Ratzinger Students to Consider Vatican II

Study Circle Taking up Central Theme of Pontificate

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ROME, AUG. 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Second Vatican Council and its implementation is the theme of this year’s meeting of the «Ratzinger Schulerkreis,» a group of the Pope’s former students. Benedict XVI will participate in some of their discussions.

The annual gathering of the study circle starts at Castel Gandolfo on Friday and lasts through Monday. The group is made up of some 40 people who presented their doctoral theses to Ratzinger while he was professor at various German universities.

L’Osservatore Romano reported that the main speaker for this year’s study weekend will be Archbishop Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Swiss prelate will give two lectures, one on «Vatican II Between Tradition and Innovation» and another on «Sacrosanctum concilium» and the reform of the liturgy.

Key issues

The topic chosen is central to Benedict XVI’s pontificate. He has often indicated that the council was not a rupture with tradition, but a deepening of the Church’s 2,000-year history.

In his first address as Pope to the Roman Curia, he pointed to two opposing interpretations of the council, which Archbishop Koch will address in his first lecture.

The Holy Father said on that occasion: «On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call ‘a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. 

«On the other, there is the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.»

Professor’s choice

Father Stephan Horn, president of the Ratzinger Study Circle, said the topic and main speaker were chosen by the Pope from among a series of proposals.

On Friday and Saturday, after Archbishop Koch’s contributions, there will be an open discussion in which the Pontiff will participate. On Sunday morning, the high-point of the gathering, the former students will take part in the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Benedict XVI and later that day, the praying of the midday Angelus.

Ratzinger’s first meeting with his former students took place in the 70s. Since then, the meeting has been repeated every year on a specific topic.

To the surprise of all, group members received a letter in 2005 from the new Pope, Benedict XVI, a few months after his election, to invite them to Castel Gandolfo to carry on the custom.

In 2005, they reflected on the question of Islam; in 2006 and 2007, on creation and evolution theories; in 2008, the topic was the historical Jesus and his passion; and in 2009, mission and dialogue with religions and cultures.

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