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Meeting of the student groups in Castelgandolfo 2010

Hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council








student circle

Student meeting in Castelgandolfo with Pope Benedict 2010

The meeting of the group of students with Pope Benedict at the end of August 2010 in Castelgandolfo is certainly one of the most fruitful in its history. His topic "Hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council" hits the nerve of the difficulties of the Catholic Church today: How must the Council be interpreted and translated into life if it is to lead the Church into a good future? With the consent of the Pope, the group could appoint Dr. Kurt Koch, then Bishop of Basel, since July 1 as Archbishop  successor of Cardinal Walter Kasper in the leadership of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

In a first lecture "The Second Vatican Council between tradition and innovation", Archbishop Koch presented the basic lines of a healthy interpretation (hermeneutics) of the Council. On the one hand, this meant that it must not be understood as a radical new beginning for the church. In the line of Pope Benedict, he rejected a "hermeneutics of rupture" and thus an interpretation that sees a "ruptured discontinuity" in the Council and thus interprets it as a break with tradition and a radical new beginning.  On the other hand, he rejected an interpretation in which the Council is read in terms of an "unhistorical" continuity ; in which it is understood and accepted only in the light of the past, so that the elements of a deepening and re-appropriation of the tradition are hidden and rejected. Against these extremes, he justified the view that one must start from a "hermeneutics of reform" (Benedict XVI): from the view of a living continuity that also means reform.

A second lecture by Archbishop Koch was devoted to the liturgy. In it he proceeded from the dogmatic constitution of the Council on the liturgy: "Sacrosanctum Concilium and the post-conciliar liturgical reform". Among other things, he explained what Pope Benedict said about the task of "reforming the reform". It should not signify a reversal of the post-conciliar liturgical reform, but a new stage of appropriation, which also includes a critical examination of the earlier post-conciliar period and an attempt at a deeper understanding. Here -  for example in the interpretation of the "participatio actuosa" (active participation) in the liturgy - it is about a more genuine understanding of what the Council intended, namely a full inner participation of all believers . Archbishop Koch, like Pope Benedict, pleaded for a spiritual deepening, for a new liturgical movement. The lectures were followed by a lively conversation, which continued after the second lecture after Pope Benedict had to say goodbye.

The following day, Sunday, Pope Benedict celebrated the Eucharist with the Disciples and the New Disciples at Centro Mariapoli. Cardinal Schönborn delivered the homily.
After breakfast together, Prof. Peter Kuhn presented the Holy Father with the new book "Conversation about Jesus", which he had published on behalf of the Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI Foundation. The book just published by Mohr Siebeck contains the presentations and discussions of the 2008 conference of the student group in Castelgandolfo and is like "a hinge" between the first and the soon to be published second volume of Pope Benedict's Book of Jesus. In his words of thanks, Pope Benedict paid tribute to the speakers at the 2008 conference, in addition to Prof. Peter Stuhlmacher, above all the great Protestant theologian Martin Hengel, who has passed away in the meantime.

Already on Friday, the group of students entered into an exchange of experiences about the effects and fruitfulness of the Second Vatican Council. Two couples from the group of students, Dr. Roman Angulanza and Ms. Marianne Angulanza and Dr. Josef Zöhrer and Mrs. Gisela Zöhrer reported on their experiences in a broader horizon, Fr. Alex Thannippara (India) and Fr. Stephan Horn spoke of their experiences in the field of religious life.

As a topic of another meeting of the group of students with the Pope and of the new group of students in Castelgandolfo in the last week of August 2011, among other topics, the new evangelization was considered and proposed by the group of students. The theme of the new evangelization was confirmed by Pope Benedict.

Fr Stephan Otto Horn











Photos: Michael Hofmann


New circle of students


Discussion on the correct interpretation of the texts of Vatican II

After the new student group Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. In April 2010 at the annual meeting in Graz, the ecclesiology in the work of Joseph Ratzinger was the subject, was from 27.-30. August 2010 the question of the hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council at the center of the discussion. The meeting to which the school group Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. invited the young scholars again this year, took place again at the site of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo (Italy) and was embedded in the regular theological conversations of the Holy Father with his former students.

The interpretation and reception of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) were at the center of these conversations, the subject of which the New Student Circle drew on. The main speaker at the two-day conference was the newly appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Archbishop Kurt Koch from Basel.
With the addition of four new members, the New Student Circle for the first time not only consists of theologians. The inclusion of a philosopher and a political scientist makes it clear that the work of Joseph Ratzinger goes far beyond the internal church discussion. This became particularly clear during the work units on Saturday. On the basis of primary texts by Joseph Ratzinger, the conference of young scholars dealt with the question of continuity and discontinuity in church teaching with and after the Second Vatican Council and, in this context, also discussed the problem of the relationship between the church and the (modern) world in a broad sense. The discussion was based on a speech by Benedict XVI. to the College of Cardinals and Roman Curia staff at the 2005 Christmas Reception.

Already on Friday evening, at a meeting with the members of the student group and Archbishop Kurt Koch, there was an introduction to the topic and a personal exchange. After the celebration of Holy Mass with Pope Benedict XVI. and a breakfast together on Sunday morning, after the Angelus prayer, the members of the New Student Circle had the opportunity to briefly report to the visibly pleased Holy Father about their own work. In the afternoon, a joint working session of both groups of students took place. In particular, Archbishop Kurt Koch and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn from Vienna, as well as Hamburg's auxiliary bishop, Hans-Jochen Jaschke, reported on the theological conversations between the group of students and the Holy Father the day before, as well as on their own experiences with Vatican II. In this context, P. Prof. Dr. Vincent Twomey SVD (Ireland).

In addition to the actual content-related work, the young scientists had the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with the members of the school group about their own projects. That this was fruitful in the past and continues to be is shown not only by the fact that the first of the members of the new student group in Castelgandolfo who had not received a doctorate before was able to report on the submission of his dissertation.












Photos and text: Manuel Wluka

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