A bit of light, holiday reading: Benedict XVI responds by letter, to an Atheist.

Exclusive to the Register, we publish below the first English translation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s letter to the militant Italian atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

In September, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica printed extracts of the letter whose full contents were published in Italian on Nov. 23 by the German-language agency Kath.net.

The Pope Emeritus sent the letter in response to a book Odifreddi wrote in 2011 entitled Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You. The work was a critique of certain arguments and lines of thought found in Benedict’s theological writings, beginning with his 1967 volume Introduction to Christianity, and including his book Jesus of Nazareth, which he wrote as pope.

Full text

For more than 1900 years, the serenity and peace of the Catholic Faith and the certainty of the Church’s immutable doctrine were widely recognized as products of the fullness of divine grace and truth, which she alone possessed.

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But now all has changed… dreadful days have come upon us which the appeasing rhetoric of modernized Christians cannot hide: the Revolution of the atheist world has entered the Church and is wearing everything down.

There is no longer any stability and the Church appears to have entered into a perennial Revolution which changes everything continuously: confusion in the rites, confusion in doctrine, confusion in morals, confusion in discipline.

You do not know if the truth of today will be the same tomorrow. Many, priests and faithful, rush around anxiously in order not to be left behind, adapting themselves in whatever way they can, to this wearisome confusion.

The one who is truly seeking God in this revolutionary Church, is left frightfully alone.

What to do in this suffocating atmosphere? And what not to do?

First of all, it is important not to be beset by agitation, it is important not to react like revolutionaries: that would be like treating a disease, which is precisely what the Revolution is, with the same illness. The revolutionary spirit, even when it pretends to save the good, will never be the solution.

Instead, it is essential to stay really outside of the Revolution, by living Catholicism integrally in the stability that was there, before the Revolution invaded everything.

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Editor’s note: Vatican II is what happens when God finally steps aside and permits the men who run the Catholic Church to pursue all the desires of their hearts.

Atheism explained (so even a fool can understand it)

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Submitted by Bob Stanley

Megan Hodder was a young, avid reader of the New Atheists, but her life changed when she read the work of their Catholic foes

I looked for absurdities and inconsistencies in the Catholic faith that would derail my thoughts from the unnerving conclusion I was heading towards, but the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency: once you accept the basic conceptual structure, things fall into place with terrifying speed.

“The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole,” wrote Edith Stein in The Science of the Cross: “If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others.”

The beauty and authenticity of even the most ostensibly difficult parts of Catholicism, such as the sexual ethics, became clear once they were viewed not as a decontextualised list of prohibitions, but as essential components in the intricate body of the Church’s teaching.

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Unlikely story: An avowed atheist’s conversion.

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For the first time in my life, I prayed, and said. “Dear God. There is no logical way you could possibly exist, and even if you appeared before me in the flesh, I would call it an hallucination. So I can think of no possible way, no matter what the evidence and no matter how clear it was, that you could prove your existence to me.

But the Christians claim you are benevolent, and that my failure to believe in you inevitably will damn me. If, as they claim, you care whether or not I am damned, and if, as they claim, you are all wise and all powerful, you can prove to me that you exist even though I am confident such a thing is logically impossible.

Thanking you in advance for your cooperation in this matter, John C. Wright.” — and then my mind was at rest. I had done all I needed to do honestly to maintain my stature as someone, not who claimed to be logical, objective and openminded, but who was logical, objective, and openminded.

Three days later, with no warning, I had a heart attack, and was lying on the floor, screaming and dying.

-Then I was saved from certain death by faith-healing, after which–

-I felt the Holy Spirit enter my body, after which–

-became immediately aware of my soul, a part of myself which, until that time, I reasoned and thought did not exist-

-I was visited by the Virgin Mary, her son, and His Father-

-not to mention various other spirits and ghosts over a period of several days–

-including periods of divine ecstasy, and an awareness of the mystical oneness of the universe-

-And a week or so after that I had a religious experience where I entered the mind of God and saw the indescribable simplicity and complexity, love, humor and majesty of His thought, and I understood the joy beyond understanding and comprehended the underlying unity of all things, and the paradox of determinism and free will was made clear to me, as was the symphonic nature of prophecy. I was shown the structure of time and space.

-And then Christ in a vision told me that He would be my judge, and that God judges no man. I mentioned this event to my wife. Then about a month later, when I was reading the Bible for the first time beyond the unavoidable minimum assigned in school, I came across the passage in the book of John, a passage I had never seen before, and to which no Christian in my hearing had ever made reference, which said the same thing in the same words.

-And then I have had perhaps a dozen or two dozen prayers miraculously answered, so much so that I now regard it as a normal routine rather than some extraordinary act of faith.

So I would say my snide little prayer was answered with much more than I had asked, and I was given not just evidence, and not just overwhelming evidence, but joy unspeakable and life eternal.

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Verses about divine judgment from the Gospel of St. John:

(John 3:17) For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world: but that the world may be saved by him.

(John 5:22) For neither does the Father judge any man: but hath given all judgment to the Son.

(John 5:30) I cannot of myself do any thing. As I hear, so I judge. And my judgment is just: because I seek not my own will. but the will of him that sent me.

(John 7:24) Judge not according to the appearance: but judge just judgment.

(John 7:51) Doth our law judge any man, unless it first hear him and know what he doth?

(John 8:15) You judge according to the flesh: I judge not any man.

(John 8:16) And if I do judge, my judgment is true: because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

(John 8:26) Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But he that sent me, is true: and the things I have heard of him, these same I speak in the world.

(John 12:47) And if any man hear my words and keep them not, I do not judge him for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

(John 12:48) He that despiseth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Truth or friction?

The Catholic Church, since the time of the apostles, has preached the faith as the truth.  I have already quoted St. Peter to the effect that the apostles and their converts “were not following fictitious tales.”  Jesus Christ proved the truth of his assertions about himself by rising from the dead.  As St. Paul explains in Chapter 15 of his first epistle to the Corinthians, the resurrection of Christ was a matter that could be verified with eyewitnesses, not only the apostles, but many others, as well (cf. CCC 641-44).  In addition, the many prophecies that our Lord fulfilled by his birth, life and death, give further proof of the truth of the revelation committed by him to his Church (cf. CCC 156 and 522).  It is with arguments of this kind that we must defend the doctrines of the Catholic Church, not by seeking to prove that the Catholic religion is more useful than any other.

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The late Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the Culture of Death

In one sense, of course, the secular fundamentalist experiment which was the Soviet Union floundered and fell after almost a century of bloody excesses culminating ultimately in the killing of tens of millions of people. But it did flounder and fall in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But what we’re really talking about here is big government, and big government animated by a secular fundamentalist philosophy. In other words, ultimately, that enemy is still very much present and we are still in danger of lurching blindly in a belief that problems can be solved by big government and that problems that are caused by the lack of God can be solved by a godless response.

So in that sense the lessons haven’t been learned, and the lessons haven’t been learned in the West, absolutely, that we could be lurching toward a secular fundamentalist big government, regardless of whether or not it quotes Karl Marx, it’s basically of the same spirit. That’s exactly what Solzhenitsyn was getting at in his Harvard address — that the spirit that unites communism and decadent materialism in the West is this secular fundamentalist materialism, this atheism at the root of politics and the root of society and how that leads ultimately to a culture of death.

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