“The Best Hypothesis - God and Man”
The Humble Proposal of the Church of Ratzinger and Ruini
by Sandro Magister
ROMA, May 21, 2007 (http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it) – The same day on which, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Benedict XVI addressed the key discourse of his trip to the bishops of that nation, in Italy his cardinal vicar Camillo Ruini was laying down the guidelines for a positive encounter of Christianity with the dominant traits of contemporary culture.
The day was May 11. And the two discourses, by the pope and by his vicar, in spite of their great geographic distance were in reality very close.
In a globalized world, in fact, tendencies like relativism and nihilism, the dominion of the sciences and, on the other side, the public reawakening of the religions no longer have boundaries and reserved areas. They impinge upon everyone’s lives, on all the continents.
And therefore a Church of universal dimensions like the Catholic Church cannot avoid facing the challenge. It has done this since the beginning, as Cardinal Ruini explains in the initial part of his discourse, which traces in very broad lines a history of the encounter between Christian theology and cultures, from the Roman empire to the modern age, moving on from there to concentrate attention above all on the season that runs from Vatican Council II to today.
Ruini describes the divergent interpretations that the Council has received within Catholic thought: interpretations “that have divided Catholic theology and strongly influenced the Church's life.”
He also dedicates a passage to the liberation theology that flowered in Latin America during the 1970’s and ‘80’s, to the shock that it suffered in 1989 with the collapse of the Marxist system, and to its successive migration to the theology of religions understood as multiple and valid paths of salvation “extra Ecclesiam”: a confluence punctually confirmed by the criticisms directed by exponents of “indigenist” theology against Benedict XVI after his trip to Brazil.
But he does not limit himself to describing the state of things. His discourse concludes with positive proposals, and reconnects itself with the great magisterium of Joseph Ratzinger.
The image that one gathers from both of these – from the pope theologian and his vicar the philosopher – is not that of a Church ensconced behind its walls and under siege.
And no more is it that of a Church that intends only to express the paradox and beauty of Christian truth, come what may.
But on the contrary:
“In order that this richness and beauty may remain alive and eloquent in our time, it is necessary that they enter into dialogue with the critical reason and quest for liberty that characterize it, in such a way as to open up this reason and this freedom, and to assimilate within the Christian faith the values that they contain”
Thus says Cardinal Ruini in a key passage of his discourse from May 11, reproduced here below in its entirety.
The location and the audience for the discourse were not ecclesial, but secular: it was delivered in Turin, at the International Book Fair.