Sunday, June 16, 2013
Ratzinger on bourgeois pelagianism and the pelagianism of the pious
"If God really does exist and if He does in fact bother about people He cannot be so fearfully demanding as He is described by the faith of the Church. Moreover, I am no worse than others; I do my duty, and the minor human weaknesses cannot really be as dangerous as all that.' This attitude is a modern version of 'acedia' - a kind of anxious vertigo that overcomes people when they consider the heights to which their divine pedigree has called them. In Nietzchean terms it is the mentality of the herd, the attitude of someone who just cannot be bothered to be great. It is the bourgeois because it is calculating and pragmatic and comfortable with what is common and ordinary, rather than aristocratic and erotic...
They [pious pelagians] want security, not hope. By means of a tough and rigorous system of religious practices, by means of prayers and actions, they want to create for themselves a right to blessedness. What they lack is the humility essential to any love - the humility to be able to receive what we are given over and above what we have deserved and achieved. The denial of hope in favour of security that we are faced with here rests on the inability to bear the tension of waiting for what is to come and to abandon oneself to God's goodness."
Quoted in Tracey Rowland, Ratzinger's Faith.
NB Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.