Saturday, June 25, 2005

Cardinal Scola of Venice on Post-Modernism, Freedom, Liberty

The Word From Rome: "Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice ranks as one of the most intellectually interesting members of the College of Cardinals....Scola issued a plea to 'stay anchored to the reality...We are the sons and daughters of an incarnate God, who entered into all the events of human history,' Scola said. 'The Incarnation is a logic, a method for dealing with life.'

'Social processes don't ask our permission to happen, and they don't leave us time to work out theories at the table,' he said. 'We have to go out to meet them, to correct them where necessary, to give them direction.'

In that sense, Scola said, it is important that as the church tries to think its way through the challenges posed by cultural diversity, it 'depart[s] from reality,' not from the abstraction that often is second nature for European intellectuals. Having said that, Scola launched into an excursus on philosophical anthropology, which, if one didn't know better, would have sounded curiously like abstraction.

In essence, he argued that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the 'closure of the modern epoch,' and that the 'physiognomy of contemporary man' is different as a result. Today, he said, the 'utopian biases' of the old ideological systems are bankrupt, and for the post-modern person 'all the basic questions are open.'
In that sense, he argued, the church has a better shot at evangelizing post-modernity, since the characteristic post-modern person is a seeker rather than an ideologue.

'Christianity can respond to the questions of the contemporary person, in a way that it could not do in modernity,' he said. 'We can respond to the basic questions about happiness and liberty, which are the two key words in the gospel of Christ.'

The trick, he believes, is to demonstrate that truth is not in conflict with freedom -- that it is not a surrender of liberty to terminate one's search when faced with the truth
. For that, he said, Christianity needs the witness of committed individuals who live what the church teaches."

No comments: