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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 9: Concluding Evaluation



Concluding Evaluation

In order to bring this book to a conclusion, it is important to make some final remarks regarding Ratzinger’s thought as it relates to an ecclesiology of liberation. Primarily, I propose to do this by evaluating the significance of his contribution, highlighting both its constructive aspects as well as its limits. In order to achieve this, I will focus on six broad themes which demonstrate the chief characteristics of Ratzinger’s line of reasoning as it pertains to an ecclesiology of liberation. Secondly, I will briefly highlight three potential avenues of enquiry which Ratzinger opens up to the reader but doesn’t fully exploit. These themes merit further ecclesiological investigation.

9.1.  The Significance of Ratzinger’s Contribution

a)  Cultural, Ecclesial and Existential Contexts

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