The encyclical Fides Et Ratio was written by Pope John Paul II to his fellow bishops in to address the relationship between faith and. Intended audience of the encyclical: The Bishops of the Catholic Church, Cautionary note: The English translation of Fides et Ratio is not always what it should . for exposing the weakness of reason: “The beginning of the First Letter to the. Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, published only last week, I wished to defend the capacity of human reason to know the truth. This confidence in reason is an.

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Study notes with excerpts, edited by Alfred J.

Intended audience of the encyclical: The Bishops of the Catholic Church, along with philosophers, scientists, and theologians. In this introduction the Holy Father gives a brief account of philosophy and the universal human drive to philosophize.

Fides et Ratio (14 September ) | John Paul II

He makes it clear from the beginning that at the present the main threat to genuine philosophical inquiry is an excessive pessimism about the power of natural reason. Chapter I establishes the primacy of revelation as a source of salvific truths and the primacy of obedient faith in Christ as the most fitting context for the inquiries of reason.

Natural reason can discover some salvific truths, but not the most central ones concerning the mission of Jesus Christ. Christ is the answer to the ultimate question that philosophers and ordinary people insofar as they participate in philosophy have asked at all times and within all cultures. But faith does not by itself give us deep understanding; the mystery remains. And so reason has scope within the context of faith. In this Chapter the Holy Father delves into the nature of and necessity for faith, and begins to limn the affective prerequisites for well-ordered intellectual philosophical and scientific inquiry.

In this Chapter the Holy Father investigates natural reason in general as a preparation for the Good News, and delves once again into the necessity for trust in others as a condition for inquiry. Here we get a historically sensitive systematic account of the relation between faith and reason.

Synthesis of the encyclical “Fides et ratio” — Den katolske kirke

Important moments in the encounter of faith and encyclidal The enduring originality of the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas The Magisterium’s discernment as diakonia of the truth One fidee widespread symptom of this fideistic tendency is a ‘ biblicism ‘ which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth. In consequence, the word of God is identified with Sacred Scripture alone, thus eliminating the doctrine of the Church which the Second Vatican Council stressed quite specifically.

Having recalled that the word of God is present in both Scripture and Tradition, the Constitution Dei Verbum continues emphatically: Embracing this deposit and united with their pastors, the People of God remain always faithful to the teaching of the Apostles’.

Scripture, therefore, is not the Church’s sole point of reference. The ‘supreme rule of her faith’ derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without lettter others.

Those who devote themselves to the study of Sacred Scripture should always remember that the various hermeneutical approaches have their own philosophical underpinnings, which need to be carefully evaluated before they are applied to the sacred texts.

My revered Predecessor Pope Pius XII warned against such neglect of the philosophical tradition and against abandonment of the traditional terminology” 55 [my italics]. The knowledge of faith and the demands of philosophical reason The indispensable requirements of the word of God And I certainly wish to stress that our heritage of knowledge and wisdom has indeed been enriched in different fields. We need only cite logic, the philosophy of language, epistemology, the philosophy of nature, anthropology, the more penetrating analysis of the affective dimensions fkdes knowledge and the existential approach to the analysis of freedom.

Since the last century, however, the affirmation of the principle of immanence, central to the rationalist argument, has provoked a radical requestioning of claims once thought indisputable. In response, currents of irrationalism arose, even as the baselessness of the demand that reason be absolutely self-grounded was being critically demonstrated. Often used in very different contexts, the term designates the emergence of a complex of new factors which, widespread and powerful as they are, have shown themselves able to produce important and lasting changes.

The term was first used with reference to aesthetic, social and technological phenomena.


It was then transposed into the philosophical field, but has remained somewhat ambiguous, both because judgement on what is called “postmodern” is sometimes positive and sometimes negative, and because there is as yet no consensus on the delicate question of the demarcation of the different historical periods.

One thing however is certain: According to some of them, the time of certainties is irrevocably past, and the human being must now learn to live in a horizon of total absence of meaning, where everything is provisional and ephemeral. In their destructive critique of every certitude, several authors have failed to make crucial distinctions and have called into question the certitudes of faith. Such a dramatic experience has ensured the collapse of rationalist optimism, which viewed history as the triumphant progress of reason, the source of all happiness and freedom; and now, at the end of this century, one of our greatest threats is the temptation to despair.

Fides et Ratio rwtio to my mind Pope John Paul II’s most radical encyclical to date, surpassing in its own way even the astonishingly countercultural Evangelium Vitae. This has not been generally recognized, mainly because the encyclical’s subject matter is not easily accessible to those who lack extensive philosophical training, and also because the document contains none of the proscriptions concerning sexual morality with which the Holy Father’s critics in the media and fids theology departments are obsessed.

Nonetheless, the adoption of the encyclical’s vision of intellectual inquiry would strike at the core of encydlical of the epistemological assumptions endemic to the modern academy. In fact, it is precisely the widely-recognized malaise of the modern academy that makes the encyclical so interesting and challenging.

Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason)

I hope to address these issues in propia persona and in greater detail at a later time. For now I simply offer a quickly formulated guide to the encylical, including extensive quotations, that is meant to put the reader in a positition to see the document as a whole and to understand how the various parts are ordered to one another and to the whole.

The English translation of Fides et Ratio is not always what it should be. The Latin is available on the Vatican website for those who can make use of it.

The basic human desire for universal elements of knowledge leter and moral theoryborn of wonder. Philosophy defined as “rigorous speculative thought that is systematic. Characteristics of much contemporary philosophy 5: Note concerning young people: The need for a foundation for personal and communal life lettdr all the more pressing at a time when we are faced with the patent inadequacy of perspectives in which the ephemeral is affirmed as a value and the possibility of discovering the real meaning of life is cast enyclical doubt.

This is why many people stumble through life to the very edge of the abyss without knowing where they are going.

At times, this happens because those whose vocation it is to give cultural expression to their thinking no longer look to truth, preferring quick success to the toil of patient enquiry into what makes life worth living.

With its enduring appeal to the search for truth, philosophy has the great responsibility of forming thought and culture; and now it must strive resolutely to recover its original vocation” 6. The Church’s message is God’s wholly gratuitous and irreducibly historical self-revelation.

This section is important because it shows the inherent limitations of reason, given that God’s self-revelation is not wholly accessible via non-historical universal truths that can be established by reason in metaphysics and moral theory.

So reason needs faith, and it is important for the Church to affirm this, especially at those times when it is being denied.

Synthesis of the encyclical “Fides et ratio”

In declaring that reason and faith are both required as sources of truth, the First Vatican Council was responding to a rationalist modernist conception of philosophical inquiry that exalted reason and denigrated faith, going so far as to deny “the possibility of any knowledge which was not the fruit of reason’s natural capacities” 8. Christ as the ultimate truth about human existence: Now, in Christ, all have access to the Father, since by his Death and Resurrection Christ has bestowed the divine life which the first Adam had refused cf.

Through this Revelation, men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own life and about the goal of history. As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes puts it, ‘only in the mystery of lettr incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light’. Seen in any lftter terms, the mystery of personal existence remains an insoluble riddle” This is the highest and truest exercise of freedom, and it is necessary for our lives.


But “the knowledge proper to faith does not destroy the mystery” The Holy Father uses the unity between signifier and signified in the Eucharist as the epitome of the sacramental character of divine revelation. Common signs are given a depth which is both accessible to us through the eyes of faith and yet hidden from common modes of thought. Christ reveals us to ourselves and makes clear our vocation to “share in the divine mystery of the ratiio of the Trinity.

Revelation cannot be ignored. Faith ‘surrounds’ encyclicak with two reference points, the meaning of human life and the mystery of God, both of which are revealed in their fulness by Christ. And it is within the realm defined by these points of reference that reason operates. Anselm serves as a model. Christian revelation “summons human beings to be open to the transcendent,” thus freeing us from “an immanentist habit of mind and the constrictions of a technocratic logic” We need to transcend ourselves, both as individuals and as members of a fallen race.

It appears instead as something gratuitous, which itself stirs thought and seeks acceptance as an expression of love. This revealed truth is set within our history as an anticipation of that ultimate and definitive vision of Encyclica, which is reserved for those who believe in him and seek him with a sincere heart.

The ultimate purpose of personal existence, then, is the theme of philosophy and lettwr alike. For all their difference of method and content, both disciplines encyclicao to that “path of life” Ps Faith as the context encycliacl natural scientia and consonant with it: The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the ebcyclical.

Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, fieds solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts.

Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence” Faith as the context for natural scientia and necessary for it: The ifdes of these is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a enyclical which allows no rest ; the second stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal datio ; a third rule is grounded in the “fear of God” whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize.

In abandoning these rules, the human fldes runs the risk of failure and ends up in the condition of “the fool”. For the Bible, in this foolishness there lies a threat to life” 18 [my italics].

Here we begin to see the affective rectitude that is necessary in order for reason to do its best. Notice, by the way, that this is a dominant theme in classical conceptions of philosophical inquiry, and is especially prominent in those Socratic dialogues e. Encycliical close ties in ancient thought between philosophy and natural science. The author of Wisdom explicitly affirms that the study of nature is artio path to God.

Here again we see the affective impediments to and prerequisites for philosophical inquiry. So Sacred Scripture values human reason without overvaluing it: So we see here that the Church has an interest in discouraging both excessive optimism and excessive pessimism about the potential of human reason.

In encyckical past two centuries she has oetter to contend with both–and the cure for both is the horizon of faith as the setting for inquiry. It was this which allowed his reason to enter the realm of the infinite where an understanding for which until then he had not dared to hope became a possibility” In the first chapter of Romans St. Paul “affirms the human capacity for metaphysical inquiry” From here the Holy Father goes on to discuss the effects of sin on inquiry. It is only because of sin that we do not reach God with ease through natural reason.