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A Liberation Ecclesiology?

The Quest for Authentic Freedom in Joseph Ratzinger’s Theology of the Church

Sean Corkery

Freedom, one of the most potent ideals of the post-Enlightenment era, came to remarkable prominence in ecclesiology through the emergence of liberation theologies in the twentieth century. At the same time, Joseph Ratzinger – a German university professor – was appointed a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His interaction with the pioneers of the liberationist movement led him to engage directly with the Christian understanding of freedom and its significance. As a result, his interest in freedom as a theological question expanded from the 1970s onwards.
This book explores whether the basis for a liberation ecclesiology can be attributed to Ratzinger in his own right. While the volume’s focus is ecclesiological, the author also gathers together many strands of Ratzinger’s core theological insights in an attempt to establish how he approaches an issue that is both provocative and highly topical.
Ratzinger is a controversial and engaging figure, and this book is essential reading for those who wish to understand how he deals with a theological topic of ongoing concern to society in general and the Catholic Church in particular.
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I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Most Rev. William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne for his generous support and encouragement during the latter stages of these studies and to Most Rev. Dermot Clifford, apostolic administrator of Cloyne (2009–2013) for initially permitting me to undertake doctoral studies in theology. I am truly grateful to Most Rev. Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick for guiding, supporting, and encouraging me in the research and writing process of my doctoral dissertation, which I now present in book format. My gratitude is very much extended to the staff and students of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the staff and students of the Fakultät für Katholische Theologie in Universität Regensburg, the staff and students of the Goethe Institut in Dublin, and the staff of the Institut Papst Benedikt XVI, Regensburg, especially its former director Rev. Professor Rudolf Voderholzer who has since been ordained Bishop of Regensburg. Along the way I have been privileged to have had conversations and assistance from many people. I want to pay a special tribute to Mr Donal McMahon for his comments on the text. Without Peter Lang publishers, this book would never have made it into print. I express my sincere gratitude to all its dedicated and professional team. I thank my brother priests in Cloyne and beyond for always encouraging me and enquiring about my progress. To my mum and dad, brothers and sister for looking on with great...

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