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The Quiet Prophet: Benedict XVI and Catholic Social Teaching.

1. Distance

JOSEPH RATZINGER--a prophet of social teaching? (1) That is not what one would have expected following his theological career at the Universities of Bonn, Munster, Tubingen, and Regensburg. Fundamental theology and dogmatic theology, the disciplines in which he researched and taught, did not automatically lead him to Catholic social teaching. And, when he nevertheless did make a trip into this discipline, he was walking on thin ice. He made such a trip in 1964 with his essay "Natural Law, Gospel, and Ideology in Catholic Social Doctrine," and promptly received applause from the wrong camp. He rather boldly reproached "so-called" Catholic social teaching for developing in abstract formulas a timeless social doctrine that was largely withdrawn from historicity, under "the pseudonym of natural law." (2) The essay maintained a clear distance from the natural law, which was for him at that time clearly only an "idea" tied to the hierarchical, social-class world of the Middle Ages. Defenders of liberation theology cite this essay gratefully up to the present day, to justify their distance from Catholic social teaching and to reject criticism of their theology of liberation by the later prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the ninetieth year of his life, he confessed to the beginnings of his theological journey: "At that time we all had a certain contempt for the nineteenth century; it was fashionable then.... I wanted out of classical Thomism, and Augustine was a helper and guide with this." (3)

A prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also not necessarily directed to Catholic social teaching in his official capacity. His responsibility is defense of the Creed, examination of dogmatic and moral-theological theses, and defense of the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has its own "ministry" for politics, economics, and society, for justice and peace: the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. More precisely, it had such a council from 1967 to 2016. (4) Two arguments or battlegrounds, however, forced Joseph Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to occupy himself with questions of politics and the common good and to move closer to Catholic social teaching: the controversy with liberation theology about the Christian understanding of liberation and the controversy with German Catholicism about counseling pregnant women in conflict situations. These controversies touch upon central questions of both dogmatic theology and moral theology.

2. Rapprochements

In its most prominent representatives, such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Leonardo Boff, Jan Sobrino, Hugo Assmann, etc., the theology of liberation was a theology that attempted to redefine the relationship between Christian salvation and political history. (5) It interpreted the gospel as a call to political revolution, class struggle, and the establishment of a socialist society. (6) It claimed to renew all theological disciplines. It sees itself, according to Joseph Ratzinger's critique in 1984, as a new hermeneutic of the Christian faith that changes all forms of ecclesial life: the ecclesial constitution, the liturgy, catechesis, and the moral option. (7) In it, orthopraxis replaces orthodoxy. Liberation theology merges hope in the Kingdom of God with political action and socialist utopia. In it, politics is, "as in theologized Marxism from Saint-Simon to Ernst Bloch," assigned to metaphysics instead of, as in Aristotelianism, to ethics. (8)

The argument with liberation theology, to which he repeatedly granted a "kernel of truth" because of its efforts for the poor and marginalized segments of a society, forced Joseph Ratzinger to take a new look at Catholic social teaching. (9) Its "realism" shows itself "in the fact that it promises no earthly paradise, no irreversibly and definitively positive society within this history." Its mission is to develop "models of the best possible organization of human affairs in a given historical situation" and to seek, contrary to the myth of revolution, "the way of reform, which itself does not entirely exclude violent resistance in extreme situations." It is the scientific development of basic moral imperatives for the construction of human society that "result from the lasting foundations of faith and its growing experiences with historical praxis." (10) Catholic social teaching opposes to liberation theology's concept of freedom, whose secret criterion is anarchy, a vision "according to which ordered commitments are the real protection of freedom," commitments "appropriate to the human person." (11) The question of what is appropriate to the human person leads to the natural law. Ratzinger still avoided the term, but was already moving in its direction. That is also true of the two instructions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on liberation theology that were worked out under his leadership. In them, liberation theology was reproached for "concepts uncritically borrowed from Marxist ideology and recourse to theses of a biblical hermeneutic marked by rationalism." (12) The response to liberation theology was Catholic social teaching, whose moral demands fall back on the gospel and human nature. This is "a heritage belonging to all people by their very nature." (13)

