Monday, April 16, 2007

Regensburg revisited- briefly

Today is Pope Benedict XVI's eightieth birthday. Thursday, 19 April, marks the second anniversary of the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the 265th successor of St. Peter. Therefore, it is inevitable that a flurry of news reports about what his pontificate means and how it has met or not met expectations will be aired and published ad nauseam. Most of them, like the one on NPR's Morning Edition this morning, will be short-sighted and, given the sound-bite nature of most journalism, far from comprehensive, or well-balanced. Of course, many of them will be critical, which is just fine.

However, in a fairly comprehensive, well-balanced and well-written print piece, brought to my attention by Rocco over at Whispers, Anne Rodgers, in an article written for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, discussing the significance of last September's Regensburg speech, quotes George Weigel, who argues that the Regensburg speech is the most important papal address since Pope John Paul addressed the United Nations in 1985 because, he says, it "defines one of the key themes of the first two years of his pontificate, the necessary interface between faith and reason." Referring to Pope John Paul II's penultimate encyclical Fides et Ratio, Dr. Weigel says, "John Paul wrote that humanity has to rise on two wings of faith and reason. Benedict has now identified the problem that happens when those wings fall off the bird. Irrational faith teaches that God wants you to strap a bomb on and blow up people in a pizza parlor. And reason without faith has made Europe unable to say why blowing up people in a pizza parlor is a bad idea."

I am not as familiar with papal discourses as Dr. Weigel. Therefore, I cannot say with any expertise whether it is the most important papal address of the last twenty plus years, but I think he summarizes what the pope was trying communicate rather well. I think such a reflection on the fundamental nature of morality is appropriate on a day as sad as this day, in light of the slaughter on the campus of Virginia Tech.

Please remember the victims and their families in your prayers. On this, the day after the observance of Divine Mercy, it would be most appropriate to pray for it.

In the midst of this media flurry, I would like to draw attention to three items, none of which is very long. The first is from the blog Deep Furrows about the novelty of the papal magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI. Secondly, I point you to Sandro Magister's article on the Holy Father's new book, which was officially released last week. His article is entitled, And He Appeared in Their Midst: “Jesus of Nazareth” at the Bookstore. The Pope's book will not be available in English until May. Magister's article is informative and contains an outline of the book. Finally, the book's preface, written by Pope Benedict, was made available back in January and can also be read on Magister's Chiesa website.


  1. Thanks for the link! I'd say the flurry of minimally- researched negative articles on Benedict dramatizes the provocation that the pope offers to the secular press. At the same time, the challenge to me is a great one: documenting the truth of the Christian claim ...


  2. Fred,

    If I may say, you are doing a great job taking up the challenge. It would be difficult to catalogue all I am learning from you.

    I really love the words "the provocation that the pope offers to the secular press." A provocation, indeed! It really makes most of the reporting on the Holy Father either laughable or lamentable. I prefer to laugh and shake my head as I utter "You just don't get it, but I pray to God you will."

    More on this from Magister later today!