Correspondence

A Manly Celibate

What the late Axel Springer (1912-1985) was to the world of newspaper publishing, legal scholar Jacques Ellul is to Protestants, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is to writers, the vigorous Père Raymond-Lèopold Bruckberger is to the world of contemporary Roman Catholic intellectuals—a man whose many gifts would make him a sought-after celebrity if his deepest convictions were not so dramatically out-of-fashion. These four all have in common an ardent support for the traditional ideals of the Christian civilization of the West, a passion that renders them hopelessly suspect in the eyes of most Western journalists and of much of the ecclesiastical establishment as well.

Axel Springer, for example, was commonly decried as an archconservative. In fact, he supported the German Socialist Party (SPD) for years, until Willy Brandt, on becoming Federal Chancellor, took West Germany down the road of his new Ostpolitik, i.e., of accommodation to Soviet expansionism. Springer seems to have forfeited the right to the attention his publishing eminence and many charities ought to have merited, by virtue of his outspoken commitment to ideals that the opinion-makers have rejected: such intellectually disreputable causes as democracy, the Western alliance, German reunification, and reconciliation with Israel. And Springer's publicly declared conversion to evangelical Christianity in later life hardly improved his standing...

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