Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Foundation to Promote Thought of Benedict XVI

Announcement at Gathering of Pope's Former Students

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 1, 2008 - A foundation devoted to the promotion of the thought of Benedict XVI will be launched this fall in Munich.

The news was announced this weekend at the annual meeting of the “Ratzinger Schülerkreis” (Ratzinger’s Circle of Students), composed of the Pope's former doctoral and postdoctoral students. The gathering, held at Castel Gandolfo, ended today.

According to a press release sent out by Divine Word Missionary Father Vincent Twomey, a member of the circle, this was the 30th meeting of the Schülerkreis since it was set up after then professor Joseph Ratzinger was named archbishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal in 1977. Some 40 former students were present.

The final details of the newly established Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Foundation were approved at the plenary sessions, held under the chair of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna. The foundation will be publicly launched Nov. 12 in Munich

The press statement explained that the foundation is devoted to "the promotion of theology in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger."

"The board of trustees," it added, "whose members include former students from Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Benin, and the United States, reflects the international character of the Schülerkreis and the international scope of the foundation’s outreach."

Historical Jesus

At this year's meeting, two Lutheran scriptural scholars, Martin Hengel and Peter Stuhlmacher -- both professors at the University of Tübingen, where Ratzinger taught in the 1960s -- were invited to read papers in the presence of the Pope.

The statement of the circle reported that the topic was "the historicity of the Gospel narratives and the particular topic of Jesus’ consciousness of the significance of his own pending death."

It added that Benedict XVI, who is in the process of writing the second volume of his book "Jesus of Nazareth," took part in the "lively discussion [...] with the same frankness, humor, and clarity that marked all his university seminars and colloquia."

For the first time ever, doctoral students who are researching the Pope’s theology were invited to meet the Pontiff and his former students.

Some 17 young theologians presented their research projects at two sessions this weekend, which the circle said marked "the beginning of a new generation of Ratzinger students."