Less than two
weeks after it published a
letter from Pope Francis
addressing the concerns of an atheist Italian
journalist, Italian daily La Repubblica
today published excerpts from a letter Pope Emeritus Benedict sent to an
atheist mathematician. Benedict’s letter, dated August 30, was addressed to
Piergiorgio Odifreddi, whose 2011 book Dear
Pope, I Write to You
was written as an extended letter to Pope Benedict
criticizing Christianity in general and the pontiff’s theological work in
particular, and asserting the superiority of science and empirical evidence
over religious faith. The excerpts of Benedict’s response that appear in La Repubblica
(in Italian, here
discuss not only the claims of science over those of religion, but also the sex
abuse scandals that plagued the Church throughout Benedict’s papacy.
“I never sought
to conceal these things,” Pope Benedict said of sex abuse by Catholic clergy. Catholic News
Service’s Carol Glatz has more:
"That the power of evil seeps all the way into the
inner world of the faith is a source of suffering for us." Not only must
the church bear the burden of this evil, but it also must "do everything
possible so that such cases never repeat themselves," [Benedict] wrote.
there "is no reason to find solace in the fact that, according to research
by sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is no higher
than those present in other similar professional fields," neither should
people "ostensibly present this deviation as if it were filth pertaining
only to Catholicism," Pope Benedict wrote.
as it is wrong "to be silent about the evil in the church," it is
wrong to remain silent about the good, holy and loving service the church has
offered, he said.
Pope Emeritus Benedict also
offered a critique of Odifreddi’s “religion of mathematics,” saying that it
fails to account for “freedom, love, and evil.”
"I'm amazed that with just one stroke you
eliminate freedom, which has existed and is the fundamental principle of the
neurobiology says or doesn't say about freedom, this is present as a decisive
reality in the actual unfolding of our history, and it must be taken into
religion of mathematics also lacks any thought or discussion about love and
evil, too, the pope said.
religion that neglects these fundamental questions remains empty," he said.
pope, who has also long-supported the compatibility of faith and science as
both being dedicated to the truth, underlined that the task of theology is to
keep religion and reason closely connected.
without the other will lead to certain dangerous "pathologies" in
either religion or reason, he said.
Benedict said science fiction exists in many areas of science, especially in
some theories about the beginning and end of the world.
would define (Odifreddi's thoughts on this) as science fiction in the good
sense of the word -- they are views and forecasts in order to reach real
understanding, but they are, in fact, only (products of) imagination with which
we try to get closer to reality."
Read more here