Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and EENS


I was wondering- I know Pope Benedict was a proponent and friend of Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Balthasar was known for having a high optimism for those who are saved outside of the church to the extent of maybe stopping just short of universalism. Did Benedict hold the same opinions as Balthasar, or did he keep that to himself on that particular topic?

I don’t think Pope Benedict followed Balthasar in his theories about near-universalism. Here is a quote from Spe Salvi where Pope Benedict talks about how Hell claims some real people from history: With death, our life-choice becomes definitive—our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell. - Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi 45 Dave Armstrong once did a search through the writings of Pope John Paul II and found about a dozen times where he talked about the reality of Hell and how it really claims certain people; one of the stronger points in this regard was his publication of the Catechism, which included a section on the reality of Hell even though many of the bishops who were part of its production objected to the inclusion of that material; Pope John Paul II fought for it anyway.

I bring that up because Pope Benedict had a great hand in the publication of that document too, and its contents are a result of his efforts as much as of Pope John Paul II’s. Pope Benedict gave it the Imprimatur, in fact, which shows that it was his project too, and so its section on the reality of Hell shows Pope Benedict’s mind on the matter too.

Balthasar was a Catholic priest in his Office. But all Catholic clergy (priests and Popes alike - as well as ordinary laymen) are permitted to exercise the role of private theologian, and explore (and even advocate) positions not held by (but not contrary to) Catholic doctrine.

To whatever extent Benedict-16 (Ratzinger) agreed with any non-doctrinal positions of Balthasar, he did so in his capacity as a private theologian (the same capacity that Balthasar himself exercised).

Prior to becoming Pope, however, Ratzinger hardly “kept to himself” very much. He is (by FAR) the most published author to become Pope. We know quite a lot about what Ratzinger thought - he made no secret of it. He wrote MANY books about it.

Balthasar died in 1998, years before Ratzinger became Pope in 2005. Ratzinger had PLENTY of opportunity to make his views known (as he was apt to do), even before he became Pope (at which point he would probably scale back his “private theologian” role, to avoid misunderstanding).

Ratzinger had (at least) a seven-year window of opportunity to accept any of Balthasar’s ideas without serious consequences. If he did so in those years, he would have made it known (as was his practice). I am not aware of any such agreement in this regard.

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