No Restorationist

Ratzinger's Theological Journey

The election of Joseph Ratzinger as pope has evoked reactions of both satisfaction and of dismay. For some, the dismay was quickly reinforced by news of the removal of Fr. Thomas Reese as editor of America magazine. In a time of heightened polarization, it is important to examine more closely the new pope’s theological and spiritual vision, in order to gain greater perspective on his commitments and concerns.

Those who know Benedict XVI only as the Panzerkardinal who turned his back on his progressive past will be surprised to find in Ratzinger’s writings a powerfully coherent and inviting understanding of Christ, humanity, and the church. In his memoirs, Milestones, for example, readers encounter a young Bavarian boy delighting in his first missal and in his early encounters with the church as an intimate, warm community of worship. A passionate desire to know the love of Christ pervades Ratzinger’s writing. To really understand the new pope, an overview of some of the main themes of his theological thinking is imperative, and perhaps the best place to start is with his strong views regarding the liturgy.

In his memoirs, Benedict writes of the joy and wonder he experienced as a boy at Mass: candlelit Advent Masses that brightened dark winter mornings, Easter celebrations in which black curtains opened suddenly to flood the church with light. The church year gave...

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About the Author

Christopher Ruddy is associate professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America.