Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fabius Maximus: “Most scientific papers are probably wrong” – New Scientist

The study was published in 2005 -- I doubt things have changed much in 5 years. The use of statistics to achieve probable reasoning, coupled with possible fallacies--they may affirm that it is impossible to achieve certitude, but then they arrogantly claim the next best-thing, without the awareness of what is required by logic.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Aquinas, Philosophy and Theology

On Aquinas, Philosophy and Theology

Faith "Protects Reason From Every Temptation to Mistrust Its Own Capacities"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to continue a presentation of St. Thomas Aquinas, a theologian of such value that the study of his thought was explicitly recommended by the Second Vatican Council in two documents, the decree "Optatam Totius," on formation for the priesthood, and the declaration "Gravissimum Educationis," which deals with Christian education. However, already in 1880, Pope Leo XIII, who greatly esteemed [Thomas] and was a promoter of Thomistic studies, wished to declare St. Thomas the patron of Catholic schools and universities.

The main reason for this appreciation lies not only in the content of his teaching, but also in the method he used, above all his new synthesis and distinction between philosophy and theology. The Fathers of the Church had found themselves faced with different philosophies of a Platonic type, in which a complete vision of the world and of life was presented, including the question of God and of religion. In confronting these philosophies, they themselves elaborated a complete vision of reality, starting from the faith and using elements of Platonism, to respond to the essential questions of man. They called this vision, based on biblical revelation and elaborated with a correct Platonism in the light of faith, "our philosophy." The word "philosophy" was not, therefore, the expression of a purely rational system and, as such, different from faith, but it indicated a comprehensive vision of reality, constructed in the light of faith, but made by and thought out by reason; a vision that, it is true, went beyond the capacity proper to reason, but that, as such, was also satisfying for it.

For St. Thomas the encounter with the pre-Christian philosophy of Aristotle (who died around 322 B.C.) opened a new perspective. Aristotelian philosophy was, obviously, a philosophy elaborated without knowledge of the Old and the New Testament, an explanation of the world without Revelation, by reason alone. And this consistent rationality was convincing. Thus the old form of the Fathers' "our philosophy" no longer worked. The relationship between philosophy and theology, between faith and reason, had to be thought out again.

There existed a complete and convincing "philosophy" in itself, a rationality preceding faith, and then "theology," thinking with the faith and in the faith. The pressing question was this: Are the world of rationality, philosophy thought out without Christ, and the world of faith compatible? Or do they exclude one another?

There was no lack of elements that affirmed the incompatibility between the two worlds, but St. Thomas was firmly convinced of their compatibility -- more than that, that a philosophy elaborated without the knowledge of Christ almost awaited the light of Jesus to be complete. This was the great "surprise" of St. Thomas, which determined his path as a thinker. To show this independence of philosophy and theology and, at the same time, their reciprocal rationality was the historic mission of the great teacher. And thus we can understand why, in the 19th century, when an incompatibility between modern reason and faith was forcefully declared, Pope Leo XIII indicated St. Thomas as the guide in the dialogue between the one and the other.

In his theological work, St. Thomas presupposes and makes concrete this rationality. Faith consolidates, integrates and enlightens the patrimony of truth that human reason acquires. The trust that St. Thomas accords to these two instruments of knowledge -- faith and reason -- can lead back to the conviction that both proceed from the one source of all truth, the divine Logos, which operates both in the realm of creation as well as in that of redemption.

Together with the agreement between reason and faith, it must be acknowledged that they make use of different cognitive procedures. Reason accepts a truth on the strength of its intrinsic evidence, indirect or immediate; faith, instead, accepts a truth based on the authority of the Word of God who reveals himself. At the beginning of his Summa Theologiae St. Thomas writes: "The order of the sciences is twofold; some proceed from principles known through the natural light of reason, such as mathematics, geometry and similar ones; others proceed from principles known through a higher science: as perspective proceeds from principles known through geometry and music from principles known through mathematics. And in this way the sacred doctrine (namely, theology) is a science because it proceeds from principles known through the light of a higher science, namely, the science of God and of the saints" (I, q. 1, a. 2).

