Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Philosophy and Theology)

First Supervisor

Gerard O'Shea

Second Supervisor

Tracey Rowland


In a 1983 lecture, Joseph Ratzinger noted that one need not demonstrate at great length the apparent difficulties within the epoch’s catechetical efforts, even going so far as to declare the situation a state of crisis. He argues that the reversal of roles between content and method – with content now serving method – served as a significant source of the purported crisis.1 The bulk of Ratzinger’s expansive theological work is a response to various crises within the understanding of the contents themselves, with a willing admission on his part that he did not have responsibility for catechetical methods.2 However, following his election to the papacy and with the arrival of the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI began to broach the methodological question more directly, asking, for example, ““How can we talk about God in our time? How can we communicate the Gospel so as to open roads to his saving truth in our contemporaries’ hearts…?“3 This dissertation will attempt to fill the lacuna in Ratzinger’s theology pertaining to method, and to sketch an appropriate praxis for evangelization and catechesis in the wake of the catechetical outworking still underway and in flux following Vatican II. Starting with Ratzinger’s fundamental theology, the present dissertation seeks to provide a theological framework in order to engage the methodological question. In short, the dissertation attempts to answer the following: How does the revelation of the Logos in Jesus Christ shape Ratzinger's vision for evangelization? The paper will argue that for Ratzinger, the personal nature of the revelation of the Logos of God in Jesus Christ establishes an anthropological pattern, a series of guiding principles, according to which the body of Christ, the Church, evangelizes.

This study opens by considering the catechetical landscape following Vatican II, insofar as the landscape has been shaped by what Aidan Nichols calls “vulgarized Rahnerianism.” Next, the paper highlights Ratzinger's fundamental theology, which begins with the Logos insofar as the Logos has revealed itself in Jesus Christ, the Son -- a revelation accessible today through the

Church and reified in the act of faith. Chapter 3 follows the logic established by the Logos, and traces the mainlines of Ratzinger’s theological anthropology. Chapter 4 follows the anthropological framework established in Ch. 3 in order to provide a methodological framework according to the revelation of the Logos. The dissertation ultimately concludes that Ratzinger’s vision for evangelization and catechesis according to the Logos, as developed along the lines of his theological anthropology, presents a possible solution for the dissonance that has resulted in evangelization and catechesis since Vatican II.

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