Dietrich von Hildebrand< Back to author list
Pope John Paul II greatly admired the work of von Hildebrand, remarking once to von Hildebrand's widow, Alice von Hildebrand, "Your husband is one of the great ethicists of the twentieth century." Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has a particular admiration and regard for Dietrich von Hildebrand, whom he already knew as a young priest in Munich. In fact, as young Fr. Ratzinger, he even served as an assistant pastor in the church of St. Georg in Munich, which von Hildebrand frequented in the 1950s and 1960s. It was also in St. Georg that Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand were married.
The degree of Pope Benedict's esteem is expressed in one of his statements about von Hildebrand, "When the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time." Von Hildebrand was a vocal critic of the changes in the church brought by the Second Vatican Council. He especially resented the new liturgy. Of it he said "Truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better."
Von Hildebrand died in New Rochelle, New York, in 1977.