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Ratzinger assistant clears Rahner orthodoxy doubts

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith secretary Archbishop Angelo Amato praised the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner at a recent Rome conference to celebrate the centenary of his birth, declaring that he was "an orthodox theologian".

"Notwithstanding some ambiguous formulae, Rahner was an orthodox Catholic theologian," he told the US National Catholic Reporter's Rome correspondent John Allen.

Allen said in his column published on Friday that the high-profile 4-5 March international conference at the Lateran University was officially about Rahner's anthropology, not his orthodoxy, but "the latter was clearly subtext".

Rahner was among the intellectual architects of Vatican II. He was the subject of many doctoral dissertations in the 1970s and 1980s, but the tide turned later in Pope John Paul II's papacy, when he was sometimes accused of "smuggling relativising impulses into Catholic theology through German philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, and of weakening the church's missionary efforts through his doctrine of the 'anonymous Christian'."

Archbishop Amato spoke at the conference about a "pluralistic current in the theology of religions today that reduces Christ to one saviour among many". He said that by setting aside Rahner's idea of the anonymous Christian and focusing on his Grundkurs des Glaubens (fundamental course in the faith), one can find resources to reject this view.

Allen commentes that devotees of Rahner may "rue the fact that such a clarification was even needed, seeing it as proof of theological revisionism in today's church. Nevertheless, for all those who fear the influence of right-wing extremists on Catholic officialdom, it might be some comfort that the VIP speakers at the Lateran came to praise Rahner rather than to bury him."

Discussing Karl Rahner; Appointments to International Theological Commission; Briefing on the Pontifical Council for Culture; The importance of manners (National Catholic Reporter 12/3/04)

Re-examining Karl Rahner's Legacy (Zenit 7/3/04)
Karl Rahner Society
Karl Rahner: Foundations of the Christian Faith - Paraphrase by Mark F. Fischer
Karl Rahner 1904-1984 (
Karl Rahner Academy, Cologne

15 Mar 2004