Truth and Tolerance
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication Date: October 31, 2004
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Is truth knowable? If we know the truth, must we hide it in the name of tolerance? Cardinal Ratzinger engages the problem of truth, tolerance, religion and culture in the modern world. Describing the vast array of world religions, Ratzinger embraces the difficult challenge of meeting diverse understandings of spiritual truth while defending the Catholic teaching of salvation through Jesus Christ. "But what if it is true?" is the question that he poses to cultures that decry the Christian position on man's redemption. Upholding the notion of religious truth while asserting the right of religious freedom, Cardinal Ratzinger outlines the timeless teaching of the Magisterium in language that resonates with our embattled culture. A work of extreme sensitivity, understanding, and spiritual maturity, this book is an invaluable asset to those who struggle to hear the voice of truth in the modern religious world.
"Beyond all particular questions, the real problem lies in the question about truth. Can truth be recognized? Or, is the question about truth simply inappropriate in the realm of religion and belief? But what meaning does belief then have, what positive meaning does religion have, if it cannot be connected with truth?" -- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
"No one can understand the world at all, no one can live his life rightly, so long as the question about the Divinity remains unanswered. Indeed, the very heart of the great cultures is that they interpret the world by setting in order their relationship to the Divinity."
"For the real problem of mankind is the darkening of truth. This distorts our action and sets us against one another, because we bear our own evil within ourselves, are alienated from ourselves, cut off from the ground of our being, from God."
"A first point we should note is that faith itself is cultural. It does not exist in a naked state, as sheer religion. Simply by telling man who he is and how he should go about being human, faith is creating culture and is culture."
"Technological civilization is not in fact religiously and morally neutral, even if it believes it is. It changes people's standards and their attitudes and behavior. It changes the way people interpret the world, from the very bottom up. The religious cosmos inevitably starts to shift on account of technology. The arrival of these new opportunities in life is like an earthquake that shakes the spiritual landscape to its foundations. What takes place with increasing frequency, at any rate, is that the Christian faith is shaken off for the sake of people's own authenticity, and in the realm of religion the pagan religions are restored, while at the same time technology, although it is no less Western, is passionately received and applied."
Originally a liberal theologian, he adopted conservative views after 1968. His prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love. Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions, including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He strengthened the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal garments, for which reason he was called "the pope of aesthetics". He has been described as "the main intellectual force in the Church" since the mid-1980s.
Pope Benedict is so brilliant in his writing, which often times is so elevated, that many times his words go beyond my grasp or understanding. I feel like this makes him less accessible to most readers (including myself), and I wish that wasn't the case. However, I was able to understand enough to catch all of his areas where he spoke against modernism, relativism, new age philosophy, and most especially the modern notions of tolerance and dialogue. I found this book to be a somewhat challenging read, but it did meet the one goal I had which was to find out where exactly Pope Benedict stood on these issues, and what insights could he bring to light.