Ratzinger proposes the challenge:
“Here is the problem: Ought we to accept modernity in full, or in part? Is there a real contribution Can this modern way of thinking be a contribution, or offer a contribution, or not? And if there is a contribution from the modern, critical way of thinking, in line with the Enlightenment, how can it be reconciled with the great intuitions and the great gifts of the faith?
“Or ought we, in the name of the faith, to reject modernity? You see? There always seems to be this dilemma: either we must reject the whole of the tradition, all the exegesis of the Fathers, relegate it to the library as historically unsustainable, or we must reject modernity.
“And I think that the gift, the light of the fait, must be dominant, but the light of the faith has also the capacity to take up into itself the true human lights, and for this reason the struggles over exegesis and the liturgy for me must be inserted into this great, let call it epochal struggle over how Christianity, over how the Christian responds to modernity, to the challenge of modernity…
“and it seems to me… that this was the true intention of the Second Vatican Council, to go beyond an unfruitful and overly narrow apologetic to a true synthesis with the positive elements of modernity, to heal it of its illnesses, by means of the light and strength of the faith.
“Because it was the Council Fathers’ intention to heal and transform modernity, and not simply to succumb to it or merge with it, the interpretations which interpret the Second Vatican Council in the sense of the de-sacralization or profanation are erroneous.
“Augustine, as you know, was a man who, on the one hand, had studied in great depth the great philosophies, the profane literature of the ancient world.
“On the other hand, he was also very critical of the pagan authors, even with regard to Plato, to Virgil, those great authors whom he loved so much.
“He criticized them, and with a penetrating sense, purified them.
“This was his way of using the great pre-Christian culture: purify it, heal it, and in this way, also, healing it, he gave true greatness to this culture. Because in this way, it entered into the fact of the incarnation, no? And became part of the Word’s incarnation.”
Wojtyla: “If we study the Conciliar magisterium as a whole, we find that the Pastors fo the church were not so much concerned to answer questions like ‘What should men believe?’ ‘What is the real meaning of this or that truth of faith?’ and so on, but rather to answer the more complex question: ‘What does it mean to be a believer, a Catholic and a member of the Church?’”
Wojtyla solution as suggested as the metaphysical under-girding of his papacy: Craft a metaphysics of subjectivity that is not the idealism (relativism) of Cartesian “consciousness” by using the moral experience of self-determination and self-gift as ontological foundation of an ontological self as irreducible “I.” Then take the insights of the Enlightenment as suggested by Ratzinger and account for them more fully and adequately by the experience of this ontological “I.” Hence, the purification of Modern thought and its incorporation into the reality of the Incarnation that can be deployed as foundation of a new social order built on the Person of Christ as the revelation of both God and man.