Yet there is a consistent thread to his thinking, which runs counter to the optimism of the Second Vatican Council and which grew more defined in later years. Indeed, the aftermath of the council only reinforced his suspicion of man's seemingly unending capacity to go wrong and betray himself by believing he can accomplish things by himself. It also confirmed his view that returning to the sources, stripping away and simplifying and sanctifying rather than moving into uncharted territory with newfangled ideas, holds the true promise for faith. (Gibson, p. 172).
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Augustine and Ratzinger's Pessimism
As I have been reading David Gibson's The Rule of Benedict I have been getting a better sense of the man who became Pope. We are products of our environment and experiences, and Joseph Ratzinger was influenced by his context -- leading him to become the man he is today.
What is interesting to see in the section dealing with Vatican II is Ratzinger's growing disillusionment with the optimistic tone of the proceedings. His Augustinianism shows in his feeling that the aggiornamento party of Kung and Rahner did not take sin seriously enough. Gibson writes:
He started out in the first session excited about the possibilities of reform, but as time went on he discovered that the changes had begun to snowball and get out of control. He wanted to reform the church by returning it to a purer time, not go head first in uncharted directions.
Think for a moment of another theologian, from an earlier era, the Reformer that most intrigues Benedict XVI -- Martin Luther. For a moment in time Luther was the radical, but soon he was outflanked and he turned more conservative. Is Kung to Benedict what Andreas Karlstadt was to Luther?