On Wednesday the Holy Father gave a catechesis on Bl. Scotus, which includes a positive assessment of his doctrine on the primary motive for the Incarnation and a clear affirmation that Scotus was not responsible for Voluntarism. This is big news, considering that:
1) while still a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger wrote in one of his books that he disagreed with Scotus’ doctrine on the Incarnation; now, as Pope, he seems to have changed his mind and embraced Scotus’ position.
2) in his famous Regensburg Address, the Holy Father made a comment which many people interpreted as criticizing Scotus’ doctrine on the will; in this new catechesis, however, he clearly states the opposite.
In regard to the Absolute Primacy of Christ:
In his audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to Blessed Duns Scotus, who was born around the year 1266 in the Scottish village of Duns, entered the Friars Minor and was ordained a priest in 1291. “His intelligence earned him the traditional tile of ‘Doctor subtilis'”, said the Holy Father noting how he taught theology at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Paris. However, his faithfulness to Pope Boniface VIII in the latter’s conflict with Philip IV the Fair led to him leaving France. He returned to Paris in 1305 to teach theology then moved on to Cologne where he died in 1308.
“Because of his fame of sanctity, his cult soon spread within the Franciscan Order, and Venerable John Paul II chose to confirm him as a blessed on 20 March 1993, describing him as a ‘cantor of the incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception’. In this expression he summarized Duns Scotus’ great contribution to the history of theology”, said Pope Benedict.
He then went on to explain that, “though aware that because of original sin Christ redeemed us with His Passion, Death and Resurrection”, Duns Scotus “makes it clear that the Incarnation is the greatest and most sublime work of the history of salvation, and that it is not conditioned by any contingent circumstance.
In regard to the error of voluntarism (absolute freedom of the will):
The Pope recalled that Duns Scotus had also tackled “the subject of freedom and its relationship with the will and the intellect”. In this context he noted how “an idea of innate and absolute freedom (as developed after Scotus’ time) located in the will which precedes the intellect, both in God and in man, risks leading to the idea of a God Who is not even connected to truth and goodness”.
“Freedom”, the Pope explained, “is authentic and helps in the construction of a truly human civilization only when reconciled with truth. If disconnected from truth, freedom tragically becomes the principle that destroys the inner harmony of human beings, a source of abuse for the strong and the violent, a cause of suffering and mourning. Freedom … grows and is perfected, said Duns Scotus, when man opens himself to God. … When we listen to the divine Revelation, to the Word of God, in order to accept it, then we receive a message which fills our lives with light and hope, and we are truly free”.
Deo Gratias! Read the whole article here.