In reflection it's not wrong to assume that the papacy of John Paul II was driven in part by a need to place attentions on the evils of communism and socialism, the very reliance that these philosophies had on the absense of self-exaination and fullness of the person. They required that the self be suspended in the interest of an earthly deity. The side effect of this shows itself everywhere. Never before have people taught themselves to be so confused and unhappy. Make no mistake - it isn't thought-exploration or rhumination we're talking about - it is confusion and unhappiness.
I suspect that the papacy of Benedict XVI is about the kernel of those very problems - the moral relativism, the weakness of the self in people as they worry only about their own pet fears and pleasures, and redefine the lives of the weak as being less meaningful out of nothing more than personal convenience. The epicenter of this world view is not in Moscow as it was with the focus of John Paul II, it is in western Europe.
Just as the spirit of eastern Europeans needed to be reawakened after decades and decades of fascism, communism, and socialism, so does the spirit of the western "progressive" need to be revived.
Under communism people were (and are) little more than cattle, expendable soldiers for the larger dream, "useful idiots", as has been said. Under the smothering blanket of moral relativism our individuality and our spirits are cattle in the very same way. The only outcome is the nihilistic one. The participant can say or do nothing for fear of reaction. He is shifting the sand around under his shoe and waiting for refuge to find him.
The only socially acceptable form of faith for many now is to have "your own personal Jesus", to have a personal relationship with a creator and thus our own ethics and judgement because the communion of common feeling is under unceasing attack. To "progressives" that which does not agree with it may not retain its' dignity. It's existense is "suffered" as a pretense permitting one to be pleased in the display of ones' tolerance, but the reasons for holding tolerance dear are forgotten.
Thus there they are, left outside, shifting the sand around under their feet.
Be not afraid, the last Pope said. I think that he also means to say in this that we should be fully our selves and carry it with dignity. While some pervert words like martydom and conviction, others must honestly look at what these actions amount to - a perversion of good intentions and faith into an instrument of hatred, lust for control over others and over even their thoughts - which is what really counts.
Man, however, is a person-a spiritual being, a whole unto himself, a being that exists for itself and of itself, that wills in its' own perfection. Therefore, and for that very reason, something is due to man in the fullest sense, for that very reason he does inalienable have a suum, a "right" which he can plead against everyone else,a right which imposes upon every one of his partners the obligation at least not to violate it.
- Josef Peiper, "The Four Cardinal Virtues", discussing the virtue of justice.
The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne writes of Pope Benedict XVI, nee Joseph Ratzinger:
[He] developed a mistrust of the left because of the student revolt of the 1960s. He once said that "the 1968 revolution" turned into "a radical attack on human freedom and dignity, a deep threat to all that is human."*Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs. Universal inclusion attempts this without thought and for no reason other itself. It has no identifiable virtue of it’s own.
Addressing fellow cardinals, Dionne reports Cardinal Ratzinger saying:
"We are moving," he declared, toward "a dictatorship of relativism …
that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one's own ego and one's own desires as the final measure."
The modern world, Ratzinger insisted, has jumped "from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, up to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism* and on and on."