Ratzinger Was No Traditionalist, He Was a Humanist
There are plenty of articles floating around painting Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) as a traditionalist. He was merely a pretend-traditionalist and a humanist like his predecessor Karol Wojtyła (John-Paul II).
To those who don’t know what humanism is, I will attempt a short explanation. It can be defined as “a philosophy which values the human intellect above all else”. It is typically not worded like this but this is in effect what it is.
When one values the human intellect above all else, it follows that there is no higher standard to judge what we come up with and there is no meaningful differentiation between what one human can come up with compared to another. In other words, everyone is “right”.
So, from humanism is derived “universal tolerance” and “universal respect”. It sounds nice, even “loving”… and that is why it is so insidious.
Further derivations include “freedom of thought”, “freedom of conscience”, “human rights” and “freedom of religion”. These “freedoms” (or “liberties”) and “rights” are not what well-meaning people think (that is, with boundaries and corresponding responsibilities). The idea is closer to “license” (more like “I may do whatever I want and no one shall not get in my way”). Notice “they” are very clever at ambiguous wording and, in our generation, Ratzinger is one of the most adroit.
Moral subjectivism and relativism follow. Anything goes with its resulting “indifference”, the mentality of “it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you mean well”.
Humanism in this modern form is an anti-Christian philosophy not just because it is incompatible to Christian thought but also because it puts man in the place of God and is therefore literally an anti-Christ philosophy. This is why Popes since the 1700s have condemned or at least frowned upon such ideas. (A fraction of these have been covered on this website. If time permits, more will follow.)
And yet, John Paul II and Benedict XVI praise and promote these ideas to the point that one would have to write an encyclopedia to cover. (That is no exaggeration.) I will provide merely two examples here.
On 18 January 2008, in Ratzinger’s address to the Bishops of the Conference of the Latin Bishops in the Arab Region:
A better mutual knowledge is therefore necessary in order to foster ever greater respect for human dignity, the equality of rights and duties of people and renewed attention to the needs of each one, particularly those who are the poorest. Moreover, I firmly hope that authentic religious freedom may be effective everywhere and that the right of each individual to practise his or her religion freely, or to change it, may not be hindered. This is a primordial right of every human being. [Emphasis mine.]
I am not saying people aren’t permitted to make their own choices or that we shouldn’t be civil with each other, but it should never be worded like this, especially by clergy. Note the emphasis on man. And what is “authentic” when one can do whatever one wants?
On 18 April 2008, in his speech to the General Assembly of the UN during his visit to the US:
Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian – a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer. The activity of the United Nations in recent years has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship, education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and choose religion. It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order. [Emphasis mine.]
To be fair, Ratzinger at least here mentions God. But setting aside that a so-called pope shouldn’t even be at the UN, he spends about ten paragraphs waffling on, praising the UN and its “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” before getting to that point. And even then, it is ambiguous.
When one is encouraged to pick and choose whatever religion (and morality) they want, what kind of “social order” are we really aiming for? The New World Order?
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