Habermas rises to Christianity’s Defense against Secularism

Here is an interesting development in the latest story on Cardinal Ratzinger, who made news again this past week by denouncing the systematic assault on Christianity by “an aggressive secular ideology”: Italian journalist Sandro Magister reports that the atheist philosopher Habermas is speaking out on the Church’s behalf in his latest book:

Between the likes of Ratzinger and Habermas, naturally, the distance remains intact. Habermas defines himself as, and is, “a methodical atheist.” But to read his most recent essay translated in Italy, “A Time of Transition,” published by Feltrinelli and available in bookstores since mid-November, Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization:

“To this day, we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.”

Habermas says he is “enchanted by the seriousness and consistency” of the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, the opposite of the feeble thinking that pervades current theology:

“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 leveling of society by the media everything seems to lose seriousness, even institutionalized 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 civilizations, Habermas maintains that “recognizing our Judaeo-Christian roots more clearly not only does not impair intercultural understanding, it is what makes it possible.”

Source: “The Church Is Under Siege. But Atheistic Habermas Is Coming to its Defense”

Magister’s article containts additional excerpts from Habermas’ essay. Readers might recall that Cardinal Ratzinger and the philosopher engaged in a public dialogue in Munich, January 19, 2004. And according to Magister, “Cardinal Ratzinger made recourse to Habermas during a two-way public discussion on “History, politics, and religion” with yet another secularist intellectual, Ernesto Galli Della Loggia.”


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