158 of 166 people found the following review helpful
I have sometimes wondered as a convert what it would be like to have been a cradle Catholic and to have studied and lived the faith throughout my life. To have fully interiorized the faith. Oh and If I were a lot more intelligent I would get a idea of this what this would be like by the Pope's latest book Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times by the answers he gives.
This is the third interview book he has done with Journalist Peter Seevald who talked with the pope for an hour each time over six weeks and the book is made up by his questions, follow up questions and the answers the Pope spoke to him. There has been much controversy over one of the Pope's answer to one question and they focused on a word. Catholic convert Marshall McLuhan said "The Media is the Message" and I would add often that the "Media misses the message."
Having read the previous to Seevald books along with the large majority of Cardinal Ratzinger's writings you defiantly get a sense of the man and a man who has in no important ways changed as pope. His honesty and humility is shown throughout the book and he does not allow the interviewer to maker larger claims on what he has achieved than is warranted. Seevald would make factual claims about the size of the Church numerically and the Pope in terms of Power and Pope Benedict wold remind him that while the number of members is numerically large that the number of people living the Catholic faith is much smaller and of course would also dismiss things in term of power. While Pope Benedict XVI has great gifts, he realizes who those gifts are from. Throughout the book the Pope's replies are very direct and at the same time fully eloquent in reply to the questions. While reading this book I often wished that others would imitate the pope in his honesty in replying to question without the slightest hint of spin or building themselves up.
There are also very human and funny moments in the book. His reply to why he wore the Camauro was hilarious and a warning to those who would give too much meaning to what the Pope wears at times. His talking about his small community in the papal household and their watching of DVDs together was nice look into his life that is so busy. Some of his feelings of becoming Pope have been released before, but this book goes more into those questions and his feelings at the time. He really was surprised to be elected Pope and like so much of his life once again turned himself over fully to Christ and not his predilection of living a quiet intellectual life with his brother for the rest of his days. Also very interesting was his talking about his relationship with Pope John Paul II and that it was his book "Introduction to Christianity" that was a factor in him seeking Josef Ratzinger as head of the CDF. His answers like much of Catholicism are of the both/and type. When it comes to the Church and secularism his answer was about where we could learn from secularism and what we must oppose.
Peter Seewald as interviewer though is also a major part of what makes the book enjoyable. He asks a range of often astute questions that enables us to hear what the Pope thinks about something. Seewald as always has done his homework and has been a close watcher of the Pope and what he has written and said. This brings out a range of topics and important questions that a less skilled interviewer could not even approach. Though the only negative would be that Seewald has a view of Global Warming almost apocalyptic which almost ruins some questions. Though the Pope in answering them does not reply in the same tones and his answers are well-worth reading. Though it certainly seems to be true as evidenced by what the Pope has previously said that he has some belief in human caused global warming.
While the interview considers several controversies this is a book mostly about Jesus and his Church. Of following Christ closely and seeing Jesus as the one who comes. These sections of the book won't generate any headlines, but they are meant to generate saints. The Pope is first off a disciple of Jesus and one who sees his very life as bringing Jesus to others and in his role as Pope to the world.
When he does address various controversies again you see his discipleship. The sexual abuse crisis is certainly not lost on him and he sees directly this evil and what has been done by those in the church and most of all to the victims. There is an empathy in his tone in no way faked. On women's ordination and the idea that Jesus couldn't ordain women because of cultural concerns he directly labeled "nonsense" and that the cultures of the time were filled with priestesses. The issue of lifting the excommunication on the four SSXP bishops and the reason why was a fuller answer than I have seen before and he also addressed that somebody should have checked the internet to have determined the type of man Williamson was since it would have been treated much differently then. Oh and the Pope said something about condoms.
This book was a wonderful read which I admit to binge reading the moment it came in the mail. I though I could hardly love the Pope more, but now there is even more I love about him.
