Is God Dead? Have We Killed Him?

Nietzsche isn’t exactly the kind of guy you expect to show up in a papal encyclical. All the more so does it seem odd to refer to him as a prophet. Nonetheless, recent popes have referred to him somewhat often, using him as a referent for our current social and philosophical situation. In one of his few audiences, John Paul I referred to Nietzsche’s lack of sympathy for the Christian ideal:

Not everyone shares this sympathy of mine for hope. Nietzsche, for example, calls it “the virtue of the weak.” According to him, it makes the Christian a useless, separated, resigned person, extraneous to the progress of the world (Sept. 20, 1978).

It was quite an audience, also referring to Dante, St. Francis de Sales, Augustine and Aquinas on hilaritas, and Andrew Carnegie.

Pope Benedict referred to Nietzsche somewhat frequently, including in his important address to the Curia on Dec. 22, 2008, while commenting on World Youth Day: “This is what makes life joyful and free, uniting people with one another in a joy that cannot be compared to the ecstasy of a rock festival. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: ‘The important thing is not to be able to organize a party but to find people who can enjoy it.’ According to Scripture, joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22).” In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, he situates his treatment of eros in relation to Nietzsche’s rejection of the supposed Christian negation of eros:

According to Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity had poisoned eros, which for its part, while not completely succumbing, gradually degenerated into vice. Here the German philosopher was expressing a widely held perception: doesn’t the Church, with all her commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life? Doesn’t she blow the whistle just when the joy which is the Creator’s gift offers us a happiness which is itself a certain foretaste of the Divine? (3).

Finally, we see Nietzsche setting up Pope Francis’s first encyclical in similar fashion (though presumably through the influence of Benedict):

The young Nietzsche encouraged his sister Elisabeth to take risks, to tread “new paths… with all the uncertainty of one who must find his own way,” adding that “this is where humanity’s paths part: if you want peace of soul and happiness, then believe, but if you want to be a follower of truth, then seek.” Belief would be incompatible with seeking. From this starting point Nietzsche was to develop his critique of Christianity for diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of novelty and adventure. Faith would thus be the illusion of light, an illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.

In these cases, we see Nietzsche acting as an important foil for the popes. He represents a key figure in the modern recasting of Christianity as a force that destroys the greatness of humanity, by succumbing to a false hope, love, and belief.

After this treatment by the magisterium doesn’t it seem all the more odd to refer to Nietzsche as a prophet? Nonetheless, Joe Tremblay has recently pointed toward Nietzsche’s pseudo-prophetic power in speaking of the demise of Christianity. Nietzsche, “prophetic in his own sinister way,” noted that:

Christianity has thus crossed over into a gentle moralism: it is not so much “God, freedom and immortality” that have remained, as benevolence and decency of disposition….  And [when] the belief that in the whole universe benevolence and decency of disposition [should] prevail: it is the euthanasia of Christianity.

Nietzsche’s sinister prophetic power is so powerful precisely because he does not simply forward the routine criticisms of the Church, but rather presciently sees into the own internal weakness of Christians.

Henri Cardinal de Lubac, in The Drama of Atheistic Humanism, notes that Nietzsche saw himself as a prophet, but one centered on tearing down the Christian ideal of man. De Lubac notes that unfortunately “the facts testify that he has succeeded all too well” in his prophetic mission of placing man in the position of the divine. However, de Lubac also points out how Nietzsche genuinely challenges Christians today when he says: “If they want me to believe in their Savior, they’ll have to sing me better hymns! His followers will have to look more like men who have been saved!” De Lubac asks if we can really be indignant at this. Maybe we should be indignant toward ourselves for the decline of Christianity!

To these reflections on the prophecy of Nietzsche, I would like to add my own thoughts. “God is dead” and “we have killed him.” Is this a prophetic statement? To evaluate this, let’s first read what Nietzsche wrote in context. The Parable of the Madman comes from Nietzsche’s collections of aphorisms in The Gay Science (beginning at par. 125):

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves.”

First of all, we can recognize the truth of the statement that we killed not, not metaphysically, but morally in our society. Do we live as if God does not exist? Have we created a vacuum within our culture once occupied by God? If God is absent from our decision making, priorities, politics, education, entertainment, etc., it is only because we ourselves have done it. And yet, like Nietzsche’s madman, this reality is only received with a shrug of the shoulders. Nietzsche recognized that those who have killed God are not even worthy of the deed by their own apathy. The killers of God resemble Nietzsche’s last men more than his superman.

