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.
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.
76. 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.
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?”.
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.
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.
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.
77. 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.
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.
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.
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.
78. 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.
79. 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”.(95) And again: “If there is no assent, there is no faith, for without assent one does not really believe”.(96)
Yet, in a way, we shouldn't be surprised. We've seen it, or heard of it, all before. Didn't Christ himself face the same? From the first, Christ was loved by many. Throngs of people came to hear him speak. Many out of love, many seeking guidance. Many others merely out of curiousity. Those who saw His message as personal calls for repentance sought ways to silence him, to get the people to turn against Him. Yet, one cannot doubt that many who heard and saw the Lord were changed by Him. 'Re'-creating their lives, picking up their crosses and following Him.
As long as His message was not personal, there was no problem. Pray, be kind and forgiving to your neighbor, were fine and well recieved. But those messages which called for a personal change, a personal act, these were rejected.
We are all familiar with Christ's exhortation that we should not judge (ref. Lk. 6:37) unless we too are to be judged. Yet, those who would attack this Pope (who use this exhortation to justify all sorts of sins) judge him constantly. "He's too old." "He's trying to drag us back to pre-Vatican II", "He's just head of a patriarchal institution.", etc. Why? Because he dares to stand up for the truth, straying neither to the left or to the right. He does not follow the calls to return to the days before Vatican II, nor the calls to the man made church of the 'spirit' of Vatican II. He stands with Vatican II, he stands with the truth. And like Christ, is beset with attacks.
Yet, he is doing what Christ calls him, and us, to do. "Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4).
How is it he and we can be 'judged' for rebuking our brothers and sisters out of love. when Christ Himself tells us to do so. The story of the adulteress is a good example. If the 'crowd' had merely pointed out her sin (I often wondered why they never brought the other with them) and asked the Lord to help convince her of her sin, there would have been no problem. Surely, her sin put her in 'danger' of hell, but it was not for them, or us, to say whether she was already condemned. THIS is where the crowd overstepped their bounds. After 'rebuking' them, our Lord 'rebuked' her, "Go, and sin no more." This was not forgiveness (she hadn't asked for forgiveness), it was non-condemnation. The time of her 'judgement' had not yet come, but He did rebuke her for her sin. "Sin no more."
While here on earth, our Lord didn't take polls to decide on a teaching. He didn't concern Himself with whether or not He would alienate people. He knew He would. He exhorted the Scribes and Pharisees to teach and act as the successors of Moses. (ref. Matthew 23) And He exhorted the people to act as the 'children of Abraham'.
So, when His time on earth was coming to a close, He gave His authority to his twelve Apostles, to teach, guide, and exhort the nations as He did. And to Peter and his successors, He gave the special task to teach, guide, and exhort the entire Church and to strengthen and confirm his brother Apostles (bishops). So that, 'he who hears them, hears Christ.' (ref. Luke 10:16) And subsequently, those who refuse to hear him, refuse to hear Christ.
So, the 'dissent' against the Pope and his Magesterium isn't merely a dissent against a man and an instution, but dissent against Christ Himself. Again, don't be surprised. Christ Himself warned us this would occur.
To His Apostles, Christ said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin;" (John 15: 18-22).
So, as the Pope vistits these cities, let's not forget that we do not honor him merely for him as a person, but as Christ's Vicar (representative) on earth. He is the 'sign' of unity which makes us a Church. As St. Cyprian wrote; "If a [person] deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?" (On the Unity of the Catholic Church).
Today, we have a choice. We can be like the disciples who said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (John 6: 60) and left Him or we can be like the Apostles who said through St. Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6: 68-69).
Pax Christi, Pat
Cardinal Baum hails from the heartland, having been born in Dallas, Texas on November 21, 1926 and relocating 350 miles north to Kansas City while he was still in grade school. It was during this time he heard the calling to the priesthood and, after minor seminary at St. John's followed major seminary in the Kansas City/St. Joseph sprawling Diocese he was ordained on May 12, 1951. His first assignment was as parish priest at St. Aloysius parish in Kansas City. Five years later someone higher up saw great potential in this young priest and he was asked to continue his studies in the shadows of the Vatican at the Angelicum where he received his Theology degree in 1958. Returning to the heartland, he was reassigned pastoral work but depended on more and more for his legal and administrative expertise. In 1962 he contributed to more than a few sessions of Vatican II as Peritus which refers to an "expert advisor." On April 5, 1970 Pope Paul VI named him a bishop, assigning him as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Three years later he was elevated to Archbishop and appointed head of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. succeeding Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle. It's interesting to note that Archbishop Baum's replacement in Springfield-Cape Girardeau was another future cardinal - Bishop Bernard Law. He became a cardinal in the Consistory of May 24, 1976, the second-to-last one of Paul VI. He was given care of the titular church of the Holy Cross on the Via Flaminia and continued as Archbishop of the nation's capitol until his curial assignment made it mandatory that he resign and move back to Rome. He was replaced on June 17, 1980 by yet another red-hat Cardinal James Hickey.
For the past two decades Cardinal Baum has been active in many curial departments with membership in the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts working with the interpretation of the Code of Canon Law of the Oriental Church, and the Office of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. In all of these tribunals he has been very active.
Cardinal Baum has been of great help to countless Americans who visit Rome, providing passes to the Holy Father's regular Wednesday papal audience in Paul VI Hall, organizing special audiences and being the intermediary in presenting things to the Pope. This he did for us in May 1993 when we were in Rome. Having traveled there with Father Vince LeMoines the gentle, Marian priest from Kansas arranged through Cardinal Baum - whom he had known in Kansas City - to arrange for Father to be in the first few rows of a papal audience and there to present personally to the Holy Father a special message from the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart as well as the Rule for the Institute of Divine Mercy.