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Pope, at audience, traces theological influence of Duns Scotus

Catholic World News - July 07, 2010

At his regular weekly public audience on July 7—the last Wednesday audience before his summer vacation—Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the contributions of Duns Scotus, the 13th-century theologian whose teaching at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris earned him the title Doctor Subtilis.

In 1993, when he beatified the Scottish theologian, Pope John Paul II described Duns Scotus as “cantor Of the incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception.” That description “summarized Duns Scotus’ great contribution to the history of theology,” Pope Benedict observed.

Duns Scotus taught that the Incarnation was not a response to Original Sin, but a part of God’s plan from the creation from the beginning. “In this great Christocentric vision,” the Pope said, “the Incarnate Word appears as the center of history and the cosmos.”

Duns Scotus also taught that the Virgin Mary was spared from the effects of Original Sin through the merits of her divine Son’s redemptive act. He referred to this unique privilege as “preventive redemption,” and saw the Immaculate Conception as “the masterwork of Christ’s Redemption,” Pope Benedict said.

The Pope went on to discuss the efforts of Duns Scotus to explain free will. Freedom, the Pope stressed, must be oriented toward 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.”

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