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from issue no. 01/02 - 2006

A letter from Cardinal Ratzinger to Läpple

«You are at the beginning of my philosophico-theological path»

by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

23 June 1995
Vatican City

Dear Alfred,
you opened my eyes to philosophy, more than our academic teachers managed to do. Thanks to you I have learned to know the great figures of western thinking in their perennial relevance and so I was able to begin thinking with them. Giving me then the task of translating the Quaestio disputata of Saint Thomas Aquinas on love, you also introduced me to the world of the sources, you taught me to produce first hand and to go to school directly to the masters. Thus you are at the origin of my philosophico-theological path. And what you have given me is an essential part of that path. Thanks to your inexhaustible capacity for work and your creativity you have produced a bouquet of publications hard to count, with which you have been able to help many people to find their bearings in the bewilderment of the times. You have never renounced openness and the breadth of thinking that impressed us so in 1946. At the same time all your work has shown that openness and faith, freedom of thought and loyalty to the Church are not in conflict, as thought today on many sides; when instead it appears ever more evident that it is precisely the loss of the living relationship with the Church that makes thinking also barren. For all this I want to thank you from my heart today, and it is not a commonplace if I add to these thanks the wish that you may enrich us for a long time to come with the gifts of your spirit. So I say farewell in union of heart and with gratitude. With my most heartfelt blessing,

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