Where Does Cardinal Levada Find Hope?
institution, presented Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, with an honorary degree.
At the ceremony Cardinal Levada gave our annual Margaret F. Grace
lecture sponsored by the Cardinal Suenens Center on the theme: “Where Do I Find
Hope?” (The text of the address should
be available soon in Origins.)
I cannot possibly do justice to the entire talk here, but
one theme was particularly striking.
Cardinal Levada insisted on the importance of rightly understanding the
relation between reason and faith as a necessary step to “building bridges of
dialogue” across religious traditions and between those who accept the
existence of God and those who do not.
Interestingly, Cardinal Levada cited an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune by Mark C.
Taylor, the scholar of religion at
writes: “Religious conflict will be less a matter of struggles between belief
and unbelief than of clashes between believers who make room for doubt and
those who do not. The warning signs are
clear: Unless we establish a genuine dialogue within and among all kinds of
belief, ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism, the
conflicts of the future will probably be even more deadly.” (A recent Wall
Street Journal piece that conveys the stridency of secular dogmatism, “As Religious Strife Grows,
This might not seem like the ideal sentiment to appeal to in
a talk on the theme of hope, but Cardinal Levada was clear in suggesting that
an appropriate understanding of faith and reason leaves room for a rational
exploration of faith and doubt. The fact
that, unlike secular dogmatism, the Catholic Church understands reason to be
compatible with faith and doubt, the Cardinal seemed to say, is precisely why
the Church can be an agent of hope in the midst of religious conflict.
For an interview with Cardinal Levada, see the April 30,
2007 issue of America magazine.