Faith & Reason Volume II, Issue II | Page 6

TAKING A STAND FOR FAITH & REASON THE NEW CHRISTIAN HUMANISM THE INAUGURAL POPE SAINT JOHN PAUL II LECTURE By Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P. — Adjunct Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith By Dr. Helen Alvaré Dr. Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University and an outspoken pro-life advocate, gave this year’s commencement address. The following is excerpted from her remarks. It is an honor to be among you to offer you my heartfelt congratulations, and to tell you of my admiration for you. Across this country, I have seen the concrete effects of the Dominican genius for witnessing to the marriage of faith and reason, in particular at universities, but also elsewhere where leaders are being formed. Their influence has the potential to grow exponentially, starting with seeds that you and God planted. How does one begin to speak, to teach, about faith and reason? First, I affirm people’s deepest desires for truth and relationship even as I acknowledge it is hard to live them out. Then, I remember that even if only a few people in any group are open to reason and to the beauty of relationships, it is worth the time and the effort to cheer them on. I have seen people really moved to action after even one or two stand up and say Faith & Reason - Volume II, Issue II In Gratitude: Fr. John Langlois, O.P., bestowed the Saint Dominic Medal to Dr. Alvaré. The Medal is awarded to those who have contributed to the promotion and advancement of the Pontifical Faculty. “This is what is true and beautiful, and here I stand.” Finally, I have learned to talk about complicated things simply ... to get over my fear that it is a disgrace to my profession as an intellectual to explain things at a popular level. I have to remember that my vocation is to serve up what is needed, not to get the regular applause of my peers. May God bless your beautiful school and each of you personally, and your families, friends, and professors. “Even if only a few people in any group are open to reason and to the beauty of relationships, it is worth the time and effort to cheer them on.” No force on earth—neither the Nazis nor the Communists, neither the secular general public nor the lukewarm Catholics, not even the criticism of dissident theologians—could deflect Pope John Paul II from the endeavor to rescue and express humanism in its properly Christian form. Critical for this new Christian humanism was Pope John Paul’s reaffirmation of the harmony of reason and faith–and the capacity of reason to reach the truth. He also wanted to address the erosion of the moral consensus that he saw as essential for the survival of free, democratic societies. This was a pope who had experienced the struggle to live internally free in societies where external freedom was impossible, a man who believed firmly in the possibilities and the potential of democratic society for preserving the dignity of the human person, but was disturbed that, at the end of the twentieth century, the erosion of the moral consensus fundamental to a free society’s survival threatened to undermine these societies. modern philosophical premises. He argued forcefully that, contrary to what some philosophers have thought, the experience of the twentieth century demonstrated that the eclipse of God conceals a terrible threat to human existence. When human beings stop seeing life as a gift from God, they see it as something over which they have authority and control. And then, my friends, as history shows, they are in the gravest danger. It’s because of YOU that the Dominican Friars are being trained to tackle the challenges of our day as John Paul II did in his own. Because of YOUR SUPPORT we are telling the next generation: BE NOT AFRAID! If you are interested in reading Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia’s full lecture, contact George P. Cervantes at (202)495-3828 or [email protected]. Pope John Paul offered a penetrating analysis of what he famously termed “the culture of death” and its After the Lecture: Br. Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P, Br. Constantius Sanders, O.P., Br. Jonah Teller, O.P., Archbishop Di Noia, O.P., and Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P. 6 Faith & Reason - Volume II, Issue II 7