructive mode of thinking. This same appeal is all the more valid for theology. Not only because theology has the living Tradition of the Church as its original source,  but also because, in virtue of this, it must be able to recover both the profound theological tradition of earlier times and the enduring tradition of that philosophy which by dint of its authentic wisdom can transcend the boundaries of space and time.
[L] This insistence on the need for a close relationship of continuity between contemporary philosophy and the philosophy developed in the Christian tradition is intended to avert the danger which lies hidden in some currents of thought which are especially prevalent today. It is appropriate, I think, to review them, however briefly, in order to point out their errors and the consequent risks for philosophical work.
[L] The first goes by the name of eclecticism, by which is meant the approach of those who, in research, teaching and argumentation, even in theology, tend to use individual ideas drawn from different philosophies, without concern for their internal coherence, their place within a system or their historical context. They therefore run the risk of being unable to distinguish the part of truth of a given doctrine from elements of it which may be erroneous or ill-suited to the task at hand. An extreme form of eclecticism appears also in the rhetorical misuse of philosophical terms to which some theologians are given at times. Such manipulation does not help the search for truth and does not train reason -- whether theological or philosophical -- to formulate arguments seriously and scientifically. The rigorous and far-reaching study of philosophical doctrines, their particular terminology and the context in which they arose, helps to overcome the danger of eclecticism and makes it possible to integrate them into theological discourse in a way appropriate to the task.
[L] Eclecticism is an error of method, but lying hidden within it can also be the claims of historicism. To understand a doctrine from the past correctly, it is necessary to set it within its proper historical and cultural context. The fundamental claim of historicism, however, is that the truth of a philosophy is determined on the basis of its appropriateness to a certain period and a certain historical purpose. At least implicitly, therefore, the enduring validity of truth is denied. What was true in one period, historicists claim, may not be true in another. Thus for them the history of thought becomes little more than an archeological resource useful for illustrating positions once held, but for the most part outmoded and meaningless now. On the contrary, it should not be forgotten that, even if a formulation is bound in some way by time and culture, the truth or the error which it expresses can invariably be identified and evaluated as such despite the distance of space and time.
[L] In theological enquiry, historicism tends to appear for the most part under the guise of “modernism”. Rightly concerned to make theological discourse relevant and understandable to our time, some theologians use only the most recent opinions and philosophical language, ignoring the critical evaluation which ought to be made of them in the light of the tradition. By exchanging relevance for truth, this form of modernism shows itself incapable of satisfying the demands of truth to which theology is called to respond.
[L] Another threat to be reckoned with is scientism. This is the philosophical notion which refuses to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences; and it relegates religious, theological, ethical and aesthetic knowledge to the realm of mere fantasy. In the past, the same idea emerged in positivism and neo-positivism, which considered metaphysical statements to be meaningless. Critical epistemology has discredited such a claim, but now we see it revived in the new guise of scientism, which dismisses values as mere products of the emotions and rejects the notion of being in order to clear the way for pure and simple facticity. Science would thus be poised to dominate all aspects of human life through technological progress. The undeniable triumphs of scientific research and contemporary technology have helped to propagate a scientistic outlook, which now seems boundless, given its inroads into different cultures and the radical changes it has brought.
[L] Regrettably, it must be noted, scientism consigns all that has to do with the question of the meaning of life to the realm of the irrational or imaginary. No less disappointing is the way in which it approaches the other great problems of philosophy which, if they are not ignored, are subjected to analyses based on superficial analogies, lacking all rational foundation. This leads to the impoverishment of human thought, which no longer addresses the ultimate problems which the human being, as the animal rationale, has pondered constantly from the beginning of time. And since it leaves no space for the critique offered by ethical judgement, the scientistic mentality has succeeded in leading many to think that if something is technically possible it is therefore morally admissible.
[L] No less dangerous is pragmatism, an attitude of mind which, in making its choices, precludes theoretical considerations or judgements based on ethical principles. The practical consequences of this mode of thinking are significant. In particular there is growing support for a concept of democracy which is not grounded upon any reference to unchanging values: whether or not a line of action is admissible is decided by the vote of a parliamentary majority.  The consequences of this are clear: in practice, the great moral decisions of humanity are subordinated to decisions taken one after another by institutional agencies. Moreover, anthropology itself is severely compromised by a one-dimensional vision of the human being, a vision which excludes the great ethical dilemmas and the existential analyses of the meaning of suffering and sacrifice, of life and death.
[L] The positions we have examined lead in turn to a more general conception which appears today as the common framework of many philosophies which have rejected the meaningfulness of being. I am referring to the nihilist interpretation, which is at once the denial of all foundations and the negation of all objective truth. Quite apart from the fact that it conflicts with the demands and the content of the word of God, nihilism is a denial of the humanity and of the very identity of the human being. It should never be forgotten that the neglect of being inevitably leads to losing touch with objective truth and therefore with the very ground of human dignity. This in turn makes it possible to erase from the countenance of man and woman the marks of their likeness to God, and thus to lead them little by little either to a destructive will to power or to a solitude without hope. Once the truth is denied to human beings, it is pure illusion to try to set them free. Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery. 
[L] In discussing these currents of thought, it has not been my intention to present a complete picture of the present state of philosophy, which would, in any case, be difficult to reduce to a unified vision. And I certainly wish to stress that our heritage of knowledge and wisdom has indeed been enriched in different fields. We need only cite logic, the philosophy of language, epistemology, the philosophy of nature, anthropology, the more penetrating analysis of the affective dimensions of knowledge and the existential approach to the analysis of freedom. Since the last century, however, the affirmation of the principle of immanence, central to the rationalist argument, has provoked a radical requestioning of claims once thought indisputable. In response, currents of irrationalism arose, even as the baselessness of the demand that reason be absolutely self-grounded was being critically demonstrated.
[L] Our age has been termed by some thinkers the age of “postmodernity”. Often used in very different contexts, the term designates the emergence of a complex of new factors which, widespread and powerful as they are, have shown themselves able to produce important and lasting changes. The term was first used with reference to aesthetic, social and technological phenomena. It was then transposed into the philosophical field, but has remained somewhat ambiguous, both because judgement on what is called “postmodern” is sometimes positive and sometimes negative, and because there is as yet no consensus on the delicate question of the demarcation of the different historical periods. One thing however is certain: the currents of thought which claim to be postmodern merit appropriate attention. According to some of them, the time of certainties is irrevocably past, and the human being must now learn to live in a horizon of total absence of meaning, where everything is provisional and ephemeral. In their destructive critique of every certitude, several authors have failed to make crucial distinctions and have called into question the certitudes of faith.
[L] This nihilism has been justified in a sense by the terrible experience of evil which has marked our age. Such a dramatic experience has ensured the collapse of rationalist optimism, which viewed history as the triumphant progress of reason, the source of all happiness and freedom; and now, at the end of this century, one of our greatest threats is the temptation to despair.
[L] Even so, it remains true that a certain positivist cast of mind continues to nurture the illusion that, thanks to scientific and technical progress, man and woman may live as a demiurge, single-handedly and completely taking charge of their destiny.
[L] As an understanding of Revelation, theology has always had to respond in different historical moments to the demands of different cultures, in order then to mediate the content of faith to those cultures in a coherent and conceptually clear way. Today, too, theology faces a dual task. On the one hand, it must be increasingly committed to the task entrusted to it by the Second Vatican Council, the task of renewing its specific methods in order to serve evangelization more effectively. How can we fail to recall in this regard the words of Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Council? He said then: “In line with the keen expectation of those who sincerely love the Christian, Catholic and apostolic religion, this doctrine must be known more widely and deeply, and souls must be instructed and formed in it more completely; and this certain and unchangeable doctrine, always to be faithfully respected, must be understood more profoundly and presented in a way which meets the needs of our time”. 
[L] On the other hand, theology must look to the ultimate truth which Revelation entrusts to it, never content to stop short of that goal. Theologians should remember that their work corresponds “to a dynamism found in the faith itself” and that the proper object of their enquiry is “the Truth which is the living God and his plan for salvation revealed in Jesus Christ”.  This task, which is theology's prime concern, challenges philosophy as well. The array of problems which today need to be tackled demands a joint effort -- approached, it is true, with different methods -- so that the truth may once again be known and expressed. The Truth, which is Christ, imposes itself as an all-embracing authority which holds out to theology and philosophy alike the prospect of support, stimulation and increase (cf. Eph 4:15).
[L] To believe it possible to know a universally valid truth is in no way to encourage intolerance; on the contrary, it is the essential condition for sincere and authentic dialogue between persons. On this basis alone is it possible to overcome divisions and to journey together towards full truth, walking those paths known only to the Spirit of the Risen Lord.  I wish at this point to indicate the specific form which the call to unity now takes, given the current tasks of theology.
[L] The chief purpose of theology is to provide an understanding of Revelation and the content of faith. The very heart of theological enquiry will thus be the contemplation of the mystery of the Triune God. The approach to this mystery begins with reflection upon the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God: his coming as man, his going to his Passion and Death, a mystery issuing into his glorious Resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father, whence he would send the Spirit of truth to bring his Church to birth and give her growth. From this vantage-point, the prime commitment of theology is seen to be the understanding of God's kenosis, a grand and mysterious truth for the human mind, which finds it inconceivable that suffering and death can express a love which gives itself and seeks nothing in return. In this light, a careful analysis of texts emerges as a basic and urgent need: first the texts of Scripture, and then those which express the Church's living Tradition. On this score, some problems have emerged in recent times, problems which are only partially new; and a coherent solution to them will not be found without philosophy's contribution.
[L] An initial problem is that of the relationship between meaning and truth. Like every other text, the sources which the theologian interprets primarily transmit a meaning which needs to be grasped and explained. This meaning presents itself as the truth about God which God himself communicates through the sacred text. Human language thus embodies the language of God, who communicates his own truth with that wonderful “condescension” which mirrors the logic of the Incarnation.  In interpreting the sources of Revelation, then, the theologian needs to ask what is the deep and authentic truth which the texts wish to communicate, even within the limits of language.
[L] The truth of the biblical texts, and of the Gospels in particular, is certainly not restricted to the narration of simple historical events or the statement of neutral facts, as historicist positivism would claim.  Beyond simple historical occurrence, the truth of the events which these texts relate lies rather in the meaning they have in and for the history of salvation. This truth is elaborated fully in the Church's constant reading of these texts over the centuries, a reading which preserves intact their original meaning. There is a pressing need, therefore, that the relationship between fact and meaning, a relationship which constitutes the specific sense of history, be examined also from the philosophical point of view.
[L] The word of God is not addressed to any one people or to any one period of history. Similarly, dogmatic statements, while reflecting at times the culture of the period in which they were defined, formulate an unchanging and ultimate truth. This prompts the question of how one can reconcile the absoluteness and the universality of truth with the unavoidable historical and cultural conditioning of the formulas which express that truth. The claims of historicism, I noted earlier, are untenable; but the use of a hermeneutic open to the appeal of metaphysics can show how it is possible to move from the historical and contingent circumstances in which the texts developed to the truth which they express, a truth transcending those circumstances.
[L] Human language may be conditioned by history and constricted in other ways, but the human being can still express truths which surpass the phenomenon of language. Truth can never be confined to time and culture; in history it is known, but it also reaches beyond history.
[L] To see this is to glimpse the solution of another problem: the problem of the enduring validity of the conceptual language used in Conciliar definitions. This is a question which my revered predecessor Pius XII addressed in his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis. 
[L] This is a complex theme to ponder, since one must reckon seriously with the meaning which words assume in different times and cultures. Nonetheless, the history of thought shows that across the range of cultures and their development certain basic concepts retain their universal epistemological value and thus retain the truth of the propositions in which they are expressed.  Were this not the case, philosophy and the sciences could not communicate with each other, nor could they find a place in cultures different from those in which they were conceived and developed. The hermeneutical problem exists, to be sure; but it is not insoluble. Moreover, the objective value of many concepts does not exclude that their meaning is often imperfect. This is where philosophical speculation can be very helpful. We may hope, then, that philosophy will be especially concerned to deepen the understanding of the relationship between conceptual language and truth, and to propose ways which will lead to a right understanding of that relationship.
[L] The interpretation of sources is a vital task for theology; but another still more delicate and demanding task is the understanding of revealed truth, or the articulation of the intellectus fidei. The intellectus fidei, as I have noted, demands the contribution of a philosophy of being which first of all would enable dogmatic theology to perform its functions appropriately. The dogmatic pragmatism of the early years of this century, which viewed the truths of faith as nothing more than rules of conduct, has already been refuted and rejected;  but the temptation always remains of understanding these truths in purely functional terms. This leads only to an approach which is inadequate, reductive and superficial at the level of speculation. A Christology, for example, which proceeded solely “from below”, as is said nowadays, or an ecclesiology developed solely on the model of civil society, would be hard pressed to avoid the danger of such reductionism.
[L] If the intellectus fidei wishes to integrate all the wealth of the theological tradition, it must turn to the philosophy of being, which should be able to propose anew the problem of being -- and this in harmony with the demands and insights of the entire philosophical tradition, including philosophy of more recent times, without lapsing into sterile repetition of antiquated formulas. Set within the Christian metaphysical tradition, the philosophy of being is a dynamic philosophy which views reality in its ontological, causal and communicative structures. It is strong and enduring because it is based upon the very act of being itself, which allows a full and comprehensive openness to reality as a whole, surpassing every limit in order to reach the One who brings all things to fulfilment.  In theology, which draws its principles from Revelation as a new source of knowledge, this perspective is confirmed by the intimate relationship which exists between faith and metaphysical reasoning.
[L] These considerations apply equally to moral theology. It is no less urgent that philosophy be recovered at the point where the understanding of faith is linked to the moral life of believers. Faced with contemporary challenges in the social, economic, political and scientific fields, the ethical conscience of people is disoriented. In the Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, I wrote that many of the problems of the contemporary world stem from a crisis of truth. I noted that “once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its prime reality as an act of a person's intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now. Instead, there is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly. Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth different from the truth of others”. 
[L] Throughout the Encyclical I underscored clearly the fundamental role of truth in the moral field. In the case of the more pressing ethical problems, this truth demands of moral theology a careful enquiry rooted unambiguously in the word of God. In order to fulfil its mission, moral theology must turn to a philosophical ethics which looks to the truth of the good, to an ethics which is neither subjectivist nor utilitarian. Such an ethics implies and presupposes a philosophical anthropology and a metaphysics of the good. Drawing on this organic vision, linked necessarily to Christian holiness and to the practice of the human and supernatural virtues, moral theology will be able to tackle the various problems in its competence, such as peace, social justice, the family, the defence of life and the natural environment, in a more appropriate and effective way.
[L] Theological work in the Church is first of all at the service of the proclamation of the faith and of catechesis.  Proclamation or kerygma is a call to conversion, announcing the truth of Christ, which reaches its summit in his Paschal Mystery: for only in Christ is it possible to know the fullness of the truth which saves (cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Tm 2:4-6).
[L] In this respect, it is easy to see why, in addition to theology, reference to catechesis is also important, since catechesis has philosophical implications which must be explored more deeply in the light of faith. The teaching imparted in catechesis helps to form the person. As a mode of linguistic communication, catechesis must present the Church's doctrine in its integrity,  demonstrating its link with the life of the faithful.  The result is a unique bond between teaching and living which is otherwise unattainable, since what is communicated in catechesis is not a body of conceptual truths, but the mystery of the living God. 
[L] Philosophical enquiry can help greatly to clarify the relationship between truth and life, between event and doctrinal truth, and above all between transcendent truth and humanly comprehensible language.  This involves a reciprocity between the theological disciplines and the insights drawn from the various strands of philosophy; and such a reciprocity can prove genuinely fruitful for the communication and deeper understanding of the faith.
[L] More than a hundred years after the appearance of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Æterni Patris, to which I have often referred in these pages, I have sensed the need to revisit in a more systematic way the issue of the relationship between faith and philosophy. The importance of philosophical thought in the development of culture and its influence on patterns of personal and social behaviour is there for all to see. In addition, philosophy exercises a powerful, though not always obvious, influence on theology and its disciplines. For these reasons, I have judged it appropriate and necessary to emphasize the value of philosophy for the understanding of the faith, as well as the limits which philosophy faces when it neglects or rejects the truths of Revelation. The Church remains profoundly convinced that faith and reason “mutually support each other”;  each influences the other, as they offer to each other a purifying critique and a stimulus to pursue the search for deeper understanding.
[L] A survey of the history of thought, especially in the West, shows clearly that the encounter between philosophy and theology and the exchange of their respective insights have contributed richly to the progress of humanity. Endowed as it is with an openness and originality which allow it to stand as the science of faith, theology has certainly challenged reason to remain open to the radical newness found in God's Revelation; and this has been an undoubted boon for philosophy which has thus glimpsed new vistas of further meanings which reason is summoned to penetrate.
[L] Precisely in the light of this consideration, and just as I have reaffirmed theology's duty to recover its true relationship with philosophy, I feel equally bound to stress how right it is that, for the benefit and development of human thought, philosophy too should recover its relationship with theology. In theology, philosophy will find not the thinking of a single person which, however rich and profound, still entails the limited perspective of an individual, but the wealth of a communal reflection. For by its very nature, theology is sustained in the search for truth by its ecclesial context  and by the tradition of the People of God, with its harmony of many different fields of learning and culture within the unity of faith.
[L] Insisting on the importance and true range of philosophical thought, the Church promotes both the defence of human dignity and the proclamation of the Gospel message. There is today no more urgent preparation for the performance of these tasks than this: to lead people to discover both their capacity to know the truth  and their yearning for the ultimate and definitive meaning of life. In the light of these profound needs, inscribed by God in human nature, the human and humanizing meaning of God's word also emerges more clearly. Through the mediation of a philosophy which is also true wisdom, people today will come to realize that their humanity is all the more affirmed the more they entrust themselves to the Gospel and open themselves to Christ.
[L] Philosophy moreover is the mirror which reflects the culture of a people. A philosophy which responds to the challenge of theology's demands and evolves in harmony with faith is part of that “evangelization of culture” which Paul VI proposed as one of the fundamental goals of evangelization. 
[L] I have unstintingly recalled the pressing need for a new evangelization; and I appeal now to philosophers to explore more comprehensively the dimensions of the true, the good and the beautiful to which the word of God gives access. This task becomes all the more urgent if we consider the challenges which the new millennium seems to entail, and which affect in a particular way regions and cultures which have a long-standing Christian tradition. This attention to philosophy too should be seen as a fundamental and original contribution in service of the new evangelization.
[L] Philosophical thought is often the only ground for understanding and dialogue with those who do not share our faith. The current ferment in philosophy demands of believing philosophers an attentive and competent commitment, able to discern the expectations, the points of openness and the key issues of this historical moment. Reflecting in the light of reason and in keeping with its rules, and guided always by the deeper understanding given them by the word of God, Christian philosophers can develop a reflection which will be both comprehensible and appealing to those who do not yet grasp the full truth which divine Revelation declares. Such a ground for understanding and dialogue is all the more vital nowadays, since the most pressing issues facing humanity -- ecology, peace and the co-existence of different races and cultures, for instance -- may possibly find a solution if there is a clear and honest collaboration between Christians and the followers of other religions and all those who, while not sharing a religious belief, have at heart the renewal of humanity. The Second Vatican Council said as much: “For our part, the desire for such dialogue, undertaken solely out of love for the truth and with all due prudence, excludes no one, neither those who cultivate the values of the human spirit while not yet acknowledging their Source, nor those who are hostile to the Church and persecute her in various ways”.  A philosophy in which there shines even a glimmer of the truth of Christ, the one definitive answer to humanity's problems,  will provide a potent underpinning for the true and planetary ethics which the world now needs.
[L] In concluding this Encyclical Letter, my thoughts turn particularly to theologians, encouraging them to pay special attention to the philosophical implications of the word of God and to be sure to reflect in their work all the speculative and practical breadth of the science of theology. I wish to thank them for their service to the Church. The intimate bond between theological and philosophical wisdom is one of the Christian tradition's most distinctive treasures in the exploration of revealed truth. This is why I urge them to recover and express to the full the metaphysical dimension of truth in order to enter into a demanding critical dialogue with both contemporary philosophical thought and with the philosophical tradition in all its aspects, whether consonant with the word of God or not. Let theologians always remember the words of that great master of thought and spirituality, Saint Bonaventure, who in introducing his Itinerarium Mentis in Deum invites the reader to recognize the inadequacy of “reading without repentance, knowledge without devotion, research without the impulse of wonder, prudence without the ability to surrender to joy, action divorced from religion, learning sundered from love, intelligence without humility, study unsustained by divine grace, thought without the wisdom inspired by God”. 
[L] I am thinking too of those responsible for priestly formation, whether academic or pastoral. I encourage them to pay special attention to the philosophical preparation of those who will proclaim the Gospel to the men and women of today and, even more, of those who will devote themselves to theological research and teaching. They must make every effort to carry out their work in the light of the directives laid down by the Second Vatican Council  and subsequent legislation, which speak clearly of the urgent and binding obligation, incumbent on all, to contribute to a genuine and profound communication of the truths of the faith. The grave responsibility to provide for the appropriate training of those charged with teaching philosophy both in seminaries and ecclesiastical faculties must not be neglected.  Teaching in this field necessarily entails a suitable scholarly preparation, a systematic presentation of the great heritage of the Christian tradition and due discernment in the light of the current needs of the Church and the world.
