Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Pope of Christian Unity and the Unity of Faith

Pope Benedict XVI may well be known as the Pope of Christian Unity. In his short pontificate, he not only advanced an unparalleled dialogue with the Orthodox churches, but he also found a way for Anglicans to return to full communion without losing their rich liturgical heritage while also liberalizing the use of the Latin Mass for Catholics who wish to share in its timeless beauty and power.

In his writings, however, Pope Benedict contrasts the unitive and social character of faith with the individual character of philosophy:
“One could say epigrammatically that faith does in fact come from ‘hearing’, not – like philosophy – from reflection. Its nature lies in the fact that it is not the thinking out of something that can be thought out and that at the end of the process is then at my disposal as a result of my thought. On the contrary, it is characteristic of faith that it comes from hearing, that it is the reception of something that I have not thought out, so that in the last analysis thinking in the context of faith is always a thinking over of something previously heard and received.”

“In philosophy, the thought precedes the word; it is after all a product of the reflection that one then tries to put into words; the words always remain secondary to the thought and thus in the last resort can be replaced by other words. Faith, on the other hand, comes to man from the outside, and this very fact is fundamental to it. It is---let me repeat----not something thought up by myself; it is something said to me… and lays and obligation on me.”

Philosophy arises out of an “essentially individualistic structure” and is “by its nature the work of a solitary individual, who ponders as an individual on truth.” The philosopher’s thought or reflection “only becomes communicable later, when it is put into words, which usually make it only approximately comprehensible to others.

“In philosophy, what comes first is the private search for truth, which then, secondarily, seeks and finds a travelling companion. Faith, on the other hand, is first of all a call to community, to unity of mind through the unity of the word. Indeed, its significance is, a priori, an essentially social one: it aims at establishing unity of mind through the unity of the word. Only secondarily will it then open the way for each individual’s private venture in search of truth.”

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