The theological legacy of Benedict XVI continues, four years after his pontificate came to an end.
A group of graduate students has gathered around the Ratzinger
Foundation to further their studies and discussions on the thought of
the former Pope, cardinal, and theology professor.
Professor Pierluca Azzaro, a collaborator of the Ratzinger Foundation
who translated Ratzinger’s complete works into Italian, told CNA these
students reflect “the increasing interest toward Joseph Ratzinger’s
In one gathering, the students heard Father Stephan Horn, the
coordinator of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis, the circle of Joseph
Ratzinger’s former students.
Azzaro summed up Fr. Horn’s remarks: “Joseph Ratzinger never wanted
to assert himself and his ideas. He rather wanted to open people’s gaze
to the Church.”
The priest stressed Benedict XVI’s own identity as a priest and his care for the communication of the faith.
Besides the gathering with Fr. Horn, the students have held an
introductory meeting and have met with Father Federico Lombardi,
president of the Ratzinger Foundation and former Vatican spokesperson.
Azzaro said that he first met the students at the Ratzinger Library,
located in the heart of the Vatican, at the Campo Santo Teutonico.
The Ratzinger Foundation inaugurated the library in November 2015.
Students or people interested in Joseph Ratzinger’s work can access to
the library for their studies. Two days per week, Azzaro stays in the
library and helps students in their research.
The group of students is composed mostly of doctoral students or of
those seeking a post-graduation diploma from the universities of Rome.
As he came to know the students through their common interests,
Azzaro got the idea to involve them in Ratzinger Foundation activities.
Professor Azzaro said that the spirit of their meetings is taken from
German universities. Every two months, a professor gathers his doctoral
students in a conversation during which every student has the chance to
explain his or her work. The professor coordinates the discussion.
The group of students includes 11 doctoral students, two researchers
and five students working on their graduation theses. The group is
composed of three Italians, two students from India, and one student
each from Albania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mexico,
Croatia, and Vietnam.
Their theses deal with a variety of subjects: systematic theology, moral theology, and even sacred music and Joseph Ratzinger.
The supervisor for two of these theses is James Corkery, an Irish
professor well known for his studies on Benedict XVI and liberation
theology. He will give a lecture to the students in May.
The former Pope’s work continues to be published in new forms.
Azzaro noted that Benedict XVI’s book “Teaching and Learning the Love
of God” has now been printed in a second edition in every language
since it was published in mid-2016 for the 65th anniversary of
Benedict’s ordination. The book collects his homilies on the priesthood.
The Ratzinger Foundation itself was launched in December 2007 on the
initiative of some of Ratzinger’s former students. The foundation aims
to promote theology “in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger.” It funds
scholarships for poor students around the world.
Since 2010, the foundation has awarded its Ratzinger Prize to noted
theologians. Some compare the honor to the Nobel Prize of Theology.