TAKING A STAND
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
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
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@example.com.
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.
Faith & Reason - Volume II, Issue II