It is almost silly to review a book from our Pope. Really the review should be just go out and get it.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
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Five REVEALING Stars! Pope Benedict XVI in his own words in a startlingly frank and honest discussion on matters of our time, within and outside of the Catholic Church. Normally the Catholic faithful and the world is accustomed to the Pope speaking through such means as encyclicals, homilies during Masses, and through books such as Jesus of Nazareth, among other means whether ex cathedra (infallibly, "from the chair") or otherwise. This Ignatius Press book is another very direct conversation between the Pope and author Peter Seewald, as translated by Michael J. Miller and Adrian J. Walker. It will probably be widely read and evaluated by those from all walks of life in order to receive the pope's views on the Catholic Church, his personal life as Prelate, the 'state of the world' and the 'signs of the times". With respect to today's 'hot button' Catholic topics, the Pope gives frank, straight-forward answers, tackling issues of theology, philosophy, science, secularism, and other things dealing with 'modernity and eternity'. The book is broken down into 18 chapters divided into three parts: "The Signs of The Times", "The Pontificate" itself, and "Where Do We Go From Here?". The knowledgeable interviewer, Peter Seewald, asks astute questions that reveal his knowledge of both Joseph Ratzinger the man and of the matters of the 264th occupant of the office of the Papacy.
As the foreword says the Pope, the leader of over 1.2 Billion Catholics, sees the world differently from world leaders in politics, business, education, and intellectuals of all types, and he leads with faith, hope, and charity aiming for the ultimate salvation of mankind. He is disappointed by some activities and people within his own Church and the secular direction of the world outside the church. He takes the attitude that "the Church must not hide" and "Faith must be explained". He talks extensively about the sexual abuse scandal from different aspects: calling it "filth" that was inside the Church that should have been found and acted upon sooner. He outlines his plans to continue meeting with victims, to correct the injustices, to root out those not suited to be priests, especially at seminary level, and to not lose sight of the problem and the pain it has caused. Along the way we also get essentials: such as how 78 year old Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was set for retirement when the Lord, through the College of Cardinals, chose him as Pontiff; what the Pope does in his free time with his "family" of close associates; his commentary on infallibility; the true story of reinstating 'Bishop' Williamson; climate change and the environment; "turbo-capitalism" and how it hurts the poor; the "third secret of Fatima"; revisiting Pius XII; the Church's leadership in treating AIDS patients around the world; 'rapprochement' with Orthodoxy and Islam; the Pope's controversial "Regensburg Lecture"; the issue of condom use; eschatology ("the last things") and the Second Coming of Jesus; the need to return to the faith, joy, and enthusiasm of the early Christians; and if a "Vatican III" is possible; among many other topics. And do read the Appendix, part I, "Serious Sins Against Defenseless Children", which is the strongest accusatory Papal statement against child abuse I have seen and the one that Catholics have longed for from the Church. This interview is an essential book for Catholics, and should be of interest to other Christians and, indeed, all believers and perhaps some non-believers. My Highest Recommendation! Five HUGE Stars!! (This review is based on a digital download across Kindle text-to-speech, Mac, and iPhone platforms.)
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2010
By now, whether through secular or religious outlets, you've likely heard about a recent book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI titled Light of the World (Ignatius Press, 256 pages, hardback). This book presents the third extensive interview between the Pope and journalist Peter Seewald, the first two coming before Benedict was Pope.
Light of the World has generated some serious controversy over a few obscure paragraphs in the middle of its 256 pages. In these paragraphs, the Pope is asked about the Church's position on condoms. He answers by re-articulating the Church's traditional position that contraception is inherently counter to true sexuality, but in some cases condoms may be a step toward a deeper morality.
The travesty is that this book will now be known only for these couple of paragraphs when the book provides so many other fascinating insights. Light of the World really is a monumental effort, and anyone who reads it cover-to-cover will appreciate how much of a gift it really is. Never before has a Pope granted such an in-depth interview, nor directly answered so many challenging questions in rapid succession.
Seewald--whom The Irish Times nicknamed the "pope whisperer"--is great at formulating these inquiries, pulling no punches along the way. He poses questions that are straight-forward, even borderline accusatory at times, such as:
* What caused the sexual-abuse scandal in the Church?
