The conference was presented by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the foundation's academic committee; Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the foundation, and Fr. Stephan Otto Horn S.D.S, president of the "Ratzinger Schulerkreis" and of the "Joseph Ratzinger Papst Benedict XVI - Siftung".According to Cardinal Ruini, the academic comittee of the Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI Foundation will have three tasks:
Msgr. Scotti explained how on 1 March this year the Holy Father had ordered the creation of a new foundation, with the name of "Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI", in order "to respond to a desire expressed by many scholars over the course of the years". As regards the financing of the new body, he explained, "a first ample contribution will come from the Pontiff himself, who has chosen to devolve a large part of the proceeds from his author rights".
"[F]irstly, drawing up criteria and objectives for the annual and long-term programme of the foundation's activities; secondly, establishing criteria of excellence for the creation and conferral of prizes to scholars who have distinguished themselves in academic publications and/or research; and finally, organising cultural and academic initiatives".Among the foundation's projects are the creation of a chair for the visiting professor of theology during the summer term at the University of Regensburg and -- in connection with Casa Balthasar (for those discerning vocations to the priesthood) -- a study center for theology and spirituality. Also collected are more than 40 recollections of Ratzinger's former students for the establishment of an archive.
"The theology of Joseph Ratzinger moves forward, looking to the present and the future on the basis of an extraordinary knowledge of the origins and history of the Christian faith. His capacity, what I would call his tastefulness, in keeping these two aspects united ... likens Joseph Ratzinger to great teachers of other periods of Christian history. It is no coincidence that the foundation which bears his name will focus particular attention, on the one hand on biblical and patristic studies, and on the other on fundamental theology. The aim is to bring out the truth, significance and beauty of Christianity in its relationship with contemporary culture and society".
Fr. Horn then spoke to explain that, even before Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the papacy, his students had thought of creating a Joseph Ratzinger Foundation. "Not only did they feel profound gratitude towards their teacher", he said, "but they were also deeply convinced of the importance of his theology for the Church. ... In the meeting of the 'Schulerkreis' with the Holy Father at Castelgandolfo in 2007 we received his approval to create an autonomous foundation".
This foundation, Fr. Horn went on, "has a clear direction and broad ranging projects. Its goal is to promote the study of Joseph Ratzinger's theology and spirituality, propagating his ideas in the Church and society, and ensuring they are absorbed. Thus will his memory be conserved for the future".