Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • The Pope Emeritus experiment is working, by Fr. Mark Drew. Catholic Herald 02/26/15. "Two years ago Benedict XVI became the first Pope Emeritus in the Catholic Church’s history. Thanks to his wisdom and restraint the historic innovation hasn’t led to disaster."
  • Benedict XVI, Cardinal Jean Danielou, and a Modern World in Crisis Catholic World Report 02/16/15: "Theological giants Benedict XVI and one of his heroes – the controversial Cardinal Jean Danielou – have been hailed for illuminating through their respective works the ever-relevant answer to a modern world in crisis: Jesus Christ."
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s Theology of Beauty and the New Evangelization, by Dr. Matthew J Ramage. Homiletic & Pastoral Review:
    Throughout his career, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has, time and again, emphasized that the via pulchritudinis, the way of beauty, constitutes a privileged path by which to advance the New Evangelization. In a de-Christianized society that is often hostile to the Church’s truth claims and moral norms, Benedict believes that recourse to the universal language of beauty is indispensable if today’s evangelist is to compellingly present the Gospel to would-be believers. In this brief reflection, we will explore the concept of beauty in Benedict’s theology and suggest areas in which it might be fruitfully applied by the Church today in her ministry of evangelization.
  • The request of a retired pope – simply call me 'Father Benedict' Catholic News Agency. 12/9/14:
    Rather Benedict made his comments in a private conversation with journalist Jorg Bremer, who published bits of them in a Dec. 7 article for German newspaper F.A.Z.

    According to the journalist, Benedict explained that when he initially stepped down he wanted to be called “Father Benedict” rather than Pope Emeritus or Benedict XVI, but “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.”

    At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” rather than Pope Emeritus or Benedict XVI is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true Pope” is, Bremer reported.

  • Varieties of Neopolagianism: Ratzinger's reading of Joseph Peiper - Edmund Waldstein. Sancrucensis 12/15/14:
    The exercises [in Ratzinger's The Yes of Jesus Christ: Spiritual Exercises in Faith, Hope, and Love] are based on a close reading of Josef Pieper’s little books on faith, hope, and love, adapted for the purposes of a retreat. I have just been reading Pieper on hope, and it is interesting to see how Ratzinger modifies some of Pieper’s thoughts. A striking example is Ratzinger’s discussion of two forms of “Pelagianism.” This is perhaps the most famous passage in the whole book, since, according to Andrea Tornielli, the second of the two forms is the source of Pope Francis’s repeated (and somewhat puzzling) use of the term to describe traditionalists. I was struck by the fact that although Pieper discusses both of the phenomena that Ratzinger calls “Pelagian,” he only uses the term Pelagian for the first form— it is Ratzinger’s idea to call the second form by the same name. ...
  • Scholars: No, Benedict XVI doesn’t support Kasper in synod debates Catholic World Report 11/25/14. "A new volume of Ratzinger’s collected works includes a revised essay on the reception of Communion by the divorced and remarried." See also:
  • Priest Swaps Clerical Hats with ‘Sharp, Healthy’ Benedict XVI National Catholic Register 11/13/14. "A priest who met and exchanged zucchettos with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in early November marveled at the former pope’s joy, mental clarity and good health."
  • Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry (Inebriate Me) reviews Joseph Ratzinger's Milestones:
    It is well known that the young Ratzinger, like all schoolmen his age, was pressed into wartime service by the Nazi thugs. What is less well known was that he eventually deserted–an offense punishable by summary execution. When you add the fact that one of Ratzinger’s cousins was murdered by the Nazis for the crime of having Down syndrome, the media narrative of Ratzinger as a “Hitleryouth” goes from ridiculous to downright monstrous. ...
  • First Major Text of Benedict XVI Ratzinger following resignation - On Catholic Faith, Missions, and other Religions (full translation by Rorate Caeli of the "Message of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for the naming of the reformed Aula Magna of the Pontifical Urbaniana University" presented October 1, 2014.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pope Francis' Ecological Encyclical - Rooted in Benedict's Pontificate?

Apparently there are some who are venturing into vehement criticism of Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on ecology ... an encyclical we might add that has yet to even be released.

Perhaps it may be of benefit to point out that Pope Francis, in writing this encyclical, might even be taking SOME queues in this regard from his predecessor, who didn't earn the nickname "The Green Pope" for nothing. As National Geographic reminds us, among the actions of his pontificate:

... He approved a plan to cover the Vatican's Paul VI hall with solar panels, enough to power the lighting, heating, and cooling of a portion of the entire country (which covers, of course, a mere one-fifth of a square mile). He authorized the Vatican's bank to purchase carbon credits by funding a Hungarian forest that would make the Catholic city-state the only country fully carbon neutral. And several years later, he unveiled a new hybrid Popemobile that would be partially electric. (How Green Was the 'Green Pope'? National Geographic (02/28/13).

And on the topic of climate change, we might recall that Benedict himself specifically weighed in on the subject, :

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for the success of a UN climate change conference [...] in Durban, South Africa. Speaking to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict expressed the hope that “all members of the international community might reach agreement on a responsible, credible response,” to the phenomenon of climate change, which he described as “complex” and “disturbing”. [Vatican Radio 11/27/11].
In fact, if he had not resigned in 2013, we could reasonably suggest that Pope Benedict might have at some point devoted greater length to this particular topic in some formal manner.