[L] I appeal also to philosophers, and to all teachers of philosophy, asking them to have the courage to recover, in the flow of an enduringly valid philosophical tradition, the range of authentic wisdom and truth -- metaphysical truth included -- which is proper to philosophical enquiry. They should be open to the impelling questions which arise from the word of God and they should be strong enough to shape their thought and discussion in response to that challenge. Let them always strive for truth, alert to the good which truth contains. Then they will be able to formulate the genuine ethics which humanity needs so urgently at this particular time. The Church follows the work of philosophers with interest and appreciation; and they should rest assured of her respect for the rightful autonomy of their discipline. I would want especially to encourage believers working in the philosophical field to illumine the range of human activity by the exercise of a reason which grows more penetrating and assured because of the support it receives from faith.
[L] Finally, I cannot fail to address a word to scientists, whose research offers an ever greater knowledge of the universe as a whole and of the incredibly rich array of its component parts, animate and inanimate, with their complex atomic and molecular structures. So far has science come, especially in this century, that its achievements never cease to amaze us. In expressing my admiration and in offering encouragement to these brave pioneers of scientific research, to whom humanity owes so much of its current development, I would urge them to continue their efforts without ever abandoning the sapiential horizon within which scientific and technological achievements are wedded to the philosophical and ethical values which are the distinctive and indelible mark of the human person. Scientists are well aware that “the search for truth, even when it concerns a finite reality of the world or of man, is never-ending, but always points beyond to something higher than the immediate object of study, to the questions which give access to Mystery”. 
[L] I ask everyone to look more deeply at man, whom Christ has saved in the mystery of his love, and at the human being's unceasing search for truth and meaning. Different philosophical systems have lured people into believing that they are their own absolute master, able to decide their own destiny and future in complete autonomy, trusting only in themselves and their own powers. But this can never be the grandeur of the human being, who can find fulfilment only in choosing to enter the truth, to make a home under the shade of Wisdom and dwell there. Only within this horizon of truth will people understand their freedom in its fullness and their call to know and love God as the supreme realization of their true self.
[L] I turn in the end to the woman whom the prayer of the Church invokes as Seat of Wisdom, and whose life itself is a true parable illuminating the reflection contained in these pages. For between the vocation of the Blessed Virgin and the vocation of true philosophy there is a deep harmony. Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as human being and as woman that God's Word might take flesh and come among us, so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology, as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative. And just as in giving her assent to Gabriel's word, Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom, so too when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel's truth its autonomy is in no way impaired. Indeed, it is then that philosophy sees all its enquiries rise to their highest expression. This was a truth which the holy monks of Christian antiquity understood well when they called Mary “the table at which faith sits in thought”.  In her they saw a lucid image of true philosophy and they were convinced of the need to philosophari in Maria.
[L] May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 14 September, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, in the year 1998, the twentieth of my Pontificate.
JOHN PAUL II
 In my first Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, I wrote: “We have become sharers in this mission of the prophet Christ, and in virtue of that mission we together with him are serving divine truth in the Church. Being responsible for that truth also means loving it and seeking the most exact understanding of it, in order to bring it closer to ourselves and others in all its saving power, its splendour and its profundity joined with simplicity”: No. 19: AAS 71 (1979), 306.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 16.
 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 25.
 No. 4: AAS 85 (1993), 1136.
 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 2.
 Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, III: DS 3008.
 Ibid., IV: DS 3015; quoted also in Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 59.
 Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 2.
 Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (10 November 1994), 10: AAS 87 (1995), 11.
 No. 4.
 No. 8.
 No. 22.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 4.
 Ibid., 5.
 The First Vatican Council, to which the quotation above refers, teaches that the obedience of faith requires the engagement of the intellect and the will: “Since human beings are totally dependent on God as their creator and Lord, and created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are obliged to yield through faith to God the revealer full submission of intellect and will” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, III: DS 3008).
 Sequence for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
 Pensées, 789 (ed. L. Brunschvicg).
 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 22.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 2.
 Proemium and Nos. 1, 15: PL 158, 223-224; 226; 235.
 De Vera Religione, XXXIX, 72: CCL 32, 234.
 “Ut te semper desiderando quaererent et inveniendo quiescerent”: Missale Romanum.
 Aristotle, Metaphysics, I, 1.
 Confessions, X, 23, 33: CCL 27, 173.
 No. 34: AAS 85 (1993), 1161.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris (11 February 1984), 9: AAS 76 (1984), 209-210.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on the Relations of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, 2.
 This is a theme which I have long pursued and which I have addressed on a number of occasions. “ 'What is man and of what use is he? What is good in him and what is evil?' (Sir 18:8)... These are questions in every human heart, as the poetic genius of every time and every people has shown, posing again and again -- almost as the prophetic voice of humanity -- the serious question which makes human beings truly what they are. They are questions which express the urgency of finding a reason for existence, in every moment, at life's most important and decisive times as well as more ordinary times. These questions show the deep reasonableness of human existence, since they summon human intelligence and will to search freely for a solution which can reveal the full meaning of life. These enquiries, therefore, are the highest expression of human nature; which is why the answer to them is the gauge of the depth of his engagement with his own existence. In particular, when the why of things is explored in full harmony with the search for the ultimate answer, then human reason reaches its zenith and opens to the religious impulse. The religious impulse is the highest expression of the human person, because it is the highpoint of his rational nature. It springs from the profound human aspiration for the truth and it is the basis of the human being's free and personal search for the divine”: General Audience (19 October 1983), 1-2: Insegnamenti VI, 2 (1983), 814-815.
 “[Galileo] declared explicitly that the two truths, of faith and of science, can never contradict each other, 'Sacred Scripture and the natural world proceeding equally from the divine Word, the first as dictated by the Holy Spirit, the second as a very faithful executor of the commands of God', as he wrote in his letter to Father Benedetto Castelli on 21 December 1613. The Second Vatican Council says the same thing, even adopting similar language in its teaching: 'Methodical research, in all realms of knowledge, if it respects... moral norms, will never be genuinely opposed to faith: the reality of the world and of faith have their origin in the same God' (Gaudium et Spes, 36). Galileo sensed in his scientific research the presence of the Creator who, stirring in the depths of his spirit, stimulated him, anticipating and assisting his intuitions”: John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (10 November 1979): Insegnamenti, II, 2 (1979), 1111-1112.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, 4.
 Origen, Contra Celsum, 3, 55: SC 136, 130.
 Dialogue with Trypho, 8, 1: PG 6, 492.
 Stromata I, 18, 90, 1: SC 30, 115.
 Cf. ibid., I, 16, 80, 5: SC 30, 108.
 Cf. ibid., I, 5, 28, 1: SC 30, 65.
 Ibid., VI, 7, 55, 1-2: PG 9, 277.
 Ibid., I, 20, 100, 1: SC 30, 124.
 Saint Augustine, Confessions, VI, 5, 7: CCL 27, 77-78.
 Cf. ibid., VII, 9, 13-14: CCL 27, 101-102.
 De Praescriptione Haereticorum, VII, 9: SC 46, 98: “Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? Quid academiae et ecclesiae?”.
 Cf. Congregation for Catholic Education, Instruction on the Study of the Fathers of the Church in Priestly Formation (10 November 1989), 25: AAS 82 (1990), 617-618.
 Saint Anselm, Proslogion, 1: PL 158, 226.
 Idem, Monologion, 64: PL 158, 210.
 Cf. Summa contra Gentiles, I, 7.
 Cf. Summa Theologiae, I, 1, 8 ad 2: “cum enim gratia non tollat naturam sed perficiat”.
 Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Participants at the IX International Thomistic Congress (29 September 1990): Insegnamenti, XIII, 2 (1990), 770-771.
 Apostolic Letter Lumen Ecclesiae (20 November 1974), 8: AAS 66 (1974), 680.
 Cf. I, 1, 6: “Praeterea, haec doctrina per studium acquiritur. Sapientia autem per infusionem habetur, unde inter septem dona Spiritus Sancti connumeratur”.
 Ibid., II-II, 45, 1 ad 2; cf. also II-II, 45, 2.
 Ibid., I-II, 109, 1 ad 1, which echoes the well known phrase of the Ambrosiaster, In Prima Cor 12:3: PL 17, 258.
 Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Æterni Patris (4 August 1879): ASS 11 (1878-79), 109.
 Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Lumen Ecclesiae (20 November 1974), 8: AAS 66 (1974), 683.
 Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 15: AAS 71 (1979), 286.
 Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566.
 Cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ Pastor Aeternus: DS 3070; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 25 c.
 Cf. Synod of Constantinople, DS 403.
 Cf. Council of Toledo I, DS 205; Council of Braga I, DS 459-460; Sixtus V, Bull Coeli et Terrae Creator (5 January 1586): Bullarium Romanum 4/4, Rome 1747, 176-179; Urban VIII, Inscrutabilis Iudiciorum (1 April 1631): Bullarium Romanum 6/1, Rome 1758, 268-270.
 Cf. Ecumenical Council of Vienne, Decree Fidei Catholicae, DS 902; Fifth Lateran Ecumenical Council, Bull Apostoli Regiminis, DS 1440.
 Cf. Theses a Ludovico Eugenio Bautain iussu sui Episcopi subscriptae (8 September 1840), DS 2751-2756; Theses a Ludovico Eugenio Bautain ex mandato S. Cong. Episcoporum et Religiosorum subscriptae (26 April 1844), DS 2765-2769.
 Cf. Sacred Congregation of the Index, Decree Theses contra Traditionalismum Augustini Bonnetty (11 June 1855), DS 2811-2814.
 Cf. Pius IX, Brief Eximiam Tuam (15 June 1857), DS 2828-2831; Brief Gravissimas Inter (11 December 1862), DS 2850-2861.
 Cf. Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, Decree Errores Ontologistarum (18 September 1861), DS 2841-2847.
 Cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, II: DS 3004; and Canon 2, 1: DS 3026.
 Ibid., IV: DS 3015, cited in Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 59.
 First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3017.
 Cf. Encyclical Letter Pascendi Dominici Gregis (8 September 1907): ASS 40 (1907), 596-597.
 Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris (19 March 1937): AAS 29 (1937), 65-106.
 Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 562-563.
 Ibid., loc. cit., 563-564.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus (28 June 1988), Arts. 48-49: AAS 80 (1988), 873; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian Donum Veritatis (24 May 1990), 18: AAS 82 (1990), 1558.
 Cf. Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” Libertatis Nuntius (6 August 1984), VII-X: AAS 76 (1984), 890-903.
 In language as clear as it is authoritative, the First Vatican Council condemned this error, affirming on the one hand that “as regards this faith..., the Catholic Church professes that it is a supernatural virtue by means of which, under divine inspiration and with the help of grace, we believe to be true the things revealed by God, not because of the intrinsic truth of the things perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who reveals them and who can neither deceive nor be deceived”: Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, III: DS 3008, and Canon 3, 2: DS 3032. On the other hand, the Council declared that reason is never “able to penetrate [these mysteries] as it does the truths which are its proper object”: ibid., IV: DS 3016. It then drew a practical conclusion: “The Christian faithful not only have no right to defend as legitimate scientific conclusions opinions which are contrary to the doctrine of the faith, particularly if condemned by the Church, but they are strictly obliged to regard them as errors which have no more than a fraudulent semblance of truth”: ibid., IV: DS 3018.
 Cf. Nos. 9-10.
 Ibid., 10.
 Ibid., 21.
 Cf. ibid., 10.
 Cf. Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 565-567; 571-573.
 Cf. Encyclical Letter Æterni Patris (4 August 1879): ASS 11 (1878-1879), 97-115.
 Ibid., loc. cit., 109.
 Cf. Nos. 14-15.
 Cf. ibid., 20-21.
 Ibid., 22; cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 8: AAS 71 (1979), 271-272.
 Decree on Priestly Formation Optatam Totius, 15.
 Cf. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (15 April 1979), Arts. 79-80: AAS 71 (1979), 495-496; Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (25 March 1992), 52: AAS 84 (1992), 750-751. Cf. also various remarks on the philosophy of Saint Thomas: Address to the International Pontifical Athenaeum “Angelicum” (17 November 1979): Insegnamenti II, 2 (1979), 1177-1189; Address to the Participants of the Eighth International Thomistic Congress (13 September 1980): Insegnamenti III, 2 (1980), 604-615; Address to the Participants at the International Congress of the Saint Thomas Society on the Doctrine of the Soul in Saint Thomas (4 January 1986): Insegnamenti IX, 1 (1986), 18-24. Also the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis (6 January 1970), 70-75: AAS 62 (1970), 366-368; Decree Sacra Theologia (20 January 1972): AAS 64 (1972), 583-586.
 Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 57; 62.
 Cf. ibid., 44.
 Cf. Fifth Lateran Ecumenical Council, Bull Apostolici Regimini Sollicitudo, Session VIII: Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, 1991, 605-606.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 10.
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, 5, 3 ad 2.
 “The search for the conditions in which man on his own initiative asks the first basic questions about the meaning of life, the purpose he wishes to give it and what awaits him after death constitutes the necessary preamble to fundamental theology, so that today too, faith can fully show the way to reason in a sincere search for the truth”: John Paul II, Letter to Participants in the International Congress of Fundamental Theology on the 125th Anniversary of “Dei Filius” (30 September 1995), 4: L'Osservatore Romano, 3 October 1995, 8.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 15; Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, 22.
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, De Caelo, 1, 22.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 53-59.
 Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 2, 5: PL 44, 963.
 Idem, De Fide, Spe et Caritate, 7: CCL 64, 61.
 Cf. Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, Symbolum, Definitio: DS 302.
 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 15: AAS 71 (1979), 286-289.
 Cf., for example, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 16, 1; Saint Bonaventure, Coll. In Hex., 3, 8, 1.
 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 15.
 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor (6 August 1993), 57-61: AAS 85 (1993), 1179-1182.
 Cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3016.
 Cf. Fourth Lateran Ecumenical Council, De Errore Abbatis Ioachim, II: DS 806.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 24; Decree on Priestly Formation Optatam Totius, 16.
 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (25 March 1995), 69: AAS 87 (1995), 481.
 In the same sense I commented in my first Encyclical Letter on the expression in the Gospel of Saint John, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (8:32): “These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world. Today also, even after two thousand years, we see Christ as the one who brings man freedom based on truth, frees man from what curtails, diminishes and as it were breaks off this freedom at its root, in man's soul, his heart and his conscience”: Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 12: AAS 71 (1979), 280-281.
 Address at the Opening of the Council (11 October 1962): AAS 54 ( 1962), 792.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian Donum Veritatis (24 May 1990), 7-8: AAS 82 (1990), 1552-1553.
 In the Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, commenting on Jn 16:12-13, I wrote: “Jesus presents the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, as the one who 'will teach' and 'bring to remembrance', as the one who 'will bear witness' to him. Now he says: 'he will guide you into all the truth'. This 'guiding into all the truth', referring to what the Apostles 'cannot bear now', is necessarily connected with Christ's self-emptying through his Passion and Death on the Cross, which, when he spoke these words, was just about to happen. Later however it becomes clear hat this 'guiding into all the truth' is connected not only with the scandalum Crucis, but also with everything that Christ 'did and taught' (Acts 1:1). For the mysterium Christi taken as a whole demands faith, since it is faith that adequately introduces man into the reality of the revealed mystery. The 'guiding into all the truth' is therefore achieved in faith and through faith: and this is the work of the Spirit of truth and the result of his action in man. Here the Holy Spirit is to be man's supreme guide and the light of the human spirit”: No. 6: AAS 78 (1986), 815-816.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 13.
 Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels (21 April 1964): AAS 56 (1964), 713.
 “It is clear that the Church cannot be tied to any and every passing philosophical system. Nevertheless, those notions and terms which have been developed though common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. They are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deduction, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been employed by the Ecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them”: Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566-567; cf. International Theological Commission, Document Interpretationis Problema (October 1989): Enchiridion Vaticanum 11, 2717-2811.
 “As for the meaning of dogmatic formulas, this remains ever true and constant in the Church, even when it is expressed with greater clarity or more developed. The faithful therefore must shun the opinion, first, that dogmatic formulas (or some category of them) cannot signify the truth in a determinate way, but can only offer changeable approximations to it, which to a certain extent distort or alter it”: Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration in Defence of the Catholic Doctrine on the Church Mysterium Ecclesiae (24 June 1973), 5: AAS 65 (1973), 403.
 Cf. Congregation of the Holy Office, Decree Lamentabili (3 July 1907), 26: ASS 40 (1907), 473.
 Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Athenaeum “Angelicum” (17 November 1979), 6: Insegnamenti, II, 2 (1979), 1183-1185.
 No. 32: AAS 85 (1993), 1159-1160.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (16 October 1979), 30: AAS 71 (1979), 1302-1303; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian Donum Veritatis (24 May 1990), 7: AAS 82 (1990), 1552-1553.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (16 October 1979), 30: AAS 71 (1979), 1302-1303.
 Cf. ibid., 22, loc. cit., 1295-1296.
 Cf. ibid., 7, loc. cit., 1282.
 Cf. ibid., 59, loc. cit., 1325.
 First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3019.
 “Nobody can make of theology as it were a simple collection of his own personal ideas, but everybody must be aware of being in close union with the mission of teaching truth for which the Church is responsible”: John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 19: AAS 71 (1979), 308.
 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae, 1-3.
 Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 20: AAS 68 (1976), 18-19.
 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 92.
 Cf. ibid., 10.
 Prologus, 4: Opera Omnia, Florence, 1891, vol. V, 296.
 Cf. Decree on Priestly Formation Optatam Totius, 15.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana (15 April 1979), Arts. 67-68: AAS 71 (1979), 491-492.
 John Paul II, Address to the University of Krakow for the 600th Anniversary of the Jagiellonian University (8 June 1997), 4: L'Osservatore Romano, 9-10 June 1997, 12.
 “He noera tes pisteos trapeza”: Pseudo-Epiphanius, Homily in Praise of Holy Mary Mother of God: PG 43, 493.
© Copyright 1998 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Each scripture citation is given first from Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio, Editio Typica Altera, then from The New American Bible, 2002.
 Ex 33,18: Qui ait: «Ostende mihi gloriam tuam».
 Ex 33,18: Then Moses said, "Do let me see your glory!"
 Ps 27,8-9: De te dixit cor meum: «Exquirite faciem meam!». Faciem tuam, Domine, exquiram. Ne avertas faciem tuam a me, ne declines in ira a servo tuo. Adiutor meus es tu, ne me reicias neque derelinquas me, Deus salutis meae.
 Ps 27,8-9: "Come," says my heart, "seek God's face"; your face, LORD, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!
 Ps 63,2-3: Deus, Deus meus es tu, ad te de luce vigilo. Sitivit in te anima mea, te desideravit caro mea. In terra deserta et arida et inaquosa, sic in sancto apparui tibi, ut viderem virtutem tuam et gloriam tuam.
 Ps 63,2-3: O God, you are my God - for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water. So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
 Io 14,8: Dicit ei Philippus: «Domine, ostende nobis Patrem, et sufficit nobis».
 Io 14,8: Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
 1 Io 3,2: Carissimi, nunc filii Dei sumus, et nondum manifestatum est quid erimus; scimus quoniam, cum ipse apparuerit, similes ei erimus, quoniam videbimus eum, sicuti est.
 1 Io 3,2: Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
 Io 14,6: Dicit ei Iesus: «Ego sum via et veritas et vita; nemo venit ad Patrem nisi per me. Si cognovistis me, et Patrem meum utique cognoscetis; et amodo cognoscitis eum et vidistis eum».
 Io 14,6: Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
 1 Cor 13,12: Videmus enim nunc per speculum in aenigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem; nunc cognosco ex parte, tunc autem cognoscam, sicut et cognitus sum.
 1 Cor 13,12: At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
 2 Cor 4,2: sed abdicavimus occulta dedecoris non ambulantes in astutia neque adulterantes verbum Dei, sed in manifestatione veritatis commendantes nosmetipsos ad omnem conscientiam hominum coram Deo.
 2 Cor 4,2: Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things; not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God, but by the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
 2 Cor 4,1-2: Ideo habentes hanc ministra tionem, iuxta quod misericor diam consecuti sumus, non deficimus, sed abdicavimus occulta dedecoris non ambulantes in astutia neque adulterantes verbum Dei, sed in manifestatione veritatis commendantes nosmetipsos ad omnem conscientiam hominum coram Deo.
 2 Cor 4,1-2: Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged. Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things; not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God, but by the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
 1 Thess 2,13: Ideo et nos gratias agimus Deo sine intermissione, quoniam cum accepissetis a nobis verbum auditus Dei, accepistis non ut verbum hominum sed, sicut est vere, verbum Dei, quod et operatur in vobis, qui creditis.
 1 Thess 2,13: And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that,in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now atwork in you who believe.
