By George Ryan
July 24, 2017
Over half a century ago, the world was going through a time of turbulence and unrest. The Cold War had fully taken root among the world’s geopolitical powers, men were landing on the moon, and students were protesting all across the world.
In Rome, there were disputes over the second Vatican Council which had only recently come to a close. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Father Joseph Ratzinger, was a leading figure in the second Vatican Council. Feeling isolated as a theologian from others such as Küng, Schillebeeckx and Rahner over their interpretations of the council, he left the University of Tübingen and found calm in the city of Regensburg.
In Regensburg, he cemented new relationships with famous theologians Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac. With their help, he founded the Catholic journal of theology, Communio. He was also appointed a professor of theology at the University of Regensburg. In 1969, Ratzinger gave a series of five sermons over the radio. On Christmas Day over “Hessian Rundfunk” radio, he gave out his final preaching that carried with it a distinct prophetic tone.
In his broadcast, Ratzinger likened the Church to going through an era similar to that of the Enlightenment or French Revolution. As if the Church was fighting a force whose only goal was to defeat it. Although the Church has a great deal of suffering to go through, he says we must all look and cast our gaze upon the world of absolute solitude and poverty we inhabit. Then, and only then, will we be able to see “that small flock of faithful as something completely new: they will see it as a source of hope for themselves, the answer they had always secretly been searching for.”
In 2009, Ignatius Press released Father Ratzinger’s speech “What Will the Church Look Like in 2000” in full, in a book titled Faith and the Future along with a collection of his other teachings from the time.
(To read the full transcript of the 1969 radio broadcast , see the link below)