In 2009 Ignatius press released this prophetic little volume, written by our pope over 1969-1970 — while the world was in the first throes of the social revolution. I thought I’d share a few of Joseph Ratzinger’s prescient thoughts. They seem timely:
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”
He goes on, saying: [the church]
“It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. 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. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”
The book is only 160 pages. It’s available on Kindle, too.
I am frankly very consoled by these thoughts. At the dawn of the social revolution, Ratzinger saw all of this, and now he is our Pope, leading us through these first serious labor pains. Who knows if he will be with us through the delivery — I very much doubt it — but seeing him in Peter’s chair at this time reminds us that God has his hand in all things, even in the pastoral weaknesses of the past few decades that have helped us get to this place.
And here is Elizabeth Duffy:
“Putting her on birth control would give her a pass to continue with that behavior. Then this unsavory guy would be hanging around wanting sex, which is not safe for her, or our family.”
The role of a guardian is not to provide a scuba suit so that a child can keep swimming in toxic water. It’s to pull the child out of toxic water, prevent her from making unhealthy alliances with poor potential mates at a vulnerable time in her life, and teach her about true love, so that the girl who is unfit to be a parent at 14, will be fit when she reaches adulthood.
This is where conscience clauses come in. Rather than thinking like Margaret Sanger, who advocated the use of birth control “to stop the multiplication of the unfit” the Catholic sexual ethic looks beyond the good of the state to see the ultimate good of the person.
And check out Obama, Athanasius and the Bishops