Saturday, December 18, 2010

1943: Progressive Evil

Fr. Rutler explores how the horrors of World War II were a product of the Enlightenment, saying:
February saw the English publication of the full text of the December 12, 1942, pastoral letter of the bishop of Berlin, Johann Konrad Maria Augustin Felix Graf von Preysing Lichtenegg-Moos. When the Nazis had first come into power, he said, "We have fallen into the hands of criminals and fools." Bishop von Preysing's Advent message was not an uncertain trumpet: "Every departure from right and justice will sooner or later be broken against these foundations of God's Dominion." The world's present miseries were the result of human contempt for natural and divine law: "Resistance to God's sovereign rule was a product largely of the eighteenth century -- the century which proclaimed the primacy of human intelligence, the individual as an autonomous being and as his own sole judge, and which declared that all right was to be derived from this intelligence independently of God's law." The state had imposed itself as the very incarnation of God, replacing justice and right with power and profit. There followed an obvious citation of Nietzsche:
A certain German philosopher who has been guiding the minds of a great many people, has exerted a harmful influence over the German nation by proclaiming that as far as specially endowed individual and highly gifted nations are concerned, there can be no good or evil, no right or wrong; and that these are dispensed from respecting any questions of right or morality; that it is their privilege to deprive weaker nations or peoples of lower cultural level than themselves, or races which really or seemingly do not enjoy as any advantages, of every right.
The bishop's appeal was stark: "My dear Brethren: 'Repent,' and change your mode of thinking. This is my appeal to you." The bishop's assistant, Rev. Bernard Lichtenberg, died en route to Dachau. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1996.
(Via The Western Confucian) Share

No comments: