Benedict and the Augsburg Confession


#1

Those who know Ratzinger, however, say few figures have exercised greater influence on him than Luther. In a 1966 commentary on Vatican II’s “The Church in the Modern World,” Ratzinger said that the document leaned too heavily on Teilhard de Chardin and not enough on Luther - a remarkable comment in an era with no offical Lutheran-Catholic contact, when manyCatholics still branded Luther a heretic.

“Ratzinger has been involved in dialogue with Lutherans from way back,” said Br. Jeffrey Gros, ecumenical affairs specialist for the U.S. bishops. “In the 1980s he was even interested in declaring the Augsburg Confession [the first Lutheran declaration of faith] a Catholic document. To think that he wanted to torpedo this [agreement] is a total misread.”

natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/091099/091099f.htm

I find this astounding (in the good sense of the word). Does anyone have any additional insite into Benedict’s positions with regard to the Augsburg Confession. I have read accounts of him being the one who single-handedly saved the Joint Declaration talks with the Lutheran World Federation. The fact that he is from Germany certainly takes on new relevance.


#2

I read a brief outline of Ratzinger’s life in a recent newspaper article.
It seems that Ratzinger was influenced by more “progressive” thinkers as a young man in Germany.
This held true during his time working at VII.

He later began to question this outlook and developed into a more orthodox approach.


#3

[quote=Lorarose]I read a brief outline of Ratzinger’s life in a recent newspaper article.
It seems that Ratzinger was influenced by more “progressive” thinkers as a young man in Germany.
This held true during his time working at VII.

He later began to question this outlook and developed into a more orthodox approach.
[/quote]

This is one of the reasons I think Pope Benedict will make a far more ecumenical Pontiff than everyone thinks. He used to be progressive, which means that he has worked through all of their arguments and can see both sides of them.


#4

How are you defining “progressive”? Unless you define it as “anything with which the Council of Trent disagreed”, I am not sure how the Augsburg Confession can be called “progressive”. The document is anything but ecumenical.

While Ratzinger may have been infludenced by progressives in his early days, the Joint Declaration work would have been less than 10 years ago. He would have been 70 years old, and John Paul’s advisor for over a decade.

Consider my initial comment in light of Benedict’s comments at his first mass: “A demonstration of good intentions is not enough. We need concrete gestures that enter the soul and move consciences.”


#5

Thanks for the info. I did not know any of that. It looks like there is still hope of reconcilliation.


#6

If you read his memoirs, you’ll see that he isn’t aware of having made a sharp break with his “progressive” past. The truth seems to be that there were two radically different groups that helped bring about Vatican II. They looked the same at the time, but once the reforms began to be implemented it became clear that they had very different agendas. One group wanted to throw the Catholic Church open to modern ideas, while the other wanted above all to renew traditional doctrines in the light of Scripture and the Fathers. These approaches were not incompatible. But one or the other predominated.

Another point Ratzinger makes in his memoirs is that some more “liberal” theologians like Rahner were actually steeped in scholastic traditions of theology, while he came from the tradition of emphasizing the Fathers and turning away from neo-scholastic methodology toward a more Scriptural and patristic approach. So in a sense he is less in tune with the preconciliar approach to theology than people like Rahner. At least that’s one way to look at it. As most folks on this board are aware, “conservative” and “liberal” (or “progressive”) are not always the most helpful terms to use in describing theological positions.

Edwin


#7

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