Tradition is not a steel cage, but a spring that pushes forward, which allows us to maintain a thickness beyond the appearances and fashions of the moment, which maintains in the eternal legacy of divine Revelation a supernatural force present in the face of temporal fragility . The reflection of Benedetto Ippolito, professor of the History of Medieval Philosophy at the Roma Tre University
There are characters who are important in the story; there are characters who, on the other hand, even have historical importance: but there are also characters who leave a definitive mark on history.
This morning, in the early hours of the morning, the news of the death of Blessed XVI, Pope Emeritus of the Catholic Church. Undoubtedly he was the first in the modern era to renounce the Throne of Peter, placing this dramatic choice at the credible height of his own personality and the essential meaning that the spiritual sovereignty of the Pontiff has.
His biography was marked by his German origins, by the role he assumed as a young man at the Second Vatican Council, then as bishop first and then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with John Paul II. TO Joaquin Navarro Vallsunforgettable spokesperson for Woytila, when asked how to explain the invincible combination between the two, he replied that Ratzinger was a theologian while John Paul II was a philosopher: their harmony clarified in a humanly dense way the permanent encounter between faith and reason, typical of the best Catholic tradition. The two figures are inseparable, however, especially in illustrating the intellectual, cultural, human and political profile of the German Pope.
Benedict’s Magisterium, from 2005 to 2013, was marked by a very precise and fundamental idea: to give the contemporary Catholic Church, shaped by the first Polish and saintly Pope, a solid, concrete, firm, upright doctrinal structure. He did so with a courtly, hierocratic but humanly simple, generous, affable style; he engraved it in his doctrinal documents, starting with the Encyclical Letters; he proved it in his wonderful pedagogical and formative lessons on the history of the Church, during the meditated General Audiences.
Benedict XVI was more than a Pope: he was the very symbol, incarnate, of the integrity of the faith, of religion made into culture, of the prestige of being Catholics and modern intellectuals, an undertaking to which he dedicated his entire life. The key concept of his reflection is the Truth: divine, human, supernatural, natural, universal.
There can be no faith, in fact, without revealed Truth; there can be no politics without human and natural truth; there can be no charity without true justice; there can be no metaphysics without true knowledge of scientific reality.
Fidelity to the patristic teaching of St. Augustinebut also the awareness that there can be no catholicity without the integral and immutable heritage of medieval Scholasticism: without Thomas of Aquinaswithout Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, without the religious Orders that have allowed its survival and doctrinal value in the complex modern era, catholicity simply would not exist. Tradition is not a steel cage, but a spring that pushes forward, which allows us to maintain a thickness beyond the appearances and fashions of the moment, which maintains in the eternal legacy of divine Revelation a supernatural force present in the face of temporal fragility .
Faith and reason are affirmed together, and, precisely for this reason, so often they go astray together.
His books are lofty and full testimonies of what is most lacking today, even in the bosom of Christianity itself: a healthy, firm way of being Catholic and intellectual, founded on the mystery of the Incarnation, on the union between God and Man, but especially on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, in whose personal, natural and otherworldly identification, the holiness of the baptized person can only be affirmed and actively fulfilled for the good of all.
Good is joy that purifies and prefigures eternal bliss already in this life, not without the crucible of bloody and unbloody martyrdom, of the spiritual struggle in the defense of uncomfortable, despised, rejected theological and philosophical truths in the current process of secularization.
The greatness of Benedict XVI lies precisely in his articulate, learned and profound possession of the culture necessary to be a Catholic free to express an integral and universal Christian vision, without pretense and without inflections. On the other hand, only in this way can his renunciation of 2013 be understood, made to affirm the sovereign eternity of the Church as an institution: an attestation that sometimes requires, as in his case, the complete sacrifice of oneself, the immolation of one’s own person .
However, Ratzinger’s legacy is his theology, inseparable as rationality from belief itself, as well said in the famous Regensburg Speech of 2006. His prophetic strength was to anticipate the question of the crisis of values which tomorrow will inevitably have to be faced and resumed in West, starting with our decadent and desacralized Europe.
The legacy of the Old Continent rests in its true, spiritual identity, the result of the all-Mediterranean union between Athens, Jerusalem and Rome, i.e. between classical philosophy, Jewish tradition and Roman centrality, a legacy that must not be changed but maintained, rediscovered, loved and lived proudly and expanded in a universal and absolute sense. Of that stratification of wisdom, in whose soul the true meaning of our future is hidden, Benedict XVI constitutes the inexhaustible mine from which to draw ideas, wisdom and future foresight.
Today is the moment of pain, that suffering described in the splendid pages dedicated to the mystery of the Cross, but also widely analyzed in his highest and most loved treatise, among the innumerable ones dedicated to theological topics, namely the one on eschatology , the very new and eternal life.
Plato said that perhaps philosophy is nothing more than an exercise in death. Well, Benedict XVI explained that the ultimate truth of Christianity is to give a meaning to death, a meaning of life, of hope, of reality and of definitive fulfillment to human life, to pain, to fragility, to personal existence, apparently so contingent and senseless of each of us.
Only from the integrity of the spirit can the order of matter be born. And Benedict XVI expressed the orthodoxy and integrality of this Catholic truth, always valid, not because it belongs to yesterday or tomorrow, to me or to you, but because it belongs to everyone, to God forever.