This distinction ensures the autonomy both of human sciences as well as of the theological sciences. However, this is not the equivalent of separation, but implies rather a reciprocal and advantageous collaboration. Faith, in fact, protects reason from every temptation to mistrust its own capacities, it stimulates it to open to ever more vast horizons, it keeps alive in it the search for foundations and, when reason itself applies itself to the supernatural sphere of the relationship between God and man, it enriches its work. According to St. Thomas, for example, human reason can without a doubt attain to the affirmation of the existence of one God, but only faith, which receives divine Revelation, is able to attain to the mystery of the Love of God, One and Triune.

On the other hand, it is not only faith that helps reason. Reason also, with its means, can do something important for faith, rendering it a threefold service that St. Thomas summarizes in the preface of his commentary to Boethius' De Trinitate: "To demonstrate the foundations of the faith; to explain through similarities the truth of the faith; to refute the objections that are raised against the faith" (q. 2, a. 2). The whole history of theology is, fundamentally, the exercise of this effort from the intelligence, which shows the intelligibility of faith, its internal articulation and harmony, its reasonableness and its capacity to promote the good of man. The correction of theological reasoning and its real cognitive meaning is based on the value of theological language, which is, according to St. Thomas, primarily an analogical language. The distance between God, the Creator, and the being of his creatures is infinite; the dissimilarity is always greater than the similarity (cf. DC 806). Despite this, in all the difference between Creator and creature, there is an analogy between created being and the being of the Creator, which enables us to speak with human words about God.

St. Thomas based the doctrine of analogy, as well as his exquisitely philosophical arguments, also on the fact that with Revelation, God himself has spoken to us and has, therefore, authorized us to speak of him. I consider it important to recall this doctrine. In fact, it helps us to surmount some objections of contemporary atheism, which denies that religious language is equipped with an objective meaning, and maintains instead that it has only a subjective or simply emotional value. This objection results from the fact that positivist thought is convinced that man does not know being, but only the functions of reality that are experienced. With St. Thomas and with the great philosophical tradition, we are convinced that, in reality, man does not only know the functions, object of the natural sciences, but he knows something of being itself -- for example he knows the person, the you of the other, and not only the physical or biological aspect of his being.

In the light of this teaching of St. Thomas, theology affirms that, though limited, religious language is equipped with meaning -- because we touch being -- as an arrow directed toward the reality it signifies. This fundamental agreement between human reason and Christian faith is recognized in another basic principle of Aquinas' thought: divine grace does not annul but supposes and perfects human nature. Human nature, in fact, even after sin, is not completely corrupt, but wounded and weakened. Grace, lavished by God and communicated through the Mystery of the Incarnate Word, is an absolutely free gift with which nature is healed, strengthened and aided in the pursuit of happiness, the innate desire in the heart of every man and every woman. All the faculties of the human being are purified, transformed and elevated by divine grace.

An important application of this relation between nature and grace is recognized in the moral theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is very timely. At the center of his teaching in this field, he puts the new law, which is the law of the Holy Spirit. With a profoundly evangelical focus, he insists on the fact that this law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to all those who believe in Christ. To such grace is joined the written and oral teaching of the doctrinal and moral truths, transmitted by the Church. Stressing the fundamental role in moral life of the Holy Spirit's action, of grace, from which the theological and moral virtues flow, St. Thomas makes one understand that every Christian can attain the lofty prospects of the "Sermon on the Mount" if he lives an authentic relationship of faith in Christ, if he opens himself to the action of his Holy Spirit. However -- Aquinas adds -- "even if grace is more effective than nature, still nature is more essential for man" (Summa Theologiae, Ia, q, 29, a. 3), due to which, in the Christian moral perspective, there is a place for reason, which is capable of discerning the natural moral law. Reason can recognize [this law] considering what is good to do and what is good to avoid to obtain that happiness which is in each one's heart, and which also imposes a responsibility toward others and, hence, the search for the common good. In other words, the virtues of man, theological and moral, are rooted in human nature. Divine grace supports, sustains and drives the ethical commitment but, on their own, according to St. Thomas, all men, believers and non-believers, are called to recognize the exigencies of human nature expressed in natural law and to be inspired in it in the formulation of positive laws, that is, those issuing from the civil and political authorities to regulate human coexistence.

