Cardinal Ratzinger On D-Day

Even if it's a day late, you may be interested in Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks about D-Day on the occasion of its 60th anniversary in 2004. Multiple applications to Iraq --with arguments to challenge and provoke either side. I'd completely forgotten about his discussion of Christianity's relationship to the state here, though.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

To Europe was given, after 1945, a period of peace of such duration as our continent had never seen in its entire history. To no small degree, this was the accomplishment of the first generation of post-war politicians -- Churchill, Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi - whom we have to thank at this hour: We are to give thanks that it was not punishment that was fixed upon, nor again revenge and the humiliation of the defeated, but rather that all should be accorded their rights.

Let us say it openly: These politicians took their moral ideas of state and right, peace and responsibility, from their Christian faith, a faith that had undergone the tests of the Enlightenment, and in opposing the perversion of justice and morality of the party-states, had emerged re-purified. They did not want to found a state upon religious faith, but rather a state informed by moral reason, yet it was their faith that helped them to raise up again a reason once distorted by, and held in thrall to ideological tyranny.

That much is probably uncontroversial, but this is radical:
Christian belief - following in the way of Jesus - has negated the idea of political theocracy. It has - to express it in modern terms - produced the worldliness of states, wherein Christians along with the adherents of other convictions live together in peace. Thus is distinguished the Christian belief that the Kingdom of God does not exist as a political reality, and cannot so exist, but rather, through faith, hope and love is it attained, and the world transformed from within.
Got that? The secular state is the product, and a good, if I understand him rightly, of Christianity. Not only that
The temptations of Jesus were ultimately about this distinction, about the rejection of political theocracy, about the relativity of states and reason’s own law, as well as about the freedom to choose, which is meant for every person. In this sense, the secular state follows from of a fundamental Christian decision, even if it required a long struggle to understand this in all its consequences. This worldly, “secular” state incorporates, in its essence, the balance between reason and religion, which I have tried here to present.
We have seen elsewhere that the Pope thinks the U.S. is the first to get this relationship between faith and reason fundamentally correct (whether we will hold onto this or yield either to pathologies of religion or pathologies of reason-- dual threats discussed here-- is a question), but we are "the birthplace of religious liberty," the most human regime in the terms of this address. Which is one reason I'd rather it not be "remade" by certain folk, if you know what I mean. Especially not folk who are ashamed of the U.S. and wish to make us more like people with less grasp on human freedom. Curtsy: Against the Grain.