Instrumentum mensis Septembris pro lectura Magisterii Summi Pontifici Benedicti XVI, pro evangelizatione in terris missionum

Saturday, 7 October 2006

In September the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, made an apostolic journey to the Bavarian region of Germany, 9-14, where he visited Munich, Altötting and Regensburg. The visit, his fourth outside Italy, was a pilgrimage to the places of the infancy and youth of Joseph Ratzinger, places which saw him become priest and then Bishop. A journey which the Pope retraced after his return during the general audience on 20 September. “The Journey - the Pope explained on that occasion - was not simply a "return" to the past but also a providential opportunity to look with hope to the future. "Those who believe are never alone": the motto of my Visit was intended as an invitation to reflect on the membership of every baptized person in the one Church of Christ, within which one is never alone but in constant communion with God and with all the brethren”. The Holy Father also mentioned the lecture he gave at Regensburg University where he once taught, explaining the real sense of his words. “As a theme - said Benedict XVI - I had chosen the issue of the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce my audience to the drama and timeliness of the topic, I cited some words from a 14th-century Christian-Islamic dialogue, with which the Christian interlocutor, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus - in an incomprehensibly brusque way for us - presented to his Islamic interlocutor the problem of relations between religion and violence. This citation, unfortunately, lent itself to misinterpretation. For the attentive reader of my text, however, it is clear that in no way did I want to make my own the negative words spoken by the Medieval Emperor in this dialogue, and that their polemical content does not express my personal conviction. My intention was quite different: starting with what Manuel II subsequently said in a positive manner, with very beautiful words, about rationality that must guide us in the transmission of faith, I wanted to explain that it is not religion and violence but rather religion and reason that go together. The topic of my lecture - responding to the mission of the University - was therefore the relationship between faith and reason: I wished to invite [people] to the dialogue of the Christian faith with the modern world and to the dialogue of all the cultures and religions. I hope that in the various circumstances during my Visit - for example, when in Munich I emphasized how important it is to respect what is sacred to others - that my deep respect for the great religions, and especially for Muslims, who "worship God, who is one" and with whom we are engaged in preserving and promoting together, for the benefit of all men, "peace, liberty, social justice and moral values" (Nostra Aetate, n. 3), appeared quite clear. Therefore, I trust that after the immediate reactions, my words at the University of Regensburg will serve as an incentive and an encouragement for a positive, even self-critical dialogue, both between religions and between modern reason and the Christian faith”.