Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on D-Day

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On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe. What had happened? A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil. And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

To Europe was given, after 1945, a period of peace of such duration as our continent had never seen in its entire history. To no small degree, this was the accomplishment of the first generation of post-war politicians — Churchill, Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi – whom we have to thank at this hour: We are to give thanks that it was not punishment that was fixed upon, nor again revenge and the humiliation of the defeated, but rather that all should be accorded their rights.

Let us say it openly: These politicians took their moral ideas of state and right, peace and responsibility, from their Christian faith, a faith that had undergone the tests of the Enlightenment, and in opposing the perversion of justice and morality of the party-states, had emerged re-purified. They did not want to found a state upon religious faith, but rather a state informed by moral reason, yet it was their faith that helped them to raise up again a reason once distorted by, and held in thrall to ideological tyranny…. Read the rest

[Excerpt from “In Search of Freedom; Against Reason Fallen Ill and Religion Abused” Logos 4.2 Spring 2005.

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6 Comments

  1. I almost feel embarrassed reading that. It’s hard to explain. It’s like looking at childhood pictures of a family counselor and realizing that the abuse he grew up with made him the man he is today. You can practically see young Josef surrounded by the assault against reason, law, humanity, and God, and realizing that he had to dedicate his life to showing the value and interrelatedness of these things. How could anyone forced into the Hitler Youth not grow up to be a theologian?

  2. “A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the [German] state.”

    Has a strangely familiar ring to it, does it not, my friends in USA ? 🙁

  3. Very familiar! And as you know he wrote this 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary and before the current administration of U.S.A.
    I followed the link to B16’s writing Very worth reading.

    What he said about peace after the war:
    “.Let us say it openly: These politicians took their moral ideas of state and right, peace and responsibility, from their Christian faith, a faith that had undergone the tests of the Enlightenment, and in opposing the perversion of justice and morality of the party-states, had emerged re-purified. They did not want to found a state upon religious faith, but rather a state informed by moral reason, yet it was their faith that helped them to raise up again a reason once distorted by, and held in thrall to ideological tyranny.

    “Across Europe ran a frontier, and not just across our continent, but dividing the entire world. A great part of Central Europe and Eastern Europe came under the domination of an ideology that subjected state to party, in the end, effacing the difference. Here, again, the result was the rule of lies. Visible after the collapse of these dictatorships, was the enormous destruction – economic, ideological, and psychological – which followed from this rule. In the Balkans, there were the entanglements of belligerency, bringing, along with the admittedly ancient burdens of history, new explosions of violence.
    I
    And:
    ” Truly, the relationship between reason and religion is of the first importance in this situation, and the struggle for the right relationship belongs at the heart of our concern for the cause of peace. There are pathologies of religion – we see this; and there are pathologies of reason – we see this, too, and both pathologies are life threatening for peace – indeed, in an age of global power structures, for humanity as a whole.”

    And finally:
    ” Even a secular state may – indeed, must – find its support in the formative roots from which it grew, it may and must acknowledge the foundational values without which, it would not have come to be, and without which, it cannot survive. Upon an abstract, an a-historical reason, a state cannot endure. “

  4. “A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the [German] state.”
    Has a strangely familiar ring to it, does it not, my friends in USA ? 🙁
    Yes it does Don the Kiwi.
    .
    The human being is church and state, religion and politics, body and soul. Man’s soul is reason to believe in God. The recently excommunicated group “We are church” usurps the authority and power of the church to hold sway over the hierarchy. The recently installed president denies the soul to hold sway over man’s conscience.
    .
    The consummate clarity with which Pope Benedict XVI speaks defines Hitler’s takeover of a legitimate government in Germany, his country. Benedict describes the situation precisely.

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