Fides et Ratio is 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 in theology departments are obsessed.
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves cf.
In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life.
Moreover, a cursory glance at ancient history shows clearly how in different parts of the world, with their different cultures, there arise at the same time the fundamental questions which pervade human life: Where have I come from and where am I going?
Why is there evil? What is there after this life? These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle.
They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives. The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be.
It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: Men and women have at their disposal an array of resources for generating greater knowledge of truth so that their lives may be ever more human.
Among these is philosophy, which is directly concerned with asking the question of life's meaning and sketching an answer to it. Philosophy emerges, then, as one of noblest of human tasks. Born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose, philosophy shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself.
It is an innate property of human reason to ask why things are as they are, even though the answers which gradually emerge are set within a horizon which reveals how the different human cultures are complementary. Philosophy's powerful influence on the formation and development of the cultures of the West should not obscure the influence it has also had upon the ways of understanding existence found in the East.
Every people has its own native and seminal wisdom which, as a true cultural treasure, tends to find voice and develop in forms which are genuinely philosophical.
One example of this is the basic form of philosophical knowledge which is evident to this day in the postulates which inspire national and international legal systems in regulating the life of society. Nonetheless, it is true that a single term conceals a variety of meanings.
Hence the need for a preliminary clarification. Driven by the desire to discover the ultimate truth of existence, human beings seek to acquire those universal elements of knowledge which enable them to understand themselves better and to advance in their own self-realization.
These fundamental elements of knowledge spring from the wonder awakened in them by the contemplation of creation: Here begins, then, the journey which will lead them to discover ever new frontiers of knowledge. Without wonder, men and women would lapse into deadening routine and little by little would become incapable of a life which is genuinely personal.
Through philosophy's work, the ability to speculate which is proper to the human intellect produces a rigorous mode of thought; and then in turn, through the logical coherence of the affirmations made and the organic unity of their content, it produces a systematic body of knowledge.
In different cultural contexts and at different times, this process has yielded results which have produced genuine systems of thought. Yet often enough in history this has brought with it the temptation to identify one single stream with the whole of philosophy.
In effect, every philosophical system, while it should always be respected in its wholeness, without any instrumentalization, must still recognize the primacy of philosophical enquiry, from which it stems and which it ought loyally to serve.
Although times change and knowledge increases, it is possible to discern a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole.Fides et ratio (Faith and Reason) is an encyclical promulgated by Pope John Paul II on 14 September It was one of 14 encyclicals issued by John Paul II.
. Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of Fides et Ratio by Fr. Chris Pietraszko for free. iTunes is the world's easiest way to organize and add to your digital media collection.
We are unable to find iTunes on your computer. To download and subscribe to . FIDES ET RATIO OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON. Blessing. My Venerable Brother Bishops, Health and the Apostolic Blessing! encyclical letter fides et ratio of the supreme pontiff john paul ii to the bishops of the catholic church on the relationship between faith and reason.
POPE JOHN PAUL II'S FIDES ET RATIO (9/14/98). Study notes with excerpts, edited by Alfred J. Freddoso University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA. Intended audience of the encyclical: The Bishops of the Catholic Church.