 1 Cor 2,7: sed loquimur Dei sapientiam in mysterio, quae abscondita est, quam praedestinavit Deus ante saecula in gloriam nostram
 1 Cor 2,7: Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory
 Rom 16,25-26: Ei autem, qui potens est vos confirmare iuxta evangelium meum et praedicationem Iesu Christi secundum revelationem mysterii temporibus aeternis taciti, manifestati autem nunc, et per scripturas Prophetarum secundum praeceptum aeterni Dei ad oboeditionem fidei in cunctis gentibus patefacti
 Rom 16,25-26: Now to him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith
 Eph 1,9: notum faciens nobis mysterium voluntatis suae, secundum beneplacitum eius, quod proposuit in eo
 Eph 1,9: he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him
 Io 1,14: Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis; et vidimus gloriam eius, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.
 Io 1,14: And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.
 1 Io 5,9: Si testimonium hominum accipimus, testimonium Dei maius est, quoniam hoc est testimonium Dei, quia testificatus est de Filio suo.
 1 Io 5,9: If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
 Io 5,31-32: Si ego testimonium perhibeo de meipso, testimonium meum non est verum; alius est, qui testimonium perhibet de me, et scio quia verum est testimonium, quod perhibet de me.
 Io 5,31-32: If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
 Col 1,15: qui est imago Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creaturae
 Col 1,15: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
 1 Tim 1,17: Regi autem saeculorum, incorruptibili, invisibili, soli Deo honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
 1 Tim 1,17: To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
 Ex 33,11: Loquebatur autem Dominus ad Moysen facie ad faciem, sicut solet loqui homo ad amicum suum. Cumque ille reverteretur in castra, minister eius Iosue filius Nun puer non recedebat de medio tabernaculi.
 Ex 33,11: The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, would not move out of the tent.
 Io 15,14-15: Vos amici mei estis, si feceritis, quae ego praecipio vobis. Iam non dico vos servos, quia servus nescit quid facit dominus eius; vos autem dixi amicos, quia omnia, quae audivi a Patre meo, nota feci vobis.
 Io 15,14-15: You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
 Bar 3,38: Post haec super terram visa est et inter homines conversata est.
 Bar 3,38: Since then she has appeared on earth, and moved among men.
 Gal 4,4: at ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum, factum ex muliere, factum sub lege
 Gal 4,4: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law
 Heb 1,1-2: Multifariam et multis modis olim Deus locutus patribus in prophetis, in novissimis his diebus locutus est nobis in Filio, quem constituit heredem universorum, per quem fecit et saecula
 Heb 1,1-2: In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe
 Io 1,1-18: In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est; in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum, et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Ioannes; hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem, veniens in mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem acceperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his, qui credunt in nomine eius, qui non ex sanguinibus neque ex voluntate carnis neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis; et vidimus gloriam eius, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis. Ioannes testimonium perhibet de ipso et clamat dicens: «Hic erat, quem dixi: Qui post me venturus est, ante me factus est, quia prior me erat». Et de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus, et gratiam pro gratia; quia lex per Moysen data est, gratia et veritas per Iesum Christum facta est. Deum nemo vidit umquam; unigenitus Deus, qui est in sinum Patris, ipse enarravit.
 Io 1,1-18: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony,to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own peopledid not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became fleshand made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'" From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.
 Io 3,34: Quem enim misit Deus, verba Dei loquitur; non enim ad mensuram dat Spiritum.
 Io 3,34: For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
 Io 5,36: Ego autem habeo testimonium maius Ioanne; opera enim, quae dedit mihi Pater, ut perficiam ea, ipsa opera, quae ego facio, testimonium perhibent de me, quia Pater me misit;
 Io 5,36: But I have testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.
 Io 17,4: Ego te clarificavi super terram; opus consummavi, quod dedisti mihi, ut faciam;
 Io 17,4: I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
 Io 14,9: Dicit ei Iesus: «Tanto tempore vobiscum sum, et non cognovisti me, Philippe? Qui vidit me, vidit Patrem. Quomodo tu dicis: "Ostende nobis Patrem?" ... »
 Io 14,9: Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? ... "
 Io 16,13: Cum autem venerit ille, Spiritus veritatis, deducet vos in omnem veritatem; non enim loquetur a semetipso, sed quaecumque audiet, loquetur et, quae ventura sunt, annuntiabit vobis.
 Io 16,13: But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.
 Rom 5,12-15: Propterea, sicut per unum hominem peccatum in hunc mundum intravit, et per peccatum mors, et ita in omnes homines mors pertransiit, eo quod omnes peccaverunt. Usque ad legem enim peccatum erat in mundo; peccatum autem non imputatur, cum lex non est, sed regnavit mors ab Adam usque ad Moysen etiam in eos, qui non peccaverunt in similitudine praevaricationis Adae, qui est figura futuri. Sed non sicut delictum, ita et donum; si enim unius delicto multi mortui sunt, multo magis gratia Dei et donum in gratia unius hominis Iesu Christi in multos abundavit.
 Rom 5,12-15: Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned -- for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person's transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.
 Ps 16,11: Notas mihi facies vias vitae, plenitudinem laetitiae cum vultu tuo, delectationes in dextera tua usque in finem.
 Ps 16,11: You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.
 Sap 9,11: Scit enim illa omnia et intellegit et deducet me in operibus meis sobrie
 Wis 9,11: For she knows and understands all things, and will guide me discreetly in my affairs and safeguard me by her glory;
 Eccli 14,22-27: Beatus vir, qui in sapientia morabitur et qui in iustitia sua meditabitur et in sensu cogitabit circumspectionem Dei; qui excogitat vias illius in corde suo et in absconditis suis intellegens, vadens post illam quasi investigator et in viis illius consistens; qui respicit per fenestras illius et in ianuis illius audiens; qui requiescit iuxta domum illius et in parietibus illius figens palum, statuet casulam suam ad manus illius et requiescet in deversorio bonorum per aevum. Statuet filios suos sub tegmine illius et sub ramis eius morabitur; protegetur sub tegmine illius a fervore et in gloria eius requiescet.
 Sirach 14,20-27: Happy the man who meditates on wisdom, and reflects on knowledge; Who ponders her ways in his heart, and understands her paths; Who pursues her like a scout, and lies in wait at her entry way; Who peeps through her windows, and listens at her doors; Who encamps near her house, and fastens his tent pegs next to her walls; Who pitches his tent beside her, and lives as her welcome neighbor; Who builds his nest in her leafage, and lodges in her branches; Who takes shelter with her from the heat, and dwells in her home.
 Io 8,31-32: Dicebat ergo Iesus ad eos, qui crediderunt ei, Iudaeos: «Si vos manseritis in sermone meo, vere discipuli mei estis et cognoscetis veritatem, et veritas liberabit vos».
 Io 8,31-32: Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
 Prv 20,5: Sicut aqua profunda consilium in corde viri, sed homo sapiens exhauriet illud.
 Prv 20,5: The intention in the human heart is like water far below the surface, but the man of intelligence draws it forth.
 Prv 16,9: Cor hominis disponit viam suam, sed Domini est dirigere gressus eius.
 Prv 16,9: In his mind a man plans his course, but the LORD directs his steps.
 Prv 25,2: Gloria Dei est celare verbum, et gloria regum investigare sermonem.
 Prv 25,2: God has glory in what he conceals, kings have glory in what they fathom.
 Ps 139,17-18: Quo ibo a spiritu tuo et quo a facie tua fugiam? Si ascendero in caelum, tu illic es; si descendero in infernum, ades.
 Ps 139,17-18: Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.
 Prv 1,7: Timor Domini principium scientiae. Sapientiam atque doctrinam stulti despiciunt.
 Prv 1,7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise.
 Ps 14,1: Dixit insipiens in corde suo: «Non est Deus». Corrupti sunt et abominationes operati sunt; non est qui faciat bonum.
 Ps 14,1: Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt; not one does what is right.
 Sap 7,17.19-20: Ipse enim dedit mihi horum, quae sunt, scientiam veram, ut sciam dispositionem orbis terrarum et virtutes elementorum, ... anni cursus et stellarum dispositiones, naturas animalium et iras bestiarum, vim spirituum et cogitationes hominum, differentias virgultorum et virtutes radicum.
 Wis 7,17.19-20: For he gave me sound knowledge of existing things, that I might know the organization of the universe and the force of its elements, ... Cycles of years, positions of the stars, natures of animals, tempers of beasts, Powers of the winds and thoughts of men, uses of plants and virtues of roots
 Sap 13,5: a magnitudine enim et pulchritudine creaturarum cognoscibiliter potest creator horum videri.
 Wis 13,5: For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.
 Prv 20,24: A Domino diriguntur gressus viri; quis autem hominum intellegere potest viam suam?
 Prv 20,24: Man's steps are from the LORD; how, then, can a man understand his way?
 Eccli 1,14: Dilectio Dei honorabilis sapientia;
 Sir 1:14: Fullness of wisdom is fear of the LORD; she inebriates men with her fruits.
 Prv 30,1-6: Verba Agur filii Iaces ex Massa. Oraculum hominis ad Itiel, ad Itiel et Ucal. Quoniam stultissimus sum virorum, et sapientia hominum non est mecum; et non didici sapientiam et scientiam sanctorum non novi. Quis ascendit in caelum atque descendit? Quis continuit spiritum in manibus suis? Quis colligavit aquas quasi in vestimento? Quis statuit omnes terminos terrae? Quod nomen est eius, et quod nomen filii eius, si nosti? Omnis sermo Dei probatus clipeus est sperantibus in eum. Ne addas quidquam verbis illius: et arguaris inveniarisque mendax.
 Prv 30,1-6: The words of Agur, son of Jakeh the Massaite: The pronouncement of mortal man: "I am not God; I am not God, that I should prevail. Why, I am the most stupid of men, and have not even human intelligence; Neither have I learned wisdom, nor have I the knowledge of the Holy One. Who has gone up to heaven and come down again - who has cupped the wind in his hands? Who has bound up the waters in a cloak - who has marked out all the ends of the earth? What is his name, what is his son's name, if you know it?" Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be exposed as a deceiver.
 Eccle 1,12-13: Ego Ecclesiastes fui rex Israel in Ierusalem et proposui in animo meo quaerere et investigare sapienter de omnibus, quae fiunt sub sole. Hanc occupationem pessimam dedit Deus filiis hominum, ut occuparentur in ea.
 Qoh 1,12-13: I, Qoheleth, was king over Israel in Jerusalem, and I applied my mind to search and investigate in wisdom all things that are done under the sun. A thankless task God has appointed for men to be busied about.
 Rom 1,20-22: Invisibilia enim ipsius a creatura mundi per ea, quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur, sempiterna eius et virtus et divinitas, ut sint inexcusabiles; quia, cum cognovissent Deum, non sicut Deum glorificaverunt aut gratias egerunt, sed evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis, et obscuratum est insipiens cor eorum. Dicentes se esse sapientes, stulti facti sunt
 Rom 1,20-22: Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools
 Prv 4,5: Posside sapientiam, posside prudentiam, ne obliviscaris neque declines a verbis oris mei.
 Prv 4,5: Get wisdom, get understanding! Do not forget or turn aside from the words I utter.
 Gen 2,16-17: praecepitque Dominus Deus homini dicens: «Ex omni ligno paradisi comede; de ligno autem scientiae boni et mali ne comedas; in quocumque enim die comederis ex eo, morte morieris».
 Gen 2,16-17: The LORD God gave man this order: "You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden xcept the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die."
 1 Cor 1,20: Ubi sapiens? Ubi scriba? Ubi conquisitor huius saeculi? Nonne stultam fecit Deus sapientiam huius mundi?
 1 Cor 1,20: Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
 1 Cor 1,27-28: sed, quae stulta sunt mundi, elegit Deus, ut confundat sapientes, et infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat fortia, et ignobilia mundi et contemptibilia elegit Deus, quae non sunt, ut ea, quae sunt, destrueret
 1 Cor 1,27-28: Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something
 2 Cor 12,10: Propter quod placeo mihi in infirmitatibus, in contumeliis, in necessitatibus, in persecutionibus et in angustiis, pro Christo; cum enim infirmor, tunc potens sum.
 2 Cor 12,10: Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
 Act 17,22-23:
 Acts 17:22-23:
 Act 17,26-27:
 Acts 17:26-27:
 Eph 4,21:
 Eph 4:21:
 Col 1,15-20:
 Col 1:15-20:
 Io 1,14.18:
 Jn 1:14.18:
 Rom 1,19-21:
 Rom 1:19-21:
 Rom 2,14-15:
 Rom 2:14-15:
 Act 14,16-17:
 Acts 14:16-17:
 Rom 1,21-32:
 Rom 1:21-32:
 Col 2,3:
 Col 2:3:
 Act 2,42:
 Acts 2:42:
 1 Pt 3,15:
 1 Pt 3:15:
 Act 1,8:
 Acts 1:8:
 Eph 2,13-14:
 Eph 2:13-14:
 Eph 2,19:
 Eph 2:19:
 Act 2,7-11:
 Acts 2:7-11:
 Io 17,17:
 Jn 17:17:
 Act 4,12:
 Acts 4:12:
 1 Tim 2,4-6:
 1 Tim 2:4-6:
 Act 17l18:
 Acts 17:18:
 Col 2,8:
 Col 2:8:
 Rom 5,14:
 Rom 5:14:
 Dt 30,11-14:
 Dt 30:11-14:
Intended audience of the encyclical: The Bishops of the Catholic Church, along with philosophers, scientists, and theologians.
Editor's Note: Fides et Ratio is to my mind Pope John Paul II's most radical encyclical to date, surpassing in its own way even the astonishingly countercultural Evangelium Vitae. This has not been generally recognized, mainly because the encyclical's subject matter is not easily accessible to those who lack extensive philosophical training, and also because the document contains none of the proscriptions concerning sexual morality with which the Holy Father's critics in the media and in theology departments are obsessed. Nonetheless, the adoption of the encyclical's vision of intellectual inquiry would strike at the core of many of the epistemological assumptions endemic to the modern academy. In fact, it is precisely the widely-recognized malaise of the modern academy that makes the encyclical so interesting and challenging. I hope to address these issues in propia persona and in greater detail at a later time. For now I simply offer a quickly formulated guide to the encylical, including extensive quotations, that is meant to put the reader in a positition to see the document as a whole and to understand how the various parts are ordered to one another and to the whole.
Cautionary note: The English translation of Fides et Ratio is not always what it should be. The Latin is available on the Vatican website for those who can make use of it. AJF
In this introduction the Holy Father gives a brief account of philosophy and the universal human drive to philosophize. He makes it clear from the beginning that at the present the main threat to genuine philosophical inquiry is an excessive pessimism about the power of natural reason.
The basic human desire for universal elements of knowledge (metaphysics and moral theory), born of wonder.
Philosophy defined as "rigorous speculative thought that is systematic." The primacy of philosophical inquiry over any particular philosophical system; the historical achievements of philosophy (#4).
Characteristics of much contemporary philosophy (#5): (a) excessive pessimism about the power of reason (skepticism, relativism, agnosticism) and (b) emphasis on the limitations of human knowing. The result: "undifferentiated pluralism." It is clear that the Holy Father takes this sort of pessimism to be a more serious present challenge than the rationalist optimism with respect to reason that was the concern of the First Vatican Council. (See #8 below.)
Note concerning young people: "It is undeniable that this time of rapid and complex change can leave especially the younger generation, to whom the future belongs and on whom it depends, with a sense that they have no valid points of reference. The need for a foundation for personal and communal life becomes all the more pressing at a time when we are faced with the patent inadequacy of perspectives in which the ephemeral is affirmed as a value and the possibility of discovering the real meaning of life is cast into doubt. This is why many people stumble through life to the very edge of the abyss without knowing where they are going. At times, this happens because those whose vocation it is to give cultural expression to their thinking no longer look to truth, preferring quick success to the toil of patient enquiry into what makes life worth living. With its enduring appeal to the search for truth, philosophy has the great responsibility of forming thought and culture; and now it must strive resolutely to recover its original vocation" (#6).
Chapter I establishes the primacy of revelation as a source of salvific truths and the primacy of obedient faith in Christ as the most fitting context for the inquiries of reason. Natural reason can discover some salvific truths, but not the most central ones concerning the mission of Jesus Christ. Christ is the answer to the ultimate question that philosophers (and ordinary people insofar as they participate in philosophy) have asked at all times and within all cultures. But faith does not by itself give us deep understanding; the mystery remains. And so reason has scope within the context of faith.
Jesus, revealer of the Father (7-12)
The Holy Father begins with the primacy of revelation. The Church's message is God's wholly gratuitous and irreducibly historical self-revelation. This section is important because it shows the inherent limitations of reason, given that God's self-revelation is not wholly accessible via non-historical universal truths that can be established by reason in metaphysics and moral theory. So reason needs faith, and it is important for the Church to affirm this, especially at those times when it is being denied. In declaring that reason and faith are both required as sources of truth, the First Vatican Council was responding to a rationalist (modernist) conception of philosophical inquiry that exalted reason and denigrated faith, going so far as to deny "the possibility of any knowledge which was not the fruit of reason's natural capacities" (#8).
Christ as the ultimate truth about human existence: "The truth communicated in Christ's Revelation is therefore no longer confined to a particular place or culture, but is offered to every man and woman who would welcome it as the word which is the absolutely valid source of meaning for human life. Now, in Christ, all have access to the Father, since by his Death and Resurrection Christ has bestowed the divine life which the first Adam had refused (cf. Rom 5:12-15). Through this Revelation, men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own life and about the goal of history. As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes puts it, 'only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light'. Seen in any other terms, the mystery of personal existence remains an insoluble riddle" (#12).
Reason before the mystery (13-15)
Still, "our vision of the face of God is always fragmentary and impaired by the limits of our understanding." Faith, as an obedient response to God, "alone makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently", and "this is why the Church has always considered the act of entrusting oneself to God to be a moment of fundamental decision which engages the whole person" (#13). This is the highest and truest exercise of freedom, and it is necessary for our lives.
But "the knowledge proper to faith does not destroy the mystery" (#13). The Holy Father uses the unity between signifier and signified in the Eucharist as the epitome of the sacramental character of divine revelation. Common signs are given a depth which is both accessible to us through the eyes of faith and yet hidden from common modes of thought. Christ reveals us to ourselves and makes clear our vocation to "share in the divine mystery of the life of the Trinity." Hence, the obedience of faith alone correctly orients us.
Revelation cannot be ignored. Faith 'surrounds' reason with two reference points, the meaning of human life and the mystery of God, both of which are revealed in their fulness by Christ. And it is within the realm defined by these points of reference that reason operates. Here St. Anselm serves as a model. Christian revelation "summons human beings to be open to the transcendent," thus freeing us from "an immanentist habit of mind and the constrictions of a technocratic logic" (#15). We need to transcend ourselves, both as individuals and as members of a fallen race.
The main point: "These considerations prompt a first conclusion: the truth made known to us by Revelation is neither the product nor the consummation of an argument devised by human reason. It appears instead as something gratuitous, which itself stirs thought and seeks acceptance as an expression of love. This revealed truth is set within our history as an anticipation of that ultimate and definitive vision of God which is reserved for those who believe in him and seek him with a sincere heart. The ultimate purpose of personal existence, then, is the theme of philosophy and theology alike. For all their difference of method and content, both disciplines point to that "path of life" (Ps 16:11) which, as faith tells us, leads in the end to the full and lasting joy of the contemplation of the Triune God" (#15) [my italics].
In this Chapter the Holy Father delves into the nature of and necessity for faith, and begins to limn the affective prerequisites for well-ordered intellectual (philosophical and scientific) inquiry.
"Wisdom knows all and understands all" (Wis 9:11) (16-20)
It is in the Wisdom literature that Sacred Scripture most deeply relates "the knowledge conferred by faith (cognitio fidei) and the knowledge conferred by reason (scientia rationis)." The wise man is the one who loves and seeks the truth.
Faith as the context for natural scientia and consonant with it: "What is distinctive in the biblical text is the conviction that there is a profound and indissoluble unity between the knowledge (cognitio) of reason and the knowledge of faith. The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason's autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence" (#16).
Faith as the context for natural scientia and necessary for it: "On the basis of this deeper form of knowledge, the Chosen People understood that, if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules. The first of these is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a journey which allows no rest; the second stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal conquest; a third rule is grounded in the "fear of God" whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize. In abandoning these rules, the human being runs the risk of failure and ends up in the condition of "the fool". For the Bible, in this foolishness there lies a threat to life" (#18) [my italics]. Here we begin to see the affective rectitude that is necessary in order for reason to do its best. Notice, by the way, that this is a dominant theme in classical conceptions of philosophical inquiry, and is especially prominent in those Socratic dialogues (e.g., Gorgias, Apology, Phaedo, Republic, Symposium, Phaedrus) which fill out the picture of the philosopher's way of life.
The close ties in ancient thought between philosophy and natural science. The author of Wisdom explicitly affirms that the study of nature is a path to God. Note: "If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way" (#19). Here again we see the affective impediments to and prerequisites for philosophical inquiry.
So Sacred Scripture values human reason without overvaluing it: "The results of reasoning may in fact be true, but these results acquire their true meaning only if they are set within the larger horizon of faith" (#20). So we see here that the Church has an interest in discouraging both excessive optimism and excessive pessimism about the potential of human reason. In the past two centuries she has had to contend with both -- and the cure for both is the horizon of faith as the setting for inquiry.
"Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding" (Prov 4:5) (21-23)
Summary of what has preceded: "[The] opening to the mystery, which came to [the human being] through Revelation, was for him, in the end, the source of true knowledge. It was this which allowed his reason to enter the realm of the infinite where an understanding for which until then he had not dared to hope became a possibility" (#21).
In the first chapter of Romans St. Paul "affirms the human capacity for metaphysical inquiry" (#22). From here the Holy Father goes on to discuss the effects of sin on inquiry. It is only because of sin that we do not reach God with ease through natural reason. It is only through Christ that reason is freed "from the shackles in which it had imprisoned itself" (#22).
This noetic ramifications of sin explain St. Paul's contrast of the wisdom of God with 'the wisdom of this world'.
The centrality of the Cross for exposing the weakness of reason: "The beginning of the First Letter to the Corinthians poses the dilemma in a radical way. The crucified Son of God is the historic event upon which every attempt of the mind to construct an adequate explanation of the meaning of existence upon merely human argumentation comes to grief. The true key-point, which challenges every philosophy, is Jesus Christ's death on the Cross. It is here that every attempt to reduce the Father's saving plan to purely human logic is doomed to failure. 'Where is the one who is wise? Where is the learned? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?' (1Cor 1:20), the Apostle asks emphatically. The wisdom of the wise is no longer enough for what God wants to accomplish; what is required is a decisive step towards welcoming something radically new" (#23). And again: "In order to express the gratuitous nature of the love revealed in the Cross of Christ, the Apostle is not afraid to use the most radical language of the philosophers in their thinking about God. Reason cannot eliminate the mystery of love which the Cross represents, while the Cross can give to reason the ultimate answer which it seeks. It is not the wisdom of words, but the Word of Wisdom which Saint Paul offers as the criterion of both truth and salvation" (#23) [my italics].
In general, then, this part of the chapter emphasizes the necessity for faith in the Cross of Christ and the weakness of human reason, mired in sin, without it.
In this Chapter the Holy Father investigates natural reason in general as a preparation for the Good News, and delves once again into the necessity for trust in others as a condition for inquiry.
Journeying in search of truth (24-27)
In this chapter, we examine natural reason as a preparation for the Gospel. The Holy Father begins with Luke's account of Paul in Athens, trying to find common ground with the Athenians. "The Apostle accentuates a truth which the Church has always treasured: in the far reaches of the human heart there is a seed of desire and nostalgia for God .... There is therefore a path which the human being may choose to take, a path which begins with reason's capacity to rise beyond what is contingent and set out towards the infinite" (#24) [my italics]. So the same deep desire for truth which has led to philosophical and scientific achievement leads us toward self-transcendence.
The Holy Father makes clear that this need for self-transcendence applies to practical inquiry and moral theory as much as to metaphysics and natural science: "It is essential, therefore, that the values chosen and pursued in one's life be true, because only true values can lead people to realize themselves fully, allowing them to be true to their nature. The truth of these values is to be found not by turning in on oneself but by opening oneself to apprehend that truth even at levels which transcend the person. This is an essential condition for us to become ourselves and to grow as mature, adult persons" (#25) [my italics].
The first question, posed especially in the face of certain death, is Does life have a meaning? Where is it going? No one can evade these questions, and everyone needs a certitude which allows one to anchor one's life and give it direction. (Read #26 and #27. They're magnificent.)
The different faces of human truth (28-34)
The search for ultimate truth is so deeply rooted in us that it is unthinkable that it should be useless; at any rate, ignoring it would "cast our existence into jeopardy" (#29).
The different modes of truth:
Truths that depend upon immediate evidence or are confirmed by experience (experimentum). Proper to everyday life and scientific research.
Truths of philosophy and religion -- not limited just to what professional philosophers teach. Comprehensive visions and answers to question of life's meaning (the preambles of the Faith).
The truth revealed in Jesus Christ (the mysteries of the Faith).
The importance of traditions into which people are born, though these traditions are themselves the object of critical inquiry. Here the Holy Father tries to make clear that all inquiry presupposes a framework of trust in what others have passed down to us. "This means that the human being -- the one who seeks truth -- is also the one who lives by trusting in the other (illi qui vivit alteri fidens)" (#31).
The context of philosophical inquiry: "It should be stressed that the truths sought in this interpersonal relationship are not primarily empirical or philosophical. Rather, what is sought is the truth of the person -- what the person is and what the person reveals from deep within. Human perfection, then, consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of the truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others. It is in this faithful self-giving that a person finds a fullness of certainty and security. At the same time, however, knowledge through belief, grounded as it is on trust between persons, is linked to truth: in the act of believing, men and women entrust themselves to the truth which the other declares to them" (#32) [my italics]. The most salient examples are the martyrs.
"Step by step, then, we are assembling the terms of the question. It is the nature of the human being to seek the truth. This search looks not only to the attainment of truths which are partial, empirical or scientific; nor is it only in individual acts of decision-making that people seek the true good. Their search looks towards an ulterior truth which would explain the meaning of life. And it is therefore a search which can reach its end only in reaching the absolute. Thanks to the inherent capacities of thought, man is able to encounter and recognize a truth of this kind. Such a truth -- vital and necessary as it is for life -- is attained not only by way of reason but also through trusting acquiescence to other persons who can guarantee the authenticity and certainty of the truth itself. There is no doubt that the capacity to entrust oneself and one's life to another person and the decision to do so are among the most significant and expressive human acts.
"It must not be forgotten that reason too needs to be sustained in all its searching by trusting dialogue and sincere friendship. A climate of suspicion and distrust, which can beset speculative research, ignores the teaching of the ancient philosophers who proposed friendship as one of the most appropriate contexts for sound philosophical enquiry" (#33) [my italics].
It is at this point in our search that Christ comes to meet us, offering the concrete possibility of the wisdom which we seek. Here we pass beyond mere trust to the order of grace. "In Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, faith recognizes the ultimate appeal to humanity, an appeal made in order that what we experience as desire and nostalgia may come to its fulfilment" (#33). Thus, the search for truth is a preparation for the Gospel.
The unity of truth is a "fundamental principle of human reasoning, as the principle of non-contradiction makes clear. Revelation renders this unity certain, showing that the God of creation is also the God of salvation history" (#34).
Fundamental conclusion: "What human reason seeks 'without knowing it' (cf. Acts 17:23) can be found only through Christ: what is revealed in him is 'the full truth' (cf. Jn 1:14-16) of everything which was created in him and through him which therefore in him finds fulfillment (cf. Col 1:17)" [my italics].
Introduction to what follows: "On the basis of these broad considerations, we must now explore more directly the relationship between revealed truth and philosophy. This relationship imposes a twofold consideration, since the truth conferred by Revelation is a truth to be understood in the light of reason. It is this duality alone which allows us to specify correctly the relationship between revealed truth and philosophical learning. First, then, let us consider the links between faith and philosophy in the course of history. From this, certain principles will emerge as useful reference-points in the attempt to establish the correct link between the two orders of knowledge" (#35)
Here we get a historically sensitive systematic account of the relation between faith and reason.
Important moments in the encounter of faith and reason (36-43)
We are now treated to an interesting historical synopsis of the relation between philosophy and Christian faith. The first Christians tried to find what common ground they could with pagan philosophers. St. Paul, we are told by St. Luke, talked with Epicureans and Stoics; in general, the pagan philosophers themselves had questioned pagan religion and mystery cults, and so they seemed to be a group worth addressing on their own terms. "It was the task of the fathers of philosophy to bring to light the link between reason and religion. As they broadened their view to include universal principles, they no longer rested content with the ancient myths, but wanted to provide a rational foundation for their belief in the divinity. This opened a path which took its rise from ancient traditions but allowed a development satisfying the demands of universal reason. This development sought to acquire a critical awareness of what they believed in, and the concept of divinity was the prime beneficiary of this. Superstitions were recognized for what they were and religion was, at least in part, purified by rational analysis. It was on this basis that the Fathers of the Church entered into fruitful dialogue with ancient philosophy, which offered new ways of proclaiming and understanding the God of Jesus Christ" (#36) (my italics -- note that the Holy Father still insists on the tie between philosophy and the myth-traditions).
Wariness about gnosticism, and the attempt to distinguish it from philosophy with universal pretentions. Brief reference to the re-emergence of claims to esoteric knowledge in the contemporary world.
At the same time, Christianity rejects the intellectual elitism of the classical philosophical schools. There are non-philosophical paths to the Truth as well as philosophical ones. So non-philosophers are not assigned an inferior status, as they were by Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, by way of example. This is crucial. Also mentioned here are Justin Martyr's cautious use of philosophy and Clement of Alexandria's claim that philosophy is important not to complete Christian truth but to ward off sophistry. (#38)
Origen uses Platonism in order to withstand the attacks of Celsus. Christian theology emerges as the fulfillment of pagan philosophical theology, i.e., first philosophy or metaphysics. That is, theology makes use of pagan philosophical ideals of wisdom at the beginning, even though it transforms pagan doctrines.
The Cappadocian Fathers, Pseudo-Dionysius, and especially Augustine play central roles in the development of Christian thought. Augustine's motive for embracing Catholic faith was its honesty about the fact that its central mysteries are inaccessible to natural reason. In speaking of the Fathers, the Holy Father says this: "They were not naive thinkers. Precisely because they were intense in living faith's content they were able to reach the deepest forms of speculation. It is therefore minimalizing and mistaken to restrict their work simply to the transposition of the truths of faith into philosophical categories. They did much more. In fact they succeeded in disclosing completely all that remained implicit and preliminary in the thinking of the great philosophers of antiquity. As I have noted, theirs was the task of showing how reason, freed from external constraints, could find its way out of the blind alley of myth and open itself to the transcendent in a more appropriate way. Purified and rightly tuned, therefore, reason could rise to the higher planes of thought, providing a solid foundation for the perception of being, of the transcendent and of the absolute.
"It is here that we see the originality of what the Fathers accomplished. They fully welcomed reason which was open to the absolute, and they infused it with the richness drawn from Revelation. This was more than a meeting of cultures, with one culture perhaps succumbing to the fascination of the other. It happened rather in the depths of human souls, and it was a meeting of creature and Creator. Surpassing the goal towards which it unwittingly tended by dint of its nature, reason attained the supreme good and ultimate truth in the person of the Word made flesh. Faced with the various philosophies, the Fathers were not afraid to acknowledge those elements in them that were consonant with Revelation and those that were not. Recognition of the points of convergence did not blind them to the points of divergence" (#41) [my italics].
St. Anselm initiates Scholasticism, with its intellectual rigor, by showing that the function of reason is "to find meaning, to discover explanations which might allow everyone to come to a certain understanding of the contents of faith. Saint Anselm underscores the fact that the intellect must seek that which it loves: the more it loves, the more it desires to know ..... The desire for truth, therefore, spurs reason always to go further; indeed, it is as if reason were overwhelmed to see that it can always go beyond what it has already achieved. It is at this point, though, that reason can learn where its path will lead in the end ..... The fundamental harmony between the knowledge of faith and the knowledge of philosophy is once again confirmed. Faith asks that its object be understood with the help of reason; and at the summit of its searching reason acknowledges that it cannot do without what faith presents" (#42). That is, faith gives reason a higher goal to shoot for and spurs it on.
The enduring originality of the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas (43-44)
St. Thomas has a special place in the history of the interaction of faith and reason: "Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfilment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God" (#43). (Note that here nature is identified as philosophy's proper concern. Question: Why say this? Or, alternatively, aren't there broader conceptions of philosophy?)
The primacy of Wisdom as a gift of the Holy Spirit (sapientia per inclinationem) over philosophical and theological wisdom (sapientia per cognitionem), even though the latter are not devalued.
In Thomas, the Church's Magisterium has seen and recognized the passion for truth; and, precisely because it stays consistently within the horizon of universal, objective and transcendent truth, his thought scales 'heights unthinkable to human intelligence'. Rightly, then, he may be called an 'apostle of the truth'. Looking unreservedly to truth, the realism of Thomas could recognize the objectivity of truth and produce not merely a philosophy of 'what seems to be' but a philosophy of 'what is'.
The drama of the separation of faith and reason (45-48)
Now comes the sad part of the story. St. Albert and St. Thomas insisted upon both an organic link between philosophy and theology and autonomy for each. The Holy Father does not here say what this autonomy amounts to, but does bemoan the fact that "from the late Medieval period onwards the legitimate distinction between the two forms of learning became more and more a fateful separation. As a result of the exaggerated rationalism of certain thinkers, positions grew more radical and there emerged eventually a philosophy which was separate from and absolutely independent of the contents of faith. Another of the many consequences of this separation was an ever deeper mistrust with regard to reason itself. In a spirit both skeptical and agnostic, some began to voice a general mistrust, which led some to focus more on faith and others to deny its rationality altogether" (#45).
The Holy Father does not hesitate to charge that rationalist or modernist conceptions of inquiry, which inspired both (i) the various demythologization projects (I think of Spinoza, Kant, Bultmann, Hegel) and (ii) "atheistic humanism" (here he has in mind the likes of Marx and Nietzsche), "gave rise to totalitarian systems which have been disastrous for humanity" (#46). In addition, modernism inspired a positivistic mentality with respect to the natural sciences and thus separated scientific inquiry from any moral context intrinsic to it as such. And, finally, the present "crisis of rationalism" has led to nihilism, whose adherents claim that "the search is an end in itself, without any hope or possibility of ever attaining the goal of truth. In the nihilist interpretation, life is no more than an occasion for sensations and experiences in which the ephemeral has pride of place" (#46). As a result, we see "the widespread mentality that a definitive commitment should not be made."
In the process, philosophy itself has been marginalized and replaced by instrumental conceptions of rationality which serve inappropriate ends such as pleasure or power or wealth. "In the wake of these cultural shifts, some philosophers have abandoned the search for truth in itself and made their sole aim the attainment of a subjective certainty or a pragmatic sense of utility. This in turn has obscured the true dignity of reason, which is no longer equipped to know the truth and to seek the absolute" (#47).
Despite the interesting philosophical insights that have admittedly resulted from these wayward approaches to inquiry, the link between faith and reason stands in need of close examination because "each without the other is impoverished and enfeebled. Deprived of what Revelation offers, reason has taken side-tracks which expose it to the danger of losing sight of its final goal. Deprived of reason, faith has stressed feeling and experience, and so run the risk of no longer being a universal proposition. It is an illusion to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition. By the same token, reason which is unrelated to an adult faith is not prompted to turn its gaze to the newness and radicality of being" (#48).
The Magisterium's discernment as diakonia of the truth (49-56)
Philosophy retains its autonomy, but it can go wrong in ways that lead it into conflict with revelation. Here the Magisterium cannot remain silent. "It is neither the task nor the competence of the Magisterium to intervene in order to make good the lacunas of deficient philosophical discourse. Rather, it is the Magisterium's duty to respond clearly and strongly when controversial philosophical opinions threaten right understanding of what has been revealed, and when false and partial theories which sow the seed of serious error, confusing the pure and simple faith of the People of God, begin to spread more widely (#49). [Note: Those of us actively involved in teaching Catholic undergraduates should not be tempted to dispute this by invoking the claim that today's Catholics in the Western world are too highly educated to be treated paternalistically in this way by the Magisterium. If anything, today's highly educated Catholics are for the most part very poorly educated in the Faith.] "In the light of faith, therefore, the Church's Magisterium can and must authoritatively exercise a critical discernment of opinions and philosophies which contradict Christian doctrine" (#50).
The justification here invokes the unity of truth: "No historical form of philosophy can legitimately claim to embrace the totality of truth, nor to be the complete explanation of the human being, of the world and of the human being's relationship with God" (#51). What's more, "today, with the proliferation of systems, methods, concepts and philosophical theses which are often extremely complex, the need for a critical discernment in the light of faith becomes more urgent, even if it remains a daunting task. Given all of reason's inherent and historical limitations, it is difficult enough to recognize the inalienable powers proper to it; but it is still more difficult at times to discern in specific philosophical claims what is valid and fruitful from faith's point of view and what is mistaken or dangerous. Yet the Church knows that 'the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' are hidden in Christ (Col 2:3) and therefore intervenes in order to stimulate philosophical enquiry, lest it stray from the path which leads to recognition of the mystery" (#51).
From here the Holy Father reaffirms the historical interventions of the Magisterium in philosophical matters, and explicitly confirms the interventions of his 19th and 20th predecessors, even while indicating below that some thinkers who have been under suspicion have in the end been vindicated in part. (For even if they have been vindicated, it is simply because they did not hold the radically mistaken views attributed to them. There is no indication that the views themselves should not have been condemned.)
In particular, the Holy Father reaffirms Vatican I's condemnation of fideism and radical traditionalism for their denigration of reason's natural powers and of rationalism and ontologism for granting to natural reason capacities which we have only by faith. (Radical traditionalism teaches that we cannot know God by reason, but that "natural" knowledge of God and morality was given in an original revelation which has been passed down from generation to generation; ontologism teaches that even in this life we possess by nature an immediate intuitive knowledge of God.) By way of summary, he says: "The Magisterium's pronouncements have been concerned less with individual philosophical theses than with the need for rational and hence ultimately philosophical knowledge for the understanding of faith. In synthesizing and solemnly reaffirming the teachings constantly proposed to the faithful by the ordinary Papal Magisterium, the First Vatican Council showed how inseparable and at the same time how distinct were faith and reason, Revelation and natural knowledge of God" (#53).
The Church has insisted on the distinction between the mysteries of the faith and the findings of philosophy, even while upholding the integrity of both. So both rationalism and fideism have been condemned as theories of inquiry.
#55 lays out present-day dangers as the Holy Father sees them. This is worth quoting in full:
"Surveying the situation today, we see that the problems of other times have returned, but in a new key. It is no longer a matter of questions of interest only to certain individuals and groups, but convictions so widespread that they have become to some extent the common mind. An example of this is the deep-seated distrust of reason which has surfaced in the most recent developments of much of philosophical research, to the point where there is talk at times of 'the end of metaphysics'. Philosophy is expected to rest content with more modest tasks such as the simple interpretation of facts or an enquiry into restricted fields of human knowing or its structures.
"In theology too the temptations of other times have reappeared. In some contemporary theologies, for instance, a certain rationalism is gaining ground, especially when opinions thought to be philosophically well founded are taken as normative for theological research. This happens particularly when theologians, through lack of philosophical competence, allow themselves to be swayed uncritically by assertions which have become part of current parlance and culture but which are poorly grounded in reason.
"There are also signs of a resurgence of fideism, which fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith, indeed for the very possibility of belief in God. One currently widespread symptom of this fideistic tendency is a 'biblicism' which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth. In consequence, the word of God is identified with Sacred Scripture alone, thus eliminating the doctrine of the Church which the Second Vatican Council stressed quite specifically. Having recalled that the word of God is present in both Scripture and Tradition, the Constitution Dei Verbum continues emphatically: 'Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture comprise a single sacred deposit of the word of God entrusted to the Church. Embracing this deposit and united with their pastors, the People of God remain always faithful to the teaching of the Apostles'. Scripture, therefore, is not the Church's sole point of reference. The 'supreme rule of her faith' derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without the others."Moreover, one should not underestimate the danger inherent in seeking to derive the truth of Sacred Scripture from the use of one method alone, ignoring the need for a more comprehensive exegesis which enables the exegete, together with the whole Church, to arrive at the full sense of the texts. Those who devote themselves to the study of Sacred Scripture should always remember that the various hermeneutical approaches have their own philosophical underpinnings, which need to be carefully evaluated before they are applied to the sacred texts.
"Other modes of latent fideism appear in the scant consideration accorded to speculative theology, and in disdain for the classical philosophy from which the terms of both the understanding of faith and the actual formulation of dogma have been drawn. My revered Predecessor Pope Pius XII warned against such neglect of the philosophical tradition and against abandonment of the traditional terminology" (#55) [my italics].
In #56 the Holy Father indicts 'consensus' theories of truth and indicates the intellectual threat posed by specialization. How can there be an ultimate and unifying meaning of life? "Nonetheless, in the light of faith which finds in Jesus Christ this ultimate meaning, I cannot but encourage philosophers -- be they Christian or not -- to trust in the power of human reason and not to set themselves goals that are too modest in their philosophizing. The lesson of history in this millennium now drawing to a close shows that this is the path to follow: it is necessary not to abandon the passion for ultimate truth, the eagerness to search for it or the audacity to forge new paths in the search. It is faith which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and true. Faith thus becomes the convinced and convincing advocate of reason" [my italics].
The Church's interest in philosophy (57-63)
The Magisterium has not just criticized philosophy, it has also worked for philosophical renewal. Here the Holy Father cites Aeterni Patris and its positive consequences. The Church continues to recommend St. Thomas and the other Scholastic writers. There were as well positive developments among Catholic thinkers outside of Thomism and neo-Thomism. (##57-59)
Vatican II continued in this vein continues this tradition by providing in Gaudium et spes 14-15 "a virtual compendium of the biblical anthropology from which philosophy too can draw inspiration. The chapter deals with the value of the human person created in the image of God, explains the dignity and superiority of the human being over the rest of creation, and declares the transcendent capacity of human reason" (#60). Further, Vatican II made clear the importance of philosophy for priestly formation.
