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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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Section I Contexts




← 37 | 38 →← 38 | 39 →


The opening section shows how the formative influences on Joseph Ratzinger as a theologian and pastor feed into his responses and approaches to the issue of freedom. While he is undeniably influenced by growing up in twentieth-century Germany, fraught as it was by harsh abuses of freedom, he is also someone persuaded by the intellectual and spiritual riches of Europe, the liturgical heritage of Roman Catholicism, and the security of a stable family environment. As a result of this combination of influences, Ratzinger represents a significant voice in the study of the Church as it endeavours to respond to humanity’s thirst for freedom. He is troubled by the one-sidedness of the contemporary understanding of freedom and remains convinced that only the full expression of the truth about authentic freedom such as is found in the catholic tradition can remedy the deficiencies that beset present understandings of liberation. In order to dialogue comprehensively with Ratzinger’s perspective, it is necessary to appreciate the contexts which shaped it. ← 39 | 40 →← 40 | 41 →

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