Perhaps the best position present critics of Pope Francis can adopt (and this author is by no means wholly enthusiastic about the present pontiff) is to cultivate the virtue of patience and mindful silence -- and refrain from what is largely speculative criticism until the content of the encyclical is actually released, and we've all had opportunity to read it.

* * *

Further reading on the Pope Emeritus' thinking on the environment.

Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Assessing Pope Benedict XVI's Ecological Vision for the Catholic Church in the United States
Lexington Books (November 21, 2013). 322 pgs.

Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Assessing Pope Benedict XVI's Ecological Vision for the Catholic Church in the United States explores four key areas in connection with Benedict XVI’s teachings: human and natural ecology/human life and dignity; solidarity, justice, poverty and the common good; sacramentality of creation; and our Catholic faith in action. The product of mutual collaboration by bishops, scholars and staff, this anthology provides the most thorough treatment of Benedict XVI’s contributions to ecological teaching and offers fruitful directions for advancing concern among Catholics in the United States about ongoing threats to the integrity of Earth.
Ten Commandments for the Environment: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out for Creation and Justice
Ave Maria Press (June 1, 2009) 162 pgs.
Woodeene Koenig-Bricker skillfully weaves together Pope Benedicts key statements on environmental justice into one volume. Additionally, she offers commentary that helps to unpack the "Ten Commandments for the Environment," which were recently released by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Koenig-Bricker helps us understand an environmentally responsible lifestyle as a moral responsibility to protect the poor, who suffer most when climate change creates a shortage of resources. With practical, everyday ideas for reducing ones ecological footprint, this book is a must-read for those seeking the inspiration that the Holy Father radiates to a new generation of Catholics.
The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology
The Catholic University of America Press (March 18, 2014) 232pgs.
This book gathers together the audiences, addresses, letters, and homilies of Benedict on a wide-ranging set of topics that deal with the world about us. The major themes and connections he explores are creation and the natural world; the environment, science, and technology; and hunger, poverty, and the earth's resources.

See also:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Pope Benedict Roundup


  • Benedict XVI commemorates Anglicanorum Coetibus anniversary in message to Ordinariate La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 10/29/14:
    Just five days before the anniversary of the Anglicanorum Coetibus – the document Benedict XVI signed to allow Catholic Church to admit Anglicans who ask to join the Church – the Pope Emeritus has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham which is located on the historical site of the Bavarian chapel in London. In his message, Pope Benedict XVI, a Bavarian himself, sais he was “happy” about this choice. Benedict XVI, who visited the United Kingdom in September 2010, thanked all those working for the London-based Personal Ordinariate, which “serves such an important role in the whole Church of God”.
  • Pope Francis unveils bust of Benedict XVI at Science Academy Vatican Radio 10/27/14:
    Pope Francis delivered an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday morning, on the occasion of the unveiling of a bust of his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, in the Academy building at the Vatican. “Benedict XVI,” said Pope Francis, “[was] a great Pope: great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love for the Church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety.”
    See also: "Benedict XVI: A model for dialogue between faith and reason", by Giacomo Galleazzi (Vatican Insider 10/27/14).

  • Retired pope says interreligious dialogue no substitute for mission, by Francis X. Rocca. Catholic News Service 10/23/14. "VATICAN CITY - Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as "lethal to faith." He also said the true motivation for missionary work is not to increase the church's size but to share the joy of knowing Christ."

  • "Benedict XVI Surprises Movement Founder By Inviting Him to Visit" Zenit. 09/02/14:
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received in private audience on Monday two prominent proponents of Mass in the Extraordinary Form: Cosimo Marti, co-founder and treasurer of the International Federation Juventutem, and Joseph Capoccia, director of the pilgrimage "Summorum Pontificum Populus", an international pilgrimage to Rome that has taken place annually since 2012.
  • Pope Benedict and Our Lady of Fatima, by David Schütz. Sentire Cum Ecclesia 10/15/14. "When the statue of Our Lady of Fatima arrived by helicopter in the Vatican, her first port of call was the chapel of the residence of the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. From there, she went to Casa Santa Marta, and only then into St Peter’s Square."


  • Synod on the Family: Ratzinger-Kasper Rivalry Revisited, by Father Raymond J. Da Souza. National Catholic Register 10/03/14. "While Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium is in Rome for the synod on the family, I hope that he has a chance to visit Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The retired prelates may wish to reminisce about synods past, especially the 1985 extraordinary assembly on the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council."
  • Pope Benedict and the Elderly, by Amy Welborn. 09/26/14. "This coming Sunday [9/28/14], the 87 (!) – year old Pope Emeritus Benedict will attend an event for grandparents – the elderly – in St. Peter’s Square. It’s a good opportunity to revisit some remarks he made in 2012 when he visited a home for the elderly run by the Community of San’Egidio."
  • Reigning and “Emeritus.” The Enigma of the Two Popes, by Sandro Magister. 09/15/14. "It is an unprecedented innovation in the history of the Church. With many unknowns still unresolved, and with serious risks already in play. An analysis by Roberto de Mattei."
  • A group of Portuguese priests visits Benedict" [Photography] Benodette. The Ratzinger Forum 09/17/14.
  • Benedict XVI: Feminist, by Peter Strzelecki Rieth. The Imaginative Conservative "One of the greatest lies propagated by Western liberal media is that Pope Benedict XVI was a crusty old miser and “patriarchal” figure who upheld ideas and practices demeaning to women." 09/14/14.
  • When Reagan and Ratzinger Teamed Up on Faith and Hope, by Paul Kengor. The Imaginative Conservative 09/07/14.
  • Benedict XVI: Pope as Prophet, by Rev. George R. Rutler. Crisis August 25, 2014. "If a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, a great prophet is not without honor save in the whole world. Pope Benedict XVI bent under that mantle in 2006 when he spoke in Regensburg. His only miscalculation was to assume that civilization might still be civil enough to respect reason."

