Carl E. Olsen takes a look at disturbing evidence that basic math, and basic rationality, may not apply in this pontificate:
Jesuit papal confidant and director of La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. Antonio Spadaro S.J., who is considered to be “one of the Jesuits closest to Pope Francis,” has a lively Twitter account. Lively, but not necessarily theologically sound. Granted, there are more substantial news items out there, but this little tempest in a tea pot is not only rather fun, it is rather revealing.
The tweet in question, from earlier today:
— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) January 5, 2017
Fr. Spadaro was apparently trying to make a point about certain theologians who are supposedly too rigid, dogmatic, or scholastic in their approaches to complex or difficult moral situations. A number of folks responded to his tweet, pointing out, in essence, that it was wrong, vapid, and otherwise embarrassing. This is Theology 101, the sort of thing junior high students should understand: truth can never contradict truth, even if some truth (theology) is supra-rational. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, quoting from both Vatican I’s Dei Filius and Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes:
Faith and science: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (CCC, 159)
Dr. Francis Beckwith, meanwhile, proffers this from St. Thomas:
— Francis J. Beckwith (@fbeckwith) January 6, 2017
Perhaps sensing that his tweet was not going to successfully buck commonsense, basic theology, and the entire Tradition, Fr. Spadaro tried to find an ally in Benedict XVI:
“GOD was made flesh and shows us that he is NOT only a MATHEMATICAL reason but that this original Reason is also LOVE” #BenedictXVI (2006)
— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) January 6, 2017
The quote, in the English translation on the Vatican site, is from an address given by Benedict at Auschwitz in May 2006: “The God in whom we believe is a God of reason – a reason, to be sure, which is not a kind of cold mathematics of the universe, but is one with love and with goodness.”
That quote, however, does not help Fr. Spadaro at all since Benedict—to repeat what I’ve already noted above—is simply noting that God is a God of reason and that God also transcends the limits of reason and human knowledge. In fact, Fr. Spadaro’s simplistic, glaring error—which he seems to think is some sort of great theological insight—was roundly rebuffed in one of Benedict’s most famous addresses, also in Germany in 2006, given at the University in Regensburg:
Go here to read the rest. One of the great strengths of Catholicism has been the way in which it has melded together faith and reason. In this pontificate we are being called upon to cast aside both and follow the dictates of the pope with corpse like obedience. No thank you.