31-08-11

New Evangelisation part 1: A Pope and his students

ratzinger schuelerkreis.jpgWhat does New Evangelisation actually mean? How does the Church – universally and locally – envision its concrete application? Is there any ‘master plan’? And what did they really talk about at the Ratzinger Summer School? These are some of the questions that Emer McCarthy put to Fr. Vincent Twomey SVD., Professor emeritus of Moral Theology at Maynooth seminary in Ireland, and one of the founding members of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis. 


Recently convened for their annual meeting in Castel Gandolfo (Aug. 25-28), the group of 40 former theology and philosophy students of then Professor Joseph Ratzinger were given the task of discussing this sometimes ‘nebulous’ term. Added to their ranks were academics who have chosen to study the thought and writings of Joseph Ratzinger – a suggestion first put forward by Fr. Twomey himself - creating a veritable ‘think-tank’, with some surprising results.

In the first part of this two part interview, Fr. Twomey speaks of how the concept of New Evangelisation is a thread that runs throughout the teaching and writing of Pope Benedict XVI, then Professor Ratzinger. He brings us back to their first meeting over 40 years ago, when as a young Irish missionary priest, he sought out the ‘promising and brilliant theologian’ in his ‘simple’ Bavarian home to ask to study under him. Fr. Twomey takes us on a journey from the Münster and Tübingen years, through the establishment of Ratzinger’s first ‘Doctoral colloquium’, to the Regensburg years and finally, Rome. He speaks about why the New Evangelisation calls for ‘God’s humility’ and why – contrary to popular belief – secularisation is not wholly negative. 

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