Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Edward T. Oakes on Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity

Edward T. Oakes, S.J. takes a look back at Cardinal Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity and applies its stern critique to the precarious state of contemporary faith and theology ("Reconciling Judas: Evangelizing the Theologians" Crisis Oct. 6, 2004):

In 1968, a professor of theology at the University of Regensburg wrote a modestly sized treatise on the Apostles’ Creed called Introduction to Christianity. Its impact, however, was anything but modest, for the book so captivated Pope Paul VI that he made its author archbishop of Munich (and later cardinal, one of his last appointments to the college); and just a few years later, the new pope, John Paul II, summoned the same man to Rome to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His name, of course, is Joseph Ratzinger.

Not many books have changed history, but this one certainly did, not just for the author personally but also for the wider Church. For it would be hard to exaggerate the influence of this bookish Bavarian, not just on John Paul II (perhaps the most influential pope in history) but on Catholics worldwide through the cardinal’s role as doctrinal overseer and enforcer of magisterial orthodoxy. What made the book itself so remarkable was not just its deft use of the Apostles’ Creed to explain Christianity to the lay reader or its acute analysis of unbelief and the secular mind. An even greater virtue of the book was the future cardinal’s keen analysis of why the promising spirit of Vatican II failed to bring about a reunited Christianity and a re-Christianized Europe. . . . READ MORE.

One of the best essays I've read in a long time -- but then, I can't remember reading anything by Edward T. Oakes that I haven't appreciated and benefited from.

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