Dating the magisterium


24-Jul-2017 18:31

It mainly derives from the climate created starting in Europe with the Enlightenment and which flowed into the subsequent century through the controversy on Darwinism.

Indeed the First Vatican Council (1870) did not hesitate to declare the inexistence of opposition of faith with respect to the sciences, maintaining that the Church did not have anything to fear before the conquests of human reason, but rather encouraged these efforts (cf. In the meantime, theologians and Catholic scholars began a more systematic reflection on the topic, providing the background on which the discourses of the Popes were later to be developed, basically starting with Leo XIII (1878-1903).

It manifested a broadly shared conviction that a personal, rational, and provident Being, absolute and eternal, is the ultimate source of intelligibility insofar as he is the Creator of all things visible and invisible" (, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1978, p.

34) In this way it would explain the fact that science effectively made a name for itself only during the European Middel Ages, despite all the false starts of the previous great civilizations.

According to the Catholic perspective, the subject of the Magisterium are the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles, whose college only exists in communion with the bishop of Rome, successor of Peter. As a consequence of the protestant Reformation, the different Christian confessions that separated from Catholicism abandoned the idea of a binding Magisterium for the faith of the people of God (cf. The authoritative teaching of the Magisterium is different from theology, which represents a sapient and rational reflection on the content of the faith. In terms of the relationship with science, discourses or documents from the Magisterium of the Church seeking to clear up specific questions have been rare, at least until the end of the 19th century.

The extended body of declarations regarding the Christian faith, which began with the greatest Councils of the first centuries and then matured throughout the many years that preceded the divisions, continues nevertheless to represent a common patrimony and deposit, together with the testimony of the Fathers of the Church.

A personality such as the Bishop Albert the Great (1200-1280) developed a fundamental role in making science known as an authentic form of knowledge and is cited even today as an example of "Christian intellectuality" (cf. Generally, it can be said that the movement caused by the spread of Christianity in Western Europe has been of key importance in diffusing a form of knowledge that little by little will assume the physiognomy of modern scientific knowledge.

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In these pursuits, should the human intellect discover anything not known before, the Church makes no opposition." In a subsequent encyclical titled (1893), the same Pope affirms the impossibility of a real contradiction between Sacred Scripture and the natural sciences.Addressing the problems never remains superficial; on the contrary, it risks exploring specific questions; always with a critical spirit, aimed at pondering on every contribution without preconceived ideas and with the clear intention of leading every new understanding to the truth.