* Have you considered resigning?
* What do you think about the global climate crisis?
* Can there be dialogue with Islam?
* Is Christianity the only truth?
* Should there be a Third Vatican Council?
Pope Benedict's answers are characteristically charitable, intelligent, and well-articulated, even including a little humor here and there. He speaks here as a wise sage whose wisdom has been built and refined over many years.
But even with the clarity shared between both men, Light of the World has its difficulties. The book was compiled, translated, and published in such a short amount of time--the interview took place in July 2010--that it does lack some finish. At times, clunky punctuation choices, like periods instead of commas and sentences lacking subjects, make the reading slightly awkward.
Also, while the material is organized into eighteen distinct chapters, the questions within each chapter are fairly haphazard. For instance, a question about `communion on the tongue' is followed by a question on `women's liberation', then a discussion on `church attendance' statistics. However, this disordered structure does create lively, fast-paced reading as the topics jump quickly from one to another.
One of the most helpful parts of the book is the Appendix, which features snippets from some of Benedict's most contentious statements: his letter to Irish Catholics regarding the abuse scandal, his Regensburg address which riled many Muslims, and his earlier statements regarding the Church's position towards condoms and AIDs (which Light of the World embellishes, not contradicts).
Following these excerpts, there is also a lengthy chronicle of important events from Benedict's life and pontificate. Both the excerpts and the timeline provide good background to the statements and events referenced during the interview.
Overall, Light of the World is truly a special book, and deserves a better fate than to be known as "the condom book". Seewald draws some intriguing answers from Pope Benedict on many of the most controversial topics of our time. This book should be welcomed as a rare look into the typically secluded halls of the Vatican. For a birds-eye view of the Church and a peek into Pope Benedict's thought, pick up a copy of Light of the World.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
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I'm not exactly sure why I read this book. I'm a die hard Calvinist/Protestant who downloaded this on my kindle on a whim. I just wanted to read something different for a change I guess. Despite my protestantism I really did enjoy reading this book. It was very easy to understand and for someone who knows very little about the Roman Catholic Church (from a Catholic perspective anyway) - I really felt like I learned a lot. Also I got the sense from reading the book that Pope Benedict XVI is a very sincere person who really believes in his faith and honestly believes that his position as Pope is a specific calling from God. To be honest that is quite refreshing to see. Don't get me wrong - nothing in the book has caused me to jump over the Rome but it has picqued my interest to read more works on Catholicism written from a Catholic perspective. I would say that is a good thing.
One thing that I just don't quite understand is the whole Bishop Williamson affair - of which a whole chapter is dedicated. It seems to me that after restoring Bishop Williamson to the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope later regretted his decision because of Williamson's denial of the holocaust. Apparantly the Pope was unaware of this fact until after he was restored. The reason for this is explained and I accept the explanation - the Pope was honest about the fact that Williamson's past wasn't researched thoroughly enough by the church and his position on the holocaust was not known because the man wasn't investigated properly before his restoration. My big question after reading all of this though is: why can't the Pope just excommunicate the man again? For all his regret it seems to me that the Pope could make it right by kicking the man out again. This part of the book just confused me to no end. Perhaps a seasoned Catholic could explain the reasoning behind this to me.
Finally one comment on the whole condom controversy that this book sparked when it first came out. It's a joke. No way - no how does the Pope change his Church's stand on the use of condoms. In fact I felt that the Pope gave a great explanation of why his church condems the use of condoms. A view I had never heard quite frankly - and a view that I can genuinely respect - though I disagree with the Catholic Church's position on birth control. The Pope's comments on condoms and male prostitutes were taken completely out of context. The way the media is painting the scenario is completely off base.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2011
Before I became a Catholic (in 1993) a Baptist minister friend knowing my inclinations recommended I read INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY by Joseph Ratzinger (a book of spoken talks from when he was in his 19th year as a priest -- please see my review for that one). My friend felt it was "a book that really lived up to its title." Almost at once, I was guided to Romano Guardini's masterwork, THE LORD (continuously in print since the 1930s) with an "Introduction to the 1986 edition," written by a "Cardinal Ratzinger." I knew at once I'd found a `kindred spirit' I really needed. My expressed wish was to "one day meet him face-to-face, to tell him how much I appreciated his writing!" But then, six years ago yesterday (April 19, 2005) he went and got himself elected Pope. There went my 'dream interview' [!]
