Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI Roundup!

  • "Ratzinger--Why Bonaventure and Why A Theology of History?", by Justin Nickelsen. ("Ressourcement - Restoration in Catholic Theology" Nov. 27, 2005):
    As many know, in Germany (at least at the time Ratzinger was getting his education) one was required to write two dissertations if he wished to teach. Ratzinger’s first dissertation dealt with ecclesiology in Augustine—specifically, the Church as “People and House of God” in Augustine’s work. It was there, and ever after, that Ratzinger joined Henri de Lubac in becoming the first to have a complete "Eucharistic ecclesiology."

    His second dissertation (called a “habilitation”) dealt with The Theology of History in Saint Bonaventure.

    It has been asked, “How/why did Ratzinger jump from ecclesiology to theological history”?

    Drawing from Aidan Nichol's study The Thought of Pope Benedict XVI as well as George Weigel's God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, Nickelsen provides the background history to Cardinal Ratzinger's second doctoral dissertation.

  • On a related note, Jonathan Prejean (aka. Crimson Catholic) posts a review of The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure.

  • Benedict XVI and the ‘True Time’ of Vatican II, by Randy Boyagoda. Crisis Nov. 8, 2005. Boyagoda examines the aftermath of the Council ("ideological axe-grinding [and] endless, misinformed debates" over the pastoral meaning and implementation of the council "with few parties actually consulting the council’s documents" themselves) and inquires "how might the papacy of Benedict XVI improve the council’s impaired situation? And what responsibilities and challenges do 21st-century Catholics face in living out the Church’s life in the wake of Vatican II?"

  • And on a similar note: Pope Benedict is to Re-Interpret the Second Vatican Council: This Is the Preface - by Sandro Magister. Chiesa Dec. 5, 2005.

  • Basic Books has acquired the world English rights to Without Roots: Europe, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, written by Pope Benedict XVI. . . . The book, acquired from Italian publisher Mondadori, is scheduled for release on Feb. 1, 2006, according to Elizabeth Maguire, vice president and publisher at Basic Books. [Source: The Book Standard Oct. 24, 2005].

    An excerpt from Without Roots appears in the January 2006 edition of First Things (No. 159), under the title "Europe and Its Discontents". Not yet online but available in print at your quality newstand.

  • Review: In the Vineyard of the Lord: The Life, Faith and Teachings of Joseph Ratzinger, by Edmund. W. Majewski, S.J. Homiletic & Pastoral Review

  • The Italian daily La Stampa muses on the impending release of Pope Benedict's first encyclical (via Catholic News Agency Dec. 2, 2005):
    The Italian daily “La Stampa,” announced today that the Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, that other source already mentioned would be versed in the theme of Charity, could be released in the beginning of January, probably on January 6, day of the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

    Again according to La Stampa, the Encyclical will bear the date of December 8, 2005, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, an emblematic date not only for its Marian character, but also because it coincides with the 40th anniversary of the closing of the Vatican II Council.

    A source in the Vatican, commented to CNA that the date of release announced by La Stampa is only an approximation because the Holy See usually doesn’t release important document on holidays, as the Epiphany is at the Vatican or in many European countries. “It is more probable that the Encyclical will be released later in January, although the exact date is given only a few days before,” said the source.

    The title of the Encyclical, again according to La Stampa, centered on the theme of Christian Charity and the Love of God will be “Deus Caritas est,” (God is Love), taken from the fourth chapter of the First Letter of Saint John.

  • Bill Wineke says that Pope Benedict lacks the U.S. "Spirit of Christmas" (Wisconsin State Journal Dec. 19, 2005 -- via Michael S. Rose):
    No, he's not saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Even the pope wouldn't take on Bill O'Reilly or the American Family Association.

    What the pope, who celebrates his first Christmas as head of the Catholic Church this year, is doing is far more insidious: He's urging people to give joy rather than merchandise.

    "You should bring joy, not expensive gifts that cost time and money," the pope said Sunday during a homily at Santa Maria Consolatrice Church in Rome. "With a smile, an act of kindness, a little help, forgiveness, you can bring joy and that joy will come back to you." . . .

  • From United Press International, a report on Pope Benedict XVI and the prospect of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Communist government of China (Outside View: The Pope and China, by Hubertus Hoffman. Dec. 5, 2005):
    There are two cities on the globe in which L'Osservatore Romano -- the official newspaper of the Vatican -- is carefully studied word-for-word and whose reports and commentaries are paid special attention to: the Holy City in Rome and Beijing in the State Administration of Religious Affairs.

    The latter is a kind of "Office of the Inquisition" of the Communist Party that ensures that for the People's Republic there is only one God in China: the Communist Party itself. The counterpart in Rome, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was for years the Catholic "Inquisitor," guardian of the pure teachings of the Pope. Currently, at the very top of Benedict XVI's wish list is the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Beijing. Who will win: the Pope or Beijing?

  • On Dec. 8, 2005 the Vatican published Pope Benedict's message for the World Day of Peace (celebrated January 1). "In Truth, Peace" is a stirring reflection on the authentic meaning of peace in the light of the Christian faith:
    . . . what do those words, “the truth of peace,” really mean? To respond adequately to this question, we must realize that peace cannot be reduced to the simple absence of armed conflict, but needs to be understood as “the fruit of an order which has been planted in human society by its divine founder,” an order ''which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for ever more perfect justice.” As the result of an order planned and willed by the love of God, peace has an intrinsic and invincible truth of its own, and corresponds “to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us.”

    Seen in this way, peace appears as a heavenly gift and a divine grace which demands at every level the exercise of the highest responsibility: that of conforming human history – in truth, justice, freedom and love – to the divine order. Whenever there is a loss of fidelity to the transcendent order, and a loss of respect for that “grammar” of dialogue which is the universal moral law written on human hearts, whenever the integral development of the person and the protection of his fundamental rights are hindered or denied, whenever countless people are forced to endure intolerable injustices and inequalities, how can we hope that the good of peace will be realized? The essential elements which make up the truth of that good are missing. Saint Augustine described peace as “tranquillitas ordinis,” the tranquility of order. By this, he meant a situation which ultimately enables the truth about man to be fully respected and realized. . . .

    The Holy Father expressed his gratitude "to the international organizations and to all those who are daily engaged in the application of international humanitarian law, [and] in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace," recalling a passage from Gaudium et Spes: “All those who enter the military in service to their country should look upon themselves as guardians of the security and freedom of their fellow-countrymen, and, in carrying out this duty properly, they too contribute to the establishment of peace.”

    Pope Benedict reiterated his warning against the dangers of nihilism and religious fanaticism (today often labeled fundamentalism), which cultivate hatred and a contempt for truth and human life, oft revealed in the scourge of terrorism. Likewise he denounced "continuing growth in military expenditure and the flourishing arms trade" and urged all nations "whether those which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms" to embark on a process of genuine disarmament.

Sorry for such a brief roundup, but I wanted to get this out before I took off for the holidays. Perhaps next time we'll have the Holy Father's new encyclical to look forward to. Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

Previous Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI Roundups in 2005: 4/11/05; 4/15/05; 4/18/05; 4/23/05; 5/01/05; 5/21/05; 6/6/05; 6/25/05; 7/10/05;7/14/05; 7/25/05; 8/15/05; 9/12/05; 9/27/05; 10/26/05 and 11/29/05.

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