When the natural law and the responsibility it implies are denied, the way is opened dramatically to ethical relativism on the individual plane and to the totalitarianism of the state on the political plane. The defense of man's universal rights and the affirmation of the absolute value of the dignity of the person postulate a foundation. Is not the natural law precisely this foundation, with the non-negotiable values that it indicates? The Venerable John Paul II wrote in his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" words that remain very timely: "It is therefore urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential and innate human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority and no State can ever create, modify or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect and promote" (No. 71).

In conclusion, Thomas proposes to us a broad and trustworthy concept of human reason: broad because it is not limited to the spaces of the so-called empirical-scientific reason, but open to the whole being and hence also to the fundamental and inalienable questions of human living; and trustworthy because human reason, above all if it accepts the inspirations of the Christian faith, is a promoter of a civilization that recognizes the dignity of the person, the intangibility of his rights and the strength of his duties. It is not surprising that the doctrine about the dignity of the person, fundamental for the recognition of the inviolability of man's rights, matured in realms of thought that took up the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, who had a very lofty concept of the human creature. He defined it, with his rigorously philosophical language, as "that which is most perfect found in the whole of nature, that is a subsistent subject in a rational nature" (Summa Theologiae, Ia, q. 29, a. 3).

The profundity of St. Thomas Aquinas' thought stems -- let us never forget it -- from his lively faith and his fervent piety, which he expressed in inspired prayers, such as this one in which he asks God: "Grant me, I pray, a will that seeks you, a wisdom that finds you, a life that pleases you, a perseverance that waits for you with trust and a trust that in the end succeeds in possessing you."

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we turn to the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which the Church has consistently upheld as a model of sound theological method. Thomas' insistence on the harmony of faith and reason respected the autonomy and complementarity of these two ways of knowing the truth which has its ultimate origin in God's Word. Faith sheds fuller light on the truths which reason is naturally capable of knowing, while drawing from revelation a supernatural knowledge of the divine mysteries and the Triune God himself. Reason for its part serves to demonstrate faith's credibility, to defend its teaching, and to show its inner consistency and intelligibility. The complementary relationship between faith and reason reflects the truth that God's grace build on, elevates and perfects human nature, which is thus enabled to pursue the felicity which is its deepest desire. Thomas' conviction that we are naturally able to acknowledge the principles of the natural moral law remains timely, since that law, grounded in the truth of man's nature, is the basis of respect for human dignity and universal human rights. Saint Thomas is the patron of Catholic schools and universities; let us ask him to obtain for all of us the wisdom and understanding born of a deep and living Christian faith!

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present in today's audience, especially the many parish and student groups. I offer a warm welcome to all who have come from Hong Kong, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I greet, finally, young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people always draw from Christ present in the Eucharist the spiritual food to advance along the way of sanctity; for you, dear sick people, may Christ be the support and comfort in your trial and suffering; and for you, dear newlyweds, may the sacrament which has rooted you in Christ be the source that nourishes your daily love.

[Translation by ZENIT]
Insight Scoop: Benedict XVI on the Doctor Angelicus, relationship of philosophy to theology

Zenit:: Holy See on World Migration

Holy See on World Migration

"4 Important Factors, That Give ... World Migration One of the First Places in ... Discussion"

ROME, JUNE 12, 2010 ( Here is an unofficial translation of an address given by Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pastoral Council for Migrants and Travelers, at the 19th plenary session of that dicastery, held May 26-28 in Rome.

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The commitment of the universal Church on behalf of human mobility is pursued at various levels, starting from the parochial and diocesan structures to the national offices of the Episcopal Conferences and to the international ones that seek the cooperation of others Organisms and Institutions. The Pontifical Council gladly welcomes the strong desire of these offices to participate and cooperate, by aiming at fulfilling its task to assist the Pope in "the pastoral concern of the Church to bear on the special needs of those who have been forced to leave their native land or who do not have one" (Pastor Bonus, no. 149).

