Benedetto XVI contenute in una lettera da lui inviata al matematico ateo Piergiorgio Odifreddi, commentando il libro ‘Caro papa, ti scrivo’.

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In September, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica printed extracts of the letter whose full contents were published in Italian on Nov.

However I did not wish to write before having read your book, and since various tasks still weigh upon me, I have finished reading it only now. Today, therefore, I would at last like to thank you for having sought in great detail to confront my book, and thus also my faith. This in large part was precisely what I intended in my address to the Roman Curia at Christmas I must also thank you for the faithful manner in which you dealt with my text, earnestly seeking to do it justice.

My opinion of your book as a whole, however, is rather mixed. I read some parts of it with enjoyment and profit.

In other parts, however, I was surprised by a certain aggressiveness and rashness of argumentation. I would like to respond chapter by chapter, but unfortunately I do not have sufficient strength for this. I shall therefore choose a few points that I think are particularly important. Thus I fully agree with what you write on page The Trinitarian faith of the Church whose presentation in my book you recount objectively, to some extent also expresses the totally different, mysterious aspect of God, which we may intuit only from afar.

Here I would like to recall the statement of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, as he is called, who once said that philosophical minds certainly experience a kind of revulsion before biblical anthropomorphisms since they consider them inadequate. Moreover, what the Fourth Lateran Council said in still applies, i. That said, it must still be maintained that a divine Logos also must be conscious and, in this sense, a Subject and a Person. An objective reason always presupposes a subject, a reason which is conscious of itself.

On this point you do not convince me at all. Artificial intelligence, in fact, is obviously an intelligence transmitted by conscious subjects, an intelligence placed in equipment. It has a clear origin, in fact, in the intelligence of the human creators of such equipment. The Logos that stands at the beginning of all things is a Logos above all logoi. Of course, the transition from the logoi to the Logos made by the Christian faith together with the great Greek philosophers is a leap that cannot be simply demonstrated: It leads from empiricism to metaphysics and with this to another level of thought and reality.

But this leap is at least as logical as your dispute against it. I also think that whoever cannot make this leap should yet regard it as a serious question.

This is the crucial point in my conversation with you, a point to which I will return again at the end: Both parties to the discussion should continue their search. It seems to me, however, that you interrupt the quest in a dogmatic way and no longer ask, but rather claim to teach me. All the rest is secondary by comparison. So you will allow me to be more concise with regard to evolution. Likewise, no serious theologian will be of the opinion that God, the Creator, repeatedly at intermediate levels had to intervene almost manually in the process of development.

In this sense, many attacks on theology regarding evolution are unfounded.

Caro Papa, ti scrivo

However, it would be useful for the advancement of knowledge if those who represent the natural sciences would also show themselves more openly aware of the issues and if they would say more clearly what questions still remain open.

In this regard, Paap have always considered exemplary the work of Jacques Monod, who clearly recognizes that, ultimately, we do not know how new DNA full of meaning is formed time and time again. I contest your thesis on page according to which the four typologies developed by Darwin would perfectly explain all that regards the evolution of plants and animals, including man. On the other hand, I would not omit the fact that in this field there is a lot of science fiction, I will speak of it elsewhere.


Moreover, in his book Prinzip Menschlichkeit Hamburgthe medical scientist Joachim Bauer of Freiburg impressively illustrated the problems of scrivoo Darwinism; this too should not be passed over in silence. The attempted contraction of time in the final analysis is fictitious, and mutations achieved are of a modest scope. But most odirfeddi all, man as the demiurge must constantly intervene with his oifreddi — precisely what evolution seeks to exclude.

Of course, also here you see man as one of the species of ape and thereby substantively cast doubt on the dignity of man; however, the emergence of consciousness remains an open question for you page You pointed out to me several times that theology would be science fiction.

In this respect, I marvel paap you still consider my book worthy of such detailed discussion. Allow me to propose four points on the issue:. In all the specific areas, the scientific character of the discipline has its own form according to the particularity of its object. What is essential is that you apply a verifiable method, that you exclude arbitrariness and that you ensure scrvio in their respective and various modalities.

You should at least recognize that, within the context of history and philosophical thought, theology has produced lasting results. An important function of theology is to keep religion tied to reason and reason to religion.

Both roles are of essential importance for humanity. In my dialogue with Habermas, I have shown that there are pathologies of religion and — no less dangerous — pathologies of reason. They both need each other, and keeping them constantly connected is an important task of theology. Science fiction exists, however, in the context of many sciences.