Pope Benedict XVI forgets to read the speech and jokes about it - a favorite memory from his trip to the United States

Pope Benedict in Print: Coming in 2015

Pope Benedict XVI's Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law
by Marta Cartabia (Editor), Andrea Simoncini (Editor).

Cambridge University Press (March 31, 2015)

Throughout Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's pontificate he spoke to a range of political, civil, academic, and other cultural authorities. The speeches he delivered in these contexts reveal a striking sensitivity to the fundamental problems of law, justice, and democracy. He often presented a call for Christians to address issues of public ethics such as life, death, and family from what they have in common with other fellow citizens: reason. This book discusses the speeches in which the Pope Emeritus reflected most explicitly on this issue, along with the commentary from a number of distinguished legal scholars. It responds to Benedict's invitation to engage in public discussion on the limits of positivist reason in the domain of law from his address to the Bundestag. Although the topics of each address vary, they nevertheless are joined by a series of core ideas whereby Benedict sketches, unpacks, and develops an organic and coherent way to formulate a "public teaching" on the topic of justice and law.

Marta Cartabia is currently a member of the Italian Constitutional Court. She has taught in a number of Italian universities and was a visiting scholar and professor in France, Germany, and the United States. Cartabia was awarded a Jean Monnet Module on European Constitutional Law from 2005-8. She served as an independent expert to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights from 2006-10.

Andrea Simoncini is currently a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Florence, Italy. In 2009 he was Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer at Notre Dame University where he was also a visiting professor at the Law School. Has been appointed a member of the Nucleo di Valutazione di Ateneo dell'Universit... degli Studi di Firenze.

Are Non-Christians Saved?: Joseph Ratzinger's Thoughts on Religious Pluralism
by Ambrose Mong (Author)

Oneworld Publications (March 17, 2015).

Are Non-Christians Saved? is essential reading for students, teachers and scholars seeking a thorough analysis of Ratzinger's position, including why he believes religious pluralism, with its 'evil twins' of relativism and secularism, is a threat to Christianity.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pope Benedict Roundup!


  • Benedict XVI: Pope as Prophet, by Rev. George W. Rutler:
    If a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, a great prophet is not without honor save in the whole world. Pope Benedict XVI bent under that mantle in 2005 when he spoke in Regensburg. His only miscalculation was to assume that civilization might still be civil enough to respect reason. Quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, himself a remnant of a decaying civilization which still distinguished good from evil, he considered how the Islamic notion of a divine power divorced from reason, whose absolute will is its own justification, could ransack the dignity of man. He condemned no one, and spoke only for truth without which the votaries of unreason, for whom there is no moral structure other than the willfulness of amorality, and whose God is not bound by his own word, rain down destruction.

    The response of some, who protested with violence, proved by that very violence the Regensburg hypothesis, if the Incarnate Christ whose word is truth, can be called a hypothesis. Pope Benedict said: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul…. God is not pleased by blood—and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death….”

    Later, the distinguished Egyptian Jesuit scholar, Father Shamir Halil Shamir, wrote: “Benedict XVI is probably one of the few figures to have profoundly understood the ambiguity in which contemporary Islam is being debated and its struggle to find a place in modern society. At the same time, he is proposing a way for Islam to work toward coexistence globally and with religions, based not on religious dialogue, but on dialogue between cultures and civilizations based on rationality and on a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion. ...

    And on a similar note, here's Hilary White (LifeSite): Pope Benedict was right about Islam at Regensburg. The world owes him an apology. 08/20/14.

    Meanwhile, Rorate Caeli remembers When Bergoglio attacked Ratzinger - Fausto Carioti, Libero Quotidiano 08/22/14.

  • Francis, Benedict, and MacIntyre?, by John Haldane. Ethika Politika 03/10/14:
    The conjoining of the names of the present Pontiff, the Pope Emeritus and one of the world’s leading moral philosophers poses an interesting challenge. How might one think to relate them? and why would one seek to do so? Should it be in an effort to use the thoughts of each to illuminate the ideas and words of the others? Should we see them as engaged in related tasks of addressing contemporary culture but bringing different interests, experiences, talents, and charisms to bear?
  • Adventures in the Liturgy with Benedict XVI, by Peter Strzelecki Rieth. The Imaginative Conservative 07/27/14. A review of The Spirit of the Liturgy (Readers are still discovering the riches of Pope Benedict!).

  • Michael Brendon Daugherty writes In defense of Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass (The Week 07/09/14). "One of Benedict's greatest legacies was to liberate the Latin Mass — and thereby restore beauty to the whole world."

  • The Ratzinger prize, referred to as the "Nobel of Theology," will for the first time this year recognize a woman theologian -- as well as a Polish theologian Zenit, 06/17/14:
    Cardinal Camillo Ruini announced today the award recipients as French professor Anne-Marie Pelletier, the prize’s first female winner, and Polish priest and scholar, Professor Waldemar Chrostowski, the first Polish winner.
  • Benedict XVI on Freedom in Obedience to the Truth: A Key for the New Evangelization, by Matthew J. Ramage. Homiletic & Pastoral Review 05/12/14.