Today human promotion, within our own specific action plan, is considered under two main viewpoints, that at times follow each other, or other times become parallel or run jointly together: 1. considering migration in its poverty, suffering and discomfort, and therefore the action required is of first aid to meet the numerous and constant emergencies; 2. seeing people on the move as a resource and investment, and thus in need to be accompanied in order to be progressively adjusted to the new social and cultural environment and reach their full integration. The Church is committed to both tasks. Actually she expresses her pastoral concern working together with governmental institutions or volunteers at national and international levels, that offer their resources and expertises to care for people on the move. The Church tries to establish a relationship of agreement with all these organisms, knowing that especially today the field of human mobility requires their attention and cooperation, by being in dialogue and practicing the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

1. The Holy Father's Pronouncements

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI, referring to the Convention of the protection of rights of all migrant workers and their families, that came into effect on July 1st 2003, underscores the fact that "The Church encourages the ratification of the international legal instruments that aim to defend the rights of migrants, refugees and their families and, through its various Institutions and Associations, offers its advocacy that is becoming more and more necessary"[1].

Solidarity and subsidiarity are the cardinal principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, on which a relationship agreement and a common goal are established for all the social, cultural, educational, institutional and ecclesial organisms in order to assess and promote models of integration and cohesion of all citizens, notwithstanding their juridical status. The Servant of God, John Paul II, on this matter says that "The Church invites all people of goodwill to make their own contribution so that every person is respected and discriminations that debase human dignity are banned. Her action, sustained by prayer, is inspired by the Gospel and guided by her age-old experience. The Ecclesial Community's activity is also an incentive to the leaders of peoples and international communities, institutions and organizations of various kinds involved in the phenomenon of migration. An expert in humanity, the Church fulfils her task by enlightening consciences with her teaching and witness, and by encouraging appropriate initiatives to ensure that immigrants find the right place within individual societies"[2].

Thus the Pontifical Magisterium has underscored the richness and importance of the presence and activity of Organisms and Institutions within the various contexts of human mobility, all over the world. Dialogue and exchange of experiences, especially, strengthen the willingness of cooperation and the desire to find together ways to respond to the various needs. Keeping with their own specificity, all these forces continue to support the regional, national and international institutions for the whole well-being of the human person and of all human people. And this is what the Encyclical Caritas in veritate refers to as an authentic development, that "if it does not involve the whole man and every man, it is not true development" (no. 18). This also includes women and men, children, young and elderly people, who freely or forced, undertake the journey of migration[3].

On the occasion of the celebration of the first Forum of non-Governmental Organizations (ONG) of Catholic inspiration, held in Rome on 30 November - 2 December 2007, the Holy Father expressed his appreciation for their special work by saying that "Taking part in this important meeting are representatives of groups long associated with the presence and activity of the Catholic laity at the international level, along with members of other, more recent groups which have come into being as part of the current process of global integration. Also present are groups mainly committed to advocacy, and others chiefly concerned with the concrete management of cooperative projects promoting development. Some of your organizations are recognized by the Church as public and private associations of the lay faithful, others share in the charisma of certain institutes of consecrated life, while still others enjoy only civil recognition and include non-Catholics and non-Christians among their members. All of you, however, have in common a passion for promoting human dignity".

Benedict XVI also added that "This unity of purpose can only be achieved through a variety of roles and activities. The multilateral diplomacy of the Holy See, for the most part, strives to reaffirm the great fundamental principles of international life, since the Church's specific contribution consists in helping «to form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly» (Deus Caritas Est, 28). On the other hand, «the direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful» - and in the context of international life this includes Christian diplomats and members of Non-governmental Organizations - who «are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity» and «to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility» (ibid., 29)".

Finally, in order to underline the importance of cooperation, the Pope concluded his discourse by saying that "What is needed, in fact, is a spirit of solidarity conducive for promoting as a body those ethical principles which, by their very nature and their role as the basis of social life, remain non-negotiable. A spirit of solidarity imbued with a strong sense of fraternal love leads to a better appreciation of the initiatives of others and a deeper desire to cooperate with them. Thanks to this spirit, one will always, whenever it is useful or necessary, work in collaboration either with the various non-governmental organizations or the representatives of the Holy See, with due respect for their differences of nature, institutional ends and methods of operation. [...] When experienced in solidarity, legitimate pluralism and diversity will lead not to division and competition, but to ever greater effectiveness"[4].

