Even the Early Ratzinger Causes One to Lament

Part I.

These days, one is bound to find people nostalgic for the good old days of 30 years ago, or 10 years ago. Indeed, one can sympathize with this.

However, one should take note that difficult times have been with us for some while. Josef Ratzinger was “peritus” at the Second Vatican Council. His input was crucial on certain matters. He even teamed up with Fr. Karl Rahner, who afterwards went even more wrong than before. Ratzinger, thankfully, got better. However, it is important to know, when assessing today, that his early theology had notable problems.

Case in point: His Mariology.

He wrote, at the time of the Council, “The idea of Mary as ‘co-redemptrix’ is gone now, as is the idea of Mary as ‘mediatrix of all graces’” (Theological Highlights of Vatican II [New York: Paulist Press, 1966], p. 93). He even held such a negative view as late as the end of John Paul II’s pontificate. See Ratzinger, God and the World (Ignatius, 2002), p. 306.

Is this a problem? Yes, a big problem. Why? Because Mary as Mediatrix is part of the ordinary and universal teaching of the Church for many centuries. Also, the notion of Mary as CoRedemptrix is also doctrine, for at least a century of Magisterial teaching. But to deny doctrine, established doctrine, is not a good act. Further, to see Vatican II’s silence as a repudiation of the doctrine is perhaps worse.

Now, it is one thing to get Mary wrong before the Church teaches, again and again, on a matter. E.g. Aquinas. It is quite another to ignore that teaching. Sadly, that is what Ratzinger did for quite a while. Fortunately, he died to his own opinion when he became pope. He allowed the grace of state to increase and his own theological mind to decrease. Hence, he actually proclaimed Mary’s mediating role in every grace. Thank God.