  • Pope Benedict XVI's beliefs examined, by Jack L. Kennedy. Joplin Independent 08/04/14. Reporting the publication of a new doctoral thesis on Benedict from Rev. John J. Lynch (Anglican): The Logos as Reason, Word, and Love in the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger (June, 2014).

  • Just published: Truth and Politics: A Theological Comparison of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank by Peter Kucer:
    One of the perennial questions in political theology is how the concept of truth is defined and how such is grounded theologically. The answer to this determines, to a great degree, theological engagement with and appropriations of political systems and theological accounts of political and social order. Truth and Politics tackles this crucial question through an analysis and comparison of the thought of two of the most important contemporary Catholic and Protestant theologians, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) and John Milbank.

    Peter Samuel Kucer here traces out the critical question of the relationship of theology and politics, particularly as it intersects with ecclesiology, through a focus on the issue of the theological relationship to socialism. In this, Kucer demonstrates the competing accounts in the theologies of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank, arguing that Ratzinger's theology is oriented in such a way that it maintains a provisional openness with regard to political forms—that theology and politics, while interconnected, do not demand commitment to a singular form of political model—in contrast to Milbank's work, which subscribes to a particular pattern of church and politics.

On a lighter note ...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pope Benedict Roundup!

April 16th marks Benedict XVI's 87th birthday -- the first he will celebrate as Pope Emeritus at the Vatican. Rome Reports has the story on Benedict's "unforgettable birthdays", past and present:


  • The “hidden” Pope’s first step towards normality, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 02/24/14. The scene where Benedict XVI entered St. Peter’s Basilica to attend the Consistory ceremony and the look of surprise on the cardinals’ faces will be remembered throughout history.

  • “Ratzinger removed his zucchetto and asked for a simple seat” Interview with Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, on the Pope Emeritus' appearance at the consistory:
    Your Eminence, what was it like seeing the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI among you? “It was a moving and emotional moment, also because he wanted a simple seat next to the cardinals and there was no way he was going to change his mind. The dean, Angelo Sodano told me he had “fought” to get Benedict XVI a suitable seat, as was only natural. But he lost the “battle”: Benedict XVI already had an understanding with Pope Francis that he was going to sit in a corner. And he did sit in a corner, at the front, but in a corner.”

    What was your reaction when you met him?

    “All cardinals immediately approached him to greet him and it was amusing to see them pushing each other like young boys to get to Benedict XVI. This was another expression of love towards the Pope Emeritus.”

    When Bergoglio went to greet him Ratzinger removed his zucchetto: what was the significance of this gesture?

    “It was a sign of respect and humility. In Spanish the “zucchetto” is called “solideo”, meaning “only to God”: it is therefore only taken off for God or his representative. This was also a very moving scene.”

    How was Ratzinger?

    “He was in good form, he looked rested, at peace and friendly and open as always: he asked everyone how they were, in the same gentle and simple way he always does.”

  • An Interview with Archbishop Georg Gaenswein (Part I) | Part II The Spanish magazine 'Palabra' carried an exclusive and extensive interview with Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, prefect of the Papal Household and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s personal secretary. With Palabra’s permission, Zenit republishes the interview in which he talks about his passions and his work, and his very “special” occupation. He recalls the moments of Benedict XVI’s resignation a year ago, and the fruits that have emerged from it for the whole Church.

  • Retired Pope Benedict Critiqued Pope Francis' Interview, Aide Says Associated Press:
    The man who serves two popes has revealed that retired Pope Benedict XVI wrote four pages of critique and commentary on Pope Francis's landmark interview in which he blasted the church's obsession with "small-minded" rules. ...

    Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict's personal secretary and head of Francis' papal household, told German broadcaster ZDF that Francis had solicited Benedict's input on the interview, which was published in September in 16 Jesuit journals around the globe and helped define Francis' agenda.

    Francis received a draft of the interview to vet before publication, but it's unclear whether Benedict saw that draft or the published text. As a result, it's unclear if any of Benedict's suggestions impacted the final version

  • Benedict XVI Pays Tribute to Blessed John Paul II in New Interview Zenit. 03/07/14. Zenit publishes extracts of a recent interview Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave to ZENIT’s Wlodzimierz Redzioch in which he pays tribute to soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II.

    The complete interview appears in a book just published in Italian entitled Beside John Paul II - Friends and Collaborators Speak (Ares 2014). The interview, one of 21 with the late Pontiff’s close friends and associates, runs to 12 pages in total. It is entitled: “It Became Ever More Clear to Me that John Paul II Was a Saint”.

Pope Benedict Attends Canonization, Embraces Francis Pope Francis declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints on Sunday before hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, an unprecedented ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI. SOURCE: Associated Press 04/27/14.


  • The “Green Pope” and a Human Ecology, by William L. Patenaude. Catholic World Report 04/22/14:
    It’s a joy to happen upon an old friend, to again hear his style of speaking and his way of engaging the world. When the old friend is Benedict XVI, however, things quickly move beyond the sentimental. So it goes with The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology (The Catholic University of America Press, 2014), a helpful compilation of Benedict XVI’s many, many statements about preserving life on earth.

    Given that discussions of ecology polarize a great many along worldly ideological fault lines, one of the benefits of The Garden of God lies in remembering how Benedict XVI, like his predecessor, normalized the topic and maintained it within Catholic orthodoxy. Like no other, he taught us how the Christian creed speaks to an array of social and physical sciences that are concerned with relationships, life, and shared futures. ...

