Sunday, November 30, 2003

Cardinal Ratzinger on Veritatis Splendor

Cardinal Ratzinger makes an appearance in this week's edition of "Word from Rome" by John Allen, Jr., along with some notes on the relationship btw/ Karl Rahner & Hans Urs von Balthasar. Ratzinger spoke at a conference at Rome's Lateran University Nov. 20, the topic being: “Walking in the Light: Perspectives for Moral Theology Ten Years after Veritatis Splendor.” Mr. Allen reports:
When the encyclical appeared in 1993, critical commentary focused on its reassertion of the ban on artificial contraception and other moral norms . . .

Ratzinger told the conference that for him, the “great disappointment” of Veritatis Splendor was not that it caused polemics. “Coming from Germany, I’m used to it,” he joked.

Rather, Ratzinger said, he regretted that the public debate never picked up the main challenge of the encyclical, which was to revitalize Gaudium et Spes’ vision of a Christian morality rooted in scripture and the person of Christ, as opposed to a manualistic, natural law understanding. This project was waylaid, Ratzinger argued, by a number of factors, including the fact that scripture offers few direct answers to the moral problems of our time, and that the language of scripture is too far removed from the positivistic culture of post-modernity. What resulted, Ratzinger argued, is a moral theology that sees scripture as a motivation, a “horizon,” rather than a source of content.

In this context, Ratzinger said, Christian morality was not able to respond to the challenge of relativism, which produced an exaggerated emphasis on “conscience.” The properly Christian vision, Ratzinger argued, is that morality is never subjective because the subject is always open to something greater than itself."

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