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Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) Paperback – July 15, 2010
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About the Author
Tracey Rowland is Dean and Associate Professor of Political Philosophy and Continental Theology at the John Paul II Institute (Melbourne), a member of the Centre for Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham and a member of the editorial board of the English language edition of Communio, founded, among others, by Joseph Ratzinger. She is the author of Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II (2003) and Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Benedict XVI (2008).
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Top Customer Reviews
This book might be seen as an update of her earlier book, 'The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger', published in 2007 when he was arguably at the height of his powers as the prefect for the CDF, the most influential Vatican congregation.
Rowland gives an interesting series of insights into Pope Benedict's personal development, such as his early years growing up in Nazi Germany, his early liberalism, his later rejection of the same liberalism because of the 1968 radical student protests at his university, his rise in the church, and his attempt to revitalise Catholic theology with a more experiential, Augustinian and orthodox theological focus, away from both the dry manuals of Vatican I Neo-Scholastic Thomism and the apparent relativistic and secularising excesses in the post Vatican II church.
Rowland is a deeply conservative theologian and her admiration for Benedict shines through in this book. This is perhaps also its main weakness - she overlooks the questionable record Ratzinger had as head of the CDF under John Paul II, particularly his often brutal treatment of progressive and revisionist theologians, his slow response to the gravity of the sex abuse scandals worldwide, and his rigid treatment of women's aspirations by working with John Paul II to get women's ministry in the church off the agenda permanently by trying to make even attempting to discuss the matter a grave ecclesial crime.
Yet Rowland does also highlight some of Benedict's more positive teachings, such as his appreciation for St Benedict and Benedictine spirituality in the church's tradition, his deep, reflective theology, his encouragement of contemplation, his rehabilitation of great church figures like Origen and John Scotus Eriugena, and his focus on social justice and the environment.
A worthwhile book to read if you want to understand the former Pope.