Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict XV, the one before Ratzinger

Bush's War for Democracy in the middle east always seemed to me like the last act of what started in 1914 with World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the creation of modern Iraq. Soon it will be the 100th anniversary of World War I and we'll see many more books.

It's interesting Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI. Benedict XV was Pope at the out break of the war and here's his Appeal for Peace 1 Nov 1914: Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum.
For ever since the precepts and practices of Christian wisdom ceased to be observed in the ruling of states, it followed that, as they contained the peace and stability of institutions, the very foundations of states necessarily began to be shaken. Such, moreover, has been the change in the ideas and the morals of men, that unless God comes soon to our help, the end of civilization would seem to be at hand.
God didn't come and civilization did come to end for a long stretch of the 20th century in Europe. The century's a lesson for how fragile civilization is. Perhaps this is what Benedict XVI fears will repeat. Read Steven Ozmet's A Might Fortress: A new History of the German People, and you'll learn the German Army printed backpack copies of the Bible and Nietzche's Also Sprach Zarathustra as the two most popular books for the troops during the first World War. Maybe it's Nietzche Benedict XVI thinks has won out in Europe. God's not coming to bail out us out of our own tragic messes and Ratzinger fears the consequences of turning our backs on him.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Interesting. A case can be made that Europe has indeed turned its back on God and we are close to doing the same.