Benedict XVI Denounced Society Cut off from its Past

Source: FSSPX News

On March 7, Benedict XVI granted an audience to some thirty members of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. In his address, the pope recalled that in answer to a historiography hostile to Christianity and the Church, Leo XIII encouraged the study of the archives of the Holy See made accessible for research in 1880. This pope was “convinced of the fact that the study and presentation of the Church’s authentic history could only prove favorable to her.”

Today, we are not solely concerned in facing a hostile scientific trend, for “historiography itself   is undergoing the most serious crisis, having to fight for its very existence in a society shaped by positivism and materialism. Both of these ideologies have led to an unrestrained enthusiasm for progress which, animated by spectacular discoveries and technological success notwithstanding the disastrous experiences of the last century, determines the concept of life in vast sectors of society. Thus, the past appears only as a dark background against which the present and the future shine with alluring promises. Still linked to this is the utopia of a paradise on earth, notwithstanding the fact that such a utopia has proved fallacious,” the pope noted and he went on to deplore that: “Disinterest in history is typical of this mentality, which turns into the marginalization of historical sciences.”

The neglect of historical research, the pope regretted “produces a society that, forgetful of its own past and therefore unequipped with criteria acquired through experience, is unable to program a harmonious coexistence and a common commitment in accomplishing future objectives. Such a society is particularly vulnerable to ideological manipulation.”

“The danger,” Benedict XVI warned, “increases in proportion to the excessive emphasis given to contemporary history, above all when research in this area is conditioned by a methodology inspired by positivism and sociology. Likewise, important areas of historic reality and even entire epochs are ignored. In many fields of study, for example, history is taught only beginning with the events of the French Revolution. This development inevitably produces a society ignorant of its own past and therefore deprived of historical memory. No one can fail to see the grave consequence of this: as the loss of memory provokes a loss of identity in the individual, this phenomenon analogously occurs for society as a whole.”

“Even when it does not precisely concern Church history, historical analysis commonly concurs with the description of that vital space in which the Church has carried out, and carries out, her mission down the ages. Undoubtedly, her life and ecclesial activity have always been determined, facilitated or made more difficult by the various historical contexts. The Church is not of this world, but lives in it and by means of it.”

The Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences was founded by Pius XII, on April, 1954, in replacement of the commission of cardinals created by Leo XIII in August 1883 for the promotion of historical studies. (Sources: Apic/Imedia/