Today of course, I realize with delight that I get to 'meet' this great mind every day in his writings (published exclusively it seems by Ignatius Press of San Francisco). This day, for instance, in the American MAGNIFICAT for "Holy Week 2011" (just before the entrance antiphon, "Christ became obedient for us even to death, dying on the cross") are these opening words of reflection for this day, "Wednesday of Holy Week."
"Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demonical power of darkness, but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, `Away with him! Crucify him!'."
-- Pope Benedict XVI
The only two 'social commentators' I know of, who can "shed light" while speaking in complete, perfect paragraphs are the American psychiatrist/political commentator Charles Krauthammer, and the current "successor to Peter" in Rome. In his "Forward" to this book, author George Weigel (another kindred spirit) states with perfect precision a simple truth about what distinguishes this pontiff:
"Benedict XVI brought to the papacy more than a half-century of reflection on the truths of Biblical faith and a master teacher's capacity to explicate those truths and bring them to bear on contemporary situations in a luminously clear way.
"I have had the privilege of knowing many men and women of high intelligence, even genius; I have never known anyone like Benedict XVI, who, when one asks him a question, pauses, thinks carefully, and then answers in complete paragraphs --- often in his third, fourth or fifth language.
"Peter Seewald's well-crafted questions give Benedict XVI good material with which to work. But it is the remarkably lucid and precise mind of Joseph Ratzinger that makes the papal answers here sing."
[Mr. Seewald's questions weren't always so precise, but time spent with the former Cardinal Ratzinger (which produced the two previous "interview books" of this series) and Mr. Seewald's own increasing humility in getting to ask questions of such a mind, has resulted in a worthy "part three" of this series: My favorite? The second interview titled GOD AND THE WORLD (October 2002) followed by the first of the 'trilogy' SALT OF THE EARTH (Oct 1, 1997 -- please see my review for that one). Again, to quote George Weigel (author of the definitive biography of Benedict's predecessor John Paul II) in his astute introduction:
"Those who come to Rome to attend one of [his] general audiences have encountered a master catechist, whose command of the Bible, the Fathers and the theological traditions of Christian West and Christian East are simply unparalled - as is his capacity to explicate what he has learned in ways that virtually everyone can understand and engage. That is the Benedict XVI whom the reader will meet in LIGHT OF THE WORLD: a teacher to whom any sensible person would want to give a fair hearing."
As for the interviewer (who may forever be "the only journalist to interview a sitting pope") Peter Seewald ends his own "Preface" with the question he is most often asked now:
"'What is it like to sit very close, right across from him?' [the question] reminded me of novelist Emile Zola describing a priest who waits, trembling and almost paralyzed, for an audience with Leo XIII. Now, with Benedict XVI, there is no need to tremble. He is remarkably easy for the visitor. This is no `prince of the church,' but rather [our] servant [who] exhausts himself in his giving.
"Sometimes he looks a bit sceptically at you. Over his eyeglasses. Seriously, attentively. And if you are sitting beside him listening to him, then you not only sense the precision of his thinking, and the hope that comes from faith, but then also in a special way, a radiance from the light of the world becomes visible, from the face of Jesus Christ, who wants to encounter each one of us and excludes no one."
-- Peter Seewald (Munich - October 15, 2010)
Above all else (as George Weigel summarizes beautifully) Pope Benedict "encourages postmodernity" to rediscover ancient truths about itself: Those truths include, as Benedict XVI never stops urging, "a necessary dialogue between faith and reason: Faith devoid of reason risks becoming superstition and blind prejudice (hence Benedict's urgent challenge to Islam). Reason, inattentive to faith risks solipsism, self-absorption, detachment from reality."
Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI "sees both facets of this duel crisis of world civilization clearly . . . and has put these issues on the table of the world's conversation as no one else has or can."
What this means (in the pope's own words, p 136,) comes in reply to Mr. Seewald's shortest question in the book -- after Benedict states, "For example it really is necessary to come to terms with evil. We cannot simply shove it aside or forget it. It has to be worked through and transformed from within."
Q: What does that mean?
"It means that we really are in an age in which a new evangelization is needed; in which the one gospel has to be proclaimed both in its great, enduring rationality and in its power that transcends rationality, so that it can re-enter our thinking and understanding in a new way."
"Of course, man always remains the same, no matter how much he changes. There would not be so many believers unless people still understood in their hearts: Yes, what religion tells us is what we need. Science alone, in its self-isolating search for autonomy, does not do justice to the whole range of our life. It is a sector that gives us great gifts, but it depends in turn on man's remaining man.
"We have seen it ourselves: progress has increased our capabilities, but not our moral and human stature and capacity. We have to regain an internal balance, and we also need spiritual growth. This is something that the tribulations of our time are increasingly teaching us to recognize."
As with his previous conversations with Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI specifically requested he see none of the questions in advance. The German journalist (a previous agnostic) said his latest six hours alone with the Pope was "a lot of time and yet very little" in which to address "only a few questions, and only a few in depth." Yet once again, "the Pope did not change the spoken word" of his transcribed interview.
I remain in awe of a mind that is able to do this: to speak and think "in complete paragraphs" with such an enlightening precision, yet never needing to change of word of what he's said -- thoughts transcribed for universal appreciation within these pages. Look -- if you buy only one "pope book" make it one of this trilogy of interviews. [Nice to see that on this very day (20/04/11) this one is "Amazon Bestsellers Rank" #4,103 in Books (and) #1 in "Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism."
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2010
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What a shame. Pope Benedict XVI has given us his thoughts on modern Western culture, Islam, Orthodoxy, Judaism, relativism, the priesthood, the burden of being Pope, the sex abuse crisis, infallibility, marriage, and much more and the average person will only think about one word that gets a brief mention - condoms.
Light of the World is the new book-length interview between German journalist, Peter Seewald and Pope Benedict XVI, who did two previous book-length interviews previous to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger being named to the papacy. This book is unprecedented, because never before has a Pope given such exclusive access with a no-holds-barred approach to a journalist. The book is just what you would expect it to be - an intelligent give-and-take between two men who respect one another. It certainly gives us an inside peek into the world of how the Pope lives and thinks.
I have been blessed to read most of Benedict's major works and his other interviews and Light of the World may be the best way to introduce a novice to Benedict's way of thinking. He clearly illuminates his understanding of the problems that face the Church, modernity, and culture. He is neither naive about the situation nor is he pessimistic. Rather, he has a good feel for what is ailing modern man and what will help turn us around - faith in Jesus Christ.
He understands that the proposal that the Church makes to the modern world is quite daunting - Jesus is the Lord of all of creation and died for our salvation. But, he also understands the urgent need our world has for this message, because if it is true, then there is nothing more important for the world to know.
Benedict is honest and direct in his answers. You won't find any dodging of the tough question as a politician might. Rather, Benedict is quite honest the the human side of the Catholic Church is full of sinners who mess up all the time and that he himself has made errors. He is critical of the Church's communication efforts, among other issues, and his compassion for the victims of the sex abuse crisis is quite clear.
Seewald is also to be commended. He asked questions that cut through the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. He isn't shy about asking tough questions, nor does he lack a sense of wit, which is evidenced by telling Benedict that he clearly lacks the personality of John Paul II. Benedict shrugs it off by saying he doesn't try to be anybody but himself.
If there is anything lacking in the book, it might be the translation. There are several times that phrases seem to be awkward and punctuation seems out of place. The book was originally done in German and translated to English, which is probably where the problems arise.
