“What is Europe? “A novel (in French) of Cardinal Ratzinger
This will be my birthday gift to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. This is a lecture given by one who was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2001. He was the guest of the “Ambrosetti seminar” held every year behind closed doors at the edge of Lake Como in Cernobbio to promote European values and to reflect on the challenges of our time: globalization and technological advances. The guests?Statesmen, Nobel prizes, industrialists, businessmen.
It is seeking information for an article I was preparing to presentdated 11 September 2012, and who had introduced me to the existence of this discrete group, I noted poring lists of guests that Cardinal Ratzinger expressed therein eleven years ago as a special guest. Obviously, I went in search of what he had been able to say much. Not easy. It does not appear that his lecture was translated or collected in any book.
Finally, I came across this on an Italian site “ratzinguérophile” who has published numerous texts of the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To my knowledge, this is a text that has not appeared elsewhere or in another language, and as far as I can tell, this is a transcript of a recorded lecture rather than a conference written … The publication date of October 2004.
In any event, it is a text that precedes other reflections of Cardinal Ratzinger on Europe – including one where he defines the concept of Europe, which once included the Mediterranean, by the resistance of the historical territory , the changing boundaries, faced with the advance of Islam.
It is also a text that seems to involve a degree ad hominemargument, delivered in the context of a europeist audience and trying to save the idea of Christian identity in a framework that readily forget, also seeking – in the manner of Pascal’s wager – to invite even non-believers to focus on God and His law.
He has me in any event seemed interesting enough to be translated, what I did, not without awkwardness, and published: the 87th anniversary of Benedict XVI seem to me to provide a good opportunity. So here’s the first part, the rest will follow in the coming days.
The cardinal, a united Europe and the New World Order
What is Europe? What can and what should it be in the complex context of the historical situation in which we find ourselves at the beginning of the third Christian millennium? Since World War II the search for a common identity and a common goal for Europe is entering a new phase.
After the wars, suicides, during the first half of the twentieth century, devastated Europe and engaged the world, it became clear that all European states were the losers in this terrible tragedy, and that something must be done to prevent it happening again. Europe had always been in the past a continent of contrasts, overwhelmed by multiple conflicts. The nineteenth century brought with it the formation of the United Nations whose conflicting interests had given a new dimension in destructive opposition. The work of European unification was based on two main motivations.
Face nationalism that divide and deal with hegemonic ideologies that had radicalized the opposition during World War II, the common cultural heritage, moral and religious Europe must shape the consciousness of its nations and revealed as the common identity of all its peoples the path of peace, a common pathway to the future.European identity, which should neither dissolve nor contradict national identities were sought, but instead to join a higher level unit in a unique community of people.
The common history should be highlighted as a creative force for peace. There is no doubt that the founding fathers of European unification Christian heritage was considered the core of the historical identity, of course, not in its religious forms, which is common to all Christians, however, seemed recognizable beyond denominational boundaries as a unifying force of “acting” in the world.
This did not seem incompatible with the great moral ideals of the Enlightenment, which had virtually highlighted the rational dimension of the Christian reality, beyond all historical oppositions, it seemed entirely consistent with the ideals Fundamentals of Christian history in Europe.This general intuition has never been totally clear in the details and in this sense the problems remained, which require deepening. Initially, the certainty of the existence of compatibility between the major components of European heritage was even stronger than the existing problems in this regard.
In this historical and moral dimension that was at the origin of European unification, however, is added a second motivation.European domination of the world, which was expressed mainly in the colonial system and through the economic and political ties that have resulted, had finally ended with the Second World War: in this sense, it is the Europe as a whole had lost the war.
United States of America were camped on the stage of world history as a dominant power, but even Japan, defeated, became an economic power similar level, and finally the Soviet Union represented, with states satellites, an empire on which the states of the Third World especially sought to rely in opposition to America and Western Europe.In this new situation the individual European states could not present themselves as partners of the same level. The unification of their interests in a common European structure was necessary if Europe wanted to continue to have a weight in world politics.
National interests should unite together in the common European interest. Besides the search for a common identity resulting from the history and creative peace is juxtaposed self-assertion of common interests, thus understood the desire to become an economic power, which is the assumption of power policy.
To be continued.
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10 March 2013, Sunday –– 48 Hours To Go
The 115 voting cardinals will begin to vote in about 48 hours from now, Sunday afternoon in Rome.
The Osservatore Romano issued a special supplement yesterday with all the photos of the 115 cardinals who will enter into Conclave. Here they are in two photos:
A Living Stone:
“A righteous man falling down before the wicked [is as] a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.”
“In an age when the idea of man is being dissolved into a spoonful of chemicals and a nexus of biological urges and drives, in a time when the new financial and technological powers are recklessly disintegrating the last remnants of traditional human society, building a brave new “utilitarian” world, quicker, more powerful, more plastic and malleable than ever even imaginable up until now, what humanity needs is God.
