You probably know that Benedict XVI’s life’s works as a theologian are being edited and released in different volumes. Ignatius Press has the publishing rights for English. His volume on Liturgy is available. HERE
In German another volume has been issued.
In this volume he mentions, in his newly written forward, that he has rethought and changed him mind about a 1972 essay he had concerning Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. Previously, he had not closed the door to this possibility. Now, he thinks he was wrong back then.
This is a burning issue today, of course.
And so the former Pope – how weird is that to write – is going to be implicated in the debate about Communion for the civilly remarried.
What is important to remember, however, before people on the Left and on the Right start with their respective spittle-flecked nutties, is that… changing your mind is exactly what theologians do when they are looking back at their life’s work.
I bring to your attention the example of St. Augustine of Hippo, whom Ratzinger studied closely. Late in life, Augustine reviewed his vast, and I mean vast, body of work and, in a volume called the Retractations, he made observations and corrections of his previous work. In other words, he reviewed and he said when and where he got things wrong.
That’s what theologians do.
They get things wrong and they correct things after they have had time to work on them and think them through and, often, gather more information.
But just watch how the catholic Left, especially, will try to spin this. It’ll go something along the lines of “The Pope Emeritus is entering the fray against Card. Kasper!” or, for the truly weird, “Did Card. Burke put the Pope Emeritus up to this?”, and even “Benedict, who promised he was going to be a good little monk in his garden convent, has broken his word! He’s being political!”
Believe me, it’ll get crazy.
When and if you read some of the loony stuff, remember: St. Augustine’s Retractations.
This is what old theologians do.