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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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Chapter 4: The Shape of Human Freedom: Anthropological Contours



The Shape of Human Freedom: Anthropological Contours

The purpose of this chapter is to examine the anthropological aspects of Ratzinger’s writings from a human freedom perspective. The chapter is divided into four parts: the first looks at the human search for meaning, with particular reference to the life of faith. It will do so, on the one hand, through an epistemological analysis of being in the world and, on the other hand, through an understanding of human personhood grounded in divine personhood. This brings up the notion of the concept of truth as an inevitable dimension of the search for meaning. What emerges here is the need for the human person to take up a “yes” or “no” posture of dialogical orientation with regard to God. The second part reviews two scriptural categories shaping freedom – namely, monotheism and creatureliness – both of which permit Ratzinger to restate the truth of human nature in affirmative terms. The third part deals with Ratzinger’s comparison of the modern synthesis of intellectual thought with what he advances as the Christian synthesis and philosophy of freedom. The fourth and final part explores Ratzinger’s presentation of the nature of sin as suppressed truth, and the exaltation of mere appearance. It enables him to bring forth a threefold theological framework which defines the ground of authentic human freedom. In a situation where the “anarchistic trait in the demand for freedom is growing stronger,”1 it will be Ratzinger’s contention that the exposition...

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