Lombardo, Weckert speak at UST symposium on papal encyclical Fides et Ratio

The UST Ecclesiastical Faculties, in cooperation with the Center for Religious Studies and Ethics, held the Fifth Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., Lecture Series on Religious Studies and Ethics at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Auditorium from February 27 to 28, 2019.

The two-day Symposium on Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), brought together philosophers, theologians, canon lawyers, and religious educators from various institutions and was held in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Saint John Paul II's encyclical with the same title.

Fides et Ratio addressed the relationship between faith and reason. The encyclical posits that the two are not only compatible, but essential together. Reason may create a ‘systematic body of knowledge,’ but its completeness is ‘illusory’ as without grounding in spiritual truth, reason can give rise to skepticism and other doctrines which can devalue.

Eight plenary speakers approached the topic from the perspective of philosophy, theology and canon law. Among them were: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., School of Theology and Religious Studies Area Director for Historical and Systematic Theology Fr. Nicholas E. Lombardo, O.P., Ph.D., who delivered a lecture on “Faith and Reason and the Inspiration of Scripture,” and Professor Emeritus of Charles Sturt University in Australia John F. Weckert, Ph.D., who discussed “Trust and Commitment in Science and Technology.”

From the University of Santo Tomas, speakers included distinguished philosopher Professor Emeritus Alfredo P. Co, Ph.D., who discussed “A Preliminary Reflection on the Place of Fides et Ratio in the Evangelization of the East in the 21st Century;” Assoc. Prof. Pablito A. Baybado, Ph.D., who tackled “From Phenomenon to Foundation: Fides et Ratio’s Prospects for Dialogue and Peace Building;” Assoc. Prof. Allan A. Basas, S.Th.D., who talked on “Critical Theory and Theology of the Signs of the Times: Towards and Emancipated Humanity;” Rev. Fr. José Antonio E. Aureada, O.P., who expounded on “Fides et Ratio: Friends or Enemies?” Visiting Professor Rev. Fr. Danilo U. Flores, J.U.D., who elaborated on “The Exercise of Postestas Vicaria of the Roman Pontiff: Perfect and Harmonious Interaction of Fides, Ratio, et Ius;” and Prof. Jove Jim S. Aguas, Ph.D., who presented “Christianity as the Locus of the Complementarity of Faith and Reason.”

Faith and Reason and the Inspiration of Scripture
A researcher in the emerging field of analytic theology, Fr. Lombardo stated that, in Fides et Ratio, St. Pope John Paul II identified current tasks for theology: it was noted in the encyclical that problems have emerged in recent times, about interpreting scripture and other texts of the Church’s living tradition. The Pope posited that a current solution to these problems will not be found without philosophy’s contribution.

An initial problem, Fr. Lombardo discussed, is that of the relationship between meaning and truth. “The theologian needs to ask: What is the deep and authentic truth which the texts wish to communicate, even within the limits of language?” he quoted from the encyclical.

Fr. Lombardo also presented his hypothesis on how God’s intended meaning related to human authors’ intended meaning in Scripture, and noted that his presentation “offers an account of how God’s voice emerges from the many waters of scripture. Whether or not its proposal succeeds, the principles that St. Pope John Paul II gave us in Fides et Ratio continue to provide the Church a solid foundation for clarifying the meaning, the truth, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.”

Trust and Commitment in Science and Technology  
Prof. John F. Weckert, Ph.D., founding editor in chief of the Springer Journal Nano-ethics, focusing on ethics for technologies that converge at the nanoscale, discussed how trust involves goodwill and autonomy, and how technology can affect how we trust people.
“Technology itself isn’t widely trusted; we trust the people – those who develop, maintain, an operate the technology,” said Weckert, using the example of how people trust pilots, engineers, and technicians rather than trust the plane itself.

He also detailed how trust can be enhanced by technology. It aids in communication and collaboration, which builds trust among people. Trust-inhibiting technologies, however, are also prevalent, such as surveillance technologies, sensing and listening devices, ‘big data’ or vast amounts of information collected from individuals’ personal habits that are stored through and in technology and may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns and trends.

Surveillance, said Weckert, limits the autonomy of the persons being monitored as it limits the development of trust and of virtues like honesty, and even threatens privacy.

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