A losing battle

Santiago Ramentol's picture
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The Benedict XVI visiting Barcelona embodies the figure of a theologian-Pope. I am not saying that this Pope is well-informed about the complex web of contemporary thinking and events. Few clerics are. He is a man shaped by the study of God and all that is related to divinity. And he does this - and he has always done so - in the light of revelation, not reason, of the past, not of the future, as Hans Küng, his old academy companion, explains in his memoirs.

If Benedict XVI were a pastoral pope, that is, one committed to preaching the Gospel as interpreted by the Vatican, his visit to Barcelona would be limited to preaching pious sermons and delivering urbi et orbi blessings. But this is not the case. Benedict XVI wants to be a thinker and to leave his mark on the peaks of the ridges of history. And to do so, he has identified one powerful enemy, among others: relativism. His aim is to combat this intellectual current that - in broad terms - denies the existence of absolute truths. It is the recourse of sceptics and those who doubt in the face of dogmas. The Pope wants nothing to do with them.

But Benedict XVI is not only fighting ethical or moral relativism. Indeed, this relativism is used frequently by the Roman Curia and with a high degree of finezza and elasticity: good and evil, money, power, war, injustice, tyranny... The Pope is concerned, above all, with doctrinal scepticism, which is much more damaging to the survival of the structure. And this is the key.

Christian ideology has a very powerful liberating humanistic component that lies hidden beneath numerous layers of doctrine and absurd rules, constructed over two thousand years to consolidate the hierarchy of power: dogmas, liturgies, prohibitions, mysteries, superstitions... The Pope knows it (Hans Küng explained it to him), but he cannot, does not know how or does not want to leave the castle of fundamentalist orthodoxy.

And this is a losing battle, because methodical doubt (what Benedict XVI is fighting) is the basis of knowledge. Unamuno said that a faith that does not falter is not a faith: it is a mere psychological automatism. Well, it is just that.


Santiago Ramentol

PhD in Information Sciences and member of Associació Cristianisme del Segle XXI

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