Benedict XVI: His Life and Thought Hardcover – November 6, 2018
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"This extensive biography of my predecessor Benedict XVI is welcome: it offers a comprehensive, reliable, and balanced account of his life and of the development of his thought. All of us in the Church owe a great debt of gratitude to Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI for the depth and balance of his theological thought, which he has always lived out in service to the Church up to the highest positions of responsibility."
— Pope Francis, from the Foreword
"Here is a biography crafted by an able and well-informed expert. It is always a joyful and illuminating experience to read of some yet unknown detail in the life and work of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. The Church, the world, and history will continue to appreciate this great man more and more with the passage of time."
— Francis Cardinal Arinze, Author, The Evangelizing Parish
"Elio Guerriero has produced the definitive biography of a man who certainly ranks as one of the three or four most consequential churchmen of the last one hundred years. Engagingly written, learned, and deeply insightful, this book sheds light, not only on the life of Joseph Ratzinger, but on the life of the Catholic Church in our turbulent time."
— Most Rev. Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; Founder, Word on Fire
"Without a doubt, the most comprehensive book available on the life and thought of Pope Benedict XVI! An invaluable resource for historians, theologians, and anyone else who desires to study the life and legacy of a great Pope."
— Fr. Donald Calloway, M.I.C.,Author, Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon
"A helpful, informative, and accessible introduction to the life and thought of a modern Father of the Church, whose theological accomplishment will shape Catholic thought for centuries."
— George Weigel, Witness to Hope:The Biography of Pope John Paul II
About the Author
Elio Guerriero, theologian, philosopher, and historian, is the longtime director of Communio, and editorial manager at Jaca Book and Edizioni San Paolo. He edited the Italian edition of the History of the Church directed by A. Jedin. His other books include Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Drama of God, and Saint Giana Molla: Wife, Mother, and Doctor.
- Item Weight : 2.1 pounds
- Hardcover : 715 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1621641834
- Product dimensions : 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Publisher : Ignatius Press (November 6, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #746,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This book is not an overview, nor does it read like a novel. It is geared toward those who are serious about learning more about Joseph Ratzinger and the Catholic Church, and who have some background in theological concepts and language or are willing to seek out some familiarity with them as they go. This latter group will find this book a treasure, and a well-deserved tribute to one of the most brilliant scholars, insightful developers of doctrine, and devoted servants of the Church of the past 100 years -- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI -- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
Ratzinger, a lot of this will be review. For those who only want his thought, there are books by Aidan Nichols
and Tracey Rowland, as well as Maximilian Heinrich Heim. But this is all in one place, and remarkably smooth
reading for being translated from Italian. The "life" part is more professional history than personal, although
it's clear that B16 was close to his brother Georg and sister Maria, and he plays the piano and really likes cats.
Guerriero is from the communio school of theology, whose most important thinkers are de Lubac, Balthasar and
Ratzinger. So obviously it's positive regarding most of the pope emeritus's views. For lack of a better term, the
perspective is moderately conservative. It is similar to that of his primary American source, George Weigel. The
main difference is that Guerriero is European and more negative toward George W. Bush. He calls him "isolationist"
which must refer to unilateral actions (with Britain but not France and Germany). So Guerriero supports Ratzinger's
progressive stance at Vatican II, following Balthasar's "Razing the Bastions". Sometimes all the debates between
Rahner, Ratzinger and Congar are confusing but they certainly were thinking a lot. When it comes to Ratzinger's
1999 Spirit of the Liturgy and the call for ad orientem worship, Guerriero is careful not to spin it in too much of
a traddie direction. He's not a fan of Abp. Lefebvre and those who opposed the Council, but he's certainly against
the liberal "spirit" of V2. Guerriero also notes the influence of the new ecclesial movements like Communion
and Liberation, in contrast with the liberal German bureaucracies, as noted by Fr. Ray de Souza. Another communio
figure would be Cardinal Angelo Scola, who was a front runner to succeed Benedict but it ended up being
Cardinal Bergoglio who became Pope Francis.
Regarding the "thought", there are lengthy discussions of the major books, above all Introduction to Christianity
(1968), but also Eschatology (70s), Principles of Catholic Theology, the Ratzinger Report (1984 or so), Truth
and Tolerance (2002) and finally Jesus of Nazareth (2006-7 etc.). All the controversies of the John Paul II
years where Ratzinger was in charge of defending the faith are reviewed. They involved all the major thinkers-
Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, Leonardo Boff, Gustavo Gutierrez, Charles Curran, Jacques Dupuis. All the major issues-
the publishing of the catechism, Dominus Jesus on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the Church, homosexuality,
women's ordination, liberation theology, moral theology. Walter Kasper became controversial under Pope Francis,
but compared to some of the others he wasn't as far out. Cardinal Carlo Martini was also in disagreement with
Ratzinger's direction, but they were mutually respectful of one another's gifts and spiritual depth. It's harder to
make sense of Schonborn, who was a staunch conservative supporter and seems to have shifted his approach.
Same with Andrea Tornielli , a vaticanista or Vatican journalist who seems to go with whoever is in power. For
whatever reason, John Allen seems to have done the opposite and remains mildly independent of the Francis
Guerriero is clearly in agreement with Benedict's theology. And yet that doesn't mean he was a "good" pope
in the sense of being effective. He gathered men who weren't equal to the task, above all Cardinal Bertone
as secretary of state. The media were against him. Due to John Paul's early charisma, his conservative direction
needed a scapegoat and it was Ratzinger. He was JPII's closest collaborator and required to stay on past
retirement, and yet the bond seems more spiritual than personal. But after the death of JPII the personal
side came out more in the funeral, a powerful and widely watched event. The conclave homily about the
"dictatorship of relativism" was free spirited, not worrying about what you're supposed to say or not say.
It helped to win over the cardinals. But Guerriero notes all the struggles caused by the media and his less
than loyal advisors, like the Williamson case (regarding a Holocaust denying bishop), the Regensburg address (on Islam), Fr. Marcial Maciel, who founded a major religious order but had a scandalously double life including sexual abuse, Vatileaks, and many other issues leading up to the resignation.
Benedict XV was Pope from 1914-1922, so it's curious that the resignation came at the eight year mark of 2005-
2013. With Francis there are obvious differences, but Guerriero emphasizes the personal bond, affection, and
promised loyalty of Benedict to his successor. Francis for his part endorsed the biography as balanced.
The four major influences are Augustine, Bonaventure, Guardini, and Balthasar. Spirit of the Liturgy (1999)
is based on Guardini's own Spirit of the Liturgy. Jesus of Nazareth, written as Pope, is inspired by Guardini's
The Lord. Guardini was before most of the 20th century biblical research, while Benedict's work incorporates
the historical research but moves past it to a more spiritual vision like that of Guardini. Though Romano lived in
Germany, he was of Italian background, which is a nice connection with Ratzinger for Guerriero.
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