Spring 1993

On the Tasks of Catholic Philosophy in Our Time

Hans Urs von Balthasar

The finally valid answer to pagan wisdom, the answer equal to it in rank, can lie only in the total Christian wisdom.

Catholic philosophy stands today in the same twilight as every other area of the Church's theoretical and practical activity, indeed in the same twilight as the Church as a whole vis-a-vis the modern world. Increasing secularization has forced the Church out of her undisputed position as the crowning of all worldly domains and has brought her ever more strongly into another situation which is juxtaposed, or even subordinated, to worldly structures; seen from the outside and from the perspective of the world, she is permitted to remain in this situation as something perhaps still tolerated, but in any case thoroughly obsolete and questionable. This frequently brutal dismissal of the Church's authority also in worldly matters of politics, of the planning of the world, and above all in matters of the spirit and science, does indeed correspond in part to an increasing falling away of the educated and the masses from the Christian faith, but in part also to a process (acknowledged and justified by the Church herself) in which the natural orders and areas of knowledge assume autonomy, as was demanded by the Vatican Council itself in its clear distinction between the natural and supernatural orders: duplex ordo cognitionis, proprio objecto, propria methodo (Denziger 1795, 1799). 

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