The directives on the value of Thomistic philosophy and on the importance of philosophy for priestly formation have been reiterated because they have not been followed "with the readiness one would wish ..... I cannot fail to note with surprise and displeasure that this lack of interest in the study of philosophy is shared by not a few theologians" (#61). The Holy Father explains:
"There are various reasons for this disenchantment. First, there is the distrust of reason found in much contemporary philosophy, which has largely abandoned metaphysical study of the ultimate human questions in order to concentrate upon problems which are more detailed and restricted, at times even purely formal. Another reason, it should be said, is the misunderstanding which has arisen especially with regard to the 'human sciences'. On a number of occasions, the Second Vatican Council stressed the positive value of scientific research for a deeper knowledge of the mystery of the human being. But the invitation addressed to theologians to engage the human sciences and apply them properly in their enquiries should not be interpreted as an implicit authorization to marginalize philosophy or to put something else in its place in pastoral formation and in the praeparatio fidei. A further factor is the renewed interest in the inculturation of faith. The life of the young Churches in particular has brought to light, together with sophisticated modes of thinking, an array of expressions of popular wisdom; and this constitutes a genuine cultural wealth of traditions. Yet the study of traditional ways must go hand in hand with philosophical enquiry, an enquiry which will allow the positive traits of popular wisdom to emerge and forge the necessary link with the proclamation of the Gospel" (#61) [my italics].
Suarez's Disputationes Metaphysicae is mentioned as an important example of how Lateran V's insistence on philosophy in seminary education led to important steps in the development of modern philosophy.
The knowledge of faith and the demands of philosophical reason (64-74)
Introduction: "The word of God is addressed to all people, in every age and in every part of the world; and the human being is by nature a philosopher. As a reflective and scientific elaboration of the understanding of God's word in the light of faith, theology for its part must relate, in some of its procedures and in the performance of its specific tasks, to the philosophies which have been developed through the ages. I have no wish to direct theologians to particular methods, since that is not the competence of the Magisterium. I wish instead to recall some specific tasks of theology which, by the very nature of the revealed word, demand recourse to philosophical enquiry" (#64) [my italics].
Theology as the intellectus fidei seeks to respond through speculative inquiry "to the specific demands of disciplined thought" (#65). This means that theology, beginning with the auditus fidei, must by its nature seek the sort of completeness and systematicity that any philosophical system demands. In other words, the formal properties of wisdom as delineated by classical philosophy are requirements for complete understanding which serve as ideals for theology as well. This does not exhaust theology, which has other sides as well, just as metaphysics and moral theory do not exhaust philosophy broadly construed. But it does mean that the metaphysical drive is present in the inner dynamic of theology itself.
Philosophy aids both the auditus fidei and the intellectus fidei. The Holy Father here goes through the main branches of theology and shows the role of philosophy in each. Dogmatic (systematic) theology, he says, would be impossible without philosophy, since it must articulate the faith "through concepts formulated in a critical and universally communicable way" (#66). The same holds for moral theology, which needs philosophical concepts such as law, conscience, freedom, etc., "which are in part defined by philosophical ethics." This is even more obvious with respect to fundamental theology, which aims to "expound the relationship between faith and philosophical thought" (#67). It must, for instance, delineate the range of the natural knowledge of God, articulate the distinction between divine revelation and other forms of human cognition, the nature of faith, the status of language about God, etc.
Here the Holy Father counters the objection that nowadays the social sciences are more important aids to theology than are the philosophical disciplines. He emphasizes the duty of theology "to go beyond that particular and concrete, lest the prime task of demonstrating the universality of faith's content be abandoned" (#69). It is precisely philosophical inquiry which can discern objective truth in different world-views and cultures.
The Holy Father next spends ##70-73 discussing the relationship of philosophy and theology to different cultures, something that has always been on the Catholic agenda because of the universality of the Church and of the message and work of Christ. The Holy Father tries, as one would expect, to find a middle ground, emphasizing the importance of the contribution that different cultures can make to the understanding of Christian doctrine, while at the same time emphasizing the need for critical reflection, under the light of faith, to purify cultures and bring them to perfection according to the universal message of salvation. Christianity both "collapses the walls between cultures" and treasures the different lights that the various cultures can shed on the Christian message. "While it demands of all who hear it the adherence of faith, the proclamation of the Gospel in different cultures allows people to preserve their own cultural identity. This in no way creates division, because the community of the baptized is marked by a universality which can embrace every culture and help to foster whatever is implicit in them to the point where it will be fully explicit in the light of truth" (#71). The Holy Father singles out India especially as a culture which Christian thinkers should investigate more thoroughly.
"In the light of these considerations, the relationship between theology and philosophy is best construed as a circle. Theology's source and starting-point must always be the word of God revealed in history, while its final goal will be an understanding of that word which increases with each passing generation. Yet, since God's word is Truth (cf. Jn 17:17), the human search for truth-philosophy, pursued in keeping with its own rules-can only help to understand God's word better. It is not just a question of theological discourse using this or that concept or element of a philosophical construct; what matters most is that the believer's reason use its powers of reflection in the search for truth which moves from the word of God towards a better understanding of it. It is as if, moving between the twin poles of God's word and a better understanding of it, reason is offered guidance and is warned against paths which would lead it to stray from revealed Truth and to stray in the end from the truth pure and simple. Instead, reason is stirred to explore paths which of itself it would not even have suspected it could take. This circular relationship with the word of God leaves philosophy enriched, because reason discovers new and unsuspected horizons" (#73) [my italics].
Different stances of philosophy (75-79)
Here the Holy Father distinguishes three different stances (status). The first is philosophy completely independent of Gospel revelation, as in the classical pagan philosophers and others, even today, who have not heard the Gospel. "We see here philosophy's valid aspiration to be an autonomous enterprise, obeying its own rules and employing the powers of reason alone. Although seriously handicapped by the inherent weakness of human reason, this aspiration should be supported and strengthened. As a search for truth within the natural order, the enterprise of philosophy is always open-at least implicitly-to the supernatural" (#75). The criteria of rigor (systematicity) and completeness express philosophy's aspiration to be universally valid. Almost immediately, however, the Holy Father distinguishes this autonomy from the self-sufficiency claimed for philosophy "by some modern philosophers." (It would be worth exploring this notion of autonomy.)
The second stance is Christian philosophy, a "philosophical speculation conceived in dynamic union with faith" (#76). This has both a subjective aspect, in which faith as a theological virtue purifies the individual's reason and liberates the intellect from presumption, and an objective aspect, in the sense that faith gives us hints about truths which reason is capable of discovering but probably would not without the assistance of faith guiding it.
The third stance is philosophy as called upon by theology. "As a work of critical reason in the light of faith, theology presupposes and requires in all its research a reason formed and educated to concept and argument. Moreover, theology needs philosophy as a partner in dialogue in order to confirm the intelligibility and universal truth of its claims. It was not by accident that the Fathers of the Church and the Medieval theologians adopted non-Christian philosophies. This historical fact confirms the value of philosophy's autonomy, which remains unimpaired when theology calls upon it; but it shows as well the profound transformations which philosophy itself must undergo" (#77) [my italics].
At this point the Holy Father makes a very interesting comment: "When it adopts this stance, philosophy, like theology, comes more directly under the authority of the Magisterium and its discernment, because of the implications it has for the understanding of Revelation, as I have already explained. The truths of faith make certain demands which philosophy must respect whenever it engages theology" (#77). This is significant because it indicates that the Catholic philosopher will sometimes naturally engage in theology, for in this third stance the distinction between philosophy as practiced in this context and systematic theology evaporates. Or that, at least, is the way I read it. So, for instance, if I as a Catholic philosopher am writing a piece on the metaphysics of the Incarnation, then I am engaging in a properly theological task and also, within this third stance, a properly philosophical task. Here the distinction between doing philosophy and doing theology breaks down, even though philosophy as a whole contains extra-theological elements and theology as a whole contains extra-philosophical elements. The Holy Father then invokes St. Thomas as the "authentic model for all who seek the truth ..... In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason" (#78).
Now the Holy Father sets the stage for the next chapter by "developing further what the Magisterium before me has taught" and boldly pointing out "certain requirements which theology ..... makes today of philosophical thinking and contemporary philosophies." He continues: "As I have already noted, philosophy must obey its own rules and be based upon its own principles; truth, however, can only be one. The content of Revelation can never debase the discoveries and legitimate autonomy of reason. Yet, conscious that it cannot set itself up as an absolute and exclusive value, reason on its part must never lose its capacity to question and to be questioned. By virtue of the splendour emanating from subsistent Being itself, revealed truth offers the fullness of light and will therefore illumine the path of philosophical enquiry. In short, Christian Revelation becomes the true point of encounter and engagement between philosophical and theological thinking in their reciprocal relationship. It is to be hoped therefore that theologians and philosophers will let themselves be guided by the authority of truth alone so that there will emerge a philosophy consonant with the word of God. Such a philosophy will be a place where Christian faith and human cultures may meet, a point of understanding between believer and non-believer. It will help lead believers to a stronger conviction that faith grows deeper and more authentic when it is wedded to thought and does not reject it" (#79) [my italics].
The indispensable requirements of the word of God (80-91)
"The fundamental conviction of the 'philosophy' found in the Bible is that the world and human life do have a meaning and look towards their fulfilment, which comes in Jesus Christ. The mystery of the Incarnation will always remain the central point of reference for an understanding of the enigma of human existence, the created world and God himself. The challenge of this mystery pushes philosophy to its limits, as reason is summoned to make its own a logic which brings down the walls within which it risks being confined. Yet only at this point does the meaning of life reach its defining moment. The intimate essence of God and of the human being become intelligible: in the mystery of the Incarnate Word, human nature and divine nature are safeguarded in all their autonomy, and at the same time the unique bond which sets them together in mutuality without confusion of any kind is revealed" (#80) [my italics]. This is a pretty bold challenge to the world of professional philosophy. "You philosophers feel marginalized out there? Well, here's where you've gone wrong." But it's important to remember that Plato wouldn't be very satisfied with the present state of professional philosophy, either.
The Holy Father takes us to be in a crisis of meaning, both because of the pervasive pessimism with respect to reason and because of the fragmentation of the academic disciplines. As he puts it, "This makes the search for meaning difficult and often fruitless ..... and can easily lead to scepticism, indifference or various forms of nihilism" (#81). This drives us further within our selves in "an ever deepening introversion" without an opening to the transcendent and self-transcendent. So the first thing that philosophy must do is "recover its sapiential dimension as a search for the ultimate and overarching meaning of life ...... this sapiential dimension is all the more necessary today, because the immense expansion of humanity's technical capability demands a renewed and sharpened sense of ultimate values" (ibid.)
This leads to the second requirement, viz., "that philosophy verify the human capacity to know the truth, to come to a knowledge which can reach objective truth by means of that adaequatio rei et intellectus to which the Scholastic Doctors referred ..... Sacred Scripture always assumes that the individual, even if guilty of duplicity and mendacity, can know and grasp the clear and simple truth" (#82).
The first two requirements entail a third: "the need for a philosophy of genuinely metaphysical range, capable, that is, of transcending empirical data in order to attain something absolute, ultimate and foundational in its search for truth. This requirement is implicit in sapiential and analytical knowledge alike; and in particular it is a requirement for knowing the moral good, which has its ultimate foundation in the Supreme Good, God himself ..... In this sense, metaphysics should not be seen as an alternative to anthropology, since it is metaphysics which makes it possible to ground the concept of personal dignity in virtue of their spiritual nature" (#83)
"We cannot stop short at experience alone; even if experience does reveal the human being's interiority and spirituality, speculative thinking must penetrate to the spiritual core and the ground from which it rises. Therefore, a philosophy which shuns metaphysics would be radically unsuited to the task of mediation in the understanding of Revelation ..... A theology without a metaphysical horizon could not move beyond an analysis of religious experience, nor would it allow the intellectus fidei to give a coherent account of the universal and transcendent value of revealed truth. If I insist so strongly on the metaphysical element, it is because I am convinced that it is the path to be taken in order to move beyond the crisis pervading large sectors of philosophy at the moment, and thus to correct certain mistaken modes of behaviour now widespread in our society" (#83).
Likewise, we cannot stop short at hermeneutics. We need to get beyond the text to the reality it signifies. This is just another indication of a general loss of confidence in the powers of reason. "Faith clearly presupposes that human language is capable of expressing divine and transcendent reality in a universal way-analogically, it is true, but no less meaningfully for that. Were this not so, the word of God, which is always a divine word in human language, would not be capable of saying anything about God. The interpretation of this word cannot merely keep referring us to one interpretation after another, without ever leading us to a statement which is simply true; otherwise there would be no Revelation of God, but only the expression of human notions about God and about what God presumably thinks of us" (#84).
This is a lot for the world of professional philosophy, and the Holy Father is well aware of this. Once again, the theme of the unity of knowledge emerges clearly: " I am well aware that these requirements which the word of God imposes upon philosophy may seem daunting to many people involved in philosophical research today. Yet this is why, taking up what has been taught repeatedly by the Popes for several generations and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council itself, I wish to reaffirm strongly the conviction that the human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge. This is one of the tasks which Christian thought will have to take up through the next millennium of the Christian era. The segmentation of knowledge, with its splintered approach to truth and consequent fragmentation of meaning, keeps people today from coming to an interior unity. How could the Church not be concerned by this? It is the Gospel which imposes this sapiential task directly upon her Pastors, and they cannot shrink from their duty to undertake it" (#85). The only solution is for philosophers to identify themselves as part of the tradition "which, beginning with the ancients, passes through the Fathers of the Church and the masters of Scholasticism and includes the fundamental achievements of modern and contemporary thought" (ibid.). In summary, the Holy Father puts it this way: "In the present situation, therefore, it is most significant that some philosophers are promoting a recovery of the determining role of this tradition for a right approach to knowledge. The appeal to tradition is not a mere remembrance of the past; it involves rather the recognition of a cultural heritage which belongs to all of humanity. Indeed it may be said that it is we who belong to the tradition and that it is not ours to dispose of at will. Precisely by being rooted in the tradition will we be able today to develop for the future an original, new and constructive mode of thinking. This same appeal is all the more valid for theology. Not only because theology has the living Tradition of the Church as its original source, (104) but also because, in virtue of this, it must be able to recover both the profound theological tradition of earlier times and the enduring tradition of that philosophy which by dint of its authentic wisdom can transcend the boundaries of space and time" (ibid).
The dangers to which philosophical work is prone: (i) eclecticism, which is not enough concerned with internal coherence and historical coherence (#86); (ii) historicism, which denies the "enduring validity of truth"(#87); (iii) scientism, which limits absolute truth to the findings of the positive sciences and relegates other knowledge claims to the "realm of mere fantasy" (#88) -- the Holy Father sees positivism as re-emerging as the modern rejection of value in favor of technology; (iv) pragmatism, with its disdain for a thick concept of the common good and of the moral good in favor of majority rule; and nihilism, which is the result of the other four and constitutes the rejection of "the meaningfulness of being ... the denial of all foundations and the negation of all objective truth" (#90). Nihilism as a cultural phenomenon, leads people "little by little either to a destructive will to power or to a solitude without hope. Once the truth is denied to human beings, it is pure illusion to try to set them free. Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery" (ibid.).
#91, an assessment of the present state of philosophy, is worth quoting in full:
"In discussing these currents of thought, it has not been my intention to present a complete picture of the present state of philosophy, which would, in any case, be difficult to reduce to a unified vision. And I certainly wish to stress that our heritage of knowledge and wisdom has indeed been enriched in different fields. We need only cite logic, the philosophy of language, epistemology, the philosophy of nature, anthropology, the more penetrating analysis of the affective dimensions of knowledge and the existential approach to the analysis of freedom. Since the last century, however, the affirmation of the principle of immanence, central to the rationalist argument, has provoked a radical requestioning of claims once thought indisputable. In response, currents of irrationalism arose, even as the baselessness of the demand that reason be absolutely self-grounded was being critically demonstrated.
"Our age has been termed by some thinkers the age of "postmodernity". Often used in very different contexts, the term designates the emergence of a complex of new factors which, widespread and powerful as they are, have shown themselves able to produce important and lasting changes. The term was first used with reference to aesthetic, social and technological phenomena. It was then transposed into the philosophical field, but has remained somewhat ambiguous, both because judgement on what is called "postmodern" is sometimes positive and sometimes negative, and because there is as yet no consensus on the delicate question of the demarcation of the different historical periods. One thing however is certain: the currents of thought which claim to be postmodern merit appropriate attention. According to some of them, the time of certainties is irrevocably past, and the human being must now learn to live in a horizon of total absence of meaning, where everything is provisional and ephemeral. In their destructive critique of every certitude, several authors have failed to make crucial distinctions and have called into question the certitudes of faith.
"This nihilism has been justified in a sense by the terrible experience of evil which has marked our age. Such a dramatic experience has ensured the collapse of rationalist optimism, which viewed history as the triumphant progress of reason, the source of all happiness and freedom; and now, at the end of this century, one of our greatest threats is the temptation to despair.
"Even so, it remains true that a certain positivist cast of mind continues to nurture the illusion that, thanks to scientific and technical progress, man and woman may live as a demiurge, single-handedly and completely taking charge of their destiny." [my italics]
Current tasks for theology (92-99)
The Holy Father now moves on to theology, though philosophy remains prominent even here because of its contributions to hermeneutical theory and because of the central role the Holy Father attributes to metaphysics in theology. Vatican II gave theology the twofold task of (i) renewing its specific methods in order to serve evangelization and (ii) looking to the ultimate truth and never being content to stop short of it. It is this second task that implicates metaphysics, with its claims to universally valid truth. The Holy Father adds, in reply to those who find the apologetic task morally questionable: "To believe it possible to know a universally valid truth is in no way to encourage intolerance; on the contrary, it is the essential condition for sincere and authentic dialogue between persons. On this basis alone is it possible to overcome divisions and to journey together towards full truth, walking those paths known only to the Spirit of the Risen Lord" (#92).
The chief purpose of theology is to "provide an understanding of Revelation and the content of faith" (#93). This involves, first of all, the interpretation of texts -- Sacred Scripture and the texts of the teaching Tradition of the Church. Here good philosophy must play a central role if we are to avoid errors and see these texts as having a meaning in and for the history of salvation. The word of God has a universality which transcends the particular times and cultures in which it is articulated. This enduring validity extends to the conceptual language used in Conciliar definitions (##95-96). The Holy Father adds: "This is a complex theme to ponder, since one must reckon seriously with the meaning which words assume in different times and cultures. Nonetheless, the history of thought shows that across the range of cultures and their development certain basic concepts retain their universal epistemological value and thus retain the truth of the propositions in which they are expressed. (113) Were this not the case, philosophy and the sciences could not communicate with each other, nor could they find a place in cultures different from those in which they were conceived and developed. The hermeneutical problem exists, to be sure; but it is not insoluble. Moreover, the objective value of many concepts does not exclude that their meaning is often imperfect. This is where philosophical speculation can be very helpful. We may hope, then, that philosophy will be especially concerned to deepen the understanding of the relationship between conceptual language and truth, and to propose ways which will lead to a right understanding of that relationship" (#96).
Even more vital than the interpretation of sources is "the understanding of revealed truth, or the articulation of the intellectus fidei." After dismissing as already refuted the functional interpretation of doctrines, the Holy Father asserts, "If the intellectus fidei wishes to integrate all the wealth of the theological tradition, it must turn to the philosophy of being, which should be able to propose anew the problem of being -- and this in harmony with the demands and insights of the entire philosophical tradition, including philosophy of more recent times, without lapsing into sterile repetition of antiquated formulas. Set within the Christian metaphysical tradition, the philosophy of being is a dynamic philosophy which views reality in its ontological, causal and communicative structures. It is strong and enduring because it is based upon the very act of being itself, which allows a full and comprehensive openness to reality as a whole, surpassing every limit in order to reach the One who brings all things to fulfilment. In theology, which draws its principles from Revelation as a new source of knowledge, this perspective is confirmed by the intimate relationship which exists between faith and metaphysical reasoning" (#97).
He then reaffirms this sentiment for the case of moral theology: "In order to fulfil its mission, moral theology must turn to a philosophical ethics which looks to the truth of the good, to an ethics which is neither subjectivist nor utilitarian. Such an ethics implies and presupposes a philosophical anthropology and a metaphysics of the good. Drawing on this organic vision, linked necessarily to Christian holiness and to the practice of the human and supernatural virtues, moral theology will be able to tackle the various problems in its competence, such as peace, social justice, the family, the defence of life and the natural environment, in a more appropriate and effective way" (#98) [my italics].
At this point, the Holy Father makes the important connection between theology and catechetics, insisting that "theological work in the Church is first of all at the service of the proclamation of the faith and of catechesis" and that "catechesis has philosophical implications which must be explored more deeply in the light of faith" (#99). Catechesis has as its primary goal the doctrinal and spiritual formation of the person. So catechesis must present the Church's doctrine in its fullness and connect it with the life of faith. Here philosophy can articulate the connection between doctrina (or veritas) and vita.