The controversy surrounding the counseling of pregnant women in conflict situations was about the moral-theological problem of illicit participation in an evil deed, in moral-theological terminology, cooperatio formalis. Is issuing a counseling certificate a means to saving the life of the unborn child and thus a good deed, as the defenders of the certificate claimed, or is it cooperation in the killing of the child and thus morally reprehensible, as the critics of the certificate contended? The defenders of the certificate included a majority of the German bishops, first of all the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Karl Lehmann, and a majority of the Central Committee of German Catholics, of Catholic organizations, and of the Catholic media. The critics included a minority of the German bishops, in particular Archbishop Johannes Dyba, a minority of German Catholics and, most notably, Joseph Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II. The defenders of the certificate saw in the counseling concept regulated in [section] 219 of the German Criminal Code a way to help a pregnant woman in a conflict situation say "yes" to her child. They relied on [section] 219, para. 1: "The counseling serves to protect unborn life." The critics referred to [section] 218a, para. 1 of the Criminal Code, which not only declares the killing of an unborn child in the first three months of pregnancy to be exempt from prosecution, but also interprets the act not to be an abortion, if the pregnant woman presents a counseling certificate. They referred to both the Pregnancy Conflict Act and the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of October 27, 1998, which granted a pregnant woman the right to a counseling certificate, even if she was not at all willing to be counseled. For the abortionist, therefore, the certificate is a license to kill. It transforms the criminal offence of killing an innocent child into a medical service.

A letter from Pope John Paul II to Bishop Karl Lehmann dated October 20, 1999, which was signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano but according to rumors and style of argument was written by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ended the conflict over the counseling certificate after four agonizingly long years. Because the German Criminal Code "knots yes and no in a tangled way, and makes protection of life by advising on evidence of counseling at the same time the means of disposition of human life, the Church cannot cooperate." By issuing the certificate, the Church's counseling services would be involved in enforcement of the law. In doing so, the Church would make herself "a supporter of the law." This cooperation would burden the Church and obscure the clarity and resolution of her testimony to life. This would be "incompatible with her moral mission and her message." The Church also may not support itself in the proclamation of her message and in her mission for life with enforcement of the criminal code and the attraction of the certificate. (14)

Joseph Ratzinger recognized in the conflict over the counseling certificate, in opposition to a majority of the German bishops and of the Central Committee of German Catholics, the structural-ethical problem contained in the counseling regulation that John Paul II had already discussed in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. Cooperation in an evil act takes place not only when the act is evil because of its nature or the intention of the agent, but also when the legal context transforms the act into such cooperation, i.e. into a cooperatio formalis. (15) Pope John Paul II's letter of October 20, 1999, consequently, emphasizes that the "individual-ethical" interpretation of the doctrine of cooperatio formalis, which is widely used in moral theology, does not help in the controversy surrounding the counseling certificate. The fact that Joseph Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II recognized the structural-ethical problem of the German counseling regulation earlier than large segments of German Catholicism was astonishing. Since Bismarck's culture war against the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century and the Nazi church struggle in the twentieth century, German Catholicism was distinguished by its sensibility for institutions that ensure freedom and legal systems, as well as for the separation of church and state. The case of the German counseling regulation was still very much recognized and criticized in the Central Committee of German Catholics at the beginning of the parliamentary debate for the reform of [section][section] 218ff., decided in 1995: if proof of a consultation were the only prerequisite for

a no-punishment abortion, the consultation would be only an "alibi function," explained the then President of the Central Committee of German Catholics Rita Waschbusch at the Fall 1993 Plenary Assembly. That would be "unacceptable" for Catholics. (16)

