REFLECTIONS ON THE FOUNDATIONS OF LAW
di Benedetto XVI
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Reichstag di Berlin
Giovedì, 22 settembre 2011
This is not the first time that Joseph Ratzinger has engaged in a dialogue with contemporary philosophy.
These discussions have sometimes taken physical shape in a real conversation with another philosopher: for example his well-known dialogue with Jurgen Habermas (Bavarian Catholic Academy in Munich, January 19, 2004; reprinted in Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, The Dialectics of Secularization, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), and an earlier one with Flores D’Arcais (an Italian philosopher that discusses at length the reasons of atheism; Roma, September 21, 2000, reprinted in Benedetto XVI, Paolo Flores D’Arcais, Dio esiste?, Micromega, 2005).
Sometimes, on the other hand, particularly after his election as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, these discussions have taken the indirect form of public speeches, addressing questions arising from contemporary philosophy. For example his Meeting with the Representatives of Science at the Universität Regensburg, September 12, 2006; Meeting with representatives from the world of culture at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris, September 12, 2008; and also his undelivered address at the Università La Sapienza, Roma, January 17, 2008.
On these occasions, the Pope’s speeches have become an occasion for real dialogue (see, for example the clear position taken by Habermas against certain Pope’s claims, in the long article published on February 10, 2007 in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the open letters of Muslims intellectuals about the controversial Regensburg speech (Open letter to Pope Benedict XVI, in Islamica Magazine, 2006, 18, p. 25, available at http://islamicamagazine.com/?p=634; and A Common Word between Us and You, 13 October 2007, available at http://www.acommonword.com/index.php?lang=en&page=option1) and the book Dio salvi la ragione, Cantagalli, Siena, 2007, with articles of the Pope himself, and of intellectuals coming from Muslim, Jewish, and secular traditions (Glucksmann, Farouq, Nusseibeh, Spaemann, Weiler).
Pope Benedict XVI’s latest philosophical and political speech was delivered before the German Parliament (The Listening Heart. Reflections on the Foundations of Law, Reichstag Building, Berlin, September 22, 2011). On that occasion, the Pope opened and closed his reflection by referring to an excerpt from the Bible regarding king Salomon (“What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment? Success – wealth – long life – destruction of his enemies? He chooses none of these things. Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God’s people, and discern between good and evil”). And during the body of the talk the Pope chose to linger on classical topics and authors of politico-legal speculation, such as the relationship between nature, law, power, and politics, and Hans Kelsen.
The Pope hints at, among other things, particular calls for renewed reflection on the interaction between reason, nature and religion, and on the role of positive and natural law. He also introduces new concepts deserving of further development, such as the ecology of man.
The Board of Editors is convinced that after years of social and political disillusionment it is worthwhile to listen and to engage with those voices, wheresoever they come from, still interested in addressing the most fundamental questions of social life.