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Pope urges continuing dialogue between faith and reason

In a comment yesterday when he was awarded an academic laurel from his former university in Poland, the Pope gave some insight into his deep feelings on the conflict between faith and reason and how it might be overcome.

Today John Paul II received representatives from the academic communities of Wroclaw and Opole, Poland, accompanied by Cardinal Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz, archbishop of Wroclaw. During the encounter, they bestowed on the pontiff the Academic Golden Laurel for the 50th anniversary of the defence of his thesis in order to become a professor in the faculty of theology at the Jagiellonian University.

The Pope thanked them for the honour and recalled that he was the last professor to join the Faculty of theology before the communist authorities shut it down. "It was an act," he said, "meant to divide the institutions, as well as to pit reason and faith against each other. I am not speaking about that distinction that was born in the late medieval age on the basis of the autonomy of the sciences, but of the separation that was imposed with violence on the spiritual heritage of the nation."

"Never the less," continued the Holy Father, "I never abandoned the conviction that those efforts would not achieve their goal. This conviction grows strong in me thanks to personal interaction with men of science, professors from different disciplines who bore witness to the profound desire for dialogue and the common search for truth." The Pope then referred to his encyclical, "Faith and reason," in which he affirms: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."

"Your presence here," he concluded, "inspires in me the hope that this lively dialogue will last and that none of the current ideologies will be able to interrupt it. With this hope, I direct my gaze toward all universities, academies and high schools."

EWTN/VIS – John Paul II: academic golden laurel from Polish university

Faith and Reason Encyclical, 14 September 1998

Illustration is from the cover of a book published by St Augustine Press that presents series of important papers over the topics raised by Pope John Paul II in Fides et Ratio. Further details can be found at

9 Jan 2004