How Joseph Ratzinger Got a Ticket to the Second Vatican Council

Even before he leaves the see of Peter vacant, the Year of Faith remains the guiding thread of Pope's pastoral activity
by Mauricio I. Pérez | Source:

On Thursday, February 14th, Pope Benedict, bishop of Rome, met for the last time with the clergy of this diocese. On his farewell reunion with them, he offered what he called “a brief chat on Vatican II”. Even on his last activities before he leaves the see of Peter vacant, the Year of Faith remains the guiding thread of his pastoral activity, obviously Vatican II included, as one of the pillars of this jubilee. On a speech that lasted about 40 minutes, Pope Benedict explained how he got to be invited to assist Cardinal Frings in the Council as his personal advisor and official peritus.

   Back then Joseph Ratzinger was still young. Yet, his theological acumen was beyond normal. No question he was dubbed “the Mozart of Theology”, as his skills seemed prodigious. However, the very work of Joseph Ratzinger that earned him a ticket to the Council summoned by Pope John XXIII made his superior, Cardinal Frings, to experience one of the biggest shocks in his life.

   Benedict XVI shared a funny, yet revealing anecdote, about when Cardinal Frings had invited him, still a young theologian, to write for him an outline for a conference he had to deliver in Genoa, by petition of Cardinal Siri. The topic of this lecture was “The Council and modern thought.

   Cardinal Frings was pleased with the work Joseph Ratzinger put together for him. But after delivering his speech in Genoa, something unexpected happened, making Cardinal Frings believe it was the end of his story as a Cardinal. Pope Benedict said to the Roman clergy:

   “A little while later Pope John called Frings, and he was full of trepidation that he may have said something incorrect, something false, and that he had been called upon for a rebuke, perhaps even to have the scarlet taken away. . . Yes, when his secretary was dressing him for the audience with the pope he said: ‘Perhaps now I am wearing this robe for the last time.’

   Then he went in. Pope John came to meet him, embraced him and said: ‘Thank you, Your Eminence, you have said the things that I wanted to say, but could not find the words.’ In this way the cardinal knew that he was on the right path, and he invited me to go with him to the Council, first as his personal expert and then also as an official peritus.”

   Without a doubt, Pope Benedict XVI understands Vatican II as no one else. His wish is that this Year of Faith, in which we celebrate 50 years of the opening of the Council, all the Church makes an effort to truly and rightfully understand the meaning and purpose of Vatican II. Dioceses have been requested by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith to include the study of Vatican II in their pastoral plans along this year. Alas, after several months already into the Year of Faith, not everyone is following this request. But Pope Benedict XVI will keep trying until the last minute.

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Published by: emmanuel
Date: 2013-02-23 08:27:51
a beautiful happening

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