What do we do in this spiritual vacuum? The death of God in society can only be resolved by the actual death of God. Nietzsche’s statement is prophetic in a way in which he did not even realize. Having just passed through the holiest days of the year, we recognize that we genuinely have killed God, killed the Incarnate God by our sins. This deed must not be more distant than the stars, as the madman says, but must come home to us. We must own it and accept responsibility for it, in order to overcome the breath of empty space between us and God. Indeed, our society would do well to listen to Nietzsche the prophet that “God is dead” and “we have killed him”!

However, this is not the final word. Nietzsche is dead wrong on the stench of God. We may have killed God, but He has triumphed over death and now lives! We can answer Nietzsche’s madman as well: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:5).

But, however, if Christ is not risen then Nietzsche’s criticisms of the Christian ideal are correct!

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Cor 15:14).

The Resurrection makes all the difference for us! This is how we need to answer Nietzsche: “He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Mk 12:27); and “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11). Let us live in Christ’s Resurrection as the greatest sign that God is alive in our world, which is also the best prophetic response to Nietzsche’s sinister prophecy about God’s death.

R. Jared Staudt


R. Jared Staudt works in the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver. He earned his BA and MA in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and his PhD in Systematic Theology from Ave Maria University in Florida. Staudt served previously as a director of religious education in two parishes, taught at the Augustine Institute and the University of Mary, and served as co-editor of the theological journal Nova et Vetera. He and his wife Anne have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.

  • Arriero

    From all the XIXth century atheists, Nietzsche is the less anti-Catholic of all of them. The sharp criticism of Nietzsche was directed to Protestantism, especially to the wicked and unhealthy protestantism he knew and lived. When one reads Nietzsche in depth, one sees how much harm protestantism has inflicted to the «essences», and to the «truth». Summarizing, how much harm it has inflicted to life. I would not be able to live in a world where I don’t know if my soul could be saved or not. Nietzsche wasn’t able either. This situation directly leads to madness, through a path of resentment, anger and fury (very well described in those old southern Protestant families from some of Faulkner’s novels).

    Protestantism was born in direct opposition to Catholicism, opposing Authority since the very first beginning. That’s why ecumenism is impossible when you’re dealing with your antithesis. And the Robespierran Revolution is another direct heir of the very anti-Catholic Reformation; and remember that the political left was born in the French National Assembly; left were those who sat down on the left, opposing the Ancien Regime (altar and throne). What does it mean? That only from an historic point of view, marxism is in itselft a product of the french revolution (and the concept of «Nation», which was the great philosophical invention and the main difference with regards to the American Revolution) and in turn it’s a product of protestantism. Fascism is simply «misunderstood marxism», and even Hitler called his party «national-sozialist», while Mussolini was in his youth a staunch marxist. The Reformation opened the box of relativism by denying the Church’s Authority; i.e.: by hating and despising government. It’s very well known that the root of anarchism is atheism. There is no possible anarchism with an Almighty and ruling God. It’s also very well known that the first protestant sects that came to America were profoundly communist, in the original meaning of the word (quakers, for instance). Post-modernism, again, is another direct product of protestantism.

    Nietzsche was always critic of the French Revolution. Like any good and real Catholic should be. In fact, modern conservadurism was born in those circles who were skeptic about what was achieved in the very anti-Catholic Robespierran Revolution. Nietzsche was, first and foremost, a philologist and a hellenist. His critique of «modernism» is wise and yes, even prophetic. He always searched for the figure of a powerful Authority, and that’s why he was misinterpreted by the nazis (it’s also very well known and studied the relation between the nazi Germany and the Lutheran Germany). «God is dead» is an axiom in a Protestant world. Irrationality can never be rational. Pope Francis is also immersed in a crusade to wipe the vestiges of protestantism (pseudo-calvinism) out of the Church, just like Pope John Paul wipe the vestiges of marxism out; being two faces from the same coin.

    Of course, Nietzsche was quite mediocre from a teological point of view and as a good protestant he never really understood the misteries and essences of Catholicism. But that’s certainly the good thing, seeing a protestant (he even studied protestant theology) being a witness of the decadence of his own world. Don’t blame him for having finished mad, is there any other way to end for a man who has understood what was going on in that wicked world?

    Nietzsche IS the STONE any Catholic must throw to pseudo-calvinists, in whatever of their forms.

    PD- Good article. Very good ending citing the Resurrection, because that’s is certainly the key point to turn around Nietzsche’s views from a Catholic perspective.

    PDD- It’s no coincidence that Pope Benedict – a thomist and a scholastic (the two pillars of the Counter-Reformation) – cited frequently Nietzsche. It’s no coincidence either that Pope Francis – from the Latin Church, the one that never allowed the tentacles of Protestantism to penetrate – also cited Nietzsche.

    • Senhorbotero

      Great comment, thank you. What you wrote improved my morning just as i was finding myself sinking. if you have the time i wonder if you would be kind enough to expose more of your thinking on how you think Pope Francis is trying to eradicate Protestantism from the church. I am just having the hardest time with him. I discover in myself that he is not strenthening me but causing me despair. Thus far i see him as perhaps the most accepting of the modernist project. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts here given what you just wrote because you obviously have something of depth to offer

      • Arriero

        First of all: Pope Francis HAS NOT TOUCHED a single comma from the magisterium. He will NOT. Those anti-Catholics who are now falsely praising him, will eventually be disappointed; of course they will. Because: ROME DOES NOT PAY TRAITORS and Rome very well know who are its enemies. The sons of protestantism are, again, the problem. In fact they always were the problem. The Catholic Church has no friends other than herself.

        There is a book titled «Desde el cielo y la tierra» in the form of a conversation between Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) and Abraham Skorka – a prominent argentinian rabbi – where they discuss about family, faith and the paper of the Church in the XXIst century. All there which comes from Francis is exquisite. Not a single protestantized statement, not a single marxist affirmation, not a single pseudo-liberal clarification; everything there is Catholic, profoundly Catholic. Does he discuss abortion and marriage? Of course he does! And woe to those who see something wrong in his words. Everything is clear, distinct, beautiful. And helpful.

        Pope Francis IS the REQUIRED PERSON for the Catholic Church in that important time, just after the also very admirable John Paul and Benedict. Spanish Scholastics – from the Latin Church – began the Counter-Reformation. Pope Francis – the first modern Pope coming from the Latin tradition (a beautiful mixture of Spain and Italy, with the distinct sound of America) – has come, again, to begin a new Counter-Reformation, or to end the unfinished.

        Pope John Paul II fought in order to eliminate marxism from the Church. We praise him for his effort.
        Pope Benedict XVI fought in order to eliminate relativism from the Church. We praise him for his effort, which certainly was exhausting. We still are not really aware of how much wisdom was in this Pope.
        Pope Francis – taking up the mission of the two previous Popes – is here to fight pseudo-calvinist harmful tendencies and clean the Church from some unhealthy protestant elements.

        So the mission of the three Popes has to be assessed as a block, there is no rupture between Pope Francis and the last two Popes. There is only an intensification of the work already started.

        And what we can understand by the «protestant wing within the Church»? Pseudo-calvinists is the general name we can give to many of them. Are those who deny and hate Authority, though they’re not brave enough to talk it loudly. Are those who insult a Pope, calling him a «marxist» (of course, without even knowing what this word implies). Are those who ultimately hate government, because they, as good heirs from the Reformation (which was, mostly, a political movement. Sheer «Der Wille Zur Macht», to use a nietzschean expression), hate control and regulation «from the outside» (they have never read the Scholastic theory on freedom, from Father Juan de Mariana). Are those who misread concepts like «freedom», «democracy» (democratic fundamentalism, as Gustavo Bueno dubbed them), «government» (they only know to assess that word from a narrow political point of view), «truth» (impossible within unbounded protestantism), and mislead others. Are those who deny – or consciously forget – the history of the Church (they don’t like to recall who was Charlemagne, who were the Catholic Kings of Spain, who crowned Napoleon, etc.), the traditions (they don’t dare to study the Councils) and the dogmas (they use the Church for their selfish purposes, they don’t really care about the dogmas). Are those who like to focus on some aspects of Catholicism, but not in everything, especially not in those things that make them uncomfortable (like some sections from Evangelii Gaudium, which were not only bad translated, but misunderstood). Are those who like playing with the awful calvinist predestination thesis (isn’t that simply a selfish and irrational human divinization?). Are those who like to woo anti-Catholic protestant views on money (they should better read Martín de Azpilicueta and the School of Salamanca), commerce (Thomas Aquinas once said: never sell anything for more than it’s worth), economics (have we forget the Church’s doctrine?), politics (isn’t already clear what was the main aim of the very anti-Catholic Robespierran revolution?) and society (the pseudo-calvinist eugenesic views are not precisely what the Church teaches). And the list goes on.

        But Pope Francis is here to end the task, a very tough task. Marxism and relativism are two faces from the same protestant coin. Marxism would have never been possible without the direct attack of the french revolution to the throne, but especially to the altar, and without protestantism (who were the first communists in history but the first protestant sects: anabaptists (Thomas Muntzer and De Leyden), quakers, etc.?).

        Pope Francis cannot embrace the modernist project because he does not know (he is not influenced, we should better say) what this project is about. Pope Benedict knew it, because as a german (and as happens with Catholics living in other mainly protestant countries), he lived the worst consequences of that project. That’s why his figure was necessary.

        Pope Francis is the final stage of a great project. All Catholics must be with him. We must be prepared for all and everything. Nobody said the fight was going to be easy.

        «Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.» (Matthew 10:34)

        • Senhorbotero

          Thank you very much for taking your time to reply. Your words are hopeful to me. I am going to find this book and read it. I really like the way you position the tasks of the last three popes and their respective battles. I truly hope you are correct about Pope francis. I will keep my mind open and seek things as you have described them. In reading your words i can see in myself that i have been somewhat contaminated by certain ideological thinkers and perhaps i need these different insights…thanks again.

          • Bruno

            1. Seek and prove everything to see whether it is of God. Francis unsettles. Jesus did too. If you want to know the man, go read this book. Get to know him, you owe him that. I will do the same. It will be more profitable than reading commentators who are more fearful than wise.

            2. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. It’s not in your hands. Trust the Spirit now more than ever, for your faith is being tested.

            • Senhorbotero

              Bruno, Thanks for your reply. I think what you have revealed to me is that my faith has been shaken a bit. I was quite happy with Benedict and have been unable to comprehend Francis. Francis to my mind has challenged my beleif that the pope is chosen by the HolySpirit. I just have not been able to see how he fits in to the picture.
              Arriero points me toward ideas i had not considered and you show me that my faith has been weakened, time for more research…thanks

        • Senhorbotero

          Perhaps it is unfair of me to ask more but having a bit about your reply i come to some ideas. The Calvinist infiltrators you describe sound more like disciples of Locke then Calvin. When i think of the Church in terms of Calvin i consider the highly legalistic, judgemental and moralistic version if the Church prior to V2. I am not totally convinced that was so wrong given what i see has been the result of its weakening. I see the negative effects of Protestantism in the radically individualistic world in which we find ourselves today. I think we are living in the logical extreme of the Protestant worldveiw.
          Do you think the same.

          If we can define Calvinism in the church has the legalistic side of things do you think is what Francis is attacking or is it something else.

          On another line, How do you square “Who am I to judge” with not being relativistic.

          If we

          • Arriero

            Now, I’m going to reply point by point in a more axiomatic (nietzschean) way:

            – «I am going to find this book and read it.»

            It’s a great book. Apart from that, all the works of Benedict XVI are must read. There is another book called «Dios salve la razón» (I suppose there is an english version too: ), where many «rationalists» expose their views about God and Reason, including Pope Benedict XVI (based in his Regensburg lecture) and Gustavo Bueno (with a great immersion in Scholastic teaching).

            Catholicism is the most rational religion. There is no Faith without Reason, and no Reason without Faith.

            – «I truly hope you are correct about Pope Francis.»

            He is the Pope. It’s not so much for him, but for the Institution he represents. Doubt is not a good attribute. God doesn’t doubt. And the Church is divinely instituted.

            – «I have been somewhat contaminated by certain ideological thinkers.»

            Catholicism stays beyond ideologies. Ideologues must know that the Church is not the place for them. No one can escape the influence of a dominant ideology, except a Catholic.

            – «The Calvinist infiltrators you describe sound more like disciples of Locke then Calvin.»

            But, what is Locke but pure political and economic protestant liberalism? I don’t distinguish the fathers from the sons. As the Spanish saying goes: «De tal palo, tal astilla» (A chip off the old block.). The harm of Protestantism is currently in its heirs.

            – «When I think of the Church in terms of Calvin I consider the highly legalistic, judgemental and moralistic version of the Church prior to V2».

            The Institutional (dogmatic and hierarchical) Church is in opposition with the Civil (disordered and democratic) Calvinist church. It’s the concept of «civil religion» in Marcus Terentius Varro.

            – «I am not totally convinced that was so wrong given what i see has been the result of its weakening.»

            The Roman Catholic Church is not weak. It cannot be weak.

            – «I see the negative effects of Protestantism in the radically individualistic world in which we find ourselves today.»

            The last 500 years of protestantism have been a continuous attack to the Church’s Authority, from every angle and with all means. Individualism is the branch of the tree called protestantism, whose roots are anti-government-per-se rethoric («Der Wille Zur Macht»).

            – «I think we are living in the logical extreme of the Protestant worldveiw.»

   Guess which is the root of all this. There is something more above marxism…

            – «’Who am I to judge’ with not being relativistic.»

            I assess it mainly from two points of views: 1) «Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum» (Hate the sin, love the sinner). 2) «By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? […] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.». (Matthew 7, 15-20) 3) Compassion is not tolerance. Help is not acceptance. Mercifulness is not embracing.

            • Senhorbotero

              Again, thanks for your time. Your words are helpful and appreciated and sort of revealing me to myself.

              As I said to Bruno perhaps my faith is not unshakeable and my trust in God has not been complete. Yet somehow I feel that the old saying of God helps he who helps himself applies in my worldview. So I figure we must find a way to do something. If you have any thoughts on that, I at least would love to hear them.

              One place where we may disagree is that I somehow think the Church is weakened. I see darkness rising all over the world. I realize I can be deceptively influenced by my inability to see clearly thru my own filters. Yet the pedophilia matter, the New Atheist attacks, the united front against the Church by govt all over the planet and the apparent internal contradictions and corruption all lead me to concern. These things lead me to deeply wonder about the force of Good versus Evil and what is really going on here and why. Which is partially where my concern about Pope Francis comes from. Just seems to me that when we need our strongest defenses we are left wide open here but as you have convinced me I will keep an open mind and read from him directly. Benedict seems to have been willing to fight and made a strong intellectual effort, as of this writing Francis leaves me unsure, though I say again that I had not considered your idea that he is purging the Church of the Protestant influence. You have opened a path for me now to consider and it may prove illuminating.

              Do you by chance have the name of the book, “Dios salve la razón” in English.

            • Ford Oxaal

              “Good works avail nothing” — this statement is simply anti-Christ. This is part of the protestant motto. “Justification by Faith Alone” another part of the protestant motto — this statement wipes out 1500 years of Christianity in one fell swoop starting with Baptism – and turns it into a philosophy!! Truly this slight twist is a lie of Satanic proportions. And here is the irony — the non-contraceptive protestant families I know are among the best Christians I know in their *fidelity* to Christ. As my little kids used to say “the sky is green, the grass is blue, everything’s opposite, what do we do?”

        • Senhorbotero

          Sorry about my typos. I should never try and comment on an ipad. Device has a very narrow utility.

    • hombre111

      The mysteries and essences of Catholicism? Not sure what you mean. To me, Catholicism means to follow Christ in the way of word and sacrament, respectful of her ancient Tradition. Protestantism was a self-inflicted wound because of the corruption symbolized by Alexander VI, a corruption that afflicted a Church where everything was for sale. I think, for instance, of Calvin taking over a Geneva ruled by a fourteen year-old archbishop. The rotten situation could not endure. The Counter Reformation was above all, moral reform, beginning at the very top. And today, sadly, we see the Church writhing from another self inflicted wound: the sex abuse scandal, in which the hierarchy betrayed the children of the Church. And here, again, it went to the very top. Apologists for St. John Paul can argue as they wish, but there is solid evidence that Pope John Paul knew what was going on, and chose to do nothing.

      • Asmondius

        ‘there is solid evidence that letters were carried to Pope John Paul’

        Really? Where perchance?

        • hombre111

          Glad you asked. Online today at the National Catholic Reporter, which first broke the report on the scandal (commissioned by the bishops, and then tossed in the trash) in 1985. The article is by Fr. Thomas Doyle, who helped author the document. In the article, he tells us that a letter concerning a case in Louisiana, and detailing other cover-ups, was written under the instruction of the Archbishop Laghi, Apostolic Delegate to the U.S., and carried personally by Cardinal Krol, directly to the hands of the Holy Father. A little later, Cardinal Silvio Oddi, Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, received a much longer briefing and carried the news to Rome. Oddi was outraged, and we must assume he informed, or tried to inform the Pope. Was he cut off at the pass by Ratzinger?

          • Joan

            Oh my, it’s easy to spin the conspiracy theories about a man who cannot defend himself, with no proof, but based on such a “reliable” (HA) source as NCR.

            (NCR? You’re killing me! How about the Nat’l Inquirer?)

            The last man on earth to do nothing, about anything, was St. John Paul. You cannot possibly understand him if you have not seen for many decades that John Paul is a true saint.

            • Thomas Vogler

              Without weighing in on anyone’s sanctity (far beyond my pay grade) Father Doyle’s article is actually quite good, and would be wherever it was published. The “source” is not the publisher, but the person who wrote the piece. And Fr. Doyle is not offering any conspiracy theories; he is narrating his first hand experience. He was directly involved with the matter of priestly abuse for a long time, and his involvement was at a rather high level. You don’t of course, have to read the piece, but it’s a bit much to claim it has no merit, without reading it.

              • I can’t believe it appeared in the National Catholic Reporter without maximum editing to put the church in a bad light. I’d rather get it from Fr. Doyle himself than from that propaganda rag.

                • Thomas Vogler

                  Fr. Doyle is the credited author of the piece, so I suppose it more or less conveys what he intended.

                  The article does lead one to reflect on the sense in which the Catholic Church is an organization of imperfect men, doing the will of God as they are able. Whether that is a “bad” light, or merely light, will of course depend on the reader.

                  That being said, I’m sorry if I steered anyone towards the enemy camp.

                  Returning to the article at hand, was that line about “dogmatic slumber” from Nietzsche?

                  Never mind, I’ll google it.

                  • The byline is Jason Berry, there are quotes from Fr. Doyle. A response from the Vatican outlining the *IMMEDIATE* response St. John Paul II took in response to the Legion of Christ scandal is on the front page today, so maybe they’re beginning to get a little less biased.

                    This is the only mention of Fr. Doyle on their site in 2014.

                    • Thomas Vogler

                      I really need someone to show me how to do those link things. They have the article I was referring to in their “Accountability” section, under the not-so-terse title, “Records show that John Paul II could have intervened in abuse crisis – but didn’t.” I blame the title on an editor, but the rest does appear to be by Fr. Doyle.

                      And yes, I’ve seen the crunched numbers indicating that most of the abuse at issue was pre-’85, or thereabouts. Probably contentious to say that abuse actually ended at that point. Slowed to a trickle, maybe.

                      I hadn’t heard the number, “millions” before. That would be a lot, even pro-rated over a few thousand years.

                    • Trickle, maybe. Fraction of the former bulge, certainly. Remainder these days is usually explained by either sexual immaturity resulting in an inability to keep to the vow of celibacy, or alcohol/drug abuse.

                      But there was definitely a bell shaped bulge in number of reported cases between 1956-1986. I find it interesting that coincides with secular society abandoning nearly all former sexual taboos. And I strongly suspect that there are more institutions yet to be attacked- the public school system has been shuffling teachers between districts to mask this problem for all of my life.

            • hombre111

              The NCR has won more National Catholic Press Association awards than whatever rag you are reading. The bishops deep-sixed the report on sex abuse by priests, a report they themselves had commissioned. The two priests who had written it were punished. But the NCR had a copy of the report and published it. I bet your rag did not. This was 1985. If the Church had listened to that report way back then, the catastrophe we are currently suffering would not have happened.

              • Art Deco

                Blah blah blah. Hombre, in my diocese, fully 82% of the incidents reported to the chancery made reference to dates prior to 1985. The damage was already done by the time of that report. Please note, the date of the supposed incident was prior to 1985. The date they were reported was commonly much later. About 95% of the incidents reported to the chancery landed on the bishop’s desk after 1980 and most not until 2002 or 2003. If Bp. Harrison did not realize he had a systemic problem on his hands in 1985, his successor certainly knew it a few years later. Bps. Foery and Cunningham were fielding a complaint or two a decade and Bp. Harrison was after 1983 fielding two or three complaints a year. Bp. Harrison did not need the insipid Fr. Doyle in his necktie to inform him he had disciplinary problems with his clergy.

                • hombre111

                  The facts remain: a) in 1985, the average Catholic had no idea of the problem of clergy sex abuse. Some of the bishops were uneasy, and so the national bishops’ group hired Fr. Doyle, another priest, and a lawyer to investigate and write a report.

              • Art Deco

                While we are at it, why would any sentient being care about the opinions of the crew who produce those wretched diocesan newsletters?

          • “the National Catholic Reporter”

            Which in and of itself is nothing but a propaganda paper for the demonic anti-Catholic movement.

      • TheAbaum

        “He chose to do nothing.”

        One thing I wish he had done, was applied a good insecticide to the boll weevils.

      • bonaventure

        Actually, the only self-afflicted wound of the contemporary Church is the “openness” of many hierarchs to liberalism (I prefer to call it blindness to Beauty and Truth). The very liberalism that you embrace: hatred for the Bible, hatred for the sacraments, hatred for the liturgy, hatred for marriage, hatred for life, and ultimately hatred of God in the the Trinity.

        • Don’t forget the biggest one- the liberal hatred for the vow of celibacy. Every single abusing priest has violated the vow of celibacy. Every single non-abusing priest kept it.

    • Benedict is anything but a Thomist and a Scholastic, though he respects medieval theology and thought. But I agree that Nietzsche is mostly directed at Protestants. One can see this throughout Joseph Ratzinger’s book Introduction to Christianity. Nietzsche’s thought is running in the background as Ratzinger explores problems of belief in today’s world in the context of the articles of the Creed.

    • redfish

      Fascists didn’t misunderstand Marxism, they intentionally inverted it. Marxists were known as internationalists — they were anti-nation — and built coalitions across national borders. Mussolini’s argument was for a national socialism instead of an “international” socialism. That’s exactly where the term came from. In the mean time, they also attacked liberal democracy. Mussolini said that the 19th century was a century of the Left — which both socialism and liberal democracy were represented — and the 20th would be a century of the Right; and Joseph Goebbels said in fascism, the French Revolution would be overturned — that it, and liberal democracy, would be superceded.

      “For the authoritarian nationalist conception of the State represents something essentially new. In it the French Revolution is superseded.”

      One other thing. I have a bit of a peeve about people reducing the French Revolution to certain anti-theistic actors and events in the social upheaval. People should remember that Abbé Sieyès was a major figure whose work served to galvanize the public. But in a void of anarchy is open to anyone who wants power and the Committee of Public Safety didn’t last for that long.r

    • JP

      At heart, Nietzsche was an enemy of Socrates and the rationalism that grew up because of it. Nietzsche rightly understood the corrosive effects of Reason and the dangers it poised to not only Western Culture, but it Humanity in general. Nietzsche was not an enemy of the religious instinct in Man. Quite the opposite. He understood the grace, beauty, and nobility of the spirit that Faith brings to Man. He also understood the tensions that Faith creates in the soul. That tension acts as a catalyst that creates depths, seriousness, and meaning to life. In that respect, you are totally correct. Nietzsche came from a Lutheran family. He was a parson who, according to Nietzsche drank deeply from the Great Awakening. However, unlike Catholicism, Lutheranism was aligned too closely with the Prussian Throne and its regime. Lutheranism and Enlightenment were the bedrock of Central European religious culture. And Enlightenment had its roots in the Socratic worldview.

      Nietzsche clearly understood the ramifications of his line of thought. If he was right, then the entire Enlightenment Project was horribly wrong. For it undermined everything that was important to Man – namely Rationalism corrodes the religious instinct, they yearning for God

    • Nietzsche, like most atheists, is really a Protestant. Protestants squabble about inanities all the time, because they’ve lost Apostolic Authority.

  • Vinnie

    Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue said, “if you believe abortion is murder, ACT like it’s murder!” The recent homilies on the Resurrection which all have had this message – “His followers will have to look more like men who have been saved!” – reminded me of that motto and brought me to – If you believe that Christ is risen, ACT like he’s risen!

    • hombre111

      Preach it, brother.

  • hombre111

    Good article.

  • HenryBowers

    In my understanding, Nietzsche’s God wasn’t killed by unbelievers, but by priests. In the slave insurrection of morals, where the meek shall inherit the earth, the most wonderful and holy of all must be the meekest, and so must be dead.

    Please consider promoting my recent article on Nietzsche and how he would necessarily oppose the Same-Sex “Marriage” movement.
    Thank you

    • Arriero

      It’s worth quoting a passage from Nietzsche talking about Institutions, modernity and marriage (with a great last phrase to conclude):

      – «39. Critique of modernity. — Our institutions are no good any more: on that there is universal agreement. However, it is not their fault but ours. Once we have lost all the instincts out of which institutions grow, we lose institutions altogether because we are no longer good enough for them. Democracy has ever been the form of decline in organizing power: in Human, All-Too-Human (I, 472) I already characterized modern democracy, together with its hybrids such as the “German Reich,” as the form of decline of the state. In order that there may be institutions, there must be a kind of will, instinct, or imperative, which is anti-liberal to the point of malice: the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for centuries to come, to the solidarity of chains of generations, forward and backward ad infinitum. When this will is present, something like the imperium Romanum is founded; or like Russia, the only power today which has endurance, which can wait, which can still promise something — Russia, the concept that suggests the opposite of the wretched European nervousness and system of small states, which has entered a critical phase with the founding of the German Reich.

      The whole of the west no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes its “modern spirit” so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: precisely this is called “freedom.” That which makes an institution an institution is despised, hated, repudiated: one fears the danger of a new slavery the moment the word “authority” is even spoken out loud. That is how far decadence has advanced in the value-instincts of our politicians, of our political parties: instinctively they prefer what disintegrates, what hastens the end.

      Witness MODERN MARRIAGE. All rationality has clearly vanished from modern marriage; yet that is no objection to marriage, but to modernity. The rationality of marriage — that lay in the husband’s sole juridical responsibility, which gave marriage a center of gravity, while today it limps on both legs. The rationality of marriage — that lay in its indissolubility in principle, which lent it an accent that could be heard above the accident of feeling, passion, and what is merely momentary. It also lay in the family’s responsibility for the choice of a spouse. With the growing indulgence of love matches, the very foundation of marriage has been eliminated, that which alone makes an institution of it. Never, absolutely never, can an institution be founded on an idiosyncrasy; one cannot, as I have said, found marriage on “love” — it can be founded on the sex drive, on the property drive (wife and child as property), on the drive to dominate, which continually organizes for itself the smallest structure of domination, the family, and which needs children and heirs to hold fast — physiologically too — to an attained measure of power, influence, and wealth, in order to prepare for long-range tasks, for a solidarity of instinct between the centuries. Marriage as an institution involves the affirmation of the largest and most enduring form of organization: when society cannot affirm itself as a whole, down to the most distant generations, then marriage has altogether no meaning. Modern marriage has lost its meaning — consequently one abolishes it.» (section no. 39 of “Skirmishes of an Untimely Man” from Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Twilight of the Idols.)

      • HenryBowers

        Thanks for this!

  • “God is dead.” (Nietzsche)

    “Nietzsche is dead.” (God)

    • JP

      Actually, it was Nietzsche character, Zarathustra who, after observing people in society declared, “God is Dead.” Anyone who had read Nietzsche would know this. It wasn’t a declaration of victory, but one of desperate sorrow. Zarathustra went on to say it was you and I that killed him.

      What Nietzsche was trying to get across wasn’t the death of God, but the death in the belief in God. People could no longer believe in God because society (including the Church) undermined that belief. Nietzsche echoed Hegel who taught that once a culture was de-mythologized it was finished as source for inspiration and guidance. Or as Shakespeare once wrote:

      Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

      And then is heard no more. It is a tale

      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

      Signifying nothing

      • Carl

        Actually, JP, your being redundant. And your attempts to rehabilitate Nietzsche equates to looking for the living among the dead.

  • bonaventure

    Nietzsche is a great read — for anyone who wants to refresh themselves on the source of contemporary hated for the Church, and to answer it adequately.

    But it shouldn’t be forgotten what Nietzsche’s liberalism and nihilism led him to: a mental breakdown, whereby he ended his life in a psych asylum eating his own excrement. Sorry for being graphic, but that’s exactly how he ended, thanks to his rejection of God, Truth, and Beauty.

    • Thomas Vogler

      My understanding was that he inherited syphilis from his father.

      • Arriero

        We certainly should let superstition to others.

        There is no natural law where is written that «bad» people have to live less than «good» people or that Catholics cannot die from brain cancer.

        Catholicism is a rational religion, which accept scientific facts (another topic is how science accepts facts it is unable to explain…).

        Catholicism believes in human autonomy and real freedom (that’s why men need regulation, because men more than often freely choose to do evil). We are not predestined.

        Nietzsche’s illness has a medical explanation.

  • Carole

    Who cares about Nietzsche; it’s Benedict who is brilliant. Thank God for him.

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