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A Watching Brief

I've read what seems to be an endless stream of opinion pieces about Ratzinger since his election as Pope Benedict XVI, and the best I've read was in yesterday's Globe & Mail.   The article makes clear that Benedict's papacy may be a lot more interesting than some of us may have thought.  The crux of the argument is here:

As for Benedict's appeal to the cardinals, several church scholars pointed out that his background as an academic theologian — and a first-rate one — needs to be understood.

The Canadian theologian who spoke off the record explained that Benedict's Vatican job as guardian of Catholic orthodoxy and the instrumental role he played in shaping some of the theological advances in the church's great reform council of the 1960s, Vatican II, are two distinctly different things.

As John Paul's prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his job was to enforce church teaching. But as a theologian, his role is to explore new understandings and interpretations of church teaching.

"Theologians push the envelope," the Canadian theologian said. "It's their job to think out of the box. These are two different roles, prefect and theologian. And now as Pope, he's going to occupy both positions.

University of Toronto's Prof. Silano emphasized the same point. He said that even though the past and present Popes were close, Benedict's style of thought as a theologian is going to make him very different from John Paul, who was a philosopher.

We'll see, but I am intrigued how the difference between philosopher and theologian plays out in practice.

April 24, 2005 in Religion [1] | Permalink


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