Joseph Ratzinger's arguments were successful in both controversies--but not so much because his opponents were persuaded by their logic as because external developments appeared on the scene. The fact that less was said about liberation theology is explained primarily by the collapse of socialism in the central and eastern European states at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The reign of socialism, of which many liberation theologians dreamed, proved to be a global nightmare. The fact that less was said about the counseling certificate is explained by the rather tormented distraction of the bishops, who wanted to prevent a division of the Church, but of whom not a few supported the founding of the society "Donum Vitae," which was initiated by the Central Committee of German Catholics and continued to issue certificates of counseling in its own counseling centers. (17)

3. Social Ethics and the Ethics of Life

It appears that the controversy surrounding the counseling of pregnant women in conflict situations was for Joseph Ratzinger a propaedeutic to the contribution that he would make as Pope Benedict XVI to the development of Catholic social teaching. This contribution was connecting social ethics with the ethics of life to form an "ecology of the human person," which John Paul II had already introduced in 1995 with his enc yclical Evangelium Vitae. (18) Following the legalization of abortion in many Western countries in the 1970s, the protection of unborn life was not only a moral-theological theme, but also an eminently social-ethical theme. (19) The Church, therefore, according to Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate in 2009, "forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that 'a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.'" (20)

The starting point for both social ethics and the ethics of life is the question of the human person. This question led Joseph Ratzinger back to the natural law. He no longer avoided the idea, though he had again declared in his conversation with Jurgen Habermas in 2004 at the Catholic Academy in Munich that he did not want to rely on natural law, because it unfortunately "has become blunt." (21) The efforts toward a new view of natural law during his pontificate shaped both encyclicals and speeches, as well as the work of various papal institutions, such as the Academy of Sciences, the Academy for Life, the International Theological Commission, and the Lateran University. In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (2005), about Christian love, he discussed in detail the social dimension of love, caritas. In the nineteenth century, as an answer to the question of the just structures of society, the Church developed Catholic social teaching, which offers "approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church" and "argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being." (22) He already granted to natural law this ability to seek the basis for agreement with secular society and other religions about the ethical principles of the law in his discussion with Habermas. (23) In his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on April 18, 2008, he spoke about the function of human rights, which "are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts," in international relations. (24) In the German Parliament on September 22, 2011, he lamented that, after the "dramatic shift" in the last half-century, "the idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term." He devoted this speech to the question of the foundation of the liberal constitutional state, which is to be found neither in the principle of majority rule nor in a divinely-revealed law. The fact that the principle of majority rule is insufficient for basic questions of the law, which deal with the dignity of the human person, is obvious in Germany after the experience of the Nazis' totalitarian rule. At the same time, Christianity, unlike other great religions, has never proposed to the state and society a juridical order derived from revelation. It has, instead, "pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law." It placed itself "on the side of philosophy, and... acknowledged reason and nature in their interrelation as the universally valid source of law." He certainly intended Islam to be included foremost among the other great religions, as he attempted to make clear in his "Regensburg Address" of September 12, 2006. (25) A positivist conception of nature, which understands nature only functionally as a cause-effect relationship, and a positivist narrowing of reason have excluded "the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law" and, consequently, have obstructed access to the natural law. Reopening this access was an "essential goal" of his Berlin address, which he began with a reference to King Solomon, who, when he ascended to the throne, was invited by God to make a request. Solomon asked for a "listening heart" that would enable him to distinguish good from evil and to govern the people justly. The listening heart is, according to Benedict XVI, "reason that is open to the language of being," which is expressed in conscience and present in different cultures and religions. (26)

When nature is discussed in the texts of Benedict XVI, it does not mean primarily the nature that surrounds human persons. The term always has, instead, an anthropological connotation. It is about the human person. It is at the heart of the entire social order and, according to Benedict XVI, in agreement with Thomas Aquinas, "signifies what is most perfect in nature." (27) John XXIII had already stated that the person is at the heart of every social order in 1963 in Pacem in Terris: "Any well-regulated and productive association of men in society demands the acceptance of one fundamental principle: that each individual man is truly a person. His is a nature that is endowed with intelligence and free will. As such he has rights and duties, which together flow as a direct consequence from his nature." (28) Benedict XVI never grows tired of transferring this conclusion to ecology and, as did John Paul II, expanding the concept of ecology to the human person. If the Church is to fulfil its responsibility for creation, "she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self- destruction." (29) In his address to the German Parliament, he recalled the emergence of the ecological movement in the 1970s, which made it clear that something in our relationship with nature is not right, but which nevertheless neglected an important point, that there is also an "ecology of the human person": "Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself." (30) In his encyclical Centesimus Annus, John Paul II had already called for an authentic "human ecology," which assumes that man understands himself as a gift and respects the "natural and moral structure" with which he has been endowed. (31) According to Benedict XVI, when nature and, in particular, the human person are viewed as the result of chance or evolutionary determinism, the sense of responsibility for the relationship with the natural environment and for the development of society and culture wanes. Believers, on the other hand, recognize in nature the creative activity of God. When human persons intervene in nature, they must respect the "grammar" that is inherent in nature and has "a normative character" for culture and the social order. (32) Recognizing this "grammar" is the task of reason: "In all cultures there are examples of ethical convergence, some isolated, some interrelated, as an expression of the one human nature, willed by the Creator." This is called "natural law" by the ethical wisdom of mankind. Adherence to this "universal moral law... etched on human hearts is the precondition for all constructive social cooperation." (33)

Remembering this "grammar" of human nature is the common task of social ethics and the ethics of life. Benedict XVI never grows tired of accepting this task and also talking about the consequences of ignoring this "grammar." But he does not speak loudly about these consequences, and not in an encyclical of their own, but instead quietly and hiddenly in Caritas in Veritate, which is regarded worldwide as his "globalization encyclical." There is, in fact, a detailed discussion of the anthropological and theological foundations of globalization and its economic, social, and political aspects in this encyclical; yet it is much more than a globalization encyclical. (34) This is ignored, however, in the overwhelming majority of comments--not only in academic social ethics, but also in everything from the statements of bishops to Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone's address about this encyclical in the Italian Senate. (35) A few exceptions are Lothar Roos, (36) George Weigel, (37) and Jean-Yves Naudet. (38) Roos had sent his commentary to Benedict XVI, who wrote to him on November 18, 2009: "I have read with great gratitude and approval your article, which has pleased me all the more, since in Germany not only the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Suddeutsche Zeitung, but also... the Herder Korrespondenz have written rather negatively about the encyclical. So, your voice is a relief and a help to all those in Germany who wish to find access to the text: Thank you very much!" (39)

Caritas in Veritate is the document that shows Catholic social teaching the path to the ethics of life. Catholic social teaching must face the socio-ethical dimensions of biomedical developments. A summary of Benedict XVI's message is that the future of humanity is decided less in globalization than in biomedicine:
A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle
between the supremacy of technology and human moral
responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility
of integral human development is radically called into
question. In this most delicate and critical area, the fundamental
question asserts itself forcefully: is man the product of
his own labors or does he depend on God? Scientific discoveries
in this field and the possibilities of technological intervention
seem so advanced as to force a choice between two types
of reasoning: reason open to transcendence or reason closed
within immanence. We are presented with a clear either/or. (40)

4. Consequences of the Promethean Presumption

Benedict XVI warns of the real danger that human beings could believe that they are able to make human beings. He had already spoken of this danger after the deciphering of the human genome in his conversational book God and the World. If "man no longer originates in the mystery of love, by means of the process of conception and birth, which remains in the end mysterious, but is produced industrially, like any other product," he is made and degraded by other men. (41) In his discussion with Jurgen Habermas in 2004, he had once again referred to this threat to man: "Man is now able to make people, to produce them in a test tube, so to speak. Man becomes a product, and thus the relationship of man to himself is radically changed." (42) The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Donum Vitae (Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation, 1987), which was worked out under his guidance, underlined "that the gift of human life must be actualized in marriage through the specific and exclusive acts of husband and wife" (43) and that the child has the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception." (44) The Catholic Church, therefore, rejects in vitro fertilization, which "is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." (45)

