Cardinal Ratzinger addresses the challenges and responsibilities that both the Church and society in Europe face after the collapse of Marxism. Both liberalism and Marxism have denied religion the right to have any influence on public affairs and the common future of humanity. Since there is also a great spiritual emptiness growing in the West with the increased secularization, consumerism and hedonism, Ratzinger’s comments apply as much, if not more, to the United States as well.
With the downfall of Marxism, religion has been discovered anew as an ineradicable force for both the individual and society. While there is renewed interest in religion, the dangers also exist to lay hold of religion as an instrument to serve various political ideas. Ratzinger, whose theological work has often dealt with the “reasons for our faith,” reflects upon the various problems facing humanity at this turning point of our history and offers genuine hope based upon a deep Christian faith. He also addressed the critical role that the Church has in relationship to the world and the essential task of bringing Christ back into our culture.
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“Faith is not the resignation of reason in view of the limits of our knowledge; it is not a retreat into the irrational in view of the dangers of a merely instrumental reason. Faith is not the expression of weariness and flight but is courage to exist and an awakening to the greatness and breadth of what is real. Faith is an act of affirmation; it is based on the power of a new Yes, which becomes possible for man when he is touched by God.” (Page 110)
“We have earlier attempted to grasp its political and historical essence by portraying it as the connection of belief in progress with absolutized scientific-technical civilization and political messianism. The remarkable thing about this strange trinity is, however, that this structure now replaces the concept of God and necessarily excludes it, since it takes its place.” (Page 130)
“Science in the narrower sense of the term refers to the realm of the necessary, which can be reduced to strict rules and leads in this way to objectively verifiable certainty. But this means that science, so understood, cannot deal with the realm of what is free, that is, with the genuinely human dimension of man and his social bonds.” (Page 92)
“There are differences in detail within this knowledge shared by the great cultures, but stronger than the differences is the great common area that presents itself as the primal evidential character of human life: the doctrine of objective values expressed in the Being of the world; the belief that attitudes exist that correspond to the message of the universe and are true and therefore good, and that other attitudes likewise exist that are genuinely and always false because they contradict Being.” (Pages 35–36)
Joseph Ratzinger is one of the most revered Catholic prelates, scholars, theologians, teachers, and authors of our time. He has spoken on many crucial subjects, including sexual consumerism, roles of men and women today, marriage, the priesthood, and the future of the world. On June 29, 1951, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Freising on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. He also received his doctorate in theology in 1953 from the University of Munich. Starting in 1959, Ratzinger taught theology at the University of Bonn.
After many years of teaching at several German universities, Ratzinger was appointed by Pope Paul VI as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in March 1977, and was elevated to cardinal in June 1977. In November 1981, Ratzinger was summoned by Pope John Paul II to Rome, where he was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and President of the International Theological Commission.
On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to be the 265th pope. He took the name Benedict XVI, after St. Benedict of Nursia. As pope, he received worldwide respect and was a spiritual influence to Christians and non-Christians alike. In 2013, he resigned the papacy, becoming the first pope to do so in since the fifteenth century. He retired to a monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where he continues to study and write.