7 Observations on Church and State by Cardinal Ratzinger

Listers, the following quotes are taken from Values in a Time of Upheaval by Cardinal Ratzinger.1

1. The Majority and the Truth
“The state is not itself the source of truth and morality […] Nor can it produce truth via the majority.”

2.The Good and the Truth
“The goal of the state cannot consists in a freedom without defined contents. In order to establish a meaningful and viable ordering of life in society, the state requires a minimum of truth, of knowledge of the good, that cannot be manipulated.”

3. The State Is Not the Source
“Accordingly, the state must receive from outside itself the essential measure of knowledge and truth with regard to that which is good.”

4. Law Is A Dictate of Reason
“This ‘outside’ might, in the best possible scenario, be the pure insight of reason. It would be the task of an independent philosophy to cultivate this insight and keep watch over it. In practice, however, such a pure rational evidential quality independent of history does not exist […] In fact, all states have recognized and applied moral reason on the basis of antecedent religious traditions, which also provided moral education.”

5. Rational Moral Faith
“Christian faith has proved to be the most universal and rational religious culture. Even today, it offers reason the basic structure of moral insight which, if it does not actually lead to some kind of evidential quality, at least furnishes the basis of a rational moral faith without which no society can endure.”

6. The Church Informs But Cannot Become
“Accordingly, as I have already observed, the state receives its basic support from outside: not from a mere reason that is inadequate in the moral realm, but from a reason that has come to maturity in the historical form of faith […] By merging with the state, the Church would destroy both the essence of the state and its own essence.”

7. Church & State
“The Church remains something “outside” the state, for only thus can both Church and state be what they are meant to be. Like the state, the Church too must remain in its own proper place and within its boundaries. It must respect its own being and its own freedom, precisely in order to be able to perform for the state the serve that the latter requires. The Church must exert itself with all its vigor so that in it there may shine forth the moral truth that it offers to the state and that ought to become evident to the citizens of the state. This truth must be vigorous within the Church, and it must form men, for only then it will have the power to convince others and to be a force working like a leaven for all of society.”