Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect and Theologian
Mark Brumley on the Writings of a Future Pope
NAPA, California, APRIL 27, 2005 (Zenit) - In Benedict XVI we are blessed with a theologian and pastor who has thought and prayed long and hard about Jesus Christ, the Church and its mission to the world.
So says Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, which is the primary publisher of the English-language editions of Cardinal Ratzinger's works.
Brumley shared with us how the German cardinal engaged in the sophisticated work of a theologian while he held a high ecclesiastical office, and why he may be one of the greatest theologians of our time.
Q: What are some of the most remarkable contributions that Cardinal Ratzinger made to theology over the last 20-some years as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Brumley: It's important to distinguish between Cardinal Ratzinger's work as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and his work as a theologian.
His contributions to theology as prefect of the CDF are different in kind from his contributions as a theologian, even though they both obviously agree with Catholic teaching.
As prefect of the CDF, he issued documents that are part of the Church's Spirit-guided magisterium. Catholics are to receive and accept this teaching as authentic Catholic teaching. These documents are more than a mere theologian's contribution to theology.
At the same time, since theologians don't have access to divine Revelation apart from how it has been expressed in the divinely inspired Scripture and the Spirit-assisted Tradition as interpreted by the magisterium, the ongoing work of the magisterium by definition "contributes to theology."
Responsible theologians make use of magisterial teaching in order reasonably and systematically to reflect on what God has revealed. So the work of the prefect of the CDF does, in fact, "contribute to theology."
That said, Cardinal Ratzinger has continued to publish theological works apart from exercising the authority of his CDF office. Some of these works closely relate to certain documents and concerns of the CDF.
For example, his book "The Nature and Mission of Theology" is tied to the CDF document "The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian," among other things. His book "Called to Communion" contains first-rate theological discussions of the nature of the Church, the papacy, and the hotly disputed theological issue of the relationship between the local diocesan Church and the universal Church.
Likewise, his recent book "Truth and Tolerance," which deals with Christianity and non-Christian religions, provides the reflections of Ratzinger the theologian on Church teaching contained in the document "Dominus Iesus," issued by Ratzinger the prefect of the CDF.
As is appropriate for the work of a theologian, "Truth and Tolerance" amplifies and goes deeper than what is contained in "Dominus Iesus," which simply restates Church teaching that is binding on Catholics.
Q: What will Pope Benedict XVI bring of himself and his theological interests to the pontificate?
Brumley: Although Ratzinger the prefect is distinguishable from Ratzinger the theologian, we are blessed in Pope Benedict XVI with a theologian and pastor who has thought and prayed long and hard about Jesus Christ, the Church and her mission to the world.
He will, I believe, continue the twofold task of Vatican II -- renewing the inner life of the Church and reinvigorating the Church's mission in the world. He is committed to a renewal of biblical studies and a deepening of ordinary Catholics' appreciation of and participation in the sacred liturgy.
He staunchly proclaims the universal call to holiness of Vatican II. He understands the importance of dialogue among Christians and dialogue with world religions and seekers, while he upholds the integrity of Catholic faith and insists on a renewed missionary drive to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
And he knows that in the areas of morality and social justice, the Christian message has not been tried and found wanting, as G.K. Chesterton noted, but has been found difficult and left untried. Furthermore, he sees the threat of radical relativism and many other "isms."
Q: What have you thought of Cardinal Ratzinger's writings over the years?
Brumley: My reading of his writings has led me to think that he is one of the greatest theologians of our time. His writings reflect his commitment to a living Catholic tradition, an understanding of the faith that is ever ancient and ever new.
It is remarkable that we have a Pope who has written so much prior to becoming Pope. Also remarkable is the fact that, while he has held a high ecclesiastical office, he has at the same time engaged in the sophisticated work of a theologian.
His writings cover a wide range of approaches including highfalutin, cutting-edge theology in "Principles of Catholic Theology" and "Truth and Tolerance," pastoral reflections in "Co-workers of the Truth," and profound analyses of various modern ideologies and straight talk to reporters about his life, his faith and the state of the Church in "Salt of the Earth," "God and the World" and "The Ratzinger Report."
Those who stereotype him as a rigid, backward thinker simply haven't read him or fairly read him. His recent book on the Eucharist, "God is Near Us," is a wonderful contribution to John Paul II's Year of the Eucharist, and his "Introduction to Christianity" is a classic. His first volume of memoirs, known as "Milestones," shows the profound faith and learning of this great man.
Q: What do you consider to be Pope John Paul II's theological legacy?
Brumley: It's extremely difficult to summarize his theological legacy in a short space. The ongoing pastoral application of Vatican II to the issues facing the Church and the world is probably his main legacy. The enrichment of personal faith and the universal call to holiness are two important themes in that regard.
John Paul II's emphasis on Vatican II's ecclesiology of communion is also important. He saw such communion as an earthly participation in the divine communion of the Holy Trinity brought about through Jesus Christ and spread in the world through the Church. The immediate expression of that mission is the call for a new evangelization.
With respect to his moral theology, John Paul's Christian humanism and his "theology of the body" are fundamental. Solidarity and subsidiarity received special emphasis in his social teaching, which is in turn rooted in an emphasis on the dignity of the human person and the mutual obligations human beings have to one another by virtue of their being made in God's image and called to the same destiny in Jesus Christ.
Finally, John Paul's Marian teaching stresses the centrality of Jesus Christ -- we say all we do about the Blessed Virgin because of her relation to Christ and his Church. Mary is the model of faith, the grace-enabled "yes" of faith that entrusts the self to God and in this way embraces the offer of divine communion.
Q: How do you think Pope Benedict will build on John Paul's legacy?
Brumley: As Pope John Paul II's right-hand man, theologically speaking, he contributed to the development of that legacy to begin with. Also, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI were influential at Vatican II and had their views of the Church's mission today shaped by it.
I expect Benedict XVI will continue John Paul II's call for a new evangelization -- Cardinal Ratzinger's selection of the name Benedict suggests as much.
I suspect that John Paul II has already begun to intercede for his successor.
https://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Pope, Ratzinger, Benedict, Vatican, Mission, Jesus
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Monday, April 23rd, 2018 HD Video
- Daily Readings for Sunday, April 22, 2018
- St. Abdiesus: Saint of the Day for Sunday, April 22, 2018
- California bill that could BAN THE BIBLE advances
- Has California just voted to ban the BIBLE? HD Video
- Five things Catholics can do to promote international religious freedom
- Death threats for opposing gay marriage? Florist appeals to Supreme Court
- Daily Reading for Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 HD
- Global Warming threatening Europe with colder weather HD
- The Memorare HD
- God Alone Suffices HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education