– Corrado Gnerre

I am a very old man, a staunch and practicing Catholic. I remember that when I was a boy, my parish priest, in his frequent catecheses, insisted a lot on the rational knowledge of God. I was impressed by his expression: “The intelligent man cannot help believe in God.” Today, however, nobody talks about these things anymore. But not only that, it seems to me sometimes that priests insist on an alleged “absurdity” of the faith, which, precisely because it is “absurd,” would be worthy. What do you think of it?

We think badly of it, dear …. Some time ago a well-known Italian bishop in one of his lectio magistralis said: “Every morning I wake up an atheist and then I become a believer.” In short, the well-known monsignor referred to the fact that believing in the existence of God is the result of an act of the will, an effort that partially or totally prescinds from reason. An act, that is, if not exactly against reason, at least beyond reason. But “beyond reason” if it certainly can and must apply to the truths of faith (that is, those truths that we could never know with reason), it cannot apply to the truths of reason which are called so precisely because they are of reason. The existence of God is a truth of reason; in fact, already the only reason that can make us certain.

Let us ask ourselves, dear …: Is the bishop’s statement an isolated incident or is it a sign of a much more widespread theological tendency? Obviously the answer is the second. It is a neo-modernist theological tendency: everything must be “trusted” and “sentimentalized.” The intellect must not be involved in the act of faith because this (the act of faith) would all in all be an expression of the subconscious. And it brings to naught not only the reasonableness of faith (or intelligence of faith), but also the traditional teaching of the Church.

But let’s see, dear …, what this traditional teaching says. The First Vatican Council clearly affirms that the existence of God is a truth of reason. In the dogmatic constitution Dei Filius it is explicitly written: “… Holy Mother the Church holds and teaches that God, the principle of all things, can be known with certainty with the natural light of human reason through created things.” The Second Vatican Council reaffirms in the dogmatic constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum: “God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty with the natural light of human reason from created things.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church in no 31 is also important: “Created in the image of God, called to know and love God, the man who seeks God discovers some ‘ways’ to get to know God. They are also called ‘evidence of the existence of God’, not in the sense of the evidence sought in the field of natural sciences, but in the sense of ‘converging and convincing arguments’ which allow to reach true certainties.” And again in no 286: “Undoubtedly, human intelligence can already find an answer to the problem of origins. In fact, it is possible to know with certainty the existence of God the Creator through his works, thanks to the light of human reason.”

But let’s go back to Vatican I. This Council affirms that doubt is a temptation and therefore it must be rejected as voluntary thought, that is, as voluntary doubt.

Now, dear …, this gives us all the more reason that doubt should be rejected as a “method.” The theological tendency, to which we referred earlier, instead uses doubt as such. Agnosticism, therefore, cannot be supported or even respected. It is one thing to respect the agnostic as a person with the duty to love him by desiring his conversion, it is quite another to respect his agnostic beliefs, which are totally wrong. I repeat, dear …: involuntary doubt does not constitute sin nor is it easily avoidable due to wounded human nature, but voluntary doubt is another thing. On the other hand, sin does not lie in feeling, but in consenting.

In conclusion: keep an excellent memory of the pastor of your childhood and pray that the new priests can speak as he spoke.

(From La buona battaglia. Apologetica cattolica in domande e risposte, 2019©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)