The "Promethean presumption" to be his own and only producer has great consequences for man's self-conception and his relationships with his fellow human beings and for every society. (46) It prepares the way to both eugenics and euthanasia. Consequently, "the social question has become a radically anthropological question, in the sense that it concerns not just how life is conceived but also how it is manipulated, as bio-technology places it increasingly under man's control." In "in vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids... we see the clearest expression of technology's supremacy." They are new, powerful instruments of the culture of death. In addition to the tragic scourge of abortion, the "systematic eugenic programming of births" and "a pro-euthanasia mindset" are appearing. (47) The Promethean presumption, which refuses to accept the "grammar" of human nature, also has consequences for Man's self-conception as a sexual being. This presumption determines gender ideology. Joseph Ratzinger pointed out these consequences as early as the mid-1990s. Gender ideology aims not only at liberation from role assignments, but also at liberation from the human biological condition:
Man is to have the liberty to remodel himself at will. He is to be
free from all the prior givens of his essence... . Behind this
approach is a rebellion on man's part against the limits he has as a
biological being. In the end, it is a revolt against our
creatureliness. Man is to be his own creator--a modern, new edition of
the immemorial attempt to be God, to be like God. (48)

Those who receive their understanding of gender only from the home page of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs or the gender flyer of the Office for Women Ministry of the German Bishops' Conference will not understand this criticism. They will consider gender to be synonymous with equal rights for men and women. Those who, on the other hand, take note of the approaches of deconstructive gender theories, which claim that human gender is not predetermined, "not a binary phenomenon, but a continuum," (49) "a term in process, a becoming, a constructing," can only agree with the criticism. (50) For Judith Butler, the attributes and acts of gender identity are "performative," that is, they are only created in concrete behavior. Consequently, "genders can be neither true nor false, neither real nor apparent, neither original nor derived." (51) In his last Christmas reception for the College of Cardinals on December 21, 2012, a few weeks before his resignation, Benedict XVI dealt with the issue of gender in detail:
The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological
revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea
that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity... . The
manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment
is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is
concerned. ... If there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in
creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established
by creation... . The child has become an object to which people have a
right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be
creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the
Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his
dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his
being. (52)

Pope Francis has confirmed Benedict XVI's critique of gender ideology several times, not only in his preferred interview style, but also in the two major documents of his pontificate thus far, the encyclical Laudato Si' and the apostolic letter Amoris Laetitia. (53)

The Promethean presumption of biomedicine to produce and genetically optimize people in laboratories has significant consequences for society, which present equal challenges to the ethics of life, social ethics, and the secular social sciences. Who should decide what it means to optimize the human person? Democratically elected parliaments, governments, research organizations, UN agencies, or ethics committees? In a liberal society, this question cannot be answered. It eludes majority decisions. It is foreseeable, though, that this Promethean presumption will lead to a two-class society, in which the creatures that have been conceived will stand opposite the products that they have made. This violates the dignity of man, which is tied to the ontological equality of persons. The Instruction Donum Vitae already pointed out in 1987 that in vitro fertilization is contrary to equality, which must be shared by parents and children. The second instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the question of bioethics twenty years later emphasized once again the violation of equality, which must be shared by parents and children in the way of procreation, through biomedical developments such as preimplantation and cloning. (54) The problem of the two-tier society made possible by biotechnology is discussed not only in these documents of the Catholic Church, but also in the social sciences. For Jurgen Habermas, the control of nature through human-genetic interventions changes "into an act of self-empowering of man, thus changing our self-understanding as members of the species," and confuses the "intuitive distinction between the grown and the made, the subjective and the objective." (55) Neither can consent to the biotechnical interventions be assumed by those who are made, nor is the "symmetry of relations" guaranteed, to which human dignity and a liberal society are bound. For Clemens Kauffmann, "the biotechnological colonization of nature disavows the contract-theoretical legitimation model of the liberal state." (56) For Robert Spaemann and Walter Schweidler, the biomedical possibilities of action "deconstruct the difference between person and thing," and, consequently, also the basis of human dignity and the rule of law. (57)

