“Benedict XVI was the Pope who paid great attention to interreligious and intercultural dialogue, both with Judaism and with other religions and with fellow Christians. He was also the pope of dialogue with science and secular thought. In his talks and presentations, he emphasized that dialogue should always be done through the binomial of faith and reason, and charity and truth; that was what characterized his Teaching”, highlighted Ignacio Sánchez, rector of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, when opening the panel“ J. Ratzinger | Benedict XVI, figure and legacy”.
The UC authority made a brief summary of the most relevant milestones in the outstanding life of Pope Benedict XVI and valued, in particular, the visit he made on July 12, 1988 to the Catholic University as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, instance in which he gave a masterful talk open to the public before the Honorable Superior Council, entitled: ” A theological look at human procreation .”
The seminar was held within the framework of the launch of a commemorative issue of Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI, of Humanitas Magazine, a publication that seeks to strengthen his legacy. The event was organized by the UC Faculty of Theology, the Theology Library, the Department of Pastoral Care and Christian Culture; and the Humanitas Magazine; with the aim of delving into his history, seal, work and main role of him as Pontiff.
The panel was held in the San Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga Hall of Honor, of the Central House of the UC, on April 19, the date on which the 18th anniversary of the election of Benedict XVI as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. The activity was carried out by the academics of the Faculty of Theology UC , Fredy Parra and Rodrigo Polanco; and the academic from the Faculty of Communications UC , Eliana Rozas; and was moderated by Elena Irarrázabal, deputy editor of Arts & Letters at El Mercurio .
It was also attended by the dean of the UC Faculty of Theology, Fernando Berríos, and the vice-dean, Haddy Bello; the director of the Humanitas Magazine , Eduardo Valenzuela; the director of UC Pastoral and Christian Culture , Benjamín Cruz and the head of the UC Theology Library, Paola Santander.
The Pope of dialogue
At the meeting, the speakers raised their perspectives on his life story, training, his works, his role as the highest authority of the Church, his seal and legacy.
Rodrigo Polanco valued Ratzinger’s youth, explaining that the context of World War II and his Conciliar experience were key in his formation. “In the seminary he had a very good formation, but there were few. After the war they looked at each other and said: ‘we are very few left and we don’t know how we are alive, but we carry on’. “In addition, being very young he had to meet and share with the bishops and see a renewed Church. Another of the elements that he would highlight is his classical training, with a great openness to contemporary philosophy and that helped him to become a great theologian,” said Polanco.
Fredy Parra, meanwhile, highlighted the critical vision he had on the challenges of modernity and his approach to the profound contradiction between human progress and salvation. “He was a great teacher and professor. Reading it is fascinating. For example, he aimed to rescue reason and invited to open up to an ecological perspective. He also had the opportunity to express his view after the Second Vatican Council. He said that the Council had a very naive vision, too optimistic and that it placed a lot of hope in progress. On the contrary, he had a gloomy vision of progress and modernity.
The perspective of communications and the impact on public opinion was the edge addressed by Eliana Rozas, who focused on the contradiction that occurred in the immediate comparison made with her predecessor, Pope John Paul II, admired by the world as the “pilgrim Pope”.
The academic from the Faculty of Communications commented that “John Paul II is built in his papacy as the one who goes out into the world, the thrown one; while Ratzinger was already known, above all, for his position as prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith. Public opinion already had an opinion about him. An image was built as the guardian, the custodian, the one who came to close the door. Some media branded him as an inquisitor, policeman of the faith, the German shepherd, the Rottweiler of God. And this is where I think there is a paradox, because this image was precisely built in public opinion, however, he came to contravene this, he appears opening the doors to ventilate and make visible the episodes of abuse within the Church. He was very powerful in that, and he became a transgressor in the media.Hence the paradox.”
“He was a great teacher and professor. Reading him is fascinating. For example, he aimed to rescue reason and invited to open up to an ecological perspective” – Fredy Parra, academic at the UC Faculty of Theology.
On February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI announced his resignation as Supreme Pontiff, becoming the first pope to do so in 600 years. In his statement, he cited reasons of age and health as the reason for his removal. “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I came to the certainty that my strength, due to advanced age, is no longer suitable for an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but also with prayer and suffering.” After his resignation, he was named pope emeritus.
This episode was also commented on on the panel, where the speakers described the fact as an act of humility, awareness and consequence.
“It is a fantastic act, great. It shows his moral, personal and ecclesial quality. He is well aware that what is important for the Church is not him, but the community. He tells himself: I am a server and if I don’t feel capable of carrying out the tasks entrusted to me, I have to resign. There is a sample of honesty and love for the truth”, said Rodrigo Polanco.
Eliana Rozas complemented by pointing out that “it is another example of her transgression. Her resignation accepts and introduces the change. Public opinion welcomes the paradox and overcomes it. A new vision is built.
In the instance, the UC Theology Vice Dean, Haddy Bello, valued the collaborative instance between the institutions organizing the panel, demonstrating the university’s commitment to Catholic identity and its concern for the relationship with society. “We hope that this is not just a tribute to Joseph Ratzinger, but rather, an instance of critical reflection; a theological reflection on his legacy. That means that we ask ourselves without fear, in the same way that he did, about our Church and its role in the world. And that we continue working and questioning ourselves how to contribute so that our structures and communities always put Christ in the middle”, she concluded.
“John Paul II builds himself in his papacy as the one who goes out into the world, the thrown one; while Ratzinger was already known, above all, for his position as prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith” – Eliana Rozas, academic at the Faculty of UC Communications.
To end the seminar, Eduardo Valenzuela addressed those present to launch the special issue of Humanitas Magazine, dedicated to the figure of Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI. He explained that the magazine established, for more than 25 years, a link with Ratzinger by following his intellectual and magisterial work.
“This commemorative issue, following his death on the last day of 2022, brings together a significant part of the fruits of that bond, which includes essays, editorials, articles, talks and book reviews originally published in the magazine or in the collection of Humanitas Notebooks. I invite you to delve into the legacy of Benedict XVI,” he said.