Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ratzinger Anti American?

Ratzinger's written a lot and I've read none of it. But I'm guessing when he's critical of "relativism" in the world, he sees the source as the United States.

Found this in National Catholic Reporter: Rome, US: differing worldviews written just over a year ago.

In the end, the Holy See might be less concerned about unilateralism if it had more faith in the worlds lone superpower to foster Christian virtue. In fact, however, at the deepest level of analysis, there is serious doubt that American culture is an apt carrier for a Christian vision of the human person and of the just society.

Some in the Vatican believe that the core values of American culture, forged in the crucible of Calvinism, include liberty in the form of individual autonomy, economic, social and political liberalism, utility and modern progress, pragmatic morality, and the work ethic. All have fueled America's success on the world stage, but from the point of view of Roman Catholic anthropology and social ethics, which understand human identity in terms of being over doing, all these values are at least potentially toxic.

Though no pope and no Vatican diplomat will ever say so explicitly, the bottom line is that despite great respect for the American people and their democratic traditions, the Holy See does not think the United States is fit to run the word by itself. Many Vatican officials, especially those from non-Anglo-Saxon cultures, believe America is too rich, too narcissistic, too shortsighted and voluble to be entrusted with the quasi-unfettered power that 20th-century history bequeathed to it. (In truth, there aren't many countries the Holy See would approve for such a role, and if the Vatican had to choose between a world run from Washington and one run from Islamabad or Beijing, there's little doubt they would opt for Washington.)

Thus the Holy See's diplomatic energy in coming years will have as a central aim the construction of a multilateral, multipolar world, which will necessarily imply a limitation on the power and influence of the United States. For that reason, and despite strong agreement on a host of issues, the relationship between Rome and Washington seems destined to be complex and occasionally strained.
American culture does value pragmatism and work. That means Churches have to work at revival and conversion. Churches have to be pragmatic enough to translate faith in a way understandable to modern people. (The battle among the Dutch Reformed in Chicago's West Side was over preaching in English and singing hymns.) Spirituality and Faith are important, and far too important to be left to the government. We're better at managing the split in America between church and state, the spiritual and secular --despite our images of materialism and secularity-- and have a more vibrant religious life as a result.

Most importantly Americans have faith in Democracy and put democracy to work in our churches too for the most part. We believe in Lincoln's, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time". Ratzinger might try some democratic reforms in the Church and maybe worry less about theological correctness. People will figure theology out for themselves.

He and the Vatican should realize the United States doesn't seek to be fit to run the world by itself. The United States is building democratic institutions so people can run their lives, including their spiritual lives, for themselves; just as we did for Ratzinger's Germany.

Also found this on Ratzinger in National Catholic Reporter from 1999: The Vatican’s enforcer .

No comments: