Listers, for a student of Catholic political thought, a collection of politically orientated essays by the ironclad mind of Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – is a Godsend. Values in a Time of Upheaval is a compilation of essays and speeches given by the illustrious Cardinal over the span of several decades. It is a short work that lends itself to a brief but fruitful reading.

Our readers with a more politically orientated mind may enjoy reading about the distinction between a good man and a good citizen in our list Patriotism Is Not Enough. A more Augustinian reading of politics can be found in the list The Enchanted Forest: 6 Political Teachings of St. Augustine and an Aristotelean understanding of politics is articulated in our list Political Animals and the Philosopher King.

1. The Majority and the Truth

“The state is not itself the source of truth and morality […] Nor can it produce truth via the majority.”

2.The Good and the Truth

“The goal of the state cannot consists in a freedom without defined contents. In order to establish a meaningful and viable ordering of life in society, the state requires a minimum of truth, of knowledge of the good, that cannot be manipulated.”

3. The State Is Not the Source

“Accordingly, the state must receive from outside itself the essential measure of knowledge and truth with regard to that which is good.”

Read more at 7 Observations on Church and State by Cardinal Ratzinger

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was originally, the “Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.”

1. Ghostly Existence of Marxism

“In place of utopian dreams and ideals, today we find a pragmatism that is determined to extract from the world the maximum satisfaction possible. This, however, does not make it pointless to consider once again the characteristics of the secular messianism that appeared on the world stage in Marxism, because it still leads a ghostly existence deep in the souls of many people, and it has the potential to emerge again and again in new forms.” (17)

2. Realm of Reason: Peace & Justice

“Politics is the realm of reason – not of a merely technological, calculating reason, but of moral reason, since the goal of the state, and hence the ultimate goal of all politics, has a moral nature, namely, peace and justice.” (24)

3. Human Nature Remains the Same

“Man, precisely as man, remains the same both in primitive and in technologically developed situations. He does not stand on a higher level merely because he has learned to use more highly developed tools.” (25)


Cardinal Ratzinger solving the world’s problems over beer.

1. Violence Does Not Heal

“It is not violence that heals, but only justice. This must be the criterion of all political action in present-day conflicts.” (119)

2. Blood of Abel – Blood of Christ

“The letter to the Hebrews speaks of the blood of Christ, which cries out in a different manner from the blood of Abel (12:24). It does not demand revenge but is reconciliation. The letter to the Ephesians makes the same point: Christ “is our peace.” (119)

3. Hecatombs

“The totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century promised us that they would set up a liberated, just world – and they demanded hecatombs of victims in this cause.” (120)

Read more at The Moral Ordering of Power: 7 Political Quotes from God’s Rottweiler