  • The Pope's Third Embodiment, by Sandro Magister. Chiesa. 04/07/14:
    ROME, April 7, 2014 – The more the months go by, the more Benedict XVI's resignation of the papacy manifests its exceptional novelty.

    Other popes before him had resigned: the last was Gregory XII, in 1415. But Joseph Ratzinger was the first to want to be called "pope emeritus" and to continue to wear the white robe "within the precincts of Saint Peter," bewildering the canonists and bringing fears of the installation of a diarchy of two popes at the summit of the Church:

    Of course, Ratzinger no longer has the powers of pontiff of the universal Church: he stripped himself of them by exercising for the last time and in the highest degree precisely his powers as "vicarius Christi." But neither did he return to being what he was before he was pope. After these two "embodiments" he now has a third that has no precedent in the history of the Church. It is the new "embodiment," the new state of life that he sees as connected to the commitment "forever" taken on with the acceptance of his election as successor of Peter. ...

  • Ratzinger, Habermas and Pera on Public Reason and Religion, by Peter J. Colosi. Lecture at University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain on June 4, 2013 to the Institute for Culture and Society, Religion and Civil Society Project.

  • The “Basic Structure“ (Grundgestalt) of the Eucharistic Celebration According to Joseph Ratzinger, by Dr. Manfred Hauke. The New Liturgical Movement.

  • Benedict XVI Remembered: "There is much to be thankful for" Zenit. 02/13/14. While his successor Pope Francis, elected less than two weeks after the resignation took effect, has become the center of the media’s attention, Pope Emeritus Benedict and his legacy has not been forgotten, even though he continues to be regularly misunderstood by the secular press.

  • The Pope in the Attic: Benedict in the Time of Francis , by Paul Elie. The Atlantic April 16, 2014:
    It’s odd enough that there are two living popes. It’s odder still that they live in such proximity. But what’s most odd is that the two popes are these two popes, and that the one who spent a third of a century erecting a Catholic edifice of firm doctrine and strict prohibition now must look on at close range as the other cheerfully dismantles it in the service of a more open, flexible Church."
    (A note here -- that while the author, perhaps somewhat too cheerfully, indulges in the external variances and emphases between the two pontificates, Kasper's gloating criticism of the Pope Emeritus ("The red slippers: ridiculous, ridiculous! Now all of the cardinals are wearing simple crosses. These changes are irreversible"), the lamentations of Cardinal Burke ("These are difficult times for all of us in the Church right now"), culminating in the willful speculation that Francis' "who am I to judge?" will extend into a repeal of doctrine -- the moral prohibitions against homosexuality or women's ordination -- this has not happened under Francis' pontificate. Nor will it.


THe Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, tells of the creation of the world and our dominion over it. But is this the whole storyfi The planet on which we live is ecologically fragile, and all people of good will have a respon- sibility to take care of this most precious gift. During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly drew attention to the environment, whether in terms of preserving it -- such as his address concerning Amazonia and his letter regarding the Arctic -- or distributing its vital resources -- such as water -- more equitably. What is more, during Benedict’s papacy, the Vatican became the first, and remains the only, carbon-neutral country in the world. This book gathers together the audiences, addresses, letters, and homilies of Benedict on a wide-ranging set of topics that deal with the world about us. The major themes and connections he explores are creation and the natural world; the environment, science, and technology; and hunger, poverty, and the earth’s resources. In these pages, Benedict insists that if we truly desire peace, we must be increasingly conscious of and nurture all of creation. Furthermore, he argues convincingly that as our love of God should cause us to protect the environment, so should our heightened sense of appreciation of the natural world draw us closer to God. Benedict speaks out against the spread of nuclear weapons, threats to biodiversity, and in favor of alternative energy. He urges sustainable development, equita- ble distribution of food and water, and an end to hunger. This book is a valuable resource for all those who seek to understand more fully the relationships among the environment, Catholic social teaching, and theology. Whether speaking to a vast crowd, meeting with a small group of scientists, or writing letters to world leaders, Benedict has shown a clear path towards a theologically cogent concern for the planet on which we live.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pope Benedict Roundup!


  • Benedict's brother says former Pope does not regret resigning Catholic News Agency. 02/12/14. In a recent interview, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger said his brother, retired Pope Benedict XVI, believes he made the right decision in stepping down from the papacy last year due to a lack of physical strength.
  • "Relativist” Ratzinger, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider". A secular, non fideistic approach that is light years away from any kind of fundamentalism. A sign of clear appreciation for liberal democratic tradition and a celebration of reason and of a healthy relativism in terms of worldly choices. This and much more is contained in the speeches of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger-turned Pope Benedict XVI, as emerges in the book “La legge di Re Salomone” (“The Law of King Solomon”) published by Italian publishing house BUR and edited by Marta Cartabia (a constitutional court judge) and Andrea Simoncini.
  • Ratzinger visits his brother at the Agostino Gemelli hospital in Rome La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 01/04/14. Yesterday the Pope Emeritus left his residence in the Vatican, where he has been living in seclusion since May 2013, to visit his brother Georg at the Roman polyclinic.
  • AP: Over two years, Pope Benedict removed nearly 400 priests from ministry for sex abuse (as relayed by) Deacon Greg Kandra. Deacons Bench 01/17/14.
  • Middle Eastern Patriarchs Visit Benedict XVI Zenit News. 11/29/13:
    Several Patriarchs who were in Rome for last week’s Plenary Assembly for the Congregation of the Oriental Churches met with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ...

    The former pontiff assured the prelates of his prayers for the Middle East.

    Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako of Baghdad confirmed the meeting with the Pontiff Emeritus in an interview with AsiaNews.

    "We had a friendly meeting, we asked him about his health and he asked us about the Middle East and the situation of the Eastern Christians."


Forthcoming Publications

Joseph Ratzinger-Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy

Publisher: Ignatius Press (May 5, 2014). 700 pgs.

This major volume is a collection of the writings of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) on the theology of the Liturgy of the Church, a subject of preeminence to him as a theologian, professor and spiritual writer. It brings together all his writings on the subject, short and long, giving his views on liturgical matters and questions over many years and from various perspectives.

He chose to have his writings on the Liturgy for the first volume published of his collected works (though listed as vol. 11) because, as he says in the Introduction: "The liturgy of the Church has been for me since my childhood the central reality of my life, and it became the center of my theological efforts. I chose fundamental theology as my field because I wanted first and foremost to examine thoroughly the question: Why do we believe? But also included from the beginning in this question was the other question of the right response to God and, thus, the question of the liturgy."

By starting with the theme of liturgy in this volume, Ratzinger wants to highlight God's primacy, the absolute precedence of the theme of God. Beginning with a focus on the liturgy, he said, tells us that "God is first". He quotes from the Rule of St. Benedict, "Nothing is to be preferred to the liturgy", as a way of ordering priorities for the life of the Church and of every individual. He says that the fundamental question of the man who begins to understand himself correctly is: How must I encounter God? Thus learning the right way of worshipping is the gift par excellence that is given to us by the faith.

The essential purpose of his writings on the liturgy is to place the liturgy in its larger context, which he presents in three concentric circles. First, the intrinsic interrelationship of Old and New Testament; without the connection to the Old Testament heritage, the Christian liturgy is incomprehensible. The second circle is the relationship to the religions of the world. The third circle is the cosmic character of the liturgy, which is more than the coming together of a circle of people: the liturgy is celebrated in the expanse of the cosmos, encompassing creation and history at the same time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pope Benedict Roundup!

  • Pope Francis thanks his predecessor for his Jesus of Nazareth Trilogy, and awards the Ratzinger Prize for Theology Vatican Information Service. 10/27/13:
    “I thank you, and am happy to meet with you, especially as a sign of our recognition and of our great affection for Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. I would like to share with you a reflection, which comes to me spontaneously when I think of the truly unique gift that he has given the Church in his books on Jesus of Nazareth”.

    “I recall that when the first volume came out, some people said: what is this? A Pope doesn't write books on theology, he writes encyclicals! … Certainly, Pope Benedict had considered this problem, but also in this case, as always, he followed the voice of the Lord in his enlightened conscience. With these books, he did not offer teaching in the strict sense of the word, and he did not produce an academic study. He gave a gift to the Church, and to all humanity, of what was most precious to him: his knowledge of Jesus, the fruit of years and years of study, of prayer, of theological investigation, and he made it available in the most accessible form”.

    He continued, “No one can measure the good he has done by means of this gift; only the Lord knows! But we all have a certain perception of this, having listened to so many people who, thanks to these books on Jesus of Nazareth, have nurtured and deepened their faith, or have indeed drawn close to Christ for the first time, as adults, bringing the demands of reason alongside their search for the face of God”.

    “At the same time, the work of Benedict XVI has stimulated a new era of study of the Gospels, between history and Christology, and our Symposium, for which I congratulate the organisers and speakers, forms a part of this”.

    The Ratzinger Prize, granted by the Vatican Foundation, was awarded to Rev. Richard Burridge, Anglican minister and deacon of King's College, London, and to the German theologian Christian Schaller, layperson, lecturer in dogmatic theology and vice director of the Benedict XVI Institute in Regensburg, Germany, which is publishing critical editions of Joseph Ratzinger's full works.

  • New Book Details Benedict XVI’s Love for Nature, Ecology National Catholic Register 10/25/13:
    For an Ecology of Man, a new book collecting Benedict XVI’s speeches on ecology and humanity’s relationship with nature, reveals his love and concern for nature and animals, according to the emeritus pope’s once-private secretary.

    “In the book, Benedict writes that man, if he is to have a heart for peace, must have an awareness of the connection between natural ecology and human ecology,” Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, who is now Pope Francis’ private secretary, told Vatican Radio in an Oct. 19 interview.

    “There emerges an inseparable link between peace for creation and peace among men,” he added.

    Msgr. Xuereb presented For an Ecology of Man,” newly published in Italian by the Vatican Publishing House, at the seventh annual meeting of the publisher’s cultural association in the northern Italian city of Pordenone.

  • Archbishop Ganswein talks about serving two popes Catholic News Service 10/22/13:
    The Italian newspaper reporter also asked Archbishop Ganswein, who lives with retired Pope Benedict and has been his personal secretary since 2003, what it is like to continue in that role while also serving the reigning pope as head of the papal household, organizing the pope's daily meetings and audiences.

    "It's a challenge," he replied. "Every once in a while I'd like to ask advice from my predecessor, but I don't have one because no one has ever held this double position."

    "Nevertheless, with a bit of common sense, I do my best. I put into practice Pope Francis' words: Never close yourself off and don't be afraid," he said. In the end, whether he is helping Pope Francis or retired Pope Benedict, "my service is for the Lord and the church," he said.