Light of the World helped me gain further insight into the Pope's thought process and understanding his opinions on a wide-range of topics. I highly recommend it for those interested in learning the same.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2010
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Pope Benedict is a great scholar who has written books and articles that would be studied by theologians many years from now. Since being elected Pope, he has also written great pastoral letters that reveal his spiritual and pastoral depth. This book brings together the thinking of Benedict the Scholar and Benedict the Pastor. It gives us a window into the thinking and ministry of a man who does not only have pastoral responsibility over 1 billion Catholics but also someone who has spent most of his years in the academia. His position on condoms in cases of HIV/AIDS reveals a sensible and pastoral approach the church must take to deal with this disease that has killed millions in the Global South, most especially in Africa. He said, "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization,a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward discovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants." It is important to mention that the Pope does not approve the use of condoms as a contraceptive. Some may disagree with his position on women ordination in the book and the argument he uses to support that position. He argues that the church has "no authority" to ordain women. The restriction of the priesthood was not something that was created by men in the church but was given that way by Christ. Jesus called only men to be his apostles. His argument echoes that already made by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. The book is very readable and I strongly recommend it to all, most especially Catholics.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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Pope Benedict XVI became Pope in 2005, shortly after the death of one of the most charismatic and influential Popes in history - John Paul II. In some sense it was inevitable that the comparisons with the late John Paul II would be there from the very outset of his pontificate, but Pope Benedict made it perfectly clear that he had no intention to compete with his predecessor, and would stay faithful to his own personal and theological charismas. Even so, by any objective standard Pope Benedict is quite a remarkable Pope - in terms of his previous scholarly and ecclesial accomplishments, as well as in terms of his pastoral work. After little over five years of the pontificate, it is possible to get a good sense of what the main themes and accomplishments of Benedict XVI papacy are. "Light of the World," a book-length interview, seems like a very timely and appropriate venue for the current Pope to reflect on the first five years of his papacy and to put forward his frank and direct views on almost every single issue that is relevant for the Catholic Church today.
This is the very first time in history that a Pope has agreed to give a book-length interview. Such interviews are extremely rare even for secular leaders, and it is even rarer for any such leader to be as frank, forthright and open as this Pope has been. In the age when the public is increasingly jaded and cynical about the pronouncements made by politicians and other secular authority figures, it comes as a breath of fresh air to have a World leader of the Pope Benedict's rank be honest and straightforward about some of the issues that have affected him the most over the past few years, both as a person and as a the head of the Catholic Church. Even though he is fully aware of the way that millions of people rely on his every pronouncement for moral and spiritual guidance, Pope Benedict is more than willing to go on a limb and offer his own views on a variety of topics.
Almost from the very beginning this book deals with all of the most controversial and difficult issues that have been at the news about the Catholic church in recent years - sexual abuse crisis, dialogue with Islam, secularism, priestly celibacy, contraception, same-sex relationships, the ecumenism, etc. The Pope does not shy away from any one of these topics, nor does he attempt to spin any of the answers. This book gives as definitive and up-to-date answer to most of the hard questions on these issues and the way they pertain to the Catholic Church. Anyone who is interested in going beyond the headlines and reading what Pope Benedict actually thinks and what the Catholic Church actually teaches will greatly benefit from reading this book.
Peter Seewald comes across as a very knowledgeable and largely sympathetic interviewer. Nonetheless, he doesn't shy away from asking very tough questions, and there are hardly any so called "softball" questions in this entire interview. On a few occasions Seewald comes across as very eager to outdo the Pope in terms of condemning those forces that he perceives as antagonistic towards the traditional Christianity, but the Pope is quick to stir the conversation back to a more balanced and measured tone of voice. For instance, even though Pope Benedict completely rejects attempts to strip the accounts of Jesus' life of the deeper religious meaning, he is one of the staunchest advocates of the scholarly freedom to pursue various theological ideas no matter where they may lead. In particular he appreciates some of the profound insights that the historical-critical approach to the biblical exegesis has endowed us with.
