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Explorations in the Theology of Benedict XVI

John C. Cavadini

Publication Year: 2013

Benedict XVI’s writing as priest-professor, bishop, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now pope has shaped Catholic theological thought in the twentieth century. In Explorations in the Theology of Benedict XVI, a multidisciplinary group of scholars treat the full scope of Benedict’s theological oeuvre, including the Augustinian context of his thought; his ecclesiology; his theologically grounded approach to biblical exegesis and Christology; his unfolding of a theology of history and culture; his liturgical and sacramental theology; his theological analysis of political and economic developments; his use of the natural law in ethics and conscience; his commitment to a form of interreligious dialogue from a place of particularity; and his function as a public, catechetical theologian.
This volume originated at a conference at the University of Notre Dame on the occasion of the pontiff and theologian’s eighty-fifth birthday. It provides an introduction to Benedict’s ecclesially grounded theology, articulated in his essays, monographs, and sermons, and also serves as a primer in the major concerns of Catholic theological discourse in the twentieth century.
Explorations in the Theology of Benedict XVI will be of interest to students in theology; those concerned with the development of a pastoral approach to theology that is simultaneously sophisticated in its thought; theological historians seeking to understand the place of Benedict vis-à-vis twentieth-century intellectual life; and general readers of Benedict’s work.  
"This collection of essays on the theology of Benedict XVI offers a new apologetics founded ‘not so much on the desire to outdo one’s opponent in dialectical victory but to allow the Love in which the original Word was spoken . . . to make its own case, its own apologia, in the hearts of those who hear.’ It is, in short, an excellent presentation of what Benedict XVI means when he says that ‘love and reason are the twin pillars of all reality.' The essays sympathetically uncover the pontiff’s theological foundation stones." —Tracey Rowland, John Paul II Institute, Melbourne, Australia
"If you're looking for a synoptic view of Benedict XVI's theological achievement, this is by a long way the best thing on offer in English. Each of the essays provides a detailed engagement with a central theme in Benedict's theology, treated not merely in isolation but also in terms of its relations to the whole. The result is a profound depiction of the range, scope, and integrated nature of Benedict's theology. This is a volume that honors the thinker it treats by taking him seriously not only as pope, but also as a theologian." —Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School
"This is quite simply the best exploration of Pope Benedict's theology available in English. Some of these essays dig deep into the younger Ratzinger's Augustinian soil and reveal to us the roots of Benedict's papal teaching. Others trace the lines of growth from those roots out to his striking papal encyclicals, and to the apologetics of love that grounds his vision of the Church's task. The fruitfulness of the collection is perhaps most evident in the way that the authors do not simply repeat, but think with and in the light of Benedict’s theology. Above all, this collection displays Benedict’s theology as a personal, living faith and a reasoned faith, as a theology of divine and human love that invites humanity into faith’s re-imagining of human existence." —Lewis Ayres, Durham University
"Shunning simplistic varieties of both caricature and adulation, these essays provide an appreciative but rigorous engagement with the breadth and depth of Benedict’s theology. The result is not merely a collection of summaries of different texts and themes but rather a convincing portrait of the vitality, integrity, and fecundity of Benedict’s theological vision and its prophetic witness to the evangelical message of God’s unfathomable love." —Khaled Anatolios, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

I express my deep gratitude to those without whose assistance this volume could not have come to completion. This includes professors Lawrence S. Cunningham and Cyril J. O’Regan at the University of Notre Dame, who helped...

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pp. 1-20

“God Is Love.” Such is our faith, the faith of the Church. As theologians and colleagues from other disciplines, we seek to understand this profound truth ever more clearly, to discover it ever anew, and to be able to communicate what we have discovered ever more persuasively. In doing so, we acknowledge...

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Chapter 1: Benedict the Augustinian

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pp. 21-60

The title of this essay expresses the claim that the theology of Benedict XVI is constitutively Augustinian, that is, that “Augustinianism” is the proper description of Benedict’s oeuvre in whole and in part. And although the point should be obvious, I will make it anyway: this is to deny that Benedict’s...

The Dynamic of Advent

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Chapter 2: Culture and Conscience in the Thought of Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI

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pp. 63-86

Benedict XVI’s opposition to the “dictatorship of relativism” derives from a homily delivered in St. Peter’s Basilica on the eve of the conclave at which he was elected pope. Too often the phrase is taken as if it were a blast from a bunker in the...

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Chapter 3: Resolving the Relativity Paradox

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pp. 87-113

The issue of relativism has long been a concern of Joseph Ratzinger, not only as a theologian, but also, most famously, as cardinal prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and of course now as pope, feliciter regnans. But to understand...

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Chapter 4: A Depth of Otherness

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pp. 114-141

In 1951, fourteen years before the publication of Nostra Aetate , the Second Vatican Council’s great summons to the mutually entailed enterprises of theology of religions and interreligious dialogue, Henri de Lubac, later to be recognized...

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Chapter 5: Reflections on Introduction to Christianity

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pp. 142-154

It may be the case that, as the Italians would say, the story is ben trovato, but some reports have indicated that Pope Paul VI was so impressed with Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity that it was among his reasons for naming...

Caritas in Veritate

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Chapter 6: God’s Saving Justice

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pp. 157-186

In both substance and sensibility, Pope Benedict XVI’s writings on politics portray the modern world as an “age of upheaval,” to borrow from the title of a book he published just before he became pope.1 Having lived through Nazi Germany...

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Chapter 7: Development Driven by Hope and Gratuitousness

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pp. 187-212

Hope and gratuitousness characterize Pope Benedict XVI’s social teaching and give a thicker meaning to that “inquiry into nature and the causes of the wealth of nations” which should be the core of economics. Development,..

God Is Love

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Chapter 8: Papal Ecclesiology

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pp. 215-235

To many Catholics, Ratzinger’s “universalist” ecclesiology represents a top-down idea of the Church, that is, a conception of the Church as a Platonic Idea that generates its local variants. If I had had any interest in ecclesiology before..

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Chapter 9: The Baptism of Jesus

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pp. 236-253

In this essay I would like to consider the problem of Jesus’ participation in the baptism of John, an event that appears near the beginning of all three synoptic Gospels. It is one of those rare moments in the history of Jesus research...

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Chapter 10: The Feast of Peace

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pp. 254-275

Pope Benedict XVI’s eucharistic theology is marked by a commitment to the traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, stated clearly in the Council of Trent, that the Mass is a sacrifice. His understanding of the sacrifice of the Mass, however...

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Chapter 11: Mary in the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI

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pp. 276-297

In 1961, in preparation for the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, then a young theologian at the University of Bonn, wrote a speech for Joseph Cardinal Frings, archbishop of Cologne. In this speech Ratzinger urged that Mariology be placed fully in the context of ecclesiology. He wrote...


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pp. 298-300


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pp. 301-318

E-ISBN-13: 9780268076986
E-ISBN-10: 0268076987
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268023096
Print-ISBN-10: 0268023093

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2013