Saturday, June 25, 2005

Crisis of Culture

Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger was famous for his scathing commentaries, known affectionately to his young followers as “Rat-Zingers.” In the last post (“The Fall of the West”) I quoted from one of his essays about the decline of faith and morality in Europe. Now, Pope Benedict XVI has released a book written when he was still Cardinal that expands greatly on the subject. In "The Europe of (Saint) Benedict: In the crisis of cultures," the pope focuses on the role of Christianity in Europe and the need to respect life from conception to its natural death.

Pope Benedict takes as the starting point of his book the European Union leader’s decision to exclude any reference to Europe's Christian roots from the preamble of the proposed EU constitution (properly rejected by French and Dutch voters in recent referenda). The Vatican campaigned for the reference as part of its attempt to stem the tide of increasingly empty churches in a continent that is often hostile to religion.

"Europe has developed a culture which, in a way never before known to humanity, excludes God from public conscience," Benedict writes.

The EU Constitution does contain arcane pronouncements on social rights such as those of Sardinian farmers to sell cheese containing worms, but is silent on the cultural and religious underpinnings of the European continent.

Pope Benedict XVI rightly criticizes a Europe that has failed to protect its "youngest and weakest" and parents who think their rights to freedom and leisure trump the rights of the unborn child: "They become blind to the right to life of another, of the youngest and weakest who don't have a voice."

He issues a sober warning that we in America should also heed: "Accepting that the rights of the weakest can be violated means that you accept also that the right of force prevails over the force of rights."

The Cantagalli publishing house has said there were no immediate plans to translate Benedict's book from Italian into other languages. Let’s request an English edition from Amazon or directly from Cantagalli if you speak Italian.


Anonymous Pamela Cleveland said...

God ordained that Pope Benedict XVI is just that: Pope! I am so grateful, Billy, you chose to tell of the Pope's book. And yes, I do believe if it was translated into English many would read it; and perhaps truly be moved by his words of love and protection for the most innocent among us!

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