What Ratzinger offered, is God.
He who Is, and who ever will be, unto ages of ages.
Connected to this divine, man finds his meaning.
Severed from this divine, man loses his meaning, his logos, and descends into meaninglessness.
Man — and this is what Benedict XVI taught us, and continues to teach us even in his silence — “does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Cardinal Sodano said, in his 28 February 2013 farewell remarks to the former Pope, citing Luke’s account of the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection, but did not recognize him, “Did not our hearts burn within us as we walked with Him?”
Sodano said: “Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: ‘Were not our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way?’ (Luke 24:32). Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts, too, burned while we walked with you these past eight years.”
He spoke in the past tense, “burned.”
FOOTNOTE by Lisa Karpova:
Growing up Catholic
On the eve of the Papal conclave, I was talking to a close acquaintance who basically grew up in the Catholic Church. Not a regular church goer, however, she fondly remembers regular church attendance in the “good old days” with a true reverence for the history and traditions of the Church.
Her parents didn’t attend church until an incident occurred, as these things usually do come out when children are with their friends.
Walking down the street with her friend, she noticed a strange man approaching. She asked her friend, “Who is that man in a dress?”
How embarrassing for mother and father. Next thing she knew, she was in Catholic school and the family was attending church. Funny how that happens.
There is probably nothing more beautiful and awe inspiring than hearing the Latin Gregorian chant in any form it takes, especially when done by children. She recalled memories of fasting breakfast every morning in order to receive Communion at the morning Mass which the school children eagerly sang completely in Latin. It was a beautiful experience, and the school children eagerly devoured the donuts and chocolate milk served to them when the Mass was over.
There was First Communion, Confirmation and frequent use of the little white first Communion dress for special church events when the pupils would make processions in that special attire. On Friday, there was abstaining from eating meat. It was a sin to eat meat on Friday in the days of old. Prayers and catechism questions were memorized by heart. There was the special nervous feeling of the Priest opening up the sliding door in the Confessional so that the pupil could tell the Priest their tiny little venial sins like coverting their neighbor’s play money, getting angry at the teacher or something of that nature.
Then there were the infamous Nuns who are basically remembered for their fury, making those bad children who had the nerve to do so at school, place their chewing gum on their noses. Or the rap on the knuckles with a ruler for other terrible infractions, such as talking out of turn with one’s neighbor when one is supposed to be attentive to the classroom teacher.
It was a rich experience that was shattered by Vatican II, which was followed by deep change in the Mass as Catholics knew it then. They started with the folksy guitar masses, these and all Masses being done in the native language instead of the traditional Latin. The entire structure of the Mass seemed to change so that one could hardly imagine that it was “Catholic” anymore. It felt more “Protestant” as she would say. The hand shaking sign of peace felt strange and intrusive, as opposed to the very personal feelings one had previously as a Mass attendee. Not that there is anything wrong with a symbolic gesture of peace, but it made her ill at ease and she felt it out of place under the circumstances.
That is when she parted ways and stopped being a regular church goer. She didn’t leave the church, the church had left her.
After that, there was experimentation with other religions, but basically the values instilled by many years of Catholic education had made their mark.
As a new Pope is being chosen, those brought up with the old time traditional values can only hope that perhaps instead of more change, the Church might return to its history and traditions…keeping what has always been accepted doctrine within the Church. Most people are familiar with that…against abortion, no married priests or female priests, etc. There are always rabble rousers that want to throw out the doctrines and traditions of the Church, but fortunately most of it remains to the satisfaction of the Church body. You just cannot throw out instilled values and traditions…
The Church on Earth is made up of human beings who are far from perfect, given their sin nature. One other belief of the Church is that man has a sin nature they are born with. That being the case, it might be well to briefly discuss the problem with pedophile Priests. Reputable, knowledgeable psychologists will tell you that pedophiles basically cannot be cured or changed. Put in situations with children, they will always be offenders.
Some of these people have been attracted to the opportunities provided by the priesthood, but in no way are these mentally sick individuals an indication of what the priesthood should entail. They have been an embarrassment, of course. But in no way do they diminish those that really have this great calling and it should not be allowed to be accepted as any sort of trademark or inclination. It is sin and sickness, bottom line.
You have individuals in youth programs that take leadership positions in order to be close to victim children, yet you do not hear far ranging criticism of these organizations and their leaders. Nor should it be made a general criticism of the Church, who accepts candidates in good faith for the priesthood.
God only knows how rare the people are who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices that are part of the priesthood.
The Church and everything that constitutes its essence is something that is always a part of one’s internal makeup and values.
Hopefully, the new Pope will make great strides in returning to and keeping to tradition and history…in particular the enforcement of the Latin Mass once again. That is her great hope. It also seems that having an Italian chosen might feel more comfortable as well, as a rather time honored tradition. A little bit of pride, a little bit of nostalgia and a lot of hope will be generated by the upcoming Papal enclave.