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Autorità cattolica e ragione moderna

Catholic authority and Modern Reason

Anno XXV, n. 110, luglio-settembre 1990
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

This essay is a critical response to an article by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faigh, in which a radical critique of the Modern is reformulated with theoretical rigour. The strategy adopted by Ratzinger, who rejects spiritualism and mysticism as the other face of the failure of modern reason, consists of a vindication of the intrinsic goodness and rationality of Creation, and assigns to man the job of consciously recognising and exalting the objective nature of the world – that is, its being founded in God. Hence the reaffirmation of the auctoritas of the Church, of its role as a guardian of the interpretation of the world and the meaning thereof, also in terms of its relationship with science. At the foundations of the Modern, instead, lies acknowledgement of the irrationality of existence: hence the effort to reinterpret the transcendent – with profound modification of its epistemological statute and political role – and the pursuit of rational order and objective liberty. The failure of Communist regimes – which Ratzinger sees as the ultimate defeat of modern reason – may be explained by their negation of the very principles of the Modern. However much space it may leave to human reason, the Church, therefore, inevitably stands out as superior to the project of autonomy and emancipation which remains the dream of those who, like modern men, do not have the promise of eternity on their side.