School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications


Benedict XVI and Liberation Theology: Reason, Will, and History

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2011


Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


“The similarities between Augustine and Joseph Ratzinger do not end with their difficulties with rowdy students. Joseph Komonchak has argued that Augustine is perhaps the single most important intellectual influence on the thinking of the man now known as Pope Benedict XVI. This influence is one of three background conditions, I will argue, that have been deeply influential in the relationship between Joseph Ratzinger and liberation theology. No attempt will be made here to analyze

Ratzinger’s texts on liberation theology, but attention will instead focus on features of his broader approach to Catholic theology that predisposed him to the negative judgments he eventually made of liberation theology: first, the relative importance of reason and will in Christian faith; second, his tension-filled disagreements with Marxist scholars at the University of Tübingen; and third, his view of history. Such elements, of course, were importantly shaped by events both ecclesial and personal.”