FAITH AND REASON
In his letter to the Romans, Paul affirms the divine origin of the authority when it is constituted legitimately for the common good (cf. Rom 13:4ff). That´s why it has to be respected. But in a previous verse (12:1), he tells us about the legitimate use of reason to discern.
We cannot forget the field of our movements within a much wider cultural change invaded by a way of life where God is absent. It doesn´t simply mean the recognition of a mere autonomy of the temporal realities in its institutions which is entirely compatible with the Christian faith and even directly favoured and demanded by it as mentioned very well by the Council in its Constitution on “The Church in the Modern World” (cf. GS. 36). What is unacceptable is the overlooking of the necessary relationship of the created beings with its Creator, namely “the practical atheism”, (when it is not only theoretical).
In fact, in the west, we live in an atmosphere of a rapidly growing secularism in which God and his presence in daily life are not only excluded, but it invites us to think that only those things that are capable of an empirical verification, that can be measured, counted or thought of or constructed by the human being, are valid. Besides, it induces us to make use of the individual freedom as an absolute value to which all must be submitted…..
As believers, we certainly feel called to respect authority as if we respect the entire person. But in exercising the rights and duties, we citizens must have the legitimate use of reason to know to discern if what we are command is in accordance with our faith and its ethical values or if it opposes it on the contrary.
How do I live my Christian faith amidst a secular, atheistic world that is often against the religious values and sometimes merely human ones? How do I live my civil duties? Do I try to make compatible what is incompatible or from my faith, do I distance myself critically from what is inhuman and exercise my duty of prophetic denunciation?