Cardinal Ratzinger looks to America for inspiration on problem of secularism
In the face of growing Church disenchantment with secularism in Europe, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is focusing on the way religious freedom works in the United States.
"I think that from many points of view the American model is the better one," he told Vatican Radio. "Europe has remained bogged down."
"People who did not want to belong to a state church, went to the United States and intentionally constituted a state that does not impose a church and which simply is not perceived as religiously neutral, but as a space within which religions can move and also enjoy organizational freedom without being simply relegated to the private sphere," he explained.
On this point, "one can undoubtedly learn from the United States," as it is a "process by which the state makes room for religion, which is not imposed, but which, thanks to the state, lives, exists and has a public creative force," the cardinal said. "It certainly is a positive way."
Cardinal Ratzinger also referred to historian Arnold Toynbee.
"He was right when he said that the fate of a society always depends on creative minorities," the cardinal said. "Christians should consider themselves a creative minority of this kind and contribute what they can so that Europe can recover the best of its inherited patrimony and thus be useful to the whole of humanity."
Cardinal Ratzinger said the world's cultures are "profoundly adverse to the extreme secularisation that has consolidated in the West".
"They have the conviction that a world without God has no future," Cardinal Ratzinger told Vatican Radio. "Our very multicultural condition calls us to be ourselves ... we still don't know where Europe will go, but the Constitution of the European Union might be a first step toward a new conscious search of its soul."
Cardinal Ratzinger Commends U.S. Model of Laicism (Zenit 25/11/04)
29 Nov 2004