Klavan on Pope Benedict

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Andrew Klavan, the mystery writer and humorist I have often quoted on this blog, is a big fan of the Pope:

Pope Benedict, as I’ve said before, is the Last European, by which I mean the last great man and mind who fully comprehends the beautiful but now dying culture that produced him.  It’s appalling to me–though not surprising–that the only thing the mainstream media ever covers about him is how often he apologizes for the abuses of some priests or how politically incorrect his view of gay people is or whatever.  I have now read a good selection of his writings and when the work of Foucault and Derridas and de Man and the rest of that benighted lot has toddled off to the obscurity it so dearly deserves, Benedict’s writings will stand.  They may be the final flares of genius to fly up from the continent he loves before darkness closes over it.

I’m not a Catholic.  My views on authority and sexual morality are too individualistic.  But when I see the level of thought coming out of Anglicanism  – especially the low and despicable crypto anti-semitism in the cowardly guise of anti-Zionism – and then read the grace-filled, spirit-inspired work of Big Ben, well, I’m embarrassed.


B-16′s greatness doesn’t lie in his papacy. Or that is, if it does, I wouldn’t know. It’s his writing, his theology, his thought that elevate him in my mind. When I was but a youngish dude, pounding my way through the great works, it seemed to me that the wisdom of many of the great German thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries had been thrown aside for no good reason. Kant and Hegel had philosophically rescued the essence of Christianity for the scientific age, and had been ultimately left behind by mainstream thinkers not because they were wrong, but because they were just sort of out of keeping with the atheistic spirit of the day.

As Nietzsche understood, that God-is-dead zeitgeist would perforce lead to moral relativism. And so it has. But Ratzinger, shrugging off the zeitgeist like the cheap suit it is, humbly went on tilling the Kantian and Hegelian fields, making his way back not just to the essentials of Christianity but to the sacred person of Christ himself.

Go here to read the insightful rest.  The raw hatred that Pope Benedict aroused in many quarters, aside from the raw anti-Catholic bigotry that is always with us, was caused I think by the threat he posed to some of the most cherished illusions of our time:

1.  That intelligence and a belief in revelation are incompatible.

2.  That religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, is dying.

3.  That right and wrong are completely subjective terms.

4.  That modern man does not need Christ as Savior.

Pope Benedict realizes that Modern Man is at an intellectual and moral dead end.  He understands that the only way out of this impasse is Christ.

“The proclamation of the Gospel remains the primary service that the Church owes to humanity, to offer the salvation of Christ to the man of our time, who is in many ways humiliated and oppressed, and to orientate in a Christian way cultural, social, and ethical transformations that are unfolding in the world.”


More to explorer

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Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Jane Antide Thouret

  Remember to consider only Christ in the person of the poor.  Serve them always as you would serve Christ himself.  


  1. Interesting. A while back, a European author wrote a book entitled “The Cathedral and the Cube” where he spoke about European decline. I find the many types of European expression wanting, myself.

  2. It is common nowadays to refer to the “Catholic turn” in French philosophy, i.e., the way in which the most original and prominent thinkers of contemporary France seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, René Girard, Pierre Manent and Jean-Luc Marion, together with writers like Max Gallo, Jean D’Ormesson, Jean Raspail, Denis Tillinac and, Michel Tournier.

    They are continuing the tradition of Maurice Blondel, Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain and of Claudel, Mauriac and Péguy in the last century.

    Perhaps, we shall see theologians like Bouyer, Danielou, Chenu, Congar, de Lubac and Maréchal.

  3. The trouble is, if European culture doesn’t survive, and I agree that there are worrying developments, what are we left with? The New World reflects back that culture, its beams somewhat dimmed by having to cross the Atlantic, and I would argue that in the 20th century the contribution of the United States was a negative one, flooding the market with a commercially driven counter-culture based on film and ‘popular’ music which is not only antithetical to the ideals of ‘high’ culture but undermines it by denying its existence.

  4. Mary D Voe

    He was rehabilitated and went on to be a peritus at Vatican II and a member of several important committees.

    To remove any lingering damage to his reputation, in 1994, in Congar’s 90th year, Pope John Paul created him a Cardinal.

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