    The 86-year-old retired pope "is well," Archbishop Ganswein said. "He prays, reads, listens to music, dedicates himself to his correspondence, which is a lot, and receives visitors. Every day we walk together in the woods behind the monastery (where they live), reciting the rosary."

  • “Benedict XVI was very surprised by Gotti Tedeschi’s ousting”, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 10/22/13:
    Pope Benedict XVI was clearly in the dark about the clamorous ousting of the former president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. The circumstances surround his dismissal and the way this took place were a first in the history of the Holy See. Attempts were made to besmirch his personal and professional reputation, as mentioned in the list of reasons the Vatican bank’s (IOR) board gave for Gotti Tedeschi’s dismissal. The document was signed by Carl Anderson, chairman of the board of the Knights of Columbus.

    Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and Benedict XVI’s secretary, confirmed this in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, published in today’s issue. “I remember that moment well. It was 24 May. It was the same day Benedict XVI’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested. Contrary to what many people think, there is no link between the two events. It was just an unfortunate and diabolical coincidence.”

  • Evangelical theologian lauds "Christocentric legacy" of Benedict XVI, by Carl Olson. Catholic World Report 10/14/13:
    Although he might not be well known outside of certain theological circles, Dr. Hans Boersma is one of the finer young Evangelical theologians writing today. He is the J.I. Packer Professor of Theology at Regent College, one of the best Evangelical schools in Canada, and he is the author of some books that engage deeply and thoughtfully with Catholic theology, notably Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery. As his bio on the Regent website states, Boersma's "main theological interests are Catholic thought, the church fathers, and spiritual interpretation of Scripture." (And in the words of a snide reviewer, he is "A Roman Catholic in evangelical clothing".)

    In the September/October 2013 edition of Books & Culture: A Christian Review, in an article titled, "The Real Presence of Hope & Love" (subscription required for full article), Boersma praises the "Christocentric legacy" of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and touches on how it should help fruitful ecumenical conversation between Catholics and Evangelicals. He notes that far too many discussions of theology begin with premises about "conversative" and "liberal," which often derail matters before anything of substance is actually discussed. "With regard to Benedict," writes Boersma, "what stands out is not his alleged 'conservatism' but his focus on Christ in matters both theological and moral. That is what will render him relevant for many years to come." ... [Read more]

  • Pope Benedict challenges atheist, says he never hid abuse cases, by Carol Glatz. Catholic News Service. In a letter to an atheist Italian mathematician, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended his own handling of allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and politely criticized the logician's total reliance on scientific facts for meaning. [See also: Pope-emeritus exchanges letters with noted atheist philosopher Vatican Radio 9/24/13].

  • Married priests: Ratzinger makes an exception, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 9/14/13. It was Benedict XVI who opened up the possibility for Anglo-Catholic Ordinariates to admit married men to the priesthood in the future.

  • New light is shed on Pope Benedict’s 9/11 memorial prayer, by Carol Glatz:
    VATICAN CITY — When Pope Benedict XVI visited ground zero in 2008, he knelt alone and prayed inside the cement-walled crater where the World Trade Center Towers once stood.

    As a sign of bringing light and hope to the dark memory of 9/11, the pope was going to light a large beeswax candle adorned with his papal coat of arms.

    That simple symbolic act, however, required lots of preparation and a few excruciating seconds of uncertainty.

    (Via Deacon Greg Kandra).

  • Benedict XVI, Francis’ asset La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 9/2/13. Jorge Bergoglio sees the Pope Emeritus as an asset. “It’s like having your grandfather in the house, a wise grandfather,” Francis had said on the flight back from Rio de Janeiro last 29 July.

  • Pope Emeritus's Unexpected Homily on Humility, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 9/4/13. Although the full text has yet to appear, Benedict XVI’s homily during Mass for his former students on Sunday is one of wisdom and truth. Essentially a treatise on humility, his words come as a welcome surprise, especially as the world wasn’t expecting to see or hear from the Pope Emeritus after his retirement.

  • “Benedict XVI cured my cancer" La Stampa 9/3/13. 19 year old American, Peter Srisch, claims he was cured from a tumour after meeting Ratzinger and receiving his blessing a year ago.

Books About Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI and the Politics of Modernity Pope Benedict XVI and the Politics of Modernity by Marc D. Guerra.
Routledge, October 2013.

In Benedict XVI and the Politics of Modernity, distinguished scholars from North America and Europe examine Pope Benedict XVI’s searching reflections on the challenges and prospects facing modern Western society. For more than five decades, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI has made the subject of the continued health and vitality of Western civilization a focal point of his reflections. From his early (1968) Introduction to Christianity to his later (2005) Values in a Time of Upheaval, the Pope has argued that the preservation of the social, political, scientific, and spiritual way of life that characterizes modern Western societies hinges upon our rediscovery of the unique roots and distinctive nature of Western civilization.

Focusing on Pope Benedict XVI’s nuanced account as to why the modern West cannot currently afford to forget or neglect its premodern Hellenic and Christian roots, this book will interest religious and nonreligious people who are concerned about the future of democracy and religion in contemporary Western societies.

This book was based on a special issue of Perspectives on Political Science.

Marc D. Guerra is associate professor and director of graduate programs in theology at Ave Maria University. He is the author of Christians as Political Animals (ISI Books, 2010) and editor of Reason, Revelation, and Human Affairs; Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome; and The Science of Modern Virtue: Essays on Descartes, Darwin, and Locke.

And on a humorous note

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pope Benedict Roundup!

