Joseph Ratzinger’s Theological Ideas: Wise Cautions and Legitimate Hopes, is the title of the new book on on the theology of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI by Jesuit theologian Jim Corkery. The book traces the development of the man once nicknamed the ‘vatican rotweiler’, from the small Bavarian boy born on Easter Sunday 1927 who was moved from village to village as a child because of his father’s antipathy to the Nazi regime, through his adulthood as priest, professor, pastor, and finally Pope.
The author explores the tensions experienced by Joseph Ratzinger that were important in shaping his theological ideas as well as tensions that have arisen from the relationship between Church authority and academic freedom.
Corkery argues against any simplistic caricaturing of his thought which he claims is highly nuanced and has exhibited striking consistency over the years. Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict and ‘contrary to what many believe there has been no huge shift in his thinking since becoming Pope’, says Corkery.
The book has been described by one US theologian as ‘sympathetic but not uncritical’. An illustration of the latter are these words of Corkery, “If there are women reading these pages they must wonder if they will be consulted any more in this papacy than they were in the last. I have been shocked when reading the scholarly writings of Joseph Ratzinger over the years at the extent to which the names of women are almost entirely absent from the footnotes, especially in view of their contribution to theological reflection in the last three decades or so.”
The book is published by Dominican Publications in Ireland and Paulist Press in the US.
Jim Corkery, SJ, is associate professor in the department of theology and history and the Milltown Institute Dublin and is regarded as one of the foremost interpreters of Pope Benedict’s thought in the English speaking world.
10 November 2009