We should not forget also that the Encyclical Caritas in veritate offers a special reflection in the chapter regarding "the cooperation of the human family". Speaking of "unrelenting growth of global interdependence" (no. 67), the Holy Father proposes the creation of a "world political authority" as urgent and necessary "to manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration" (ibid.).

In the context of joint responsibility of International States and Organisms, it is also important and interesting the theme of intercultural dialogue, that opens new ways for people to come together. As a matter of fact, "the unity of the human family does not submerge the identities of individuals, peoples and cultures, but makes them more transparent to each other and links them more closely in their legitimate diversity" (ibid., no. 53). This is the way to form people to a global mentality that fosters the encounter of people and cultures and requires the welcoming of differences, entering into dialogue and the exchange of gifts. Cultural pluralism is an opportunity to look for answers in order to respond to the most important questions of the human person, such as the meaning of life, history, suffering and death. Here we have an opportunity to educate people to peace as an opportunity of renewal for the administrative, political and social places of society, in the various contexts of life, family, school and Church[5].

Caritas in veritate definitely includes a strong desire for intercultural education, in order to motivate and strengthen the effort to consolidate the foundation of peace, that is tolerance, justice, goodness and forgiveness. In this perspective, intercultural formation is offered today as the main way to resolve the difficult problem of harmonizing the unity of the human family with the diversity of the peoples that form it.

2. Some recent Documents of our Dicastery

Our recent documents, in continuity with the Social Doctrine of the Church, shed light on the relationship between Christian revelation and human family, for "the whole Church, in all her being and acting - when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity - is engaged in promoting integral human development", considering that the "authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension" (Caritas in veritate, nr. 11).

For this reason, in order to enhance the joint responsibility of International States and Organisms, in 2001 the Pontifical Council edited and published the "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Tourism", where it is stated that "the principle of co-responsibility is the fundamental condition imposed on the touristic activity, whose planning and profit management are requested from its tour managers, civil authorities and local communities. The practise of this principle must be adequately regulated by the public authorities in line with the international principles that regulate the cooperation of states and the institutional tasks that promote the global development of the country" (nr. 12). The appeal to dialogue and cooperation comes up repeatedly in this Document, as in nr. 33, that encourages the Episcopal Conferences "to maintain a dialogue with the public authorities and other organisms involved, in order to establish ways of collaboration suitable for initiatives of planning and supervising the touristic activity"[6]. This statement, surely, makes clear the preoccupation that tourism develops in a selfish, consumerist and insufficient way, by also becoming an occasion of exploitation and degradation, when it creates "immoral or even perverted forms of conduct, as in the case of so-called sex tourism, to which many human beings are sacrificed even at a tender age", as the Holy Father writes in Caritas in veritate (nr. 61)[7]. It is then the responsibility of Governments, International Organizations and the Church, with her vigilant and charitable presence, to protect the human rights, in order to make it accessible for everyone to make use of the natural, cultural and artistic goods. Tourism must aim to be an opportunity of knowledge, meeting and also growth in the way towards the unity of the human family.

Next, in 2004, John Paul II approved the publication of the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi, that pays proper attention to the signs of the times and the changes of ways of migration, by calling to unity and communion of people as a providential occasion to show mutual respect and defend the dignity and human life in all its forms. This shows that "the Pontifical Council, through its superiors and officials, is at times present in the international arena, representing the Holy See at meetings of multilateral organisations" (n. 32), in order to offer with its work the promotion and support of people involved in human mobility, in various ways. Therefore, among the many tasks of this Pontifical Council, the Instruction suggests also "to study, encourage, and animate the pastoral activity of regional and continental organisms of ecclesial communion to co-ordinate and harmonise initiatives in favour of migrants" (Juridical Pastoral Regulations, art. 22 § 2)[8].

Hence, our Dicastery published in 2006 the "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies". In no. 50 we read that "The Church too - through the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Representatives and Observers of the Holy See at International Organisations, and the ecclesiastical authorities in various countries - is called on to mediate so that the decisions of the national and international Organisations in favour of Gypsies may be welcomed by local authorities and have an influence in everyday life"[9].

