It seems as if Ratzinger, at some later time, modified that view. What's less clear to me is, what was his motivation? As a scholar (a "leading Catholic scholar") even at that time, he would have come to that belief ("the resurrection is merely symbolic") only as the result of a long and thoughtful process. To have decided to have changed this view merely because he was moving up the ecclesiastical ladder, seems a bit hypocritical to me.
Matthew wrote this article describing all of this. And he points to what most people would consider to be a fundamental kind of dishonesty (although there is an "official" way to be deceptive that falls within the limits of Official Roman law, and Ratzinger, being a "leading Catholic scholar," knows all the tricks):
How then may the current Pope continue to deny such a statement of the Church’s official teaching? It can be done only by the Jesuitical distinction that he makes between his official and private views (despite the fact that his books are all marketed with 'Pope Benedict XVI' more prominently displayed than his real name). Despite the seemingly-binding nature of the new Catechism, some point to the fact that it was not prepared by a full Council and are able to take some refuge in Ratzinger’s comments that the Catechism seeks to leave debated questions as open as possible.At this point, the footnote continues:
Joseph A Komonchak, 'The authority of the Catechism', in Introducing the Catechism of the Catholic Church: traditional themes and contemporary issues, ed. Berard L Marthaler, Paulist Press, 1994, pp 18-31). In Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian issued by Ratzinger in 1990, there are complicated qualifications as to when and how views differing from official doctrine can be proposed: for example, 'witholding assent' is distinguished from 'dissent'.I'm wondering again, at all of our "inconsistency detectors" out there, if this doesn't seem just a bit beyond inconsistent?
[Beyond this is the whole area of thought behind the papacy that allows that a pope can be as wicked as is humanly possible, just so long as he does not issue an ex-cathedra heretical teaching -- or at least, one that cannot be explained away. Does this not seem to our "inconsistency-detectors" out there, just a little bit inconsistent, if not hypocritical and outlandish and beyond belief?]
Just mull this over for a bit. I'm closing comments on this thread because I'm headed out of town for the weekend, and I won't really have much time or access to respond to comments. But I wanted to throw this out there for those of you who are interested.