Ratzinger Students to Take up New Evangelization

ROME, JUNE 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The new evangelization is the theme of this year’s meeting of the «Ratzinger Schulerkreis,» a group of the Pope’s former students. Benedict XVI will preside at a Mass with the group.

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The annual gathering of the study circle will be held Aug. 26-28 at Castel Gandolfo. The group is made up of some 40 people who presented their doctoral theses to Ratzinger while he was professor at various German universities.

Hanna Barbara Geri-Falkowitz, a lay theologian, and Otto Neubauer, an Austrian lay member of the Emmanuel Community, have been invited to speak at this summer’s meeting.

Ratzinger’s first meeting with his former pupils took place in March of 1977, when Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich-Freising. The annual appointment was kept thereafter, though students were surprised in 2005 to receive a letter from the new Pope a few months after his election, to call them to Castel Gandolfo to continue the custom.

That year they reflected on Islam, in 2006 and 2007 on evolution and evolutionary theories, in 2008 on the historical Jesus and his passion, in 2009 on the mission and on dialogue with religions and cultures, and in 2010 on the appropriate interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.

A few years ago a new circle was added to the original group: people who were not Ratzinger’s students but who have been formed by studying his theology. Among this group is Cistercian Father Maximilian Heim, one of the recipients of the new Ratzinger Prize.

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