The following year, with special attention to the Pastoral Care of the Road, we published specific "Guidelines" for this sector. In regards to our theme, we read in no. 106 the recommendation to adopt a "multi-dimensional approach", in which "there is a full cooperation between public and private Organisms, in order to eliminate completely sexual exploitation"[10].

Finally, in the "Manual for Chaplains and Pastoral Workers for the Maritime Apostolate", published in 2007[11], no. 13 § 2 points out that "the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People should encourage and foster cooperation and reciprocal coordination of projects among Episcopal Conferences and local Ordinaries. This same Council will establish relations with institutes of consecrated life and with associations and organisations that can cooperate at the international level with the Work of the Maritime Apostolate". Then, in the appendix VI, no. 11, the Document indicates among the objectives of the International Fishing Committee the one of "Therefore advocacy for good governance, is to be encouraged especially towards a) inclusiveness (empowerment, decentralization) b) lawfulness (enforcement, legal reform) c) accountability (ensure that governments are answerable and accountable and open to challenge)".

3. Pastoral care and co-responsibility

What I have been saying so far recalls at least four important factors, that give the phenomenon of world migration one of the first places in the national and international discussion, by calling for the responsibility of all, and, in a special manner, for our interest in the specific pastoral dimension.

The first factor, the most apparent, is the demographic one. Generally speaking, welcoming Countries are experiencing a rapid aging process and a decreasing in the local population. At the same time, Countries of emigration grow rapidly, especially Asia and Africa, where the majority of people is still at a very young age.

The second factor is the economic one. Many developed Countries have to deal with the decrease of availability of work force, the financial pressure to guarantee pensions and medical assistance to the aging population, which are ever-increasing. Also, many Countries in the Gulf area are contracting numerous migrant workers in order to satisfy their economic growth, due to their oil fields. At the same time, men and women in poor Countries have a hard time finding jobs and look for them in rich Countries, especially in Europe and North America.

The third factor is culture, a vast sector that includes ethnicity, language, religion, customs and traditions[12]. In contrast with the past, today people on the move are often different, on a cultural level, from the welcoming people. For instance, after the Second World War, many migrants left their poor Countries from Southern Europe. Today, instead, they have a very limited professional education and are less skilled in comparison to the local people, and are also culturally and ethnically different, creating preoccupations as far as their integration and cultural belonging[13].

Finally, the fourth and crucial factor is national security. Terrorist attacks in the first decade of the new millennium (in USA, Great Britain, Spain, Indonesia and other Countries) along with the violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants and widely reported by the media, have generated reactions of rejection against migrants, also fomenting the prejudice for national safety. Consequently, many Countries have reinforced their border controls, limited their migratory policy and established new procedures to check on people arriving from specific Countries. Because of all these reasons, international human mobility will undoubtedly remain in the near future as a main topic in national and international discussions. Also, it is certain that in the next few years the debate on how to administer the international migration movements will become increasingly controversial, creating divisions and opposition among International Governments and Organizations.

On her part, the Church keeps offering a precious contribution in the complex and vast phenomenon of human mobility, by becoming the spokesperson for people more vulnerable and marginalised, and also by willingly valuing the migrants and itinerant people, within the ecclesial community and society, as an important element for mutual enrichment and the construction of the one family of peoples, in a fruitful intercultural exchange of gifts.

Thank you.

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[1]Benedict XVI, Message for the 2007 World Day of Migrant and Refugee: People on the Move XXXVIII (102, 2006) 42. Benedict XVI has also affirmed that "it is important to protect migrants and their families with the help of legislative, juridical and administrative measures and the support of system of services, centres of attention and structure for social and pastoral assistance": Angelus of 14.01.2007: People on the Move XXXIX (104, 2007) 31.

[2]John Paul II, Message for the 1998 World Day of Migrant and Refugee: People on the Move XXVIII (81, 1999), 5. It is important to reiterate that the "International Convention for the protection of rights of migrant workers and their families" was adopted by the UN General Assembly's resolution 45/158 on 18 December 1990, and came into effect on 1 July 2003. On various occasions, the Holy See has urged those Governments that have not yet ratified this important international agreement, to do so (see for instance Erga migrantes Caritas Christi, n. 6). Other international agreements are still waiting to be ratified, like the ones listed in the action Plan (n. 78) of the "Conference of revision of Durban", that was held in 2009, as a follow up to the "World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance", held at Durban, in South Africa, in 2001.