A society in which the structural equality of its members is eliminated, because the produced objects stand opposite the created subjects, destroys the symmetry of relations, even if the legal order treats the produced objects as subjects. The Promethean presumption of taking the reproduction of society into one's own hands goes hand-in-hand with the demand to determine the criteria of reproduction, and thus to decide who is and who is not worthy of life. Such a society tends toward totalitarian rule, in which natural reproduction must respond to the accusation of irresponsibility. Developments in the life sciences are, however, not irreversible. Regulating them in a manner consistent with the rule of law and human dignity is the responsibility of biopolicy and, therefore, also a responsibility of Catholic social teaching, which has been perceived until now insufficiently. (58) John Paul II and Benedict XVI have recognized the danger of totalitarian rule. They are opposed to it, whether conveniently or inconveniently, in the conviction: "When the Church declares that unconditional respect for the right to life of every innocent person--from conception to natural death--is one of the pillars on which every civil society stands, she 'wants simply to promote a human State. A State which recognizes the defense of the fundamental rights of the human person, especially of the weakest, as its primary duty.'" (59) The fearlessness in matters concerning protection of life and marriage and the family, which already influenced the pontificate of John Paul II, also characterized the pontificate of Benedict XVI. The prophetic call of John Paul II when he was installed as pontiff on October 16, 1978, "Do not be afraid," applies to all Christians and, therefore, also to the Catholic Church in Germany.


(1.) This is a translation of a revised version of Manfred Spieker, "Der leise Prophet: Benedikt XVI. und die katholische Soziallehre," Internationale Katholische Zeitschrift--Communio 46, no. 2 (March-April 2017): 185-96.

(2.) Joseph Ratzinger, "Naturrecht, Evangelium und Ideologie in der katholischen Soziallehre: Katholische Erwagungen zum Thema," in Christlicher Glaube und Ideologie, ed. Klaus von Bismarck and Walter Dirks (Stuttgart: Kreuz-Verlag, 1964), 29.

(3.) Benedict XVI, with Peter Seewald, Last Testament: In His Own Words, trans. Jacob Phillips (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 78.

(4.) After a half-century of fruitful activity, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace was moved into the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on January 1, 2017. Whether it was sensible to put it together with Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers has yet to prove itself. Pope Francis's motu proprio Humanam Progressionem of August 17, 2016, evidently has its eye on only the pastoral in the narrower sense and neglects the more social-ethical tasks of Justitia et Pax.

(5.) As early as the mid-1970s, the International Theological Commission criticized liberation theology's mixing of world history and salvation history in "Human Development and Christian Salvation." Cf. Karl Lehmann, ed., Theologie der Befreiung (Einsiedeln: Johannes-Verlag, 1977), 173ff.

(6.) Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, trans. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1973); Leonardo Boff, O caminhar da igreja com os oprimidos: Do vale das lagrimas a terra prometida (Rio de Janeiro: Codecri, 1981). See also Manfred Spieker, "Das Problem der Revolution im Dialog zwischen Christen und Marxisten," in Winfried Becker, Hans Maier and Manfred Spieker, eds., Revolution-Demokratie-Kirche (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh Verlag, 1975) , 49ff.; "Politik und Okonomie in der Theologie der Befreiung," in Rupert Hofmann, ed., Gottesreich und Revolution (Munster: Verlag Regensberg, 1987), 93ff.

(7.) Joseph Ratzinger, "Die Theologie der Befreiung: Voraussetzungen, Probleme und Herausforderungen," Die Neue Ordnung 38 (1984): 286-87.

(8.) Joseph Ratzinger, Politik und Erlosung: Zum Verhaltnis von Glaube, Rationalitat und Irrationalem in der sogenannten Theologie der Befreiung (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1986) , 19ff.

