The Sorrowfulness of the Secular State

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is certainly not an ‘integralist’ in my sense of the word, but there are moments when he comes very close. Consider the following passage of The Yes of Jesus Christ,  written when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger:

the greatness of soul of the human vocation reaches beyond the individual aspect of human existence and cannot be squashed back into the merely private sphere. A society that turns what is specifically human into something purely private and defines itself in terms of a complete secularity (which moreover inevitably becomes a pseudo-religion and a new all-embracing system that enslaves people)— this kind of society will of its nature be sorrowful, a place of despair: it rests on a diminution of human dignity. A society whose public order is consistently determined by agnosticism is not a society that has become free but a society that has despaired, marked by the sorrow of man who is fleeing from God and in contradiction with himself. A Church that did not have the courage to underline the public status of its image of man would no longer be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the city set on a hill. (p. 76)

One thought on “The Sorrowfulness of the Secular State

  1. The quote is a bit rhetorical, and once more very unlike the author’s younger years. I do not know that secular societies turn ‘what is specifically human’ ‘into something purely private’. But much of what is specifically human has to be lived privately, although it can be thought of as shared, common.
    Which public order is ‘consistently determined by agnosticism’? The last itself can be of so many kinds. Some epochs find their freedom elsewhere.

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