The Interpretation of Vatican II on the agenda for the “Ratzinger Schülerkreis”

Source: FSSPX News

Benedict XVI and his former student, cardinal Schönborn.

In keeping with a tradition that he instituted when he was a theology professor in Regensburg (Germany), and as he has done each year since the beginning of his pontificate, Benedict XVI will meet from August 27 to 29, 2010, with a group of former students—the “Ratzinger Schülerkreis”—in his summer residence Castel Gandolfo.  By way of exception, this meeting will include the participation of Bishop Kurt Koch, former ordinary of Basel (Switzerland) and newly-appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Among the former students of Professor Ratzinger will be the Archbishop of Vienna (Austria), Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, and the Auxiliary Bishop of Hamburg (Germany), Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke.

This year the circle of Joseph Ratzinger’s former students will work on the hermeneutic of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The theological discussion with Benedict XVI will take place all day on August 28. On the previous day the former students will have debated among themselves. The meeting will conclude with a Mass on the morning of August 29.

No doubt one topic to come up during these study days will be the Address of Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia at the start of his pontificate in December 2005. In it the pope had explained that for a long time there has been an opposition between two contrasting interpretations: on the one hand “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”, which has benefited from “the sympathies of the mass media, and also [from] one trend of modern theology”, and on the other hand, the “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity”. As Benedict XVI views it, the first “caused confusion” and “risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church”, while the second, “silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit”.  (See the analyses in the DICI, nos. 128 and 129, January 14 and 28, 2006.) This theme is at the heart of the theological discussions inaugurated in October 2009 between Rome and the Society of Saint Pius X, but there is no indication that any one of the Roman theologians who are taking part in those discussions will be at the meeting in Castel Gandolfo.

These summer sessions of Professor Ratzinger with his former students go back to 1970, when he was teaching in Regensburg and wanted to organize an informal community of young people (see Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Ignatius Press, pp. 145-146). The theology professor had proposed then “a one-week course during vacation time”. These meetings continued when he was appointed Archbishop of Munich (1977), and then when he was called to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981). Elected pope in April 2005, Joseph Ratzinger continued to hold this reunion, inviting his former students to meet with him in Castel Gandolfo in early September 2005. The pope repeated his invitation in September of  2006 and 2007 to evaluate the theory of evolution. In 2008 the circle of former students worked on ecumenism. In 2009 the topic was missions. (Sources:  Apic/Imedia – DICI no. 219 dated July 24, 2010)