What Does The Term "Ressourcement" Mean Within The Context Of Catholic Theology?


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Christopher Adam Profile
Ressourcement usually represents the conservative side of a Catholic theological debate between liberals and conservatives on the future direction of the Church and whether it should adopt significant change, or hold firm to tradition. Ressourcement quite literally means going back to the sources. As such, those Catholics who advocate this traditionalist position, wish to ensure that the present-day church holds firm to the beliefs and ways of the early Christians.

Those theologians and priests who believe in ressourcement, also call for a simpler liturgical and bureaucratic structure for the Church, with less centralization in Rome and more power for independent parishes.

The opposite of ressourcement is the concept of "Aggiornamento," which in Italian simply means to "bring up to date." Both of these positions were vigorously debated at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), but they still do divide the Church to some extent even today. The late Pope John Paul II did, however, try to bridge the gap between the two camps.
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Anonymous commented
'Ressourcement' and 'Aggiornamento' were not originally opposed but complementary. The goal of Vatican II was aggiornamento *through* ressourcement, that is, a re-appropriation of the riches of Christian tradition in conversation with the modern world. The reformist impulse of Vatican II was driven by ressourcement, just as ressourcement contained within itself the notion of aggiornamento. Unfortunately, many during and after the Council took aggiornamento to mean bringing the Church into sync with the cultural revolution of the Sixties; when that happened, aggiornamento and ressourcement were sundered, and much mischief ensued.

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