The Moral Ordering of Power: 7 Political Quotes from God’s Rottweiler

Listers, the following quotes are taken from a collection of political speeches of Cardinal Ratzinger’s entitled Values in a Time of Upheaval.

1. Violence Does Not Heal
“It is not violence that heals, but only justice. This must be the criterion of all political action in present-day conflicts.” (119)

2. Blood of Abel – Blood of Christ
“The letter to the Hebrews speaks of the blood of Christ, which cries out in a different manner from the blood of Abel (12:24). It does not demand revenge but is reconciliation. The letter to the Ephesians makes the same point: Christ “is our peace.” (119)

3. Hecatombs
“The totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century promised us that they would set up a liberated, just world – and they demanded hecatombs of victims in this cause.” (120)

4. Moral Ordering of Power
“If the essence of politics is the moral ordering of power on the basis of the criteria provided by law, then the heart of politics is one of the fundamental categories of morality.” (125)

5. Power: Pope and the Emperor
“The emperor and the pope each had an authority of his own, and neither of them possessed the totality of power […] ‘It was Christ himself, because of human weakness (superbia!), who separated the two officies for the subsequent ages, so that no one might exalt himself” (chap 11, Pope Gelasius I letter to Emperor Anastasius). The Christian emperors require the priests (pontifices) for things pertaining to eternal life. In turn, the priests adhere to the ordinances promulgated by the emperor for the temporal course of affairs. In secular matters the priests must follow the laws of the emperor, who is installed in office by God’s decree, but in divine matter the emperor must submit to the priests.” (133)

6. Antecedent to Every Law
“The first element is the absoluteness that must be affirmed with regard to human dinigty and human rights. This is antecedent to every law promulgated by the state.” (146)

7. Spectre of Nazi Ethics
“No one today would deny the priority of human dignity and of basic human rights over every political decision. The terrors of Nazism and of its racial doctrine are still too recent. But in the concrete sphere of so-called medical progress there are very real threats to these values.” (147)