Pope John Paul II once declared the 20th century to be the most evil of all centuries, and it’s not hard to come up with evidence for such a claim even if one doesn’t share his presuppositions. The Holocaust, other genocides from Armenia to Rwanda, Stalinism, Pol Pot, the threat of humankind’s voluntary self-extinction by nuclear annihilation and then of involuntary self-extinction by environmental catastrophe – the human beings of the 20th century have a lot to answer for.
I sometimes imagine the centuries lined up on some chronological Judgement Day, and the 20th century being shown its great catalogue of horrors and atrocities. A cosmic judge asks that century “What do you have to say for yourself? How can you possibly justify your existence in the face of this destruction?”
In spite of everything, before this cosmic temporal court, I believe the 20th century could make up for it all with three small words: Continue reading