Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


"IT is easier to demonstrate for the rights and freedoms of one’s own group than to practice in daily iving the discipline of freedom and the patience of love for those who suffer, or, indeed, to bind oneself tosuch service for the whole of one’s life, with the concomitant renunciation of a great part of one’s own individual freedoms. It is noticeable that the motivating force to serve in the Church, too, has clearly become decisively weakened: there are scarcely any vocations now for Orders that dedicate themselves to caring for the sick and the elderly. One prefers to work in more ’pastorally’ ambitious services. But what is in fact more truly ’pastoral’ than the unpretnetious existence at the service of those who suffer? No matter how important the professional qualification for these services is, without a deep moral and religious foundation, they congeal into mere technology and no longer perform what is critical in human terms." [Ratzinger, "Faith’s
Answer to the Crisis of Values," A TURNING POINT FOR EUROPE?, pp. 26-27]

So one of the most important downsides of modern liberalism--or our inability to keep Locke in a Locke box--is the devaluing of voluntary caregiving. (Thanks to Paul Seaton for sending this quote to me.)

Discussions - 1 Comment

I passed along the Ratzinger quote to Peter because of his longstanding interest in the nature and fate of caregiving in an individualistic, increasingly meritocratic (or technically savvy) society. The best phrases from the quote, to my mind, are "the discipline of freedom and the patience of love for those who suffer." To provide something of a context for the quote, Ratzinger/Benedict has long been a concerned observer and acute analyst of things European. As a theologian, he properly focuses upon "the moral physiognomy of the age," with collateral references to political happenings (e.g., the proposed Constitution). The book from which the quote is taken, A Turning Point for Europe?, collects his first forays in that area, starting in 1988. He's continued doing so since then. Many of his essays have been collected and are available from Ignatius Press. He agrees with Pierre Manent that contemporary secular Europe is devoted to science and to liberty, and that both terms today are usually cast in false "mythological" forms that call for Socratic critique. (He's a big fan of Socrates, btw.)

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