(9.) Ratzinger, "Die Theologie der Befreiung," 286; "Freiheit und Befreiung: Die anthropologische Vision der Instruktion Libertatis Conscientia," Internationale Katholische Zeitschrift--Communio 15 (1986): 413.

(10.) Ratzinger, "Freiheit und Befreiung," 421-22; Politik und Erlosung, 23.

(11.) Ibid., 413-14.

(12.) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Instruction on Certain Aspects of the 'Theology of Liberation,'" Libertatis Nuntius (August 6, 1984), 10.

(13.) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation," Libertatis Conscientia (March 22, 1986), 65.

(14.) This letter is published in Manfred Spieker, Kirche und Abtreibung in Deutschland: Ursachen und Verlauf eines Konflikt, 2nd ed. (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh Verlag, 2008), 176ff.

(15.) John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (March 25, 1995) , 74.

(16.) Rita Waschbusch, "Bericht zur Lage," Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken, Berichte und Dokumente 89 (1993): 5. In response to my question about why the Central Committee, which continued its criticism of the counseling regulation two years longer than the German Bishops' conference, had finally retracted it, Rita Waschbusch asked what they were supposed to do after the bishops had long since retracted theirs.

(17.) Manfred Spieker, "'Donum Vitae' und der deutsche Katholizismus," in Spieker, Der verleugnete Rechtsstaat: Anmerkungen zur Kultur des Todes in Europa, 2nd ed. (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh Verlag, 2011), 183ff.

(18.) In collections of social-ethical encyclicals, however, Evangelium Vitae is slighted. It is missing even from an overview of the history of social encyclicals in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace's Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004).

(19.) The International Association for Christian Social Teaching (AIESC), together with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, convened a conference in Rome on September 15-16, 2006, with the theme "The Protection of Life: The Mission of Christian Social Teaching." Cf. Manfred Spieker, "Der Schutz des menschlichen Lebens als Aufgabe der katholischen Soziallehre," Die Neue Ordnung 61 (2007): 164ff.; "Sozialethische Fragen des Lebensschutzes," in Anton Rauscher, ed., Handbuch der katholischen Soziallehre (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2008), 361ff. A few days after the publication of the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, the future Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Flaminia Giovanelli wrote to the author on July 17, 2009: "I believe I can say that our 2006 conference was a turning point."

(20.) Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (June 29, 2009), 15, with reference to Evangelium Vitae, 101.

(21.) Joseph Ratzinger, "Was die Welt zusammenhalt: Vorpolitische moralische Grundlagen eines freiheitlichen Staates," in Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, Dialektik der Sakularisierung (Freiburg: Herder Verlag, 2005), 50.

(22.) Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (December 25, 2005), 27 and 28. See also Martin Schlag, "Naturrecht und Benedikt XVI," in Elmar Nass, Wolfgang H. Spindler and Johannes H. Zabel, eds., Kultur des Gemeinwohls: Festschrift fur Wolfgang Ockenfels (Trier: Paulinus Verlag, 2017), 178ff.

(23.) Ratzinger, "Was die Welt zusammenhalt," 50.

(24.) Benedict XVI, "Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization," New York, April 18, 2008. See also Werner Munch, "Die Quellen des Rechts: Die Ansprachen Benedikts XVI. vor der UN-Vollversammlung 2008 und dem Deutschen Bundestag 2011," in Lothar Roos, Werner Munch and Manfred Spieker, Benedikt XVI. und die Weltbeziehung der Kirche (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh Verlag, 2015), 67-96.

(25.) Benedict XVI, "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections," Lecture at the University of Regensburg, September 12, 2006,

(26.) Benedict XVI, "The Listening Heart: Reflections on the Foundations of Law," Address to the German Parliament, September 22, 2011,

(27.) Benedict XVI, "Address to the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences," November 21, 2005.

(28.) John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (April 11, 1963), 9.

(29.) Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 51.

(30.) Benedict XVI, "The Listening Heart."

