The Idolatry of Freedom: 10 Political Quotes by Cardinal Ratzinger

Listers, the following quotes are taken from a collection of political speeches given by Cardinal Ratzinger. SPL highly recommends the work entitled Values in a Time of Upheaval.

1. Ghostly Existence of Marxism
“In place of utopian dreams and ideals, today we find a pragmatism that is determined to extract from the world the maximum satisfaction possible. This, however, does not make it pointless to consider once again the characteristics of the secular messianism that appeared on the world stage in Marxism, because it still leads a ghostly existence deep in the souls of many people, and it has the potential to emerge again and again in new forms.” (17)

2. Realm of Reason: Peace & Justice
“Politics is the realm of reason – not of a merely technological, calculating reason, but of moral reason, since the goal of the state, and hence the ultimate goal of all politics, has a moral nature, namely, peace and justice.” (24)

3. Human Nature Remains the Same
“Man, precisely as man, remains the same both in primitive and in technologically developed situations. He does not stand on a higher level merely because he has learned to use more highly developed tools.” (25)

4. The Idol of Freedom
“Freedom is often thought of as something anarchical, something simply opposed to institutions. This makes it an idol, since human freedom can never be anything other than a freedom expressed in the right way of living in common – freedom in justice. Otherwise, it becomes a lie and leads to slavery.” (26)

5. Last Acceptable Form of Bigotry
“We can be very grateful that no one in our country can permit himself to mock that which is holy to Jews or Muslims. But many seem to view as one of the basic rights of human freedom the right to pull down from its pedestal what Christians regard as holy and to heap it with ridicule.” (28)

6. Freedom Tempered by Law and the Good
“Freedom preserves its dignity only as long as it retains the relationship to its ethical foundations and to its ethical task. A freedom that consisted solely in the possibility of satisfying one’s needs would not be human freedom, since it would remain in the animal realm. An individual freedom without substance dissolves into meaninglessness, since the individual’s freedom can exist only in an order of freedoms. Freedom requires a communal substance, which we could define as the guaranteeing of human rights. We can put this in other terms: the very essence of the concept of “freedom” demands that it be complemented by two other concepts, those of law and of the good.” (48)

7. The Rational Principle of Man
“The truth about the good supplies by the Christian tradition becomes an insight of human reason and hence a rational principle.” (64)

8. The Objectivity of the Conscience
“Rather, conscience signifies the perceptible and commanding presence of the voice of truth in the subject itself. Conscience means the abolition of mere subjectivity when man’s intimate sphere is touched by the truth that comes from God.” (86)

9. The Man of Conscience
“A man of conscience is one who never purchases comfort, well-being, success, public prestige, or approval by prevalent opinion if the price is the renunciation of truth.” (87)

10. The Advocate of Christian Memory
“The true meaning of the teaching authority of the pope is that he is the advocate of Christian memory. He does not impose something from the outside but develops and defends Christian memory.” (95)