Show Less
Restricted access

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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access



The research undertaken in this book indicates that there is credible evidence for expressing the view that Joseph Ratzinger is a tacit exponent of a liberation ecclesiology – a relatively new and emerging theological genre. While he consciously avoids aligning himself with this, or any other individual theology,1 there is evidence that Ratzinger is genuinely motivated by the quest for authentic freedom throughout the course of his prolific explorations in ecclesiology. Therefore, while it is important not to confine his life’s work to one particular individual theology, consideration of him as a liberation ecclesiologist permits a valid entry point into his expansive collection of writings. This conclusion – which may prove somewhat surprising to those unacquainted with his writings – now seems to be not only conceivable but axiomatic:

The desire for freedom has been constant throughout human history. From the cries to God of the Hebrews in Egypt to the cries against the Gaddafis, Mubaraks, and Assads in the “Arab Spring,” this desire has never waned in human hearts. The fact that it has never waned, that it has always been a great, yet never permanently or completely attained, goal prompts one to ask whether or not it is a chimera, a mirage which constantly taunts us with its apparent reality, yet proves in the end to be nothing but sand, dust, and ashes. With this question in mind, it should come as no surprise that the nature of freedom has been a recurrent question in the...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.