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Europe: Today and Tomorrow
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ratzinger is at his finest- not writing above our heads as with some theological works, but as a teacher warning us about the inevitable consequences of our behavior.

A gentler version of The Cube & The Cathedral by Weigel, Ratzinger explains how the refusal of Europeans to accept their Christian roots is contributing to a declining culture. The text examines models of government, specifically the two totalitarian regimes of the previous century and insists that we allow the state to provide moral guidelines once again.

Finally, a good argument against the acceptance of Turkey into the EU is explained, drawing on the ancient history of this continent we call Europe today and how Christianity forged those boundaries, cultural identities and systems of faith.

This is a call to return to the moral center; a faith based civilization that was once great but has recently shunned the core that made it so. This is an example of how man's enlightenment and greatness should be accepted as gifts from God and therefore attributed as such.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
"Is there a European identity that has a future?" "Europe...is a cultural and historical concept," but many, it seems, appear to think otherwise. But "There is no such thing as an ahistorical State based on abstract reason.""Europe, precisely in this hour of its greatest success seems to have become hallowed out, paralyzed in a certain sense by a crisis of its circulatory system, a crisis that endangers its life, which depends, so to speak, on transplants, which then, however, cannot help undermining its identity." "Meanwhile, the manipulation of man by man is proceeding apace with even greater impudence. The visions of Huxley are definitely becoming a reality: the human being must be no longer begotten irrationally but rather produced rationally. But man as a product is at the disposal of man. The imperfect specimens are discarded, so as to develop the perfect man by way of planning and production." and "more and more often the principle of behavior is affirmed that states that it is permissible for man to do everything he is capable of doing."

"In a world that is understood in an evolutionary way, it is also self-evident that there cannot be any absolute values, things that are always bad or things that are always good; instead the weighing of goods is the only way to discern moral norms." "Whereas currently the once legendary success of the word revolution is on the decline, definite and far-reaching reforms are being demanded and promised all the more. One would have to conclude, however, that in modern society a deep sense of dissatisfaction predominates, and this precisely in places where well-being and freedom have reached a level heretofore unknown. The world is perceived as hard to endure; it must improve, and bringing this about seems to be the task of politics." In short, "Suffering must disappear; life must be nothing but pleasant." "Learning to live," however, Pope Benedict argues, "also means learning to suffer." Heaven is not possible on Earth, in other words. "A definitively well-run society would presuppose the end of freedom." And from freedom everything else comes. This is the subject of parts 3 & 4 of this albeit very short work: Responsibility for the Peace and Pope Benedict's reflections on "The occasion of the 60th anniversary of the landing of the Allied Forces in France (speeches he made during events commemorating such). "The process of reconciliation that has taken place in Europe, thanks in particular to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has changed the course of world history; this process has its origins in the Christian spirit." He instructs us that such a progression ought be respected and built upon; not cast aside. After all, Pope Benedict asks "...has the world really become brighter, freer, happier after setting God aside?"

In Pope Benedict's view, one of the primary reasons Islamists are hostile to the West is their perception of the West as Godless. Hence Pope Benedict's admonition that by being more religious/more respectful of our own religious heritage perhaps the West and Islamic states can move somewhat closer to each other; that we in the Judeo-Christian West may be able to moderate aspects of the Muslim faith by standing firm for Freedom. Abandoning Europe's faith, in contradistinction, is akin, in effect, to conceding the moral high ground to an otherwise respectable faith, but one which has not progressed much in the way of individual and women's rights; which does not respect individual freedom, nor a distinction between secular politics and faith. (07Jul) God Bless
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VINE VOICEon February 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of essays and addresses by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger published shortly before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI. They have all of the clarity and profundity that his regular readers have come to expect. Even if you've struggled a bit with some of his theological writing, these are very accessible.

The essays take up three related themes:

* The historic spiritual foundations of Europe and the dangers inherent in trying to forge a European identity that ignores its roots.

* More generally, the relation of politics and morality.

* Reflections on war and peace.

"Europe" in the first two essays, refers not so much to the geographic continent but to the cultural and historical civilization that was formed there. Thus, America, though it is an ocean away, is in some sense a part of it whereas Turkey, which actually includes some territory on the continent itself, is not. Among other things, he gives a great summary of the Christian roots of the separation of Church and State, the different approaches in the Christian East and West, the changes wrought by the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the struggle with Nazi and Communist ideologies in the 20th Century. He is sympathetic with the AIMS of the post-war European Project but skeptical of its success if it continues down its path of replacing a healthy secularity with a radical secularism.

The middle section is a rich reflection, rooted in both History and Scripture, on the proper understanding of politics and morality, Church and State, reason and faith, freedom and order, power and law, progress, and science.

Finally, the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in the second world war provided the occasion for these four addresses to various audiences reflecting on the just use of force, the gap between true peace and the mere absence of war, the sources of terrorism, and the particularly Christian contribution to the pursuit of peace.

NB: This volume is a translation of a collection first published in Italian. All of these essays (and three additional ones) are available in a separate translation from a German collection: Values in a Time of Upheaval
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on October 2, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Ratzinger is known for his intellect, and this is a magnificent display of his genius, but not too "ivory tower" to understand. He gets to the heart of the Europe debate: the soul of Europe. Beautiful, thought provoking, inspiring.
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