Dissertation Project - Werner Friesdorf

Topic of the planned dissertation:

Josef Pieper und die liturgische Erneuerung im 20. Jahrhundert (Josef Pieper and the Liturgical Reform in the 20th Century)



Prof. Dr. Michael Kunzler, Paderborn;

Prof. Dr. Berthold Wald, Paderborn



Faculty of Theology in Paderborn


Abstract of the project:

The dissertation is being written under the direction of Prof. Michael Kunzler in Liturgical Studies, at Prof. Berthold Wald’s suggestion. It attempts to present Josef Pieper’s relationship to the liturgical reform in the Catholic Church. At first this might be a surprising topic, since Pieper was no scholar of liturgical studies nor an acknowledged expert in this field. What is more, he was not even a theologian if one takes his education and his self-concept into account. However, he was a faithful and avowed Christian and Catholic who essentially influenced the Church in Germany and other countries through his lectures, writings and statements. He used his influence capability and contacts in order to shape the liturgical reform, which was faced with ups and downs in the attempt to put it into practice. The traditional principle “lex orandi lex credendi” influenced Pieper’s thinking: Liturgy is the visible expression of the faith of the church. Thus, it is of the highest importance and requires a spiritual and intellectual penetration of the utmost depth. On the one hand, it must not petrify in symbols that are incomprehensible and that do not justify the sacramental reality displayed (cf. WA, EB,II, p.133—Baptism of his son Thomas). Hence, liturgy must be reformed again and again. On the other hand, it must never become a field for experimentation nor the victim of the subjective availability of the celebrant or of an individual congregation, because it is always the service of the entire church; in its depth it is not a game but divine reality. This is the starting-point for Pieper’s criticism of how the resolutions of the council were put into practice (the criticism did not concern the resolutions themselves). (Cf. ibidem, p.544)


Firstly, this dissertation tries to explicate the decisive points in Pieper’s biography that were of influence upon him (the influence of the church in his childhood and adolescence, the encounter with the liturgical reform and R. Guardini, the time of the council, impressions of how its resolutions were put into practice, personal contact with people). Secondly, Pieper’s writings will be analyzed in view of relevant statements. This concerns mainly the writings of volume seven of his complete works. Finally, Pieper’s philosophy is to be compared with the liturgical development of his epoch, and the meaning of his contributions to the current liturgical discussion are to be analyzed.


Estimated completion:

end of 2009

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About Pieper:

Josef Pieper (1904-1997) was professor of philosophical anthropology at the University of Münster/Germany; he was a member of several academies and received numerous awards and distinctions, among them the International Balzan Prize for outstanding achievements in the field of humanities. [more...]


Please inform the editorial staff about any publications on Josef Pieper.

:: Bibliography of Primary Lit.

:: Bibliography of Secondary Lit.

:: Monographs

:: Translations

Literature Research:

:: Sources

:: Libraries

Book Order:

Studies of Philosophy

:: Major Fields of Study

:: Final Degrees

:: Courses and Seminars

:: Contact


Philosophical studies are among the main institutional focuses of the Faculty of Theology in Paderborn in cooperation with the University of Paderborn. [more...]