Cardinal Ratzinger's Last Book Unveiled

Work on Europe Penned Before His Papal Election

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The last book by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, written before he was elected Pope, was presented in Rome.

“L’Europa de Benedetto nella Crisi delle Culture” (Benedict’s Europe in the Crisis of Cultures) was presented today in the Wedekind Palace. On hand were Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, and Marcello Pera, the president of the Italian Senate.

“Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown by humanity until now, excludes God from the public conscience,” states the book.

The 143-page volume, published by the Vatican Publishing House and the Italian Cantagalli Publishers, includes three lectures of Cardinal Ratzinger.

The lectures were given, respectively, in 1992, in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, when he received the School and Catholic Culture award; in 1997 when he addressed the Pro-Life Movement of Italy; and on April 1, 2005, on the eve of John Paul II’s death, when speaking at the Benedictine convent of St. Scholastica in Subiaco.

The latter lecture he gave after being conferred the St. Benedict for Europe prize by the Life and Family Foundation of Subiaco.

Common thread

The three lectures have a common theme: the crisis of cultures and the figure of St. Benedict of Nursia.

When presenting the book, Cardinal Ruini said that “Christianity received in Europe its most effective cultural and intellectual expression from the historical point of view.”

Now, however, this link “is called into question and runs the risk of being split by the internal logic of rationality that seems to prevail in Europe: a scientific and functional rationality,” Cardinal Ruini said.

In this context, “God does not exist or at least cannot be proved and, therefore, all reference to God must be excluded from public life,” the prelate added.

“At the same time,” he added, “the moral conscience is weakened as a valid category in itself: Given that morality is nonetheless indispensable to live, the latter no longer takes as reference what is good or evil in itself, but only takes into account the assessment of the consequences of our behavior, useful or harmful.”

According to Cardinal Ruini, the present comparison takes place “between this merely scientific and functional rationality and the great historical cultures.”

Thus one can explain the rejection of the Christian roots of the European Union.

“Such a rationality,” the cardinal said, “pretends to be universal, namely, valid for all and self-sufficient, and as such excludes that Christianity can be in its turn a determinant element in the building of today’s Europe.”

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