The Holy Father explains that he has felt a need to deal "in a more systematic way" with the relation between faith and philosophy a hundred years after Aeterni Patris: "The importance of philosophical thought in the development of culture and its influence on patterns of personal and social behaviour is there for all to see. In addition, philosophy exercises a powerful, though not always obvious, influence on theology and its disciplines. For these reasons, I have judged it appropriate and necessary to emphasize the value of philosophy for the understanding of the faith, as well as the limits which philosophy faces when it neglects or rejects the truths of Revelation. The Church remains profoundly convinced that faith and reason mutually support each other" (#100). Theology must recover its true relationship with philosophy, but it is just as important that philosophy recover its true relationship with theology.
#102-104 emphasize the importance of philosophy as both the cause and effect of culture. Philosophy can inspire people to discover "both their capacity to know the truth and their yearning for the ultimate and definitive meaning of life" (#102). Further, as a "mirror of culture," philosophy is essential to the new evangelization that Pope Paul VI called for and, indeed, philosophy is often necessary as a ground for understanding and dialogue between believers and non-believers: "Reflecting in the light of reason and in keeping with its rules, and guided always by the deeper understanding given them by the word of God, Christian philosophers can develop a reflection which will be both comprehensible and appealing to those who do not yet grasp the full truth which divine Revelation declares. Such a ground for understanding and dialogue is all the more vital nowadays, since the most pressing issues facing humanity-ecology, peace and the co-existence of different races and cultures, for instance-may possibly find a solution if there is a clear and honest collaboration between Christians and the followers of other religions and all those who, while not sharing a religious belief, have at heart the renewal of humanity" (#104).
The Holy Father ends with separate appeals to theologians, philosophers, and scientists.
To theologians he says: "The intimate bond between theological and philosophical wisdom is one of the Christian tradition's most distinctive treasures in the exploration of revealed truth. This is why I urge [theologians] to recover and express to the full the metaphysical dimension of truth in order to enter into a demanding critical dialogue with both contemporary philosophical thought and with the philosophical tradition in all its aspects, whether consonant with the word of God or not. Let theologians always remember the words of that great master of thought and spirituality, Saint Bonaventure, who in introducing his Itinerarium Mentis in Deum invites the reader to recognize the inadequacy of 'reading without repentance, knowledge without devotion, research without the impulse of wonder, prudence without the ability to surrender to joy, action divorced from religion, learning sundered from love, intelligence without humility, study unsustained by divine grace, thought without the wisdom inspired by God'" (#105). (The Holy Father then adds a few words aimed especially at those involved in priestly formation.
To philosophers and, significantly, teachers of philosophy he says: "[I ask] them to have the courage to recover, in the flow of an enduringly valid philosophical tradition, the range of authentic wisdom and truth -- metaphysical truth included -- which is proper to philosophical enquiry. They should be open to the impelling questions which arise from the word of God and they should be strong enough to shape their thought and discussion in response to that challenge" (#106).
To scientists he says: "In expressing my admiration and in offering encouragement to these brave pioneers of scientific research, to whom humanity owes so much of its current development, I would urge them to continue their efforts without ever abandoning the sapiential horizon within which scientific and technological achievements are wedded to the philosophical and ethical values which are the distinctive and indelible mark of the human person" (#106)
Before invoking the assistance Mary, Seat of Wisdom, at the very end, the Holy Father urges "everyone to look more deeply at man, whom Christ has saved in the mystery of his love, and at the human being's unceasing search for truth and meaning. Different philosophical systems have lured people into believing that they are their own absolute master, able to decide their own destiny and future in complete autonomy, trusting only in themselves and their own powers. But this can never be the grandeur of the human being, who can find fulfilment only in choosing to enter the truth, to make a home under the shade of Wisdom and dwell there. Only within this horizon of truth will people understand their freedom in its fullness and their call to know and love God as the supreme realization of their true self" (#108).
Commentators on Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio have not failed to notice the incongruity that marks the Holy Father’s defense of the powers of reason against contemporary forms of skepticism. As Nicholas Wolterstorff has put it:
How surprising and ironic that roughly two centuries after Voltaire and his cohorts mocked the church as the bastion of irrationality, the church, in the person of the pope, should be the one to put in a good word for reason. In fact, given that professional philosophers of nearly all stripes have abandoned the classical search for a comprehensive and systematic wisdom that provides firm answers to the deepest and most pressing human questions, Pope John Paul’s call for us philosophers to recover our ‘sapiential’ vocation is not just ironic but downright mortifying.
Still, the Holy Father’s optimism should not obscure the fact that his defense of reason proceeds on his own terms and from within his own faith-filled perspective, and that it stands in marked contrast to those rationalistic tendencies, characteristic of some recent Catholic reflection on faith and reason, which have helped skew the course of Catholic intellectual life in general and Catholic higher education in particular. My aim in this paper is to argue, first, that the Holy Father propounds a conception of intellectual inquiry that is very different from currently dominant conceptions in the West, and yet, second, that despite its radical and countercultural nature, this conception of intellectual inquiry is philosophically just as plausible as its competitors and, in addition, much more hopeful.
In the first part of the paper I will briefly explicate the Holy Father’s assertion that reason can fully realize its own intrinsic ends only by means of intellectual inquiry conceived of Christocentrically. In doing so, I will highlight the continuity of his view with the portrait of intellectual inquiry and of the philosophical life that Plato paints in the so-called “middle dialogues.” Then in the second part I will contrast the Holy Father’s conception of intellectual inquiry with its most influential modernist and postmodernist competitors. In the end I will urge that, among the currently available alternatives in Western intellectual life, it is the Catholic intellectual tradition, guided by the teaching authority of the Church, which provides the best hope for overcoming the most intransigent intellectual problems that confront technologically advanced contemporary culture, among which are (a) the fragmentation of the intellectual disciplines, with an attendant neglect of the classical aspiration to achieve an integrated vision of the disciplines themselves and hence of the human person, and (b) a crisis of confidence within the specifically humanistic disciplines that has engendered a general cultural pessimism about the power of human reason to solve “the mystery of personal existence”[§12] -- a pessimism that poses a threat especially to the young. [§6 Here, as in so many other writings and speeches -- not to mention actions, such as the convening of World Youth Days -- Pope John Paul II appeals to young people to accept the challenge of the Gospel with a seriousness that runs counter to the general practice of their elders, especially in first world countries.]
It is important to pay close attention to the structure of Fides et Ratio. The Introduction, in which the Holy Father identifies the search for wisdom as a universal phenomenon with the implicit search for Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is followed immediately by discussions of special divine revelation (Chapter I) and of faith in that revelation as both a source of cognition and an affective prerequisite for the attainment of genuine wisdom (Chapter II).
This structure is significant and perhaps surprising. One might have expected the Holy Father to begin with a discussion of reason and so to proceed “from below,” that is, from that which, on a classical Catholic view, reason can in principle see on its own without revelation and which would render it receptive to the transcendent and the supernatural. To be sure, the Holy Father insists at various junctures that when reason operates correctly and in accord with its very nature, it does indeed find itself open to the transcendent even in the absence of divine revelation. [See §23, §41, §60, §70, §81, §83 and §84] But the unmistakable intent of Chapters I and II is to underscore the claim that reason can operate with full adequacy only within the framework of an “act of entrusting oneself to God” which “engages the whole person” and in which “the intellect and the will display their spiritual nature.”[§13] This act of faith in God’s gratuitous self-revelation, which the Holy Father characterizes as the highest realization of human freedom, enables the subject’s intellectual perception to attain a depth which would otherwise be lacking and which is necessary for attaining what we might call ‘sapiential certitude’, that is, certitude about the nature of the world and of the human person as expressed in a rigorous and comprehensive manner. [In §4 the Holy Father singles out a rigorous mode of thought and systematicity (or completeness) as characteristic of specul ative philosophy.]
In both its cognitive and its affective dimensions, this is a strikingly bold and radical vision of intellectual inquiry. With regard to the cognitive dimension, the Holy Father is asserting that no matter how impressive particular human claims to knowledge might be, they will collectively fail to constitute genuine wisdom if not informed by faith. For without the light of faith the sum of human knowledge can approach neither the comprehensiveness nor depth of insight required for wisdom:
Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings o f Provide nce. The words of the Book o f Proverb s are very significa nt in this regard: ‘The huma n mind plans its course, but the Lord directs its steps’ (16:9). That is, illumined by the light of reason, human beings know how to discover the way, but they can follow it to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they introduce the perspective of faith into their inquiry. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to understand themselves, the world, and Go d in a cohe rent way. [§16]
And he underscores the cognitive necessity of faith in Christ by citing one of his favorite passages from Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World:
As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes puts it, ‘only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light’. Seen in any other terms, the mystery of personal existence rem ains an insolub le riddle. W here might the human be ing seek the an swer to dramatic questions such as pain, the suffering of the innocent, and death, if not in the light streaming from the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection? [§12]
In the Introduction to the encyclical, the Holy Father had explicitly coupled the search for wisdom with the human quest for self-knowledge, in keeping with the ancient dictum, “Know thyself.” Every scientific and humanistic discipline contributes to this quest, since each counts some aspect of the human person among its objects of study. But here we are told that we can understand ourselves fully and solve “the mystery of personal existence” only by the light of “the mystery of the incarnate Word.” Vestiges of this far-reaching sentiment can still be found even nowadays in the mission statements of the largest Catholic universities, if not often in their day-to-day practice. What it implies for philosophy is that the mysteries of the Christian Faith must appear as first principles in any successful attempt to articulate the full truth about God, the world, and ourselves. What’s more, even though these mysteries are not naturally evident to us and cannot be acknowledged as true except by faith, without them we find ourselves in peril not only with respect to our supernatural end but also with respect to widely shared communal ends. For instance, the Holy Father explicitly ties the absence of the cognitive dimension of faith to the “technocratic logic” that dominates formerly Christian cultures in which scientific and technological innovations now take place in what we might aptly call a ‘sapiential vacuum’, with no systematic advertence to the transcendent metaphysical and moral questions that such innovations should occasion, especially in biotechnology. [§15]
In treating the affective dimension of faith, the Holy Father begins by invoking the attitude toward intellectual inquiry expressed in the Wisdom literature of Sacred Scripture:
The Chosen People understood that, if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules. The first of these is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a journey which allows no rest; the second stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal conquest; a third rule is ground ed in the ‘fear of God’ whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize. [§18]
Rectitude of affection -- characterized here by humility, fear of the Lord, and a sense of urgency about attaining wisdom and truth -- is essential for seeing important truths clearly. Moreover, it is evident from the context that the Holy Father means to affirm this not only for moral truths but also for important metaphysical truths -- especially those having to do with God and the nature of the human person -- which, when held with confidence, establish a framework in which subjects come to see self-transcending life-commitments as plausible paths to human fulfillment. However, it is precisely here that our moral defects tend both to blind us and to render us fearful:
The natural limitation of reason and inconstancy of heart often obscure and distort a person’s inquiry .... It is even possible for a person to avoid the truth as soon as he begins to glimpse it, be cause he is afraid of its demands. Yet even when he flees from it, the truth still has an impact on his existence . For he can never prop up his own life with doubt, uncertainty, or deceit; such an existence would be infested with fear and anxiety. This is why the human being can be defined as the one who seeks after truth. [§28]
In making these claims, Pope John Paul is self-consciously appropriating within a Christian setting the ideal set forth in Plato’s Republic, where Socrates emphasizes repeatedly that moral uprightness, which makes one fit for self-transcending and self-sacrificing friendship within a just community, is a necessary condition for being devoted to the truth and, in general, for leading the philosophical life. Indeed, other things being equal, moral uprightness is the chief mark that distinguishes the philosopher from the sophist. As the encyclical puts it:
One should remember, too, that reason needs to be sustained in its inquiry by trusting dialogue and authentic friendship. A climate of suspicion and distrust, which sometimes beset speculative inquiry, is oblivious to the teaching of the ancient philosophers, who held that friendship is one of the most fitting contexts for doing philosophy correctly. [§33]
As we will see below, the claim that intellectual inquiry ideally takes place within a community of self-transcending friendship founded upon a robust conception of the common good is foreign in the end to both modernist and postmodernist conceptions of inquiry. But according to the classical conception of intellectual inquiry that John Paul is evoking here, the pursuit of wisdom will prosper only insofar as rigorous intellectual training and practice are embedded within a well-ordered program of moral and spiritual formation consonant with the attainment of complete wisdom. In short, on this view ideal intellectual inquiry presupposes a way of life that depends on and fosters rectitude of affection, where such rectitude is deemed essential for one’s having certitude with respect to a correct set of first principles.
Furthermore, as Socrates insists in the Republic, moral uprightness is best inculcated and preserved in intellectual inquirers by a morally upright community. From the Holy Father’s perspective the relevant community is in the first instance the ecclesia, the Church herself, and the affective rectitude induced by faith consists essentially in our participation, through charity, in the inner life of the Holy Trinity -- a participation that all the faithful, including intellectual inquirers, receive gratuitously through the merits of Jesus Christ and which reconstitutes on a new plane their friendship with one another. And because of its particular core beliefs, this community is outward-looking and hence naturally enters into conversation with the political, social, and cultural bodies that all human beings, including members of the Church, find themselves a part of. In this sense, intellectual inquiry as Pope John Paul envisions it is always open to the stranger. This explains why it was wholly fitting for the Holy Father to include a brief treatment of the Church’s relationship to differing cultures within an encyclical on faith and reason. [§70-§72]
The communal setting of intellectual inquiry is absolutely crucial to the Holy Father’s account. For even though inquiry is seen as perfecting the individual inquirers themselves, its most important function is to serve the broader community that gives rise to and sustains it. Inquirers are obliged to return to the cave from the sunlight -- or, as St. Thomas puts it, “just as it is greater to illuminate than merely to shine, so too it is greater to give to others what one has contemplated than merely to contemplate.” So the ideal life of inquiry is essentially social in both its origins and its aims. In particular, as a servant of the broader community, intellectual inquiry is responsible to the first principles on which that community is founded. One of its main functions is to clarify those first principles and to deepen the community’s understanding of the warrant for them and of their superiority to possible competitors.
Finally, this conception of the nature of intellectual inquiry places no a priori restrictions on possible sources of cognition, but ostensibly invites inquirers to draw upon all the cognitive resources available to them -- including both faith and reason -- in constructing a complete and coherent set of answers to the deepest human questions. In the end, possession of the truth matters more than adherence to any given theory or method of inquiry.
This is the context within which the Holy Father repeatedly acknowledges -- and, indeed, insists upon -- the autonomy of intellectual inquiry, a notion that can be misunderstood in much the same way that the moral autonomy of the human person can be. [See §16, §45, §48, §49, §67, §75, §77, §79, §85, and §106] I can only skim the surface here, but it is important to articulate at least the most general principles governing the autonomy of inquiry and the authority exercised with respect to inquiry by the community, especially where the relevant community is the Church.
Philosophical inquiry developed historically outside of Christian revelation with its own formal and material standards of success. It is this extra-ecclesial situation that the Holy Father calls the first of the three “stances” of philosophy.[§75-§77] In the Summa Theologiae St. Thomas self-consciously adopted Aristotle’s formal conceptions of philosophical methodology and of the goal of philosophical inquiry in fashioning his own systematic presentation of Christian wisdom (“third stance of philosophy”), whereas in the Summa Contra Gentiles he engaged well-disposed classical and medieval non-Christian philosophers by trying to show that given just their own material assumptions it is possible to establish a large proper subset of Christian metaphysical and moral doctrines, the so-called ‘preambles of the faith’ (“second stance of philosophy”). Thus, intellectual inquiry as a general phenomenon has a certain independence from Christian faith (though not, on this conception, from affective commitments in toto), and reason serves in its own right as a source of cognition. As such, reason plays an important regulative role in the articulation and defense of the mysteries of the faith and in the investigation of those revealed truths it is able to establish even in the absence of revelation. To put it most simply, because of God’s veracity and hatred of falsehood, what is “contrary to reason” cannot be a part of any valid articulation of Christian wisdom. So intellectual inquiry has formal and material resources distinct from the Christian faith, and this gives it a measure of self-rule.
However, this general understanding of the autonomy of inquiry is fully consonant with the claim that inquiry is responsible to the community that gives rise to it and sustains it, and that the community, in pursuing the common good, legitimately exercises a normative role in inquiry beyond that which is exercised over inquirers by other inquirers. For just as genuine moral autonomy can be corrupted by weakness or wilfulness into a moral blindness that obscures one’s vision of genuine goods, both private and common, so too the autonomy of reason can be corrupted by moral weakness or wilfulness into an intellectual myopia that both blinds one to important truths and skews one’s vision of the common good to which inquiry is meant to contribute. What’s more, there is no reason to think that the exercise of the purely intellectual skills necessary for inquiry renders one immune to this sort of corruption. Indeed, intellectuals have forever accused one another of having fallen into it, and the “technocratic logic” I alluded to earlier is partly a result of the community’s failure -- or perhaps inability or even reluctance, in the case of pluralistic liberal democracies -- to bring authoritative metaphysical and moral guidance systematically to bear on scientific and technological research. So just as moral autonomy, rightly understood, does not entail the illegitimacy of all claims to moral authority outside of individual subjects or groups of subjects, so too intellectual autonomy, rightly understood, does not entail the illegitimacy of all claims to intellectual authority outside individual inquirers or groups of inquirers.
Needless to say, opponents of John Paul’s account of inquiry will be quick to point out that the specter of possible injustice and oppression looms large here, especially when the community in question is a full-scale state with inescapable coercive power. This is one reason why the model of the Republic strikes many of us moderns as so perilous, despite the safeguards built into the education of the guardians. From a Christian perspective, the primary difficulty with the Republic is that the effects of original sin cannot be wholly rooted out in this life by any environment or process of education. The Church, though, is an institution which (a) has voluntary membership, (b) is not, at least in the contemporary world, closely allied with inescapable coercive political power, and (c) has even loftier moral ideals for individuals than does the Republic. To be sure, these factors have not always in the past guaranteed, and do not now guarantee, that communal leaders will have either good intentions or good judgment in their dealings with inquirers. But they do provide standards of criticism that can legitimately be appealed to by inquirers.
What’s more, the exercise of authority over inquiry by the community at large is part and parcel of a social conception of intellectual inquiry that will have been internalized by the inquirers in their education, and so they will be at least antecedently predisposed to see this authority as a helpful guide rather than a threat. This is especially so in the case of the Church. For the conviction, shared by all the faithful, that the Holy Spirit guides the Church in preserving and safeguarding revealed truth puts the teaching authority of the Church in a theoretically stronger position than similar powers exercised by any other political or social community.
As regards the material character of the exercise of this authority, the Holy Father explains in Chapter V of Fides et Ratio that interventions on the part of the communal teaching authority of the Church are usually negative, warning against tendencies that might lead inquirers and the faithful at large outside the bounds of orthodoxy. But inquiry is largely underdetermined by orthodoxy and so a large area for freedom of thought and individual discretion is left open. On the other hand, some such interventions are positive, urging, for instance, that certain lines of inquiry which have heretofore been neglected should be investigated. But in such cases the warrant for the intervention must always be some pressing intellectual or pastoral challenge to the common good of the community.
I have sketched the general parameters of the Christocentric account of intellectual inquiry which Pope John Paul proposes in Fides et Ratio and which he sees as a Christian successor to the classical philosophical traditions. I am under no illusion that this account will seem attractive to large numbers of contemporary intellectuals -- just the opposite, and that is why I acknowledged from the start that it is countercultural. But the encyclical in effect lays down a challenge to contemporary philosophers and scientists to formulate a plausible and satisfying alternative. This can be a healthy exercise, given that intellectual inquirers are not often called upon to think very hard or very deeply about the nature of inquiry itself. But it can also be a revealing exercise, since the contemporary alternatives turn out to have deficiencies that even their own advocates should be able to recognize.
The nature of intellectual inquiry has been a disputed topic ever since Plato painted his portrait of the philosopher and of the philosophical life in dialogues such as the Gorgias, the Phaedo, the Phaedrus, the Symposium, the Apology, and the Republic. (Remember that in Plato’s time the natural and human sciences had not yet branched off from philosophy, and so what Plato was in effect proposing was an account of intellectual inquiry in general and of the life of intellectual inquiry.) And, in fact, the modern academy has its own pictures of intellectual inquiry and of the intellectual life -- pictures that look very different from Plato’s and very different indeed from what the Holy Father has in mind in Fides et Ratio. I now turn to them.
There are at least three important competing conceptions to consider: enlightenment or modernist rationalism, especially in its more optimistic versions; pragmatism; and Nietzschean or postmodern anti-rationalism. My treatment of these conceptions in the present paper is broad-stroked and to that extent deficient. Still, it will be sufficient to highlight the deep differences that divide the Holy Father from the vast majority of contemporary intellectuals.
According to the rationalist account of intellectual inquiry, an ideal inquirer, qua inquirer, is an intellectually autonomous individual with no indefeasible intellectual allegiance to any political, cultural, or religious community and hence with no intellectual loyalty to any historical tradition of inquiry. As Kant puts it:
Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!At least in the context of inquiry, affective ties are deemed impediments to seeing the truth clearly and objectively -- where truth is conceived of in realist fashion as distinct from consensus, though accessible to all methodologically competent inquirers. On this account, it is precisely because ideal intellectual inquiry proceeds from principles evident to ‘pure’ or ‘cool’ reason alone that it must be free from any explicit or implicit exercise of intellectual authority on the part of non-inquirers.
