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The report on Ratzinger Print E-mail
By Cardinal Avery Dulles   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013

As a member of the progressive wing at the council, Ratzinger taught at Tübingen with Hans Küng and joined the editorial board of the progressive review Concilium, edited from Holland. In 1969, after the academic uprisings at Tübingen, he moved to the more traditional faculty of Regensburg. Then in 1972 he became one of the founding editors of the review Communio, a more conservative counterpart of Concilium. His theological orientation seemed to be shifting.
 
In 1975 Ratzinger wrote an article, on the tenth anniversary of the close of Vatican II, in which he differed from the progressives who wanted to go beyond the council and from the conservatives who wanted to retreat behind the council. The only viable course, he contended, was to interpret Vatican II in strictest continuity with previous councils such as Trent and Vatican I, since all three councils are upheld by the same authority: that of the pope and the college of bishops in communion with him.
 
Two years later Ratzinger became an archbishop and a cardinal, and then in 1981 cardinal prefect of the Congregation of the Faith. In an interview published in 1985 he denied that Vatican II was responsible for causing the confusion of the post-conciliar period. The damage, he said, was due to the unleashing of polemical and centrifugal forces within the Church and the prevalence, outside the Church, of a liberal-radical ideology that was individualistic, rationalistic, and hedonistic. He renewed his call for fidelity to the actual teaching of the council without reservations that would truncate its teaching or elaborations that would deform it.
 
The misinterpretations, according to Ratzinger, must be overcome before an authentic reception can begin. Traditionalists and progressives, he said, fell into the same error: They failed to see that Vatican II stood in fundamental continuity with the past. In rejecting some of the early drafts, the council fathers were not repudiating their doctrine, which was solidly traditional, but only their style, which they found too scholastic and insufficiently pastoral. Particularly harmful was the tendency of progressives to contrast the letter of the council's texts with the spirit. The spirit is to be found in the letter itself. -from First Things, February 2006

 
 
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