Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bishops’ synod conclusions: faith open to reason and science

The Bishops’ synod on the New Evangelisation (i. e., a renewed sharing of the Good News with those who have drifted away from the Church) concluded on Friday and resulted in 58 “propositions” that were presented to the pope and that will form the basis of a future encyclical. If you are not into the whole synod thing, here are (telegraphically) at least the points that stood out for me:

  1. Not a proposition, but nonetheless worth noting, is the fact that the propositions were written in English rather than the usual Latin (although the authoritative final version will still use it) and that “with the kind permission of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the provisional, unofficial English version, prepared under the auspices of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops [which is normally kept confidential], is published in the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.”

  2. Prop. 8: “The world is God’s creation and manifests his love.” This presents a very positive view of the world, unlike attitudes in the past where “the world” was presented more like a necessary evil, in conflict with God.

  3. Prop. 12: The “hermeneutic of reform in continuity,” championed by Pope Benedict XVII is taken as the underlying method, as described here: “There is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God. [...] However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005)” I believe this shows very clearly an acknowledgement of the need to keep updating the Church and also the tension of this process with the need to stay faithful to Jesus’ teaching.

  4. Prop. 13: “believers must strive to show to the world the splendor of a humanity grounded in the mystery of Christ” Again there is recognition of the value of the natural (humanity) and a claim of its fulfilment in the divine (Jesus).

  5. Prop. 17: “It is necessary not only to show that faith does not oppose reason, but also to highlight a number of truths and realities which pertain to a correct anthropology, that is enlightened by natural reason. Among them, is the value of the Natural Law, and the consequences it has for the whole human society. The notions of “Natural Law” and “human nature” are capable of rational demonstrations, both at the academic and popular levels.” This was followed with a call to develop a “theology of credibility,” that expresses Church teaching in terms consistent with current scientific understanding.

  6. Prop. 20: “Christ, the “Good Shepherd” (cf. Jn 10:11) is the Truth in person, the beautiful revelation in sign, pouring himself out without measure. It is important to give testimony [...], not only of his goodness and truth, but also of the fullness of his beauty. [...] Beauty attracts us to love, through which God reveals to us his face in which we believe.”

  7. Prop. 54 (in full): “The dialogue between science and faith is a vital field in the New Evangelization. On the one hand, this dialogue requires the openness of reason to the mystery which transcends it and an awareness of the fundamental limits of scientific knowledge. On the other hand, it also requires a faith that is open to reason and to the results of scientific research.”

  8. Prop. 55: “believers and non-believers can dialogue about fundamental themes: the great values of ethics, art and science, and the search for the transcendent. This dialogue is directed in particular to “those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Roman Curia, 21 December 2009).”
I was pleased to see so much emphasis on reason, science and credibility and will try to do the little I can to contribute towards them myself.