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Faith and Reason, Part 1
In this issue Dr Alan Schreck introduces John Paul’s great Encyclical on the relationship between faith and reason, Fides et Ratio. It is only a little more than a decade ago that Pope John Paul II issued his thirteenth encyclical letter Fides et Ratio, on September 14, 1998. The letter opens with an unforgettable image: ‘Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.’ Yet this is spoken to a ‘one-winged’ world in which faith is increasingly seen as unreasonable and unnecessary to apprehend truth and to live a good life. Nonetheless, the Holy Father completes this opening statement with a clear statement of faith: ‘…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. Ex33:18; Ps 27:89,63:23; Jn 17:8;1Jn 3:2)’ This premise is continued in the encyclical’s introduction, entitled ‘Know Yourself.’ He observes that all the great world religions grapple with the basic human questions about good and evil, the meaning of our existence, and the possibility of an ‘after life.’ The Catholic Church, the Pope says, has a special diakonia or service of truth, which it undertakes especially in the proclamation of Jesus Christ as ‘the way and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6) (1.2). Yet, our understanding of faith will remain partial until ‘the final Revelation of God’ at the second coming of Jesus Christ.