I would designate as science fiction in the best sense: Even within the theory of evolution, a great style of science fiction exists. The great Jacques Monod wrote sentences that he himself would certainly have inserted in his work just as science fiction. Among the descendants odifredsi this daring explorer, of this Magellan of evolution, some can run at a speed of more than 70 miles per hour The situation is quite different in the chapter on the priest and on Catholic morality, and even more different in the chapter on Jesus.

As for what you say about the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can, as you know, only note it with deep dismay. I have never tried to hide these things. That the power of evil penetrates even to this point in the interior life of the faith is, for us, a suffering which, on the one hand, we cqro endure, while on the other hand, we must at the same time do everything possible so that cases such as these never occur again.

Nor is it a reason for comfort to know that, according to the research of sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is not higher than in those found in other similar professions. In any case, this deviant behaviour should not be ostensibly presented as a filthy crime which only exists in the Catholic Church.

If we may not remain silent about evil in the Church, then neither should we keep silent about the great shining path of goodness and purity which the Christian faith has traced out over the course of the centuries.

We need to remember the great and pure figures which the faith has produced — from Benedict of Nursia and his sister Scholastica, to Francis and Claire of Assisi, to Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, to the great saints of charity like Vincent de Paul and Camillo de Lellis, to Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the great and noble figures of nineteenth century Turin.

Full Text of Benedict XVI’s Letter to Atheist

It is also true today that faith moves many people to selfless love, to service to others, to sincerity and to justice. You cannot know how many forms of selfless assistance to the suffering are realized through the service of the Church and its faithful. If you were to take away everything that is done from these motives, it would cause a far-reaching social collapse.

Lastly, neither should one keep silent regarding the artistic beauty which the faith has given to the world: Think also of the music which has been inspired by faith, from Gregorian chant to Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms, odifrevdi so on. What you say about the person of Jesus is not worthy of your scientific standing.


If you are posing the question as if, in the end you knew nothing about Odifreddj and as though nothing were ascertainable papaa Him as a historic figure, then I could only firmly invite you to become a little more scriivo from an historical point of view.

Compared with this, what you say about Jesus is rash talk that should not be repeated. It is an incontestable fact that many things of little seriousness have been written within the field of exegesis. These botched forms of historical work, however, do not compromise at all the importance of serious historical research, which has brought us true and certain knowledge about the proclamation [of the Gospel] and the figure of Jesus.

Tii page you go so far as to ask the question if Jesus was perhaps even one of the many charlatans who seduced innocent people with spells and tricks.

And odirfeddi if this is only expressed in the form of a question and, thank God, does not appear as a thesis, respect for what others hold as a sacred reality should restrain you from such insults cf. I must also forcefully reject your assertion p. At the same time, however — and especially in the preface osifreddi the first volume of my book on Jesus of Nazareth — I have always explained clearly that historical-critical exegesis is necessary for a faith that does not propose myths with historical images, but that yi demands genuine historicity and therefore must present the historical reality of its claims in a scientific manner.

For this reason, neither is it correct for you to tell me that I would odlfreddi interested only in meta-history: Paap the contrary, all my efforts are aimed at showing that the Jesus described in the Gospels is also the real historical Jesus, that it is history which actually occurred.

At this point, I would also like to note that your exposition of the crede ut intellegas does not agree with the Augustinian mode of thinking which guides me: Allow me then to observe that, regarding the scientific nature of theology and its sources, odifredi should move more cautiously when it comes to historical statements.

I shall mention just one example. This, of course, is nonsense. The changing of water into wine at Cana, however, is the gift of nuptial joy which God offers in abundance to men. It is a reference to the changing of the water of the Torah into the exquisite wine of paps Gospel. In Chapter 19 of your book, we return to the positive aspects of your dialogue with my book. First, however, allow me to correct another small mistake on your part.

Since the fourth century, it has been considered as compiled by the Apostles themselves. In the East, however, it has remained unknown. But now let us turn to chapter 19 of your book: Even if your interpretation of John 1: Nowhere do you define it and it therefore appears to tl an irrational divinity which explains nothing.

However, I would like especially to note that in your religion of mathematics three fundamental themes of human existence are not considered: I am surprised that with a nod you set aside freedom which has been and still remains a fundamental value of the modern age.

Love does not appear in your book, nor does the question of evil. Whatever neurobiology says or does not say about freedom, in the real drama of our history it is present as a crucial reality and it must be taken into account. However, your mathematical religion knows of no answer to the question of freedom, it ignores love and it does not give us any information on evil.

A religion that neglects these fundamental questions is empty. Distinguished Professor, my critique of your book is, in part, tough. However, frankness is a part of dialogue.

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