This aspect of enlightenment rationalism is, to be sure, not entirely ‘modern’. In De Utilitate Credendi St. Augustine recounts that he was first attracted to Manicheanism by its disdain for credulity and its promise that no catechumen would have to accept on faith what could not be proved by “pure and simple reason.” After his conversion Augustine attributed this attraction to the sin of pride, which had blinded him not only to his own intellectual limitations but also to the fact that an appropriate sort of trust in others is essential to intellectual inquiry. In contrast, on the rationalist view all affective ties, taken indiscriminately, distort judgment and turn it into one or another form of self-deception. Hence, inquirers must habituate themselves to factoring out the affective allegiances they have as ordinary human beings when they assume the role of ‘objective’ inquirers.
The more optimistic modernists believed that all careful reasoners of normal intelligence would find the very same first principles evident, and that they would likewise be able to discern the evident soundness of the arguments leading from those first principles to various important conclusions in metaphysics and moral theory. For instance, in the Discourse on Method Descartes contends that even though not everyone has the creative talent to forge new intellectual paths, all human beings of normal intelligence have enough “good sense” (le bon sens) to perceive the evidentness of the first principles, arguments, and conclusions yielded by his new method of ideas -- and this, presumably, regardless of their moral and spiritual condition, and regardless of the moral and spiritual condition of the cultures within which they practice intellectual inquiry. On this view all that is needed for genuine philosophical wisdom is intellectual insight and good method on the part of the teacher and good sense on the part of the student. Moral and spiritual education are simply beside the point -- no surprise, since they are instilled by just the type of communities whose influence rationalism seeks to banish from intellectual inquiry.
Other thinkers democratize the enlightenment by claiming in effect that in a democratic society each individual should be his or her own philosophical expert. For instance, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke insists that all normal adults have the ability and the obligation to apply on their own -- without guidance from an expert -- an epistemic methodology that will ensure that their assent to any proposition is proportioned strictly to the evidentness of that proposition’s claim to truth. And in On Liberty Mill brings this enlightenment ideal into the public forum by arguing that the best way for the citizen of a democracy to attain truth on important metaphysical, moral, and political questions is to participate in the on-going free discussion of these questions among intellectually autonomous citizen-philosophers.
Despite their differences, these more optimistic modernists are all agreed that by using the correct methods, reason by itself can and will discover all the truths needed for both individual and communal human flourishing, and that, without reliance on faith of any sort, the general consensus of mankind will -- at least over time -- converge on just those truths. This was an exceedingly attractive prospect in the early seventeenth century, given the religious and political divisions that were plaguing Europe in the wake of the Reformation, and given the social and cultural accomplishments of the Renaissance. Nor did modernist bravado die easily. Despite the notable lack of consensus -- or even progress toward consensus -- on important metaphysical and moral issues among seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers, and despite the pessimism about the powers of reason that had been trenchantly expressed by Hume and in a sense codified by Kant, the same modernist optimism is evinced in Mill’s spirited nineteenth-century defense of intellectual autonomy and freedom of inquiry.
Today the optimistic brand of modernist enthusiasm is confined mainly to scientifically-minded intellectuals who have devoted themselves to constructing wholly ‘naturalistic’ (or ‘materialistic’) worldviews. Yet despite the dramatic recent achievements in the natural sciences, there are just too many deep and important questions about the human condition that the natural sciences cannot plausibly answer. They simply leave out too much that is important to us. As a result, materialistic ideologies fail to cohere with the fundamental attitudes and deep-seated first principles of most ordinary human beings. Moreover, when we turn to theoretical work in the human sciences, we notice that -- for better or worse -- this work by and large seems to presuppose naturalistic first principles and hence cannot serve to discover them in the impartial manner promised by modernism. But without rationalist-conceived human science there is no hope of constructing a unified rationalist account of reality, which would, at least in broad outline, integrate the disparate academic disciplines into a synthetic framework. And as the Holy Father insists in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, such an integration of knowledge is essential to our attaining a complete vision of the human person. To fail in our search for a unified and integrated account of reality is in essence to fail in our search for coherent self-understanding.
The Holy Father notes with some concern that the recent past has seen the promise of the enlightenment fall on hard times and hard realities. For given the failure of modernists to provide a satisfactory comprehensive account of “how we ought to live,” as Socrates was wont to say, there is a palpable sense in which pessimism and even cynicism with respect to the attainment of wisdom has been their cultural legacy. This will become clear as we turn to the postmodern alternatives.
In the eyes of many, then, the so-called ‘enlightenment project’ has failed as a path to sapiential certitude, despite its spectacular scientific and technological achievements. The possible reactions to this perceived failure are many, but two stand out as worthy of special attention because of their prominence in contemporary Western intellectual culture. Each in its own way not only rejects the optimistic version of enlightenment rationalism but goes so far as to stand Socrates on his head.
The first, and more bourgeois, reaction to enlightenment rationalism might aptly be called pragmatism because of its association with John Dewey, though it finds a powerful early modern expression in Hume. According to this view, we should begin by simply admitting that the modernist search for sapiential certitude has been a failure and that such certitude has thereby been shown to be unattainable. As Philo puts it in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, when we leave the arena of everyday human affairs and attempt to inquire into the deep foundational questions of metaphysics and moral theory, we are like “foreigners in a strange country,” since our cognitive faculties, even when used as well as they can be, are not capable of yielding firm answers to these questions. Instead, we end up with competing comprehensive claims to wisdom, none of which has any more rational warrant than any other. Fortunately, even though we lack rational warrant for our sapiential claims, nature has endowed us with instinctive sentiments and beliefs which, if we do not corrupt them by either moral or epistemic fanaticism, are sufficient to guide us through ordinary life and even through scientific research conceived of empirically as a mere extension of ordinary thinking.
In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle had attributed the core of this position to the poet Simonides, who exhorted his readers to concern themselves just with things here below and not with the gods and heavens above. But the urgency with which pragmatism is defended today is a new phenomenon engendered by contemporary political realities. The pragmatist emphasizes that the rationalist search for sapiential certitude is not only futile but especially dangerous within the framework of a pluralistic democratic society. The reason is that competing claims to comprehensive wisdom are frequently held with a high degree of what St. Thomas calls “certitude of adherence,” and such firmness of commitment -- which is admittedly not proportioned to the evidentness of the claim to truth of the propositions assented to -- causes social division and undermines tolerance, the chief civic virtue required by such societies. So our best course is simply to abandon the search for wisdom as a general communal imperative. When it comes to ultimate moral and metaphysical questions, either we should train ourselves not to raise them at all or, if we find this psychologically impossible or otherwise undesirable, then we should at least refrain from insisting on the universal validity of our own sapiential preferences when we leave the private sphere and participate in public discourse. The role of the philosopher is not to raise these deep strategic questions, but is instead to engage in tactical ‘Socratic irony’, exposing the assumptions, pretenses, and incoherences of the wealthy, the famous, and the powerful.
The first thing to note about pragmatism as just described is that, despite its pretensions to the contrary, it in fact stands under the shadow of enlightenment rationalism. For according to the pragmatist, rationalism is mistaken not in its core conception of ideal intellectual inquiry, but merely in its optimism about the ability of affectless human inquirers to reach sapiential certitude by means of inquiry conceived rationalistically. Far from holding that rightly-placed affective commitment is essential to intellectual inquiry itself, the pragmatists see affective ties as kicking in, so to speak, only after inquiry properly speaking has failed in its task. Only from this perspective does it make sense to assign equal epistemic weight indiscriminately to all affective commitments (or at least to all politically tolerable ones), regardless of the intellectual content associated with those commitments. For instance, from this perspective the early Heidegger’s commitment to the renewal of German culture under National Socialism is -- epistemically at any rate -- on a par with, say, the Holy Father’s own commitment to the renewal of human cultures through what he calls the ‘new evangelization’.
It is worth recalling that when Augustine became disillusioned with the Manichean guarantee of naturally grounded wisdom, his immediate temptation was to cling to his faith in pure reason and despair of ever reaching certitude about the ultimate meaning of human existence. That is, he flirted with pragmatism as I have defined it. In the end, however, he altered his conception of inquiry instead, adopting the more classical approach explained above. So in the end the crucial issue for Augustine was not whether to make a faith-commitment qua inquirer but rather just which such commitment to make. And he came to believe that it was his own affective disorders that had tempted him, in effect, to assign equal epistemic weight to all such commitments after his disappointment with Manicheanism.
What drove Augustine beyond pragmatism was, in large measure, dissatisfaction with the thought that he should resign himself to abandoning the quest for wisdom as futile or, alternatively, to romanticizing it as an end in itself. In other words, he exhibited just the sort of moral urgency that the Holy Father sets forth as one of the affective prerequisites for attaining wisdom. In contrast, the pragmatist seems content to recommend the pursuit of a pleasant and comfortable life that avoids suffering as much as possible, and, within that stricture, an effort to make other people’s lives more pleasant, or at least less unpleasant. This was just the sort of life which Augustine had abandoned after reading Cicero’s Hortensius and which he had come to see as shallow, self-deceived, and indifferent to the deep human aspiration to commit oneself to noble ideals and deeds. In a passage that may very well have been aimed precisely at pragmatic postmodernism, the Holy Father speaks of nihilism:
As a result of the crisis of rationalism, what has appeared finally is nihilism. As a philosop hy of nothingne ss, it has a certain attra ction for peo ple of our tim e. Its adheren ts claim that the search is an end in itself, without any hope or possibility of ever attaining the goal of truth. In the nihilist interpretation, life is no more than an occasion for sensations and experiences in which the ephemeral has pride of place. Nihilism is at the root of the widespread mentality which claims that a definitive commitment should no longer be made, because e verything is fleeting an d provisional. [§46]
The validity of applying this charge to pragmatism might not at first be obvious, since, after all, the pragmatist holds that people are free to commit themselves passionately and wholeheartedly to any kind of lifestyle they please, as long as they are tolerant of commitments that conflict with their own. But the very foundation of pragmatism implies that it is foolish to cling to any faith commitment with a degree of certitude that is not proportioned to what would be evident to any affectless inquirer, and yet this is precisely the sort of certitude that the virtue of faith confers on the Christian believer. To the pragmatist, then, the absolute certitude with which the Christian faithful adhere to their claim to wisdom can only seem foolish and dangerous. This is, after all, the certitude of the Christian martyrs, and these martyrs are precisely the sort of “fanatics” whose influence in the public sphere pragmatism is anxious to minimize. Anyone who finds these martyrs, along with other saints, admirable will find pragmatism unsatisfactory. In fact, anyone who finds non-self-transcending conceptions of human fulfillment rather unfulfilling will likewise be dissatisfied with pragmatism’s implicit disdain for the noble and heroic. Such people are looking precisely to make the sort of permanent and “definitive” commitments that the pragmatist views as silly and treacherous.
If pragmatism is rather bourgeois, the same cannot be said of the Nietzschean brand of postmodernism. “Supposing truth to be a woman -- what?” Thus begins Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and thus begins as well his relentless critique of the affectless rationalist inquirer. One finds hints of this view in Hume’s darker moments, when his assertion of the ascendancy of non-rational sentiment over reason is particularly strong and his concomitant pessimism about reason is particularly intense. But Hume still retains his ingenuous confidence that the most basic sentiments relevant to moral and scientific practice are universal, ineradicable, and predominantly benign, and so he manages -- at least most of the time -- to maintain his cheerfully ironic pragmatism. Thus it fell to the more serious, cynical, and persistent Nietzsche to launch a devastating critique of modernism and the bourgeois culture fostered by it. From the Holy Father’s perspective, there is much to be learned from this critique[§91], but whereas Nietzsche’s modernist predecessors had overvalued reason and rational discourse, so he himself undervalues them. In the end, it is the rhetoricians, and not the philosophers, who prevail.
As Nietzsche sees it, the classical search for wisdom is a movement of pure will or instinct, with reason serving only to rationalize the first principles that one already accepts or prefers without reason. To be sure, he chides the ‘neutral’ or ‘value-free’ modernist scholar for not being able so much as to appreciate the sentiments that have given rise to philosophy and religion across all human cultures. Yet from his perspective all philosophical inquirers, classical as well as modernist, are operating in bad faith, since they refuse to bring to the surface the various ways in which appeals to expert knowledge and to the so-called ‘authority of reason’ have been and continue to be used as instruments of both self-deception and oppression.
Now one might find much truth in this attribution of bad faith even while insisting that intellectual inquirers equipped with affective rectitude have the ability to distinguish legitimate and benign from illegitimate and oppressive appeals to the authority of reason. (Ironically, given the context, Catholics might understand the interventions of the Church’s teaching authority in philosophical matters to be aimed precisely at helping us make this distinction.) But Nietzsche will hear of no such qualifications. On his view, all appeals to the authority of reason, whatever their provenance, should be viewed with suspicion. And, indeed, it is just such suspicion -- in the beginning with respect to those who fall outside of one’s own community of victims and in the end with respect to everyone, including one’s own past selves -- that marks Nietzschean inquiry.
In Fides et Ratio the Holy Father asserts that this attitude of universal suspicion -- even if not wholly unjustified -- leads straight to nihilism.[§91] This might not at first be obvious, since there are highly-publicized communitarian versions of Nietzschean inquiry that promote a sort of ‘secular fideism’, complete with (a) ‘faith-communities’ built upon the members’ shared perceptions of being victimized by sinister and powerful outsiders and (b) an account of truth according to which truth as an ideal consists simply in the consensus of those who share the ‘faith’ of the community. The radical intellectual perspectives generated by such fideism have, after all, produced some very insightful critiques of classical and modernist intellectual inquiry.
Despite this veneer of communitarianism, however, the Holy Father is right on the mark in his assessment of the nihilistic tendencies of Nietzschean perspectivalism. For the fact remains that Nietzsche’s own analysis of bad faith can be turned back upon any such communitarian Nietzscheanism itself, and this ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ undermines the very communities that were initially held together by shared perceptions of victimization. It is no accident that the most salient characteristic of Nietzsche’s ‘free spirit’ is that he undergoes continual ‘dis-integration’ as he uncovers and is disgusted by his own past self-deceptions. In the end the free spirit repudiates all attachments to people as individuals, to communities, to country, to pity, to science and philosophy, to his own virtues, and even to his own detachment.
Interestingly, the free spirit’s detachment is in some ways remarkably akin to the detachment of the Christian saint, whom Nietzsche both despises and grudgingly admires. But the detachment of the Christian saint is for the sake of friendship with God, and all the objects of detachment are in the end recovered to the extent that they can be re-ordered toward that friendship. The free spirit’s detachment, in contrast, serves only to exclude him from genuine friendship with others and ultimately leaves him with only his suspicion, including his self-suspicion. No claim to objective or absolute wisdom will long survive inquiry of this sort. In short, given the foundational first principles of Neitzschean inquiry, there is ultimately no perspective -- established either by faith or by reason -- that can be both intellectually normative and a source of permanent friendship and harmony binding together the community of inquirers. So, once again, those looking to make permanent self-sacrificing and self-transcendent commitments will find Nietzschean inquiry less than satisfactory.
But whatever form postmodern nihilism might take, whether the passionate and suspicious nihilism of Nietzscheanism or the cheerfully ironic nihilism of pragmatism, it seems both to arise from and be sustained by an underlying despair about the human condition:
The currents of thought which claim to be postmodern merit appropriate attention. According to some of them, the time of certainties is irrevocably past, and the human being must now learn to live in a horizon of total absence of meaning, where everything is provisional and ephemeral. In their destructive critique of every certitude, several authors have failed to make crucial distinctions and have called into question the certitudes of faith. This nihilism has been justified in a sense by the terrible experience of evil which has marked our age . Such a dramatic experience has ensured the collap se of rationalist optimism, which viewed history as the triumphant progress of reason, the source of all happiness and freedom; and now, at the end of this century, one of our greatest threats is the temptation to despair. [§91]
It is undeniable that since the “collapse of rationalist optimism,” philosophers have tended to be more guarded in their aspirations and less hopeful in their expectations, especially when compared to their predecessors in the great classical philosophical traditions. As Chesterton remarks, “[Modern philosophy’s] despair is this, that it does not really believe that there is any meaning in the universe.” Still, even the classical pagan philosophers were in their own turn much less hopeful than Holy Father is. Recall that Socrates’ own conception of the best the philosopher could hope for even in the next life was the sort of perpetual philosophical conversation that Dante situated in the first circle of hell -- a far cry from the intimate union with the Persons of the Triune God that the Holy Father takes to be possible for us, at least in its beginnings, even in this life.
Pope John Paul II proposes a conception of intellectual inquiry which is radical by contemporary Western standards and yet which has preserved the classical quest for a unified rational self-understanding and an answer to the “mystery of personal existence.” In this paper I have tried to suggest in inchoative fashion the main lines of argument by which this conception of inquiry might reasonably be defended as superior to its main competitors. What remains is to develop these arguments with greater rigor and specificity.
1. Books & Culture 5, July/August 1999]
2. For example, the University of Notre Dame’s mission statement, revised as late as 1995, still contains the following lines: “A Catholic university draws its basic inspiration from Jesus Christ as the source of wisdom and from the conviction that in him all things can be brought to their completion. As a Catholic university, Notre Dame wishes to contribute to this educational mission.”
3. Summa Theologiae 2-2, ques. 188, art. 6.
4. I am underplaying here the self-critical function of inquiry in order to emphasize that even this function is perspectival and not free-floating. Such self-criticism is made from a point of view and must hence take the form of criticizing theories and practices by appeal to prior principles which those theories and practices are seen to violate. To reject the prior principles themselves is in effect to ‘excommunicate’ oneself from the community within which one began inquiry. Even though this might under certain specifiable conditions be a reasonable course of action, it itself involves an implicit appeal to a new set of first principles and hence presupposes the possibility of a community built around the new principles. The idea that inquiry can be entirely ‘free’, i.e., free of any commitment at all to prior principles, is a fiction of the modernist imagination.
5. Where, after all, did Socrates get the belief in personal immortality that he puts to the test in the Phaedo? As is clear from the “judgment myths” found in the Phaedo, Republic, and Gorgias, it came at least in its origins from his inherited religion and was perhaps fortified by his deep conviction that the philosophical life, which is a “preparation for death,” is the best life a human being can lead. Moreover, Socrates seems content to treat this belief as innocent until proven guilty. That is, he is anxious to refute the objections of Simmias and Cebes, even though he acknowledges that his own positive arguments for the belief are inconclusive. In this sense, his investigation of the thesis of personal immortality is analogous to the Christian’s investigation of the mysteries of the faith.
6. See St. Thomas, Summa Contra Gentiles chaps. 7 and 8.
7. A faint -- and far more dangerous -- analogue of this second role is played in universities nowadays by governmental and corporate subsidies for scientific research.
8. What is Enlightenment? (1784). Kant is an interesting and crucial figure in the story of enlightenment rationalism. On the one hand, his conception of enlightenment stands squarely within the movement initiated by the likes of Descartes and Locke. On the other hand, his Humean-inspired pessimism about the power of speculative or theoretical reason prepares the way for postmo dernist conc eptions of in quiry.
9. De Utilitate Credendi, chap. 1, #2: “My purpose is to prove to you, if I can, that it is profane and rash for the Manicheans to inveigh against those who follow the authority of the Catholic Faith before they are able to intuit the Truth which is seen by a pure mind, and who, by having faith, are fortified and prepared for the God who will give them light. For you realize, Honoratus, that the only reason we fell in with such men was their claim that, apart from any intimidating authority, they would by pure and simple reason lead those who heard them to God and set them free from all error. For what else compelled me, for almost nine years, to spurn the religion instilled in me as a boy by my parents and to follow those men and listen to them diligently, except their claim that we had been made fearful by superstition and had been required to have faith before reason, whereas they would urge no one to believe unless the truth had first been discussed and made clear?” (my translation). See also Confessions 6, chap. 5.
10. Descartes made this claim at least about foundational beliefs in physics and metaphysics, while it was extended to foundational moral beliefs by various modern moral philosophers.
11. This claim is at the heart of the call for Christian-based social science that one finds in the work of the so-called “Radical Orthodoxy” movement, led by theologians such as John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock.
12. This is a major theme of Walker Percy’s fiction, which is in many ways a fitting literary complement to Fides et Ratio.
13. David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 1983), p. 7.
14. For an exposition, emendation, and defense of this ‘Rortyan’ position, see Gary Gutting, Pragmatic Liberalism and the Critique of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
15. See especially Confessions 5, chap. 14 and 6, chap. 11.
16. The character of Philo in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is especially interesting in this regard, since he alternates -- or so it seems to me -- between a gleeful superficial disparagement of the search for wisdom (that is, pragmatism) on the one hand and a somber deep despair about the human condition (that is, Nietzscheanism) on the other.
17. A particularly entertaining example of this occurs at Beyond Good and Evil 58, where Nietzsche pokes fun at the condescension of the “German scholar” toward religious people.