One of my favorite moments in this whole book comes when Peter Seewald asks the Pope to reflect on what particular characteristics Joseph Ratzinger as a German has brought to the office of papacy. Seewald notes that German history has been known for the highest scientific, technological and artistic achievements, as well as for some of the worst brutality in the history of the World. Pope Benedict acknowledges this profound and painful dichotomy, which has left a profound impression on him. However, Pope Benedict also brings forth one other virtue that has historically been associated with Germans and Germany, but has in recent times been somewhat neglected: thoughtfulness. Anyone who has had any encounter with Pope Benedict's writings or anyone who has read this interview will readily admit that if there is one word that describes this remarkable man, than that word would be thoughtfulness.
The book concludes with several appendices that include excerpts from Pope Benedict's more significant or controversial speeches and letters - Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the "Regensburg Address," an answer to an interview on Aids and the Humanization of Sexuality given during the flight to Cameroon in 2009. At the very end there are also an extensive Curriculum Vitae and a brief chronicle of the pontificate. These appendices provide the reader with a comprehensive and well rounded view of Pope Benedict's personal and pastoral accomplishments at this point in his papacy. All of us can hope and pray that some future recapitulation of his papacy will be even more extensive than this one. It is truly a blessing to have a man of such character and vision at the head of the Catholic Church.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Joseph Ratzinger has reigned as Pope for more than five years. When he was elected, his name was well known from his long service as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. He is also well known and highly regarded as a theologian, academic, and a prolific author, his writings characterized by a succinct and precise prose that have been both praised and criticized for its directness. In his role as Prefect of the CDF, then Cardinal Ratzinger became a lightning rod to those who sought to reshape the Church in accordance with their own designs. His fidelity to the teachings of the Church labeled him "God's Rottweiler" and the media, which survives on superficial sound bites and caricatures, have failed to capture the essence of the Holy Father. Pope Benedict, without the political nuance and deftness of the late Pope John Paul II, has often answered in detailed academic language, ideal for his detractors and opponents to take out of context and exploit for their own purposes.
Peter Seewald, a journalist who has previously done two book-length interviews ("Salt of the Earth" and "God and the World") conducted a series of interviews with the Pontiff at the Papal Summer Residence of Castel San Gandolfo; the result is LIGHT OF THE WORLD, an illuminating glimpse into the mind of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He does not hold back on the topics covered and persistently, yet fairly, presses for answers on such diverse issues as the church child abuse scandals, homosexuality, AIDS, interreligious dialogue, relativism, and the need for reform at all levels of church and society. He also addresses the successes AND the challenges and difficulties of his papacy with remarkable candor.
Although the media has focused on a few sentences regarding the use of condoms to prevent AIDS and extrapolated on the Pope's words, the book is more than that. It deserves to be read in its entirety for the following reasons: 1) The book is not geared to the sound-bite; 2) The Pope does not speak like a politician - there is no other agenda other than the Faith; 3) Peter Seewald is not a fawning sycophant - he is an accomplished and credible journalist; 4) The book is well written and expresses the thought of Pope Benedict in both form and substance.
Of the two previous books, "God and the World" provides a more in-depth, extensive interview of the man who would be Pope - its length no doubt afforded by the greater availability of then Cardinal Ratzinger in the years before he assumed his mantle as the Vicar of Christ.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2011
The book, or interview, is a very interesting insight into some of the Pope's thoughts. I really enjoyed his discussion on contraception, his views on whether a pope should resign, and the role of women in the church. What I didn't like about the book is that it seems tailored to Catholics with a great deal of knowledge of Church canon, and other Catholic history. So it is a bit too much of "insider baseball." I think it would be difficult for a non-Catholic to understand some of what's going on here.
One thing I liked a lot is that the journalist really asked some tough questions. He didn't pull any punches and I think he remained respectful to the Pope, yet challenging. I think that's a very important thing to remember and praise about the book.