Sunday, June 30, 2013

Another significant Benedict quote

In 1997 the then Cardinal Ratzinger, later to be Pope Benedict, gave a long interview to a German journalist, Peter Seewald.

In this interview, Pope Benedict rejected the idea that men and women are interchangeable in their roles in society. He explained the belief in interchangeable roles in a similar way that I do. According to Pope Benedict, moderns think of freedom as being a liberty to self-author or self-create. But to be free to self-author means rejecting the given parts of our nature.

Pope Benedict described the modernist mentality this way:
The idea that 'nature' has something to say is no longer admissible; man is to have the liberty to remodel himself at will. He is to be free from all of the prior givens of his essence. He makes of himself what he wants, and only in this way is he really 'free and liberated'. Behind this approach is a rebellion on man's part against the limits that he has as a biological being. In the end, it is a revolt against our creatureliness. Man is to be his own creator - a modern, new edition of the immemorial attempt to be God, to be like God.

Moderns believe that in taking this approach they are maximising individual freedom. That's supposed to be the selling point.

But what kind of freedom is it really? In the traditional view, my identity as a man connects me to a masculine essence, which exists independently of me as an objective value. But in the modern view, there is only an arbitrary, invented identity that doesn't connect me to anything outside myself. It seems that in adopting the modern view I am losing something rather than liberating myself.


  1. "It seems that in adopting the modern view I am losing something rather than liberating myself."

    And how do you get it back? Buy products to create a fake constructed masculinity.

    What a scam.

  2. Mark, I took the liberty to link to this entry in light of a photograph taken from a gay pride march in San Francisco. The discussion on my blog you may find interesting.

  3. Anon, that's a good post. I think you're right to use the expression "flailing around".

    Young people are often told these days that they can be anything. That's supposed to be an inspirational statement, but it doesn't give young people specific guidance on how to approach the good in their lives.

    I don't want my daughter to develop in just any direction. I want to help her have a sense of what a healthy path of development is for a young woman; what fully expresses her feminine essence; and what the ideals of womanhood are. In particular I want her to choose a way of life that allows her to experience the higher forms of love and connectedness in life.

  4. Good post. Not to mention, to attempt to be an autonomous self-made thing, a lot like attempting to become like God, strikes me as Satanic if that's the right word and if it isn't too exaggerated.