Sharp-tongued former communist labels Benedict ‘modern’

Former leader of the east-German communists, Gregor Gysi, on Friday, praised Pope Benedict for consistently preaching that modern society must have moral norms in order to function properly.

“It won’t work without the concept of the good,” Gysi wrote.

“But modern science can’t tell us what is good. Its concepts focus on empirical experience. Ideas such as morality play no role there.”

Gysi described Benedict as a modern theologian, one who says societies need both religious traditions and arguments to forge the moral consensus they need to operate.

“The pope says neither can do this alone,” he wrote.

“That a pope says that about religion is not necessarily something one could have expected.”

“One must simply recognize that cultural traditions, including religion, are resources” that transmit social norms, he wrote. “There seems to be something prior to and outside of the law that can act as a benchmark for it.”

“In our world full of tension, this insight is the best justification for tolerance in a democratic state,” Gysi said. “We don’t have to follow this or that norm, but we must appreciate that there are norms, and some of them are good.”

The comments by Gysi came as a surprise. Reuters describes Gysi as ‘a sharp-tongued leader coming from a secular Jewish family’.


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