Item description for Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology by Benedict XVI & Mary F. McCarthy...
Overview A collection of articles and talks written around a central theme the fundamental structure of Christianity: Catholicism, the inter-relationship of other forms of Christianity, the features that distinguish Catholicism from other Christian theologies. Ratzinger outlines the fundamental principles of theology and the proper relationship of theology to Church teaching and authority.
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Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus XVI; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) is Pope emeritus of the Catholic Church, having served as Pope from 2005 to 2013. In that position, he was both the leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Benedict was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II, celebrated his papal inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005.
Ordained as a priest in 1951 in his native Bavaria, Ratzinger established himself as a highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities—the last being the University of Regensburg, where he served as Vice President of the university in 1976 and 1977—he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals, and as such, the primus inter pares among the cardinals. Prior to becoming pope, he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century" as "one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals"; he had an influence "second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of John Paul II's closest confidants.
He was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. His prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love. Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He renewed the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, viewing the use of beauty as a path to the sacred, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal garments, for which reason he was called "the pope of aesthetics". He has been described as "the main intellectual force in the Church" since the mid-1980s. Several of Pope Benedict's students from his academic career are also prominent churchmen today and confidantes of him, notably Christoph Schönborn.
On 11 February 2013, Benedict announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his advanced age. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. He is the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294. As pope emeritus, Benedict retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of Pope, and will continue to dress in the papal colour of white. He was succeeded by Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, and he moved into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae monastery for his retirement on 2 May 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI was born in 1927.
Pope Benedict XVI has published or released items in the following series...
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An outline of the principles of theology and the vocation of the theologian, according to Benedict XVI May 7, 2007
This collection of essays covers the formal principles of the Christian faith (its structure and content), the proper relationship between Scripture and tradition, faith and history, the Church and the churches, the Church and the world, and most fundamentally, God and the world. In so doing, Ratzinger provides a model for pursuing the theological science. Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I found his insights into the Christian faith to be profound, his questions to the Protestant tradition to be piercing, and his emphasis on truth to be refreshing.
If you want to understand Ratzinger's presuppositions and way of thinking, this is the book. For Ratzinger, it is impossible to understand the Christian faith without understanding its communal context. The one who confesses Christ only does so in community--the "I" of the creeds is really the expression of the corporate nature of the Church. The Christian joins this community through baptism, the explication of which marks the highpoint of these essays. "Being baptized means entering into a communion of name with him who is the Name and thus becoming, more truly than Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the attribute of God. From this perspective it is now obvious that baptism is the inception of resurrection, inclusion in the name of God and, by the same token, in the indestructible aliveness of God (31-32)." Here, as in other works, Ratzinger labors to demonstrate that God is truth and that truth is life, a life which is only available in the community of the Church and the joyful continuing conversion of penance in her.
The section on Scripture and tradition is not quite as articulate as his essay in "Revelation and Tradition", but still introduces the reader to his position. His thoughts on faith and history provide a cogent attempt to hold together history and truth in a way that theology has often failed to do. The section on ecumenism succeeds particularly well in raising the question of the identity of the partners in ecumenical discussion. Whereas the Roman Catholics have official ecclesial dogmas, it is not clear whether Protestants bring church dogma or their individual theologies to the table.
Ratzinger's treatments of Christian education, experience and wisdom were insightful, but not groundbreaking, as was his evaluation of Vatican II. All in all, "insightful but not groundbreaking" accurately describes the work as a whole, a statement I think Ratzinger would take as a compliment as he does not labor to discover "new" knowledge of God, but to interpret the truth for today's world: "To seek it without distraction and to dare to accept, with joyful heart and without diminution, the foolishness of truth--this, I think, is the task for today and for tomorrow: the true nucleus of the Church's service to the world, her answer to "the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time" (393, quoting the first words of "Gaudium et spes").
Foundational Offering for Catholic Theology Aug 28, 2002
The distinguished cardinal certainly puts forth in this tome an exhibit of his broad search of theology and his immersion in the academia of his faith at the highest levels.
What struck me significantly in the read was the obvious priority given to philosophical analysis. Ratzinger even acknowledges this in the included address given in honor of Cardinal Volk: "If theology has to do primarily with God, if its ultimate and proper theme is not salvation history or Church or community but simply God,then it must think in philosophical terms."
Although philosophy to be sure has its place in the world of theology (apologetics and evangelism) it certainly is not to be central to theological formulation. Church history is replete with the trainwrecks of faith that have flowed out of theologians majoring in philosophy.
The section where he debates the apolostolic church was one in this work which was rare in that it focused primarily on Scripture arguments rather than philosophical spins.
He certainly demonstrates an active and precise mind and writing style. At times it is difficult to follow, given our differences in theological circles. However, it must be said that his critiques of Luther are partial illumination of what the Reformer said, e.g. on church and where it could be found. He does not clearly state Luther's central tenet that church is where the pure gospel is preached and the Sacraments administered according to the gospel.
His constant insistence upon tradition and succession becomes mute when only the persistent philosophical bents are offered as primary assurance.
Learned, radically moderate orthodox theology Nov 29, 1998
A fine piece of work describing the Church's efforts to create a clear line of truth between the extremes of traditionalists and reformers. There is something here to irritate any school; Ratzinger is not the firm one-sided hand he has been portrayed as in the popular press. Read it and elevate your learning and faith.