[3]Cf. A. M. Vegliò, "Carità e verità anche per i migranti": Libertà Civili 1 (2010) 116-127.

[4]The whole text is available at

[5]This entails on one side a dynamic process of mutual exchange and relation, and on the other hand an integration that requires the participation in creating and changing the social relations. In this process it is important the involvement of the young generations of migrants, to whom Benedict XVI has dedicated the "Message for the 2007 World Day of Migrant and Refugee": People on the Move XXXIX (105, 2007) 55-58.

[6] L'Osservatore Romano, Suppl. al N. 157 (42.795), 12 July 2001.

[7]See also Pontifical Council for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people, Pastoral Message for the 2009 World Day of Tourism. It is a valuable reference the collection edited by the Pontifical Council for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people, Magistero Pontificio e Documenti della Santa Sede sulla Pastorale del Turismo, LEV, Città del Vaticano 2009.

[8]Regarding the Pastoral Care of Refugees, our Pontifical Council is now editing a specific document, that we hope it will be published soon.

[9]Cf. People on the Move XXXVIII (100 Suppl., 2006) 33-79.

[10]Cf. People on the Move XXXIX (104 Suppl., 2007) 143-192.

[11]Cf. People on the Move XL (106 Suppl. II, 2008).

[12] Cfr. A. M. Vegliò, "Accogliere i migranti: minaccia, dovere o diritto?": Aggiornamenti sociali 7-8 (2009) 521-527.

[13]The school in a special way becomes the place for dialogue among cultures and education of youth to co-habitation, as our XVII Plenary Assembly reiterated on "Migrazione e itineranza da e per (verso) i Paesi a maggioranza islamica" - (15-17 May 2006) in its Final Document, nn. 34-37: People on the Move XXXVIII (101 Suppl., 2006).

I believe that the rights to move and to use land to sustain life are not the same as the right to join another political community. However, if secular governments are unwilling to part with the territory they control, even though land is a common good, then how can the right to move (for the sake of improving life) not be transformed into the right to immigrate?

Papal Address to Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

Papal Address to Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

"Assume a True 'Passion' for Ecclesial Communion"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2010 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. The academy is responsible for training candidates for the Holy See diplomatic service.

* * *

Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate
Dear Priests,

I always welcome you with joy for our usual meeting, which offers me the occasion to greet and encourage you and to propose to you some reflections on the meaning of the work in the papal representations. I greet the president, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, who follows your formation with determination and ecclesial sense, and I thank him for the words he addressed to me on behalf of you all. A happy thought goes to his collaborators and to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Child Jesus.

I would like to reflect briefly on the concept of representation. Not rarely, it is considered in a partial way in contemporary understanding: in fact, there is a tendency to associate it to something merely external, formal, not very personal.

The service of representation for which you have been preparing yourselves is instead something far more profound because it is participation in the "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum," which characterizes the ministry of the Roman Pontiff. It is, because of this, an eminently personal reality, destined to influence profoundly the one who is called to undertake such a particular task. Precisely in this ecclesial perspective, the exercise of representation implies the exigency to receive and nourish with special attention in one's priestly life some dimensions, which I would like to point out, though concisely, so that they will be a motive of reflection in your path of formation.

First of all, to cultivate a full interior adherence to the person of the Pope, to his Magisterium and to the universal ministry; full adherence, that is, of the one who has received the task to confirm brothers in the faith (cf. Luke 22:32) and "is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity, be it of the bishops or of the multitude of the faithful" (Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Constitution "Lumen Gentium," 23). In the second place, to assume, as style of life and as daily priority, an attentive care -- a true "passion" -- for ecclesial communion. Again, to represent the Roman Pontiff means to have the capacity to be a solid "bridge," a sure channel of communication between the particular Churches and the Apostolic See: on one hand, putting at the disposition of the Pope and of his collaborators an objective, correct and profound view of the ecclesial and social reality in which one lives, on the other, being committed to transmit the norms, indications and guidelines that emanate from the Holy See, not in a bureaucratic way, but with profound love of the Church and with the help of personal trust patiently built, respecting and appreciating, at the same time, the efforts of the Bishops and the path of the particular Churches to which one is invited.

