Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Speaking at the end of today's general audience, Benedict XVI encouraged "the initiatives and efforts of those who are trying to reach a truce" between Israelis and Gaza Strip Palestinians. After voicing "great concern" for the ongoing violence and expressing his closeness to the victims, he urged "the authorities of both Parties to take courageous decisions in favour of peace and put an end to a conflict with negative repercussions throughout the entire Middle East region, which is troubled by too many conflicts and is in need of peace and reconciliation."
Before making his appeal in favour of peace, the Pontiff talked about the reasonableness of belief. In his view, "Fideism," which is the will to believe against reason as expressed in the phrase Credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd), "is not a formula that interprets the Catholic faith." Instead, for the latter "belief is not absurd; it is a mystery."
Before an audience of 8,000 people in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the pope explained that, "If when looking at a Mystery, one's reason sees darkness, it is not because there is no light in the mystery, but rather because there is too much of it. Thus, if a man turns his eyes directly towards the sun and sees only darkness, who can say the sun is not bright? In fact, it is the source of light."
In his series of catechesis and reflections on the Year of Faith, the pontiff addressed the usually complex issue of believing's reasonableness, expressing "hope of rediscovering how much joy there is in believing and of finding the enthusiasm to communicate to all the truths of the faith".
"Faith," he went on to say, "allows us to look upon the 'sun' that is God as it welcomes his revelation in history and so to speak, truly grasps all the brightness of the mystery of God and recognise the great miracle, for God has approached man and has offered himself to his knowledge, and has consented to the creatural limits of his reason."
"At the same time, God, with his grace, enlightens reason, opens new horizons, immeasurable and infinite, for it. Hence, faith stands a strong incentive to seek always, to never stop and grow quiet before the inexhaustible discovery of the truth and of reality. It is false to think, as some biased modern thinkers do, that human reason would be blocked by the dogmas of faith. The exact opposite is true, as the great masters of the Catholic tradition have shown."
With regards to the latter, the pope mentioned Saint Augustine who, before his conversion, sought and failed to find the truth in other philosophies, or Saint Anselm and Saint Thomas, and Pope John Paul II, who, in the Encyclical Fides et ratio, succinctly said, "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."
"On such premises about the fruitful connection between understanding and belief rests the virtuous relationship between science and faith. Scientific research always leads to the understanding of new truths about man and the cosmos. We can see that. What is truly good for humanity, accessible through faith, opens a horizon in which its journey of discovery must move."
"For example, research aimed at serving life and eradicating disease must be encouraged. In the full knowledge that man is at the top of creation, inquiries into the secrets of our planet and the universe are also important, not to exploit them foolishly, but to guard it and make it inhabitable. Thus faith, when truly lived, is not in conflict with science, but rather cooperates with it, providing basic standards to promote the good of all, asking science to give up only those attempts that, contrary to God's original plan, can produce effects that turn against man himself. For this reason, it is reasonable to believe. If science is faith's valued ally to understand God's plan in the universe, faith allows scientific progress to unfold always for the good and the truth of man, whilst being true to this same plan."
Lastly, speaking about the task of evangelisation, the pope said he hoped it would "help give the Gospel a new centrality in the lives of many men and women of our time. Let us pray that everyone shall find in Christ the meaning of life and the foundation of true freedom, for without God, man in fact loses himself. Those who have gone before us and dedicated their lives to the Gospel confirm this forever. It is reasonable to believe; our existence is at stake. It is worth spending oneself for Christ; He alone satisfies the desire for truth and goodness rooted in the soul of every man, now in the time that passes, and in the endless day of blessed Eternity."