58. Has it been observed to what extent outward idleness, or semi-idleness, is necessary to a real religious life (alike for its favourite microscopic labour of self-examination, and for its soft placidity called "prayer," the state of perpetual readiness for the "coming of God"), I mean the idleness with a good conscience, the idleness of olden times and of blood, to which the aristocratic sentiment that work is DISHONOURING -- that it vulgarizes body and soul -- is not quite unfamiliar? And that consequently the modern, noisy, time-engrossing, conceited, foolishly proud laboriousness educates and prepares for "unbelief" more than anything else? Among these, for instance, who are at present living apart from religion in Germany, I find "free-thinkers" of diversified species and origin, but above all a majority of those in whom laboriousness from generation to generation has dissolved the religious instincts; so that they no longer know what purpose religions serve, and only note their existence in the world with a kind of dull astonishment. They feel themselves already fully occupied, these good people, be it by their business or by their pleasures, not to mention the "Fatherland," and the newspapers, and their "family duties"; it seems that they have no time whatever left for religion; and above all, it is not obvious to them whether it is a question of a new business or a new pleasure -- for it is impossible, they say to themselves, that people should go to church merely to spoil their tempers. They are by no means enemies of religious customs; should certain circumstances, State affairs perhaps, require their participation in such customs, they do what is required, as so many things are done -- with a patient and unassuming seriousness, and without much curiosity or discomfort; -- they live too much apart and outside to feel even the necessity for a FOR or AGAINST in such matters. Among those indifferent persons may be reckoned nowadays the majority of German Protestants of the middle classes, especially in the great laborious centres of trade and commerce; also the majority of laborious scholars, and the entire University personnel (with the exception of the theologians, whose existence and possibility there always gives psychologists new and more subtle puzzles to solve). On the part of pious, or merely church-going people, there is seldom any idea of HOW MUCH good-will, one might say arbitrary will, is now necessary for a German scholar to take the problem of religion seriously; his whole profession (and as I have said, his whole workmanlike laboriousness, to which he is compelled by his modern conscience) inclines him to a lofty and almost charitable serenity as regards religion, with which is occasionally mingled a slight disdain for the "uncleanliness" of spirit which he takes for granted wherever any one still professes to belong to the Church. It is only with the help of history (NOT through his own personal experience, therefore) that the scholar succeeds in bringing himself to a respectful seriousness, and to a certain timid deference in presence of religions; but even when his sentiments have reached the stage of gratitude towards them, he has not personally advanced one step nearer to that which still maintains itself as Church or as piety; perhaps even the contrary. The practical indifference to religious matters in the midst of which he has been born and brought up, usually sublimates itself in his case into circumspection and cleanliness, which shuns contact with religious men and things; and it may be just the depth of his tolerance and humanity which prompts him to avoid the delicate trouble which tolerance itself brings with it. -- Every age has its own divine type of naivete, for the discovery of which other ages may envy it: and how much naivete -- adorable, childlike, and boundlessly foolish naivete is involved in this belief of the scholar in his superiority, in the good conscience of his tolerance, in the unsuspecting, simple certainty with which his instinct treats the religious man as a lower and less valuable type, beyond, before, and ABOVE which he himself has developed -- he, the little arrogant dwarf and mob-man, the sedulously alert, head-and-hand drudge of "ideas," of "modern ideas"!
18. See chapters 5 and 6 of Fides et Ratio, where the Holy Father defends magisterial interventions and also argues that the Catholic Church, because of the universality of its message, has been more successful than any other historical institution in interweaving the universalist claims of the Gospel with indigenous human cultures. This is not to deny that mistakes have been made along the way, and the present Holy Father has been the first to acknowledge them. But the intent has been to enhance indigenous cultures and bring them to perfection through the Gospel, and not to repress or replace them in the manner of, say, the Roman or British Empires or, more recently, imperialistic free-market consumerism.
19. I have in mind, for example, certain feminist critiques of the history of science. This, by the way, is a game that Catholics and other Christians can play as well, since we are urged to see the world “through the eyes of faith.” However, given that a fundamental stance of seeing oneself as a victim carries with it grave spiritual risks, it is probably better for Christians to employ this device very sparingly.
20. Beyond Good and Evil, 31 and 41.
31. In our youthful years we still venerate and despise without the art of NUANCE, which is the best gain of life, and we have rightly to do hard penance for having fallen upon men and things with Yea and Nay. Everything is so arranged that the worst of all tastes, THE TASTE FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL, is cruelly befooled and abused, until a man learns to introduce a little art into his sentiments, and prefers to try conclusions with the artificial, as do the real artists of life. The angry and reverent spirit peculiar to youth appears to allow itself no peace, until it has suitably falsified men and things, to be able to vent its passion upon them: youth in itself even, is something falsifying and deceptive. Later on, when the young soul, tortured by continual disillusions, finally turns suspiciously against itself -- still ardent and savage even in its suspicion and remorse of conscience: how it upbraids itself, how impatiently it tears itself, how it revenges itself for its long self-blinding, as though it had been a voluntary blindness! In this transition one punishes oneself by distrust of one's sentiments; one tortures one's enthusiasm with doubt, one feels even the good conscience to be a danger, as if it were the self-concealment and lassitude of a more refined uprightness; and above all, one espouses upon principle the cause AGAINST "youth." -- A decade later, and one comprehends that all this was also still -- youth!
41. One must subject oneself to one's own tests that one is destined for independence and command, and do so at the right time. One must not avoid one's tests, although they constitute perhaps the most dangerous game one can play, and are in the end tests made only before ourselves and before no other judge. Not to cleave to any person, be it even the dearest -- every person is a prison and also a recess. Not to cleave to a fatherland, be it even the most suffering and necessitous -- it is even less difficult to detach one's heart from a victorious fatherland. Not to cleave to a sympathy, be it even for higher men, into whose peculiar torture and helplessness chance has given us an insight. Not to cleave to a science, though it tempt one with the most valuable discoveries, apparently specially reserved for us. Not to cleave to one's own liberation, to the voluptuous distance and remoteness of the bird, which always flies further aloft in order always to see more under it -- the danger of the flier. Not to cleave to our own virtues, nor become as a whole a victim to any of our specialties, to our "hospitality" for instance, which is the danger of dangers for highly developed and wealthy souls, who deal prodigally, almost indifferently with themselves, and push the virtue of liberality so far that it becomes a vice. One must know how TO CONSERVE ONESELF -- the best test of independence.
21. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, San Francisco: Ignatius Press (1908, 1995), p. 164.
There is no doubt that the examination into the harmony of faith and reason conducted by John Paul II in the encyclical letter Fides et Ratio has extended our understanding of and called our attention towards a universal philosophy, a philosophy which transcends all cultures, particular times, individual thinkers, and the thoughts and lives of all men and women who sincerely seek the truth. (See John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, 14 September 1998, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 91 : pp. 5-88. The introductory line of the present paper is a paraphrase of a line from Hilary Putnam's Mathematics, Matter and Method [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003], pp. 83 and 93.)
What the encyclical defends is an appeal to the philosophy of being in order to show that it is possible to move from the historical and contingent circumstances which necessarily envelop philosophical production to the point of reaching the fundamental elements of knowledge produced by the "natural philosophy of the human mind," a philosophy transcending those circumstances and particular insights. (See Jacques Maritain, An Introduction to Philosophy [New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2005], p. 54.)
No one questions that the historical unfolding of philosophical speculation is intricate and complex. Yet the proliferation of philosophical systems with their claim of universality is no guarantee that they are actually universal and true. Many of them are patently false. And in fact almost any combination of color can be found in the philosophical positions that thinkers have advanced throughout the centuries.
Can one then conclude that philosophers are free from constraints because a point of reference for philosophical speculation is nowhere to be found?
The issues involved here are fundamental ones and cover a tremendous amount of ground. It is indeed possible to argue at the level of the particulars involved in the different philosophical positions. But the general outlines of an answer can and should be given. And this is what Fides et Ratio does.
It is on the basis of methodology that the philosophy of being is credited in Fides et Ratio with a completeness, a balance, a depth, a clarity, a fidelity to the truth, in one word, with a token of infallibility, to be found in no other philosophical system.
With the caliber of a philosopher and the authority of a teacher John Paul II stresses that "The philosophy of being is strong and enduring because it is based upon the very act of being itself (ipse actus essendi), which allows a full and comprehensive openness to reality as a whole."
And to explain this dynamism and this openness of the philosophy of being John Paul II points out that "The basis and source of this openness lie in the fact that this is a philosophy of the actus essendi, it is the philosophy of the proclamation of being. It is from this affirmation of being that the philosophy of being draws its power to justify itself from the methodological point of view, as a branch of knowledge that cannot be reduced to any other science whatever, and as one that transcends them all by establishing itself as independent of them and at the same time as bringing them to completion in regard to their true nature. Only in this way does the intellect feel at ease (as it were 'at home') and therefore it can never abandon this way without abandoning itself."
"In so far as methodology is concerned," the Pope continues, "it would be hard to exaggerate the importance of this discovery for philosophical research, as indeed also for human knowledge in general."
Then the Pope asks this question "Is it to be feared that by favoring the philosophy of being one will undermine the right to exist that is enjoyed by different cultures or hinder the progress of human thought?
"Such a fear would clearly be groundless," he concluded, "because the methodological principle invoked implies that whatever is real has its source in the act of being (actus essendi); and because the perennial philosophy, by reason of that principle, can claim in advance, so to speak, all that is true in regard to reality.
"By the same token, every understanding of reality, which does in fact correspond to reality, has every right to be accepted by the philosophy of being, no matter who is to be credited with such progress in understanding or to what philosophical school that person belongs.
"Hence, the other trends in philosophy, if regarded from this point of view, can and indeed should be treated as natural allies of the philosophy of being, and as partners worthy of attention and respect in the dialogue that is carried on in the presence of reality. This is needed if truth is to be more than partial or one-sided" (John Paul II, "Address at the Angelicum," in L'Osservatore Romano English Weekly Edition [17 December 1979]: pp. 6-8; in Angelicum 57 : pp. 133-146; and referred to in Fides et Ratio, nos. 60 and 97.) and laudatory words directed towards a philosophical system such as the ones expressed by John Paul II in Fides et Ratio are rare: with unmistakable clarity the Pope has directed attention towards the most profound perfection existing in everything that exists, namely, to the proper, internal, incommunicable participation of each existing thing in the metaphysical principle of the actus essendi.
There is no question that in favoring the philosophy of the act of being, the Pope is identifying the school of sound thinking.
Reason itself takes care of disqualifying a philosophy.
Evidently, this disqualification does not come from wrong reason. It comes from right reason, from reason's capacity to attain the truth.
"Once reason successfully intuits and formulates the first universal principles of being and correctly draws from them conclusions which are coherent both logically and ethically, then it may be called right reason or, as the ancients called it, orth(o-)s logos, recta ratio."
In other words, through the metaphysical principles of the real and the ability to speculate, the human intellect has produced a rigorous mode of thought. The most precious fruit of this process is the notion of actus essendi which carries with it an intrinsic and inseparable methodology. (See Fides et Ratio, nos. 4 and 97.)
On a daily basis, the use of the methodology of the actus essendi amounts to hearing the command, "Ground the first principles of intellectual knowledge in the act of being of the things of nature." Not to abide by this command is to go against the ethics of thought.
In other words, in the dynamism of acquisition, conception and articulation of knowledge, a deviation from the order things themselves possess, is simply a poorly grounded inference because the intellect of every human being functions with a natural inclination towards first principles. And since actuality in being cannot be denied - it is the very first principle unfailingly available to us all -- a tacit affirmation of the methodology of the actus essendi is always at work in the mind of every person.
The tacit awareness of the real, however, can be easily misplaced by the intervention of the imagination and the passions and other powers and circumstances and free will in such a way that one can also easily credit with the strength of principle a premise which in reality cannot serve that purpose.
Thus, even if explicitly rejected, the methodology of the actus essendi, in its implicit mode, cannot be rejected. It is there unfailingly implied, and sooner or later it will make manifest the absurdity of the rejection.
On the other hand, when explicitly affirmed, the methodology of the act of being shows itself up in the coherence of the assumptions.
In Fides et Ratio Pope John Paul II singled out the doctrine of the actus essendi as the grounding of the fundamental elements of knowledge, the body of knowledge which serves as an in progress, universally valid, meta-historic point of reference for the different philosophical schools.
Pope John Paul II has recently released a new encyclical letter on faith and reason, entitled Fides et Ratio. The Pope has chosen to call his encyclical "Faith and reason" - not "Faith or reason" - because the two, in fact, work together. There is a profound unity and harmony between the two, "like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth." This welcome encyclical letter serves as a great encouragement to those devoted to the dissemination of Thomism. It will be studied in more detail in future issues of Universitas. For the present I would like to offer a few personal reflections on reason and faith and their relation to the human intellect. I shall then attempt to show that the false dichotomy that is commonly posed between faith and reason leads to an undermining of both of them.
Faith and reason are distinct but they are not contradictory. Both are about attaining truth which is the perfection of the intellect. Reason proceeds by the light of principles which are known naturally. Faith adheres to truths believed on the authority of God. These latter are not known by natural reason but this does not mean that the intellect is compromised by faith. Faith adheres to supernatural truths which have been divinely revealed by Him who is truth itself and it is eminently reasonable to believe Him. An understanding of the complementarity of faith and reason will help to avoid the extremes of rationalism on the one hand and fideism on the other.
Rationalism rejects the exigencies of faith, for it refuses to acknowledge that there is any truth beyond what the human intellect can discover for itself. Rationalism delights in the intellect’s capacity to know truths so much that it denies even the possibility that there should be any truths above the human intellect. Fideism, seeing rationalism’s exaggeration of the human intellect and recognising the widespread tendency of fallen man to fall into error, imposes a mistrust of the human intellect. Fideism goes so far as to deny that the human intellect can know any truth whatsoever without Divine revelation.
These are the two extremes regarding the intellect’s relation to natural and supernatural truths. It is in the teaching of St. Thomas that we see the refutation of these errors, preserving both the certitude of truths known by reason alone and the certitude of faith. Faith and reason are not at all contradictory: they are complementary.
Both faith and reason attain truth – reason grasps natural truths and supernatural faith knows supernatural truths. Reason sees, faith believes, but what is seen or believed is the true. The intellect is ordered towards truth. No one wants to be deceived. That is why we reason about things: to get to the truth. Reasoning is not an end in itself: it is the means. We reason for the sake of arriving at true conclusions, conclusions which are contained virtually in the principles.
If reasoning is ordered towards truth it is because that is the perfection of the intellect - understanding what is true. Truth is conformity between mind and reality. It is conformity of our mind to reality for the truth we find, and conformity of that part of reality which we produce or enact to our mind for practical truth. Conformity of the whole of reality to the divine mind as its measure is the ultimate truth of things. Man first comes to be, but his being is naturally followed by knowledge and love of the cause of his knowledge. He longs to understand that reality in which he finds himself. He wants to know the truth about things, about the world, himself, what he is made for, the very meaning of life and love and suffering and happiness. Some truths, however, transcend the intellect’s natural capacity. There are truths which we know for ourselves and there are other truths which are above our nature - supernatural truths. These latter are in the realm of faith. Those truths which God reveals are the matter of faith. The form of faith is the reason for believing: God revealing. Faith, like reasoning, is about bringing the intellect to its perfection - truth understood. But whereas natural truths proceed under the light of human reason and attain things which are naturally knowable, supernatural truths proceed under the superior light of faith. It is called light because it illuminates certain truths. But faith involves a certain obscurity, not because of lack of light but because of excess of it. Things which are in themselves more certain may appear to us less so on account of the weakness of our intellect "which is dazzled by the clearest objects of nature; as the owl is dazzled by the light of the sun." The fact that the truths are not seen by us but are seen by God and believed by us means we are reliant on Another to know that they are true.
Since truth is the intellect’s perfection and both faith and reason attain truth, both are unto the good of the intellect. There is no contradiction between faith and reason. On the contrary, there is a supreme harmony and profound unity between them. As Pope John Paul says in Fides et Ratio, citing the First Vatican Council:
Even if faith is superior to reason there can never be a true divergence between faith and reason, since the same God who reveals the mysteries and bestows the gift of faith has also placed in the human spirit the light of reason. This God could not deny himself, nor could the truth ever contradict the truth.
The faith of which the Pope is speaking is supernatural faith, faith in God as Revealer. He is not speaking of human faith here since faith in man does not always lead to the truth. As Aristotle prudently observed: "Where you have a man, there you have a potential liar." Supernatural faith however, cannot but lead to the truth since such faith is believing what has been revealed by God who is Truth, One who, as the catechism says, "can neither deceive nor be deceived."
To modern philosophy and, it must be said, in some theological circles, it seems that the claims of faith are considered to be contrary to reason. Miracles are explained away by natural phenomena. If there is any apparent contradiction between faith and reason, or between faith and science, or between faith and history, it is the claim of faith that is guilty until proven innocent. To some, faith seems to imply an intellectual weakness, a compromise which leads the believer to have a clouded judgment. Only reason independent of faith is thought to be truly rigorous, intellectually sincere and independent. At best, faith can be held merely as a private devotion and should bear no mark on the workings of the human mind. Faith is seen as an emotional crutch.
Faith however, is not unreasonable, nor does it distort the intellect. The human intellect is a power, a can understand. What is it that will move it from can understand to does understand? Clearly it cannot move itself, since potency does not actualise itself. There are only two movers of intellect: seen evidence and will. Evidence is such as when I see that something is so, that it must be so, that it cannot but be so. Once I understand the terms "four times four" and the term "sixteen" I can’t help but put a resounding "is equal to" between the two to identify them. I see that four fours are sixteen and nothing will convince me otherwise. I will never let go of that truth once I see it. This is what is meant by seen evidence.
The other mover of intellect is the will. I can choose to believe something which I don’t clearly see for myself. There might be very good grounds for believing it (as in supernatural faith) or they may be pretty flimsy, such as when I believe what is in fact a lie. If the motive for believing is God revealing then faith is entirely reasonable in that reason sees that it must necessarily be true. Scripture speaks of it as the "obedience of faith." Obedience, because it requires a submission of the will to the Revealer.
Does such submission compromise the intellect? And even given that faith be true, why should we need it? Why even seek to adhere to truths which transcend the intellect’s natural, God-given capacity for truth?
In the very first article of the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas asks whether besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required. He explains that it was necessary for man’s salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason. He shows that means must be proportioned to their end, and that if man’s end is supernatural, then the means by which he knows and reaches that end must also be supernatural. We need sacred theology:
Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason. But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Wherefore as man’s whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth, therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation.
Given that God has ordained man to reach a supernatural end, a supernatural revelation is necessary for man to reach that ultimate end, namely his salvation. Now if such a revelation is necessary then so is the knowledge of it. That knowledge cannot come by means of any natural power since the end is supernatural and, as was said, the means of knowing it must also be supernatural. So faith is necessary for salvation.
In an act of assent there are two motives: there is the motive to do the act, which is something willed; and there is the specification of the assent. The motive for this specification may be either evidence or the will. In the act of faith the intellect is specified by the will. The believer makes his act of faith because he wills to do so. His motive for assent to a truth is not from reason. But neither is it against reason. It is above reason, and it is not unreasonable to believe truths we do not and cannot see for ourselves, provided we have good reason for believing they are true. In fact, as the Angelic Doctor shows, it is necessary for salvation. To reject that faith would be to reject reason since there is good reason to believe the omniscient God.
All truth has its foundation in God. There can be no opposition at all between the truths known by human reason and the truths known by faith. Philosophy proceeds from principles which are clearly understood by the light of reason. Sacred theology’s principles are not understood naturally but believed by the supernatural virtue of faith. For this reason we can speak of the obscurity of faith. For all that, faith is a certain light, that is, a light that is founded on certitude. What is obscure to man is perfectly luminous to God, and everything true, whether it be naturally knowable or known only through faith, follows from God, who is Truth.
As the supernatural transcends the natural, so faith transcends reason. Nevertheless, both faith and reason attain truth. Human reason can conclude that there is a God and that He is the supreme truth. Truth known by man - whether it be a natural truth or a supernatural one - is about the mind’s conformity with reality. Since reality is one and truth is about the mind’s agreement with that reality, there cannot be any contradiction between truths. Since there is no contradiction in God it is impossible that there be one truth which contradicts another truth.
Faith and reason cannot be divorced. When reason rejects faith it becomes ultimately unreasonable since it refuses even the possibility that a God who - as reason shows - is infinite truth, should reveal to us a truth beyond our natural grasp. Similarly, faith which denies the intellect’s natural capacity for understanding truth becomes groundless. Such "faith" leads merely to personal preference. Indeed, it destroys the very possibility of belief in anything or anyone.
To hold to the principle that grace perfects nature is to affirm that both faith and human reason are intrinsically valid. Neither can be rejected without contradicting the good of the intellect created by God and ordered towards truth. Faith and reason complement each other, each leading by different paths to God, the Truth who alone can fully perfect our intellect.
Thanks are due to the teaching staff of the Centre for review of the manuscript of this article.
Anthony English is a student of the Centre for Thomistic Studies, in Sydney, Australia, and regular speaker to other groups. This article posted May 2000. It was published in Universitas, Vol 2 (1998), No. 2. Permission is granted to copy or quote from this article, provided that full credit is given to the author and to the Centre for Thomistic Studies, Sydney, Australia. We would be grateful to receive a copy of any republication.
1. Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, introduction.
2. Aristotle, Metaphysics ii, lect. I.
3. Ibid, 53; First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3017.
4. Ia, q. 1, a. 1.