(31.) John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (May 1, 1991), 38.

(32.) Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 48.

(33.) Ibid., 59.

(34.) Manfred Spieker, "Kontinuitat und Erneuerung der katholischen Soziallehre im 'Kompendium' und in der Enzyklika 'Caritas in Veritate,'" in Jorg Althammer, ed., Caritas in Veritate: Katholische Soziallehre im Zeitalter der Globalisierung (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2013), 199ff.

(35.) Tarcisio Bertone, "Address to the Senate of the Italian Republic," July 28, 2009,

(36.) Lothar Roos, Menschen, Markte und Moral: Die Botschaft der Enzyklika "Caritas in Veritate" (Koln: Bachem, 2009), 9; "'Wahrheit der Liebe Christi in der Gesellschaft': Benedikt XVI. und die Sozialverkundigung der Kirche," in Lothar Roos, et al., eds., Benedikt XVI. und die Weltbeziehung der Kirche, 54-55.

(37.) George Weigel, "Caritas in Veritate in Gold and Red," July 7, 2009,; "Charity in Truth," July 13, 2009,; "Benedict XVI and the Truth about Charity," September 17, 2009, -and-the-truth-about-charity.

(38.) Jean-Yves Naudet, "Interview sur Caritas in veritate," January 7, 2009,

(39.) Benedict XVI, Letter to Lothar Roos, November 18, 2009; cited with the consent of Pope Benedict.

(40.) Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 74.

(41.) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), 134.

(42.) Ratzinger, "Was die Welt zusammenhalt," 47.

(43.) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Vitae (February 22, 1987).

(44.) Ibid.

(45.) Ibid.

(46.) Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 68.

(47.) Ibid., 75.

(48.) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium: An Interview with Peter Seewald, trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 133.

(49.) Regina Ammicht Quinn, "Gefahrliches Denken: Gender und Theologie," Concilium--Internationale Zeitschrift fur Theologie 48 (2012): 370; "Gender: Zur 'Grammatik' der Geschlechterverhaltnisse," in Margit Eckholt, ed., Gender Studieren: Lernprozess fur Theologie und Kirche, 2nd ed. (Ostfildern: Matthias Grunewald Verlag, 2017), 33.

(50.) Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York & London: Routledge, 1990), 43. For further information, see Manfred Spieker, Gender-Mainstreaming in Deutschland: Konsequenzen fur Staat, Gesellschaft und Kirchen, 2nd ed. (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 2016), 17ff.

(51.) Butler, Gender Trouble, 180.

(52.) Benedict XVI, "Address on the Occasion of Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia," December 21, 2012,

(53.) Francis, Laudato Si' (May 24, 2015), 155; Amoris Laetitia (March 19, 2016), 56.

(54.) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas Personae (On Certain Bioethical Questions), September 8, 2008, 17.

(55.) Jurgen Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, trans. William Rehg, Max Pensky and Hella Beister (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003), 47.

(56.) Clemens Kauffmann, "Introduction," in Kauffmann and Hans-Jorg Sigwart, eds., Biopolitik im liberalen Staat (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2011), 11.

(57.) Robert Spaemann, "Wann beginnt der Mensch Person zu sein?" in Manfred Spieker, ed., Biopolitik: Probleme des Lebensschutzes in der Demokratie (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh Verlag, 2009) , 39ff.; Walter Schweidler, "Biomedizinische Forschung und die biopolitische Agenda aus der Sicht der Bioethik," in Kauffmann and Sigwart, Biopolitik im liberalen Staat, 19.

(58.) Manfred Spieker, "Biowissenschaftlicher Fortschritt, gesellschaftlicher Wandel und Bioethik," in Norbert Arnold, ed., Biowissenschaften und Lebensschutz: Der schwierige Dialog zwischen Wissenschaft und Kirche (Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 2015), 40ff.

(59.) John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (March 25, 1995) , 101.

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Author:Spieker, Manfred
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
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Date:Jan 1, 2018
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