Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Quick Hits: Francis & Kasper vs. Ratzinger/Benedict; finding harmony in 20th-century music

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | May 29, 2017

  • The fear that Pope Francis is deliberately trying to undo the work of his predecessors, and particularly the work of Benedict XVI, is an increasingly common theme for Catholic writers. Matthew Schmitz made an important contribution to that body of analysis last week with his short essay, “Burying Benedict,” for First Things. Schmitz recounts the important theological debate in the 1990s between then-Cardinal Ratzinger and soon-to-be Cardinal Kasper, noting that “Francis has steadily advanced the agenda that Kasper outlined over a decade ago.” The debate will finally be decided, Schmitz argues, according to “who thinks with the mind of a Church that has seen countless heresies come and go.” By that measure, he concludes: “Regardless of who dies first, Benedict will outlive Francis.”
  • On a happier note, Mercatornet recently carried a fascinating interview with my old friend Robert Reilly on 20th-century music. Reilly readily acknowledges the ugliness of much atonal music, and traces that problem to its philosophical underpinnings:
    Much of modern philosophy denied that there is any such thing as natural law or an inbuilt order in nature. This is a logical consequence of the so-called death of God. This spilled over into the arts, including music.
    But he goes on to tour the “largely undiscovered country” of 20th-century music that does not fall into that philosophical trap, and offers some recommendations. Read the interview, and prepare to spend some time listening to YouTube recordings to see whether you agree.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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