Ratzinger on the Intersection of Belief and Unbelief

No one can lay God and the Kingdom on the table before another man; even the believer cannot do it for himself. But however strongly unbelief may feel itself thereby justified it cannot forget the eerie feeling induced by the words “Yet perhaps it is true.” That perhaps is the unavoidable temptation which it cannot elude, the temptation in which it, too, in the very act of rejection, has to experience the unrejectability of belief. In other words, both the believer and the unbeliever share, each in his own way, doubt and belief, if they do not hide away from themselves and the truth of their being. Neither can quite escape doubt and belief; for the one, faith is present against doubt; for the other through doubt and in the form of doubt. It is the basic pattern of man’s destiny only to be allowed to find the finality of his existence in this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and uncertainty. Perhaps in precisely this way doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their own worlds, could become the avenue of communication. It prevents both from enjoying complete self-satisfaction; it opens up the believer to the doubter and the doubter to the believer; for one it is his share in the fate of the unbeliever, for the other the form in which belief remains nevertheless a challenge to him.

– Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity

On the Catholic Interpretation of the Bible: The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church

The eternal Word became incarnate at a precise period of history, within a clearly defined cultural and social environment. Anyone who desires to understand the word of God should humbly seek it out there where it has made itself visible and accept to this end the necessary help of human knowledge. Addressing men and women, from the beginnings of the Old Testament onward, God made use of all the possibilities of human language, while at the same time accepting that his word be subject to the constraints caused by the limitations of this language. Proper respect for inspired Scripture requires undertaking all the labors necessary to gain a thorough grasp of its meaning. Certainly, it is not possible that each Christian personally pursue all the kinds of research which make for a better understanding of the biblical text. This task is entrusted to exegetes, who have the responsibility in this matter to see that all profit from their labor.

– Pontifical Biblical Commission, “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”

Following the Second Vatican Council, the Magisterum of the Church underwent various reorganizations. The Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC), originally established by Pope Leo XIII, was removed as an institution of the Church and reorganized as an unofficial body of consulting scholars; Pope John Paul II later incorporated the PBC into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where it continued its work of aiding the Magisterium in ensuring the proper interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

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