Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Freedom is "authentic and helps to build a humane society only when it is reconciled with the truth that comes from God". If detached from the truth, freedom destroys man’s interior harmony" "it becomes the prevarication of the powerful." Benedict XVI returned to the theme of "true freedom" that comes from listening to God today, at his last general audience before his departure for Castel Gandolfo, where he will remain until September 30th.
The question of "true freedom," is especially dear to the Pope. Speaking to nine thousand pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI hall, he addressed it once again as he traced the figure of a great thinker of the thirteenth century, John Duns Scotus, a man of “brilliant intelligence and gifted in speculation", which earned him the title "Doctor subtilis.
Citing the inscription on his tombstone: “Scotland gave me birth. England welcomed me. France taught me. Cologne will keep me" Benedict XVI recalled that John was born in 1266 "probably in a village called Duns . He was drawn to Franciscan spirituality, in 1291 was ordained priest for the friars minor. He studied and taught in Paris, Oxford and Cambridge. When he was in France, where he returned in 1301, at the outbreak of the conflict between Philip the Fair and Boniface VII he sided with the Pope preferred to choose voluntary exile.
This episode "reminds us how many times in church history, Christians have faced hostility, and even suffered persecution because of their loyalty to Christ, the Church and the Pope." "We all look with admiration to these Christians who teach us to cherish as precious, our faith in Christ and communion with Peter”.
On the restoration of good relations between France and the papacy, he returned to Paris, from where his superiors sent him to teach in Cologne. There, one year later, he died in 1308, at only 43 years of age. "Because of his reputation for sanctity, his cult spread throughout the Franciscan order and in 1993 John Paul II beatified him, calling him" the bard of the Incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception".
Of the thought of Duns Scotus, Benedict XVI stressed in particular the theologians arguments on the Incarnation. He defined it as "entirely unreasonable" to argue that "the fall into sin was the cause of his coming." "The Son of God would have made himself man even if humanity had not sinned." His "surprising thought” is that the Incarnation was designed by the Father for eternity in his plan of love." It is the realisation of creation. " "The Incarnation is the greatest and most beautiful event of all of salvation history, originating in God’s idea to finally unite all creation to himself."
"This strongly Christocentric theological vision opens to wonder, contemplation and gratitude." And repeating the words spoken by Paul VI in Manila, Benedict XVI said that "it reveals the invisible God, the foundation of everything, the Redeemer, the centre of world history, one who knows us and loves us, who is our life’s companion, I will never tire of talking of Him".
Duns Scotus is also credited with the formulation of the doctrine on the Immaculate Conception, which exceeds objections according to which if Mary is considered free from sin original then the "the universality of the redemption accomplished by Christ” is denied, “as if Mary did not need to be redeemed”. Duns Scotus states - and the idea was affirmed by Pius IX in the dogma on the Immaculate Conception - the subject of "preventive redemption". The Immaculate Conception is the masterpiece of Redemption, because the power of his Redemption meant that Mary was completely free from sin".
In this respect, the Pope underlined "an important fact: theologians of value like Duns Scotus have enriched with their specific contribution to thinking what the people of God believed and manifested in acts of piety, in art, and genre, in Christian life", on the Immaculate Conception, thus also the Assumption. "So the people of God precede theologians, through sensus fidei, which calls us to embrace faith with a humility of heart". “In this sense the people of God is magisterium". "May theologians always to listen to this reality".
The final aspect of the thought of Duns Scotus emphasized by Benedict XVI is the relationship between freedom and truth. "In man - he said - the same freedom should be freed from the limitations that come from sin." "Freedom has always been the dream of man", but "modern history as well as our everyday experience teaches us that freedom is real, and helps to build a truly human civilization, only when it is reconciled with the truth" . "If it is detached from the truth, freedom tragically becomes the start of the destruction of inner harmony of the human person, a source of prevarication of the most powerful and violent, and the cause of suffering and mourning". Indeed, "freedom grows and improves when man opens himself to God and listens to and accepts the divine revelation. Then we are reached by a message of light that fills our lives, and then we are truly free”.