Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Theo 266 Church in the World

Fall 2013

 Theo 266


Church in the World: The Theological Legacy of Joseph Ratzinger


Joseph Ratzinger’s stunning resignation from the papacy reawakens the question how to categorize his theology that although often labeled as staunchly conservative appears to encourage an understanding of tradition that effectively makes room for creative openings. The course will provide an introduction to the theological vision of this ‘pope emeritus”, by way of a hermeneutic that parallels his central work as theologian, Introduction to Christianity (1968) with successive writings, including Jesus of Nazareth and the Encyclical Letters (Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi and Caritas in Veritatem), published during his pontificate.

A focus will be placed on topics which are situated at the intersection of Church and modernity/contemporary issues, such as Christian Faith in dialogue with Atheism/Agnosticism, Catholic Doctrine versus Reform (the “Aggiornamento” of the Second Vatican Council), the Quest for Justice and economy models and Catholic Church and World Religions.

Outcome: students will be able to:

(1) analyze and interpret the theological understanding of Joseph Ratzinger’s stances towards the “dialectics of secularization”, in particular his emphasis on the requirement to (re)build relations between Faith and Reason.

 (2) form and articulate a personal judgment regarding the points of continuity and change in Ratzinger’s thought over time, in dialogue and dispute with contemporary thought and different theologies.




Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Introduction to Christianity (Rome: Ignatius Press 2004)

The additional material will be made available at the beginning of the course.


Note: Satisfies Loyola's requirement in the Core area of Theological and Religious Studies Knowledge. Also satisfies the Core value of Understanding Spirituality or Faith in Action in the World.


Requirements for the Course and Evaluation:

You are expected to be present at all classes (unless you have prior permission from the instructor or the Rome Center direction, or a documented medical condition) and to participate in class discussion. Questions will be included on the syllabus to guide your reading of the texts, to help you ask your own questions, and to facilitate discussion in class. Class will consist of an introductory lecture and the discussion of the primary texts and secondary literature assigned for that day. All lectures, except for the textbook references, will be found on Blackboard, most of them in the Rome Center Library. Students must bring the textbook and are strongly advised to make photocopies of the assigned secondary sources to each meeting in order to facilitate class discussion.


The mid-termand final examinations, covering material in the lectures and assigned reading, will each count for one third of the final grade, leaving the last third for a term paper of 5-7 pages plus bibliography. Paper topics must be approved in advance by the instructor. Extra consideration in the final grade will be given to students who demonstrate consistent participation in class discussion.



Grading Scale:

A = 4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.33; B = 3.00; B- = 2.67; C+ = 2.33; C = 2.00; C- = 1.67; D+ = 1.33; D = 1.00; F = 0; WF = 0.Determination of grades ultimately resides in the judgment of the instructor; however, if you ever feel that you have been graded inaccurately, please come to see me.


Academic Integrity:

Plagiarism in academic work or dishonest examination behavior will result minimally in the instructor assigning the grade of “F” for the assignment or examination. Moreover, all instances of academic dishonesty must be reported to the Rome Center’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the consideration of additional sanctions.








1.         (I) Introduction to the course; biographical and bibliographical information concerning Joseph Ratzinger.



I. Humanity Facing God in Today’s World


2.          (II) “I believe – help my disbelief” (Mk 17,24) – Presuppositions of belief

Required Readings: “Belief in the world of Today”, Introduction to Christianity (German original 1968), pp. 39-81.

“Formal Principles of Christianity – Catholic View” in Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology  (German original 1982), pp. 67-84.


3.                      (III) “I believe – we believe” – Faith in a communion of believers

Required Readings: “The Ecclesiastical Form of Faith”, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 82-100

            “The spiritual basis and ecclesial identity of theology”, in The Nature and Mission of Theology. Essays to Orient Theology in Today’s Debate (German original 1993), pp. 45- 72.


4.                    “I believe – I think rationally”  –  Christianity as co-existence of faith and reason in regard with God

Required Readings: “Christianity, the Religion According to Reason", lecture given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the convent of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco, Italy, April 1st 2005 (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/politics/pg0143.html)

 “Prolegomena to the subject of God”, “The Biblical Belief in God”, Faith in God Today”, “The God of Faith and the God of the Philosophers”, Introduction to Christianity, 103-161.


II. God facing humanity in today’s world

5.                   The meaning of “Triune God”

Required Readings: “Faith in God Today”, “Belief in the Triune God”, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 162-190

Encyclical “Deus Caritas est”, Part 1                                                                                            



III. Jesus Christ


6.                     The “heart” of Christianity: Jesus the Christ

Required Readings: “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 193-270.

Jesus of Nazareth, Foreword and Introduction, pp. Xi-XXiV; 1-8.



7.                     The “beating of the heart”: Jesus Christ according to the Christological articles

Required Readings: “The development of Faith in Christ in the Christological Articles of the Creed”, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 271-327.



8.               MID-TERM EXAMINATION






IV.  The Church as Temple of the Holy Spirit

9.                The dynamic (eschatological) understanding of the Church’s interaction with the world

Required Readings: “The intrinsic unity of the last statements in the Creed”, “Two Major Questions posed by the articles on the Spirit and the Church”, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 331-359.

“The Immortality of the Soul and the Resurrection of the Dead”, in J. Ratzinger, Eschatology, death and eternal life, Washington D.C., 1988, 104-161


Encyclical, In Spe Salvi, no. 1-15




10.                   The Commun(i)al structure of the Church’s interaction with the world


Required Readings: The Origin and Essence of the Church” in Called to Communion.

Understanding the Church today, (German original 1991), pp. 13-45.



Encyclical, Caritas in veritate, no. 21-42, 68-79





Philipp G. Renczes, “Grace reloaded. Caritas in Veritate’s Theological Anthropology” Theological Studies 71/2 (2010), 273-290.



11.              Nov 21  The Liturgical structure of the Church


Required Readings:  “ Liturgy and Life: The Place of the Liturgy in Reality” in The Spirit of the Liturgy (German original 2000), 13-61


“Form and Content in the Eucharistic Celebration”, in The Feast of Faith. Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy (German original 1981), pp. 33-60


12.              Israel and the Church


Required Readings: “Interreligious Dialogue and Jewish-Christian Relations” in Communio 25 (1998): 29-41 http://www.communio-icr.com/


            The Sermont on the Mount,in Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 64-127.



                                   TERM PAPER DUE on this DATE


13.                              The Church and World Religions


Required Readings: “Truth-Tolerance-Freedom”, in Truth and Tolerance. Christian Belief and World Religions (German original  2003), pp. 210-231


“Regensburg Lecture”: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_en.html


14.                              FINAL EXAMINATION (as scheduled by the JFRC)



Examples of long paper topics


Faith and Reason: A Return to an Augustinian Perspective in the Theology of J. Ratzinger

The Mystery of the Eucharist as theological center in Joseph Ratzinger

How to speak about God with J. Ratzinger’s theology

The significance of the “Regensburg” speech