The Ratzinger Option, by James Kalb

The Vandals Sack Rome….Again, by George Weigel 
July 30, 2019
Founder’s Quote
July 31, 2019

By James Kalb, Crisis Magazine, July 30, 2019

James KalbWe live in a time of dissolution, in which natural and traditional ties are growing thinner, and also in a time of consolidation – in which all life is being absorbed by a global economic machine. The results, of course, are becoming less and less livable for most people.

The Church is presented with an opportunity. She is still what she has always been, and as long as she presents what she is, people will continue to find in her what they are missing. As Peter asked, “Where else is there to go?”

Then I noticed that then-Father Joseph Ratzinger said the same thing fifty years ago in a short radio address he presented on Christmas Day in 1969. He told his listeners:

Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new.

The phrase “totally planned world” is typical of the day’s progressive optimism, reflected in many Church documents, regarding the possibilities of social management. But he turns that optimism around. Fr. Ratzinger suggests that such total planning would devalue individual agency – along with human connections, like family and local community – replacing them with an impersonal, all-pervading bureaucratic scheme. The result? This unspeakable loneliness; the feeling that, since everything is already taken care of, one’s life and efforts are pointless.