Offended by the Pope? (no, not by THAT remark)

Since some people in the world are feeling mighty offended at Pope Benedict’s recent speech (or rather, by a snippet that has been taken out of context and transmitted as though people were using paper cups to communicate), I thought it salutary (Ron’s word) to take a moment to read the actual text of the speech. In response to the response, as it were, SLU professor of medieval history Thomas Madden has a fine article in NRO, and Bret Stephens has one in the WSJ. But those commentaries deal primarily with the speech vis-a-vis the “inflamed Arab street,” whereas as a Protestant, I am also curious about the remarks the pope made that were (supposedly) critical of the Reformers:

De-Hellenization first emerges in connection with the fundamental postulates of the Reformation in the 16th century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system.

The principle of “sola scriptura,” on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this program forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

Can someone illucidate what the pope is getting at here?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.