RADIO VATICANA REPORT: The new evangelization is the backdrop to the traditional summer seminar of former students of Benedict XVI, – the so-called Ratzinger Schülerkreis – which opened Thursday in Castel Gandolfo. The Pope himself will intervene with an introductory report at some stage on Saturday. Also participating this year – for the first time – are a number of people who have written their dissertations on the works of Joseph Ratzinger.
In fact on Friday, the historical nucleus of the group, the original members of the “Ratzinger Schülerkreis" founded in 1977, are joined by members of the ‘new’ school, formed four years ago. The meeting, which runs through to August 28th at the Mariapolis Convention Center outside Rome, is bringing together roughly forty people from different countries, including the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, the Auxiliary Bishop of Hamburg, Hans-Jochen Jaschke, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Barthélémy Adoukonou, as well as teachers, priests, religious and lay people: all former students of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, who wrote their doctoral dissertations during the years when he was teaching in Germany.
After Pope Benedict’s introduction to proceedings, theologian Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, Professor of the philosophy of religion at Dresden University which will deepen the theme under discussion, with a paper entitled, "Speaking to Athens of Jerusalem. God Words in a world that resists". Otto Neubauer, director of the Academy for the Evangelization of the Emmanuel Community in Vienna, is also set to address the group with a paper entitled" An ever-new evangelization - where poverty becomes a bridge to people. " Sunday, following Mass with the Pope and the traditional Angelus prayer, the conclusion of the seminar will see an open discussion between old and new alumni.
Since the then Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger took part in the first of these - traditionally closed door - meetings almost 35 years ago, a lot of progress has been made and his election to the Chair of Peter has failed to stop the momentum of the ‘Ratzinger school’. Each year the Pope himself chooses the theme for discussion, usually a shortlist of three arguments. The theme for 2011, the new evangelization is, in a way, a prelude to the meeting that Pope Benedict XVI has convoked on 15 and 16 October next in the Vatican, with representatives of ecclesial realities involved in the new evangelization in the West, and - in a broader perspective - not least in view of 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2012, which will focus precisely on "The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. "