Book Critique of MARY, The Church at the Source by Ratzinger and Balthasar
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
MARY, The Church at the Source
Thoughts on the place of Marian Doctrine and piety in faith and theology as a whole
By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
THE SIGN OF THE WOMAN – Introductory Essay
Page 37: A Marian encyclical and a Marian year generally meet with
little enthusiasm in German-speaking Catholicism. People fear a strain
in the ecumenical climate; they see the danger of an overemotional
piety that cannot stand the test of serious theological criteria.
However, the appearance of feminism has brought into play a new and
unexpected element that threatens to confuse somewhat the lines of
battle. On the one hand, feminism portrays the Church’s representation
of Mary as the canonization of women’s dependence and the glorification
of their oppression: The veneration of the Virgin and Mother, the
obedient and humble servant, has been, so it is said, a means of fixing
the woman’s role for centuries. It has glorified her in order to
suppress her. On the other hand, the figure of Mary furnishes the
starting point for a new and revolutionary interpretation of the Bible:
liberation theologians point out that the Magnificat proclaims the
casting down of the mighty and lifting up of the lowly. The Magnificat
thus becomes the master text of a theology that sees its task as
teaching how to subvert the powers that be.
Note: God resists the law-breakers.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed
by God. Romans 13:1.
Note: Saint Paul would have condemned liberation theology.
Pages 37-38: The feminist reading of the Bible portrays Mary as the
emancipated woman who freely and with self-assurance steps forward to
challenge a male-dominated culture. The figure of Mary – together with
other apparent evidence – becomes a hermeneutical key for uncovering an
original and very different Christianity, whose liberating force the
male power structure quickly concealed and stifled. It is easy to
recognize that such interpretations are tendentious and forced.
Nevertheless, they may well sharpen our capacity to hear what the Bible
actually says about Mary. By the same token, this just might be the
appropriate time to listen more attentively than usual to a Marian
encyclical whose whole point, for its part, is to let the Bible have
Note: According to the Scriptures the Christian Gospel has nothing to do with Mary.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to
you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you
are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless
you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I
also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third
day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then
by the twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:1-5.
Note: Saint Paul would have condemned Mariology.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX