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Posted May 11, 2006

Book: The New Pontificate: A Time for Change?
Edited by Erik Borgman, Maureen Junker-Kenny and Janet Martin Soskice
SCM Press, London, 2006. Pp.141

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

At the start of a new papacy of Benedict XVI, the intention of this Directors’ issue of Concilium is to offer our theological reflections in response to those that Joseph Ratzinger contributed to many debates while Cardinal. This volume, ‘The New Pontificate: Time for Change?’, seeks to map out some of the future directions of thought and action that Catholic Christianity should consider in the face of present challenges at the juncture of two papacies.

Starting with core doctrines of Christianity, as expressed in its Christology, soteriology and theological anthropology 1, the second section moves to the ecclesiological issues of the role of the faithful. Two constituencies, varied in themselves, but with identifiable causes, women and the poor, are analyzed as examples of communities and subjects of faith whose contribution needs to be taken more seriously. The third part deals with an issue that came to fore with particular evidence at the World youth Day in August 2005 in Cologne where the Pope appealed to the interiority of faith: what does it mean to believe? How are faith and reflection linked? The final part investigates the internal structure of the Church and its relationship to secular society.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Paul VI’s address to the Medellin Conference was a bold stimulus, even if mixed with critical exhortations, in the direction of commitment to the situation of the peoples of Latin America. His approach can be summed up in the quotations from his document made at the beginning of the final document. The Pope, for his part, had taken his statements from his closing address to the Council, which also referred to the fact that Gaudium et Spes had been approved the day before: ‘She [the Church] has not turned away from, but has turned toward humankind, conscious that in order to know God it is necessary to know humankind.’ Therefore, Medellin adds, ‘the church has concentrated its attention on the people of this continent, who are living a decisive moment in their historical process’. The document makes a lively cmparison between the history of the people of Latin America and Israel in the Exodus and deals in the first instance with the embodiment of love in the form of justice. With no concern for reflecting curial language, the document is a stern summons to action, to service, to authenticity, and to the employment — citing Bishop Eugenio Sales — not only of words but of action and sacrifice in such dramatic times. From the death of Fr. Camilo Torres, fighting as a guerrillero in Colombia, to the deaths of Archbishop Romero, the raped American missionary Sisters, and the Jesuits at the Catholic University in El Salvador, the Church, as prophet of a Christian peace, solidarity and courage, embarked on a dramatic course of suffering, with many of its members killed propter odium justitiae.

Table of Contents:

1. Christological, soteriological and anthropoligica foundations
Forgetting the humanity of Jesus
Salvation from Below: Toward a humanized humanity
Imago Dei and Sexual difference

2. Addressing the Faithful
Christian antrhopology and gender essentialism: classicism and historical-mindedness
Ecclesia ab Abel: The ‘Poor’ and the Church at the start of the twenty-first century

3. Faith and Reflection
Beyond prayer of petition
Truth as a religious concept
In praise of Christian Relativism

4. The Church as a community of conviction
Conflicting interpretations of the council: The Ratzinger-Kasper Debate
The Pre-Political foundations of the state
Women in the practice of reproductive medicine and in bioethical discourse – an intervention