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Dear Father Angelo Bellon,

I am  a young man who loves the etude, the research and the truth (I am aware that the truth can never be an absolute truth, but it is rather the path of research: “the effort of the concept”, to quote Hegel.)

I follow your column occasionally but with great interest, since you have always displayed a vast erudition and in particular a strong consistency in argument.

I would like to ask you, why is it necessary to complete a path for the final establishment of the Good? I mean, why has  the human being had to go through a path of decay? Why the coming of Jesus Christ – embodiment of Logos – happened? Why is a second coming necessary? In other words: why is history necessary?

I do not know if I have fully expressed myself,  as I cannot submit an essay considering also the context  . Although, I am quite sure that your answer will be both pleasing to read and an occasion  for intellectual  growth.

Best wishes, with great esteem  and expectation



Dear Antonio,

1.    I read between the lines of your email a concept of history that presumes a Hegelian educational background.

Hegel said that over time the Absolute Spirit evolves according to a dialectical process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

According to this concept, there is nothing definite. Everything unfolds according to the  above mentioned process.

2.    Actually, there are ultimate truths.

Starting from Jesus Christ, who said about himself: “I am the way and the truth” (Jn 14,6).

We agree upon the fact that Christ is God’s truth and that the human mind is unable to understand it deeply.

However, God’s truth and the ultimate truth about humankind, which is completely fulfilled only in Christ is an ultimate truth itself.

3.    I do not intend to deny that there is some  progress also in human understanding.

In fact, this further insight is the real enrichment.

Christians know that Jesus Christ assured them the Spirit of truth (the Holy Spirit) in order to bring them to the whole truth: “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (Jv 16,13).

4.    Since we are talking about the Spirit of truth, every further knowledge it will bring, will not be set in an  antithetical relation with what has already been said, because the Spirit of truth itself, which cannot contradict itself, has already established it to be true..

Otherwise, it would not be  the Spirit of truth.

5.    This is the reason why in theology there is an axiom: “quod semel verum, semper verum” (what was true once, will be true forever.)

6.    Therefore, the progress that derives from the Spirit of truth will not happen in a dialectical way, as Hegel foresaw, but in an uniform way.

This is true regarding both the faith and the moral truth, as Pope John Paul II taught us in the encyclical Veritatis splendor. “The development of the Church’s moral doctrine is similar to that of the doctrine of the faith”.

The words spoken by John XXIII at the opening of the Second Vatican Council can also be applied to moral doctrine: “This certain and unchanging teaching (i.e., Christian doctrine in its completeness), to which the faithful owe obedience, needs to be more deeply understood and set forth in a way adapted to the needs of our time. Indeed, this deposit of the faith, the truths contained in our time-honored teaching, is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else. (VS, note 100.)

7.    However, it is true that some historical events  developed according to an apparently dialectical path .

The liberalist individualism was counterbalanced by social communism.

The latter did not work out either, and was replaced by something difficult to define if not in terms of denial and failure of real socialism.

8.    Giorgio la Pira, a Third Order Dominican of the Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence, was right  in this regard: “From Rousseau’s freedom derives – without underestimating certain valuable growths on the theme of man – the greatest evils from which our civilization and society suffers: economic freedom has produced the social split between capitalism and the proletariat; political freedom has produced internally the tyranny of the majority and the disarticulation of the social body; political freedom itself has produced in international life the disintegration of the unity of nations and the opposition of state to state and nation to nation; individualistic freedom has produced the weakening of the family bond and of the fundamental norms of Christian ethics.

In short: subtract freedom from law and grace: the result will be what happens in physics when a body is subtracted from the law of gravity : the centrifugal force not balanced by the centripetal one produces terrifying effects! A star that is no longer able to move in its orbit! (G. la Pirla, Per una architettura cristiana dello stato, p. 116)

9.    He goes on and says: “The test is not really difficult.

What in fact was the Catholic synthesis? An integration between nature and grace; between reason and revelation; between freedom and law; between person and society; between state and states.

What is the reform? Nature disintegrated by grace: that is, the equilibrium of man – which is achieved only on the supernatural level of grace – broken at its fundamental pivot.

What is the Enlightenment or  the Encyclopedia (including Kant)? It is this fundamental disequilibrium and disintegration  extended to the entire  spectrum of human action: reason disintegrated by revelation; freedom disintegrated by law; the person disintegrated by society; the state disintegrated by states.

What are the French Revolution and the bourgeois democratic state that resulted from it? They are   the same transcribed disintegration in the economy (liberal economy), in politics (the politics of the social contract: political individualism), in law (detachment of positive law from natural law)  that became the state.

Nevertheless, when a balance is broken there are violent and opposite shifts: the pendulum, having lost its central position, moves violently to the right and to the left.

What in fact are nascent socialism, nationalism and communism?

They are the gigantic reactions that oppose the dissociating action generated by the reform and matured in philosophical and political individualism: they are an attempt to reintegrate, but no longer on the supernatural level of God, reason with revelation (but that immanent  of the state, the nation, the race, the class, etc.), freedom with law (that of the state, the class, etc.) of the person with society (with the  assimilation of the individual into society).

This is a secular “Catholicism”: without God, without Christ, without grace, without a transcendent  value of the person.

What does this demonstrate? It shows that the center of the human crisis is still in that disintegration of the Catholic synthesis which no other integration can replace: one cannot understand anything of the great doctrinal and political movements of our time if one does not have in mind this overall picture and this “original sin” of modern civilization constituted by the gigantic rupture of the Christian synthesis.

The “dialectic” of the crisis is all here: we are looking for a pivot to rebalance individuals and society, freedom and law, state and state, reason and revelation, nature and above nature: and this pivot can only be the Christian one.

Integration will be Christian or it will not be, balance will be Christian or it will not be.

These are the terms of the drama of the modern age and the elements that shed light on the dark contemporary tragedy. (Ib. pp.111-112)

10. You asked me: why is history important?

Because the human being, unlike angels, is a rational being that proceeds in stages.

We have progress thanks to history.

Thanks to history, we can have decline and involution as well.

Thanks to history repentance, contrition and life-changing experience are possible as well.

However, history’s journey, both individual and collective, does not succumb relentlessly to the dialectical method.

Linear journeys and progresses are possible from grace to grace and from virtue to virtue, as seen in the life of some Saints.

Thank you for your question, I wish you that linear progress from grace to grace and from virtue to virtue, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo

Translated by Rossella Roma