Anselm conference held on campus

Craig Watkins, Crier Staff

Rev. David Pignato, J.D., S.T.D., Professor of Systematic Theology at St. John’s Seminary in Boston, presented the 2017 Saint Anselm Lecture at the sixth Saint Anselm Conference titled “The Primacy of Faith and the Priority of Reason”. Presented on April 21, the lecture tied faith and reason to church and state, a subject Fr. Pignato lectures on in his seminary, and was attended by members of universities across the globe.

“I am not an Anselm scholar,” Fr. Pignato said multiple times throughout the night. Rather than lecture on Anselm’s teachings, Fr. Pignato took the base of Anselm’s philosophy, with reason not only leading to, but improving faith, and explained how other religious figures applied this base.

In his lecture Fr. Pignato quoted from the works of St. Augustine, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. Pignato highlighted Augustine’s teachings of reason being the gateway to faith, as beliefs first have to be conceived in thought before truly being believed. This foundation allows believers to use faith to follow given divine truths.

The connection between faith and reason according to John Paul II is more in how reason enhances faith. He explains reason as a way of finding meaning in and justifying faith. This had a modern agenda like much of Vatican II’s philosophy. Justifying faith with reason was to prevent it from being thought of among baseless superstitions.

Most recently, Benedict XVI treated reason found in faith as currency in politics, as Pignato put it. As faith could be justified by reason, the morals of faith could be applied to world politics.

Fr. Pignato stated that this was no kind of merge between church and state, but more of a way of understanding the morals of religion as the morals of nature via reason. This was clarified after the lecture during a question and answer session.

“Faith can contribute to the debate as long as it is not enforced or coerced into the law,” Pignato said.

The lecturer also answered a questions on reason’s availability to man.

“The motives of credibility…are accessible to the utility of all,” Pignato said. “What kind of God picks and chooses which people live with him and leaves the others behind?”

The Saint Anselm Lecture was one of many events at April 20-22 conference hosted by the Institute for Saint Anselm Studies. Other events examined and discussed the theology and philosophy of the college’s patron saint.