Book Reviews2 With Friends Like These

Without Roots: The West, Relativism and Islam
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) and Marcello Pera, trans. by  Michael F. Moore, foreword by George Weigel (Basic Books, New York, 2006)

Unless we embrace our own heritage of the sacred, we will not only deny the heritage of Europe, we will also fail in providing a service to others to which they are entitled. To the other cultures of the world, there is something deeply alien to the absolute secularism that is developing in the West. They are convinced that a world without God has no future. Multiculturalism itself thus demands that we return once again to ourselves. *** [W]e must agree with Toynbee that the fate of a society always depends upon its creative minorities. Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority, and help Europe to reclaim what is best in its heritage and to thereby place itself at the service of all humankind.

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[I]t is my firm conviction that this work of renewal should be done by Christians and secularists together. What we need today is a civil religion that can instill its values throughout the long chain that goes from the individual to the family, groups, associations, and civil society without passing through the political parties, government programs, and force of states, and therefore without affecting the separation, in the temporal sphere, between the church and state. In Europe and in the West so enriched by Europe, such a religion would already be Christian by nature because the Western European tradition is Christian. What I am suggesting is therefore a non-denominational Christian religion. As I envision it, this religion would have more monasteries than central churches, more monks that articulate and communicate than church officials, more practitioners than preachers. [emphasis in original]

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