  • Vatican Diary / Pope Benedict's Parting Shot. Sandro Magister relays how Pope Benedict ordered changes to baptism rite before he resigned (Chiesa. 08/28/13):
    The Sunday after the Epiphany is the Sunday of the baptism of Jesus. And on each of these Sundays, year after year, Benedict XVI administered the first sacrament of Christian initiation to a certain number of children, in the Sistine Chapel.

    Each time, therefore, he had occasion to pronounce the formulas supplied by the rite of baptism in effect since 1969. But two of the words in this rite never entirely convinced him.

    And so, before renouncing the chair of Peter, he ordered that they should be changed in the original Latin, and as a result in the modern languages as well ...

    From now on, at the end of the rite of reception, before signing with the cross the forehead of the child or of the children, the priest will longer say: “Magno gaudio communitas christiana te (vos) excipit,” but instead: “Magno gaudio Ecclesia Dei te (vos) excipit”.

    In practice pope Joseph Ratzinger, as a sophisticated theologian, wanted that in the baptismal rite it should be clearly said that it is the Church of God – which subsists fully in the Catholic Church – that receives those who are being baptized, and not generically the “Christian community,” a term that also signifies the individual local communities or non-Catholic confessions, like the Protestants.

  • Myth Busted: Benedict XVI 'Mystical Experience' Story Not True, Catholic News Agency / EWTN. 08/28/13:
    The retired pope's personal secretary came forward and said the recent and widely circulated news story claiming that Benedict XVI stepped down after having a “mystical experience” is completely false.

    “It was invented, from the alpha to the omega,” Archbishop Georg Gänswein said. ...

    Zenit, a Rome-based Catholic news outlet, had reported Aug. 19 that Benedict XVI resigned after having a mystical experience in which God told him to do so.

    The agency said that the former pope told a visitor to Mater Ecclesiae, the monastery in the Vatican where he currently resides, that God “did not speak to him in a vision, but in a mystical experience.”

  • Ratzinger’s former students to meet in Castel Gandolfo without him, by Maria Teresa Pontara Pederiva. (La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 8/21/13:
    Unless there are any last minute surprises, this year for the first time ever, Ratzinger’s former students will be meeting in Castel Gandolfo without their old teacher, the theologian-turned-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger.

    The Circle’s coordinator, Fr. Stephan Otto Horn (Ratzinger’s assistant at Regensburg University between 1971 and 1977 and currently Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Passau) will lead this year’s meeting taking over from the Pope Emeritus who will be staying in the Vatican. The meeting runs from 29 August to 2 September.

    The topic Ratzinger chose for the meeting is: “The question of God in the context of secularisation”. He apparently also chose the meeting’s speaker, the French historian and philosopher, Rémi Brague, formerly a professor at the Sorbonne University in Paris and at the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in Munich.

    “Faith in modern society” is the topic chosen to start off the Circle’s discussion.

  • Benedict XVI Makes Brief Trip to Castel Gandolfo, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 08/20/13:
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI briefly returned to the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo on Sunday, where he spent time in prayer and attended a small concert in his honor.

    He was accompanied by four 'memores domini', consecrated women belonging to the Communion and Liberation movement. When he was Pope, they looked after him in the apostolic palace, and continue to do so now as Pope Emeritus, in his new residence in the Vatican Gardens.

    During his three hour visit, Benedict XVI recited the Rosary while taking a stroll in the villa gardens, just as he used to do when he was Roman Pontiff. He also attended a short piano recital of classical music performed in his honor before returning to the Vatican in the evening.

  • Francis (with Benedict) dedicates the Vatican to St Michael, by Gianni Valenti. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 07/05/13. The Bishop of Rome – in the presence of his predecessor – unveils a statue of St Michael in the Vatican gardens. And places the Vatican city under the protection of the Archangel St Joseph.


  • Benedict and Francis: A Lesson in Apostolic Continuity, by William L. Patenaude. Catholic World Report 05/06/13. The differences between the two men give witness to the different gifts of the same Holy Spirit.
  • Benedict XVI and the End of the “Virtual Council”, by Tracey Rowland. Catholic World Report. 04/19/13. Up to the final days of his pontificate, Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of interpreting the Council in continuity with what came before it.
  • Benedict and Francis: How Much Difference Is There? by Alessandro Speciale Religion News Service | 06/20/13. 100 days into his pontificate, a debate is brewing in Rome over whether Francis has set a distinctly different course from his predecessor, or whether the visible differences in style and personality between Francis and Benedict XVI mask a deeper theological and ideological continuity.
  • Benedict Wanted a "Poor" Church, Too, by Sandro Magister. (Chiesa, 06/17/13). The encyclical of Francis conceived and written by his predecessor is not the only sign of continuity between the two most recent popes. On the "poverty" of the Church as well there is harmony. It is enough to reread what Ratzinger said in Freiburg in 2011, in one of the capital discourses of his pontificate.
  • Ratzinger the reformer returns to his roots, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 05/03/13. Those who criticise Francis for the supposed discontinuity he has shown with Benedict XVI’s papacy, forget the historic importance of his resignation.
  • In the Winter 2011 issue of Communio>, David S. Crawford explicates the controversy around Pope Benedict’s comments (in the 2010 interview Light of the World) on condom use: Benedict XVI and the Structure of the Moral Act: On the Condoms Controversy (pdf).

Friday, July 05, 2013

Pope Francis' Lumen Fidei - "In The Light of Faith"

This