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Atheist supports Ratzinger crusade against secularism

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has enlisted in his defence of Christianity against secular Europe, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, who said in an essay published this month that "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilisation".

Habermas, who defines himself as "a methodical atheist", is a member of the Frankfurt School of philosophy. His most recent essay - A Time of Transition - was published in Italy this month.

Sandro Magister, the Vatican affairs writer for the Italian news magazine l'Espresso quotes Habermas' confession that he is is "enchanted by the seriousness and consistency" of the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, "the opposite of the feeble thinking that pervades current theology".

Habermas says: "Thomas represents a spiritual figure who was able to prove his authenticity with his own resources. That contemporary religious leadership lacks an equally solid terrain seems to me an incontrovertible truth. In the general level;ing of society by the media everything seems to lose seriousness, even institutionalised Christianity. But theology would lose its identity if it sought to uncouple itself from the dogmatic nucleus of religion, and thus from the religious language in which the community's practices of prayer, confession, and faith are made concrete."

On relations with other civilisations, Habermas maintains that "recognising our Judaeo-Christian roots more clearly not only does not impair intercultural understanding, it is what makes it possible."

Magister said that last month, Cardinal Ratzinger "summoned to the field as his ally 'the philosopher considered in the world of the German language as the purest secularist'". He said Ratzinger alluded to Habermas during a public discussion in Rome with another secularist intellectual, Ernesto Galli Della Loggia, a professor at the university of Perugia.

The Church Is Under Siege. But Habermas, the Atheist, Is Coming to its Defense (L'espresso/www.chiesa 22/11/04)

The Derailment of Modernity: How Habermas and Ratzinger Justify Faith (The Goethe Institute)
Unity on a knife edge (The Tablet 20/11/04)
Cardinal hits out at 'secular Europe' (Ekklesia 22/11/04)
Papal contender attacks securalism as church threat (Sydney Morning Herald 22/11/04)
Christianity 'marginalised' (The Age 22/11/04)
Society absent of God self-destructs, says Ratzinger, points to current political, legal and sexual culture (Catholic News Agency 19/11/04)
Ratzinger again rips European secularism (Catholic World News 19/11/04)
Cardinal Ratzinger: God is on the sidelines in modern society (Vatican Information Service 19/11/04)
Cardinal Ratzinger on Laicism and Sexual Ethics
CZECH REPUBLIC: Europe is opening its doors to the faith, bishop says (Aid to the Church in Need 22/11/04)
Banja Luka Cathedral will host funeral of Catholic priest brutally murdered in his parish at Bosanska Gradiska (Fides 21/11/04)

23 Nov 2004