As can be intuited, the service you are preparing to carry out calls for full determination and generous willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, personal intuitions, one's own projects and other possibilities of exercising the priestly ministry. In a perspective of faith and of concrete response to God's call -- to be nourished always in an intense relationship with the Lord -- this does not devalue each one's originality but, on the contrary, is extremely enriching: the effort to be in synch with the universal perspective and with the service to the unity of God's flock, peculiar to the Petrine ministry, is in fact able to value, in a singular way, the gifts and talents of each one, according to that logic that Saint Paul well expressed to the Christians of Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). In this way, the papal representative -- in agreement with those who collaborate with him -- truly becomes a sign of the presence and of the charity of the Pope. And if that is a benefit for the life of all the particular Churches, it is so especially in those particularly delicate or difficult situations in which, for varied reasons, the Christian community finds itself having to live. Properly viewed, it is an authentic priestly service, characterized by an analogy not remote from the representation of Christ, typical of the priest that, as such, has an intrinsic sacrificial dimension.

Precisely from here derives also the peculiar style of the service of representation that you will be called to exercise with State Authorities or with international organizations. In fact, also in these realms the figure and manner of presence of the Nuncio, of the Apostolic Delegate, of the Permanent Observer, is determined not only by the environment in which one operates but first of all and primarily, by him that one is called to represent. This puts the Papal Representative in a particular position in regard to other Ambassadors or Envoys. He, in fact, will always be profoundly identified, in a supernatural sense, with the one whom he represents. To be spokesman of the Vicar of Christ could be demanding, at times extremely exacting, but it will never be mortifying or depersonalizing. It becomes, instead, an original way of carrying out one's priestly vocation.

Dear students, I hope that your house might be, as my predecessor Paul VI liked to say, a "higher school of charity," my prayer accompanies you, while I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, and to St. Anthony Abbot, patron of the Academy. To you all, and to all your dear ones, I willingly impart my blessing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Aristotle illiberal vision of community

Jowett's translation of Politics III, 3:

...[F]or even supposing that such a community were to meet in one place, but that each man had a house of his own, which was in a manner his state, and that they made alliance with one another, but only against evil-doers; still an accurate thinker would not deem this to be a state, if their intercourse with one another was of the same character after as before their union. It is clear then that a state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them together do not constitute a state, which is a community of families and aggregations of families in well-being, for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life. Such a community can only be established among those who live in the same place and intermarry. Hence arise in cities family connections, brotherhoods, common sacrifices, amusements which draw men together. But these are created by friendship, for the will to live together is friendship. The end of the state is the good life, and these are the means towards it. And the state is the union of families and villages in a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honorable life.
I was thinking of communities in which racial or ethnic segregation exists -- can they really be called "communities," except equivocally? In the South, there was no intermarriage allowed, along with minor forms of segregation in public places, segregation of schools, and so on. If members of another group are not treated as members of a political community (and are not slaves or have not been deprived of citizenship or the rights to participate in political life as some punishment), then how can they be subject to the laws of that community? I am not claiming that citizens must explicitly consent to a law before it can be promulgated. But even if they have citizenship and are "represented," if they are not treated as members of the community then isn't there a problem with consistency? (No, since the states were forced by the Federal Government to give blacks the right to vote. But this, along with Reconstruction, and the consequences of the Civil Rights Act, show that attempts by the Federal government to eradicate racism cannot succeed. This must be accomplished from within those societies.)

If, for example, most whites did not want to associate with blacks or treat them as "their own," shouldn't they have let the blacks go their own way, forming their own communities and governments? But in this fallen world, who would let this happen? People want to hold on to their territory, even if they have more than enough land to satisfy their needs. (I'll leave aside the historical question of how many whites were actually racist and how many just acquiesced to the state of things.)

Is there anything more to society within liberal/social contract theory than what Aristotle would call alliances between individuals for mutual benefit? A theory about the origin, nature, and purpose of government that is predicated upon what can be only called barbarism (the acceptance of the moral idiot -- the individual without any deep social ties and obligations -- as the norm) cannot but be deficient.

Or is there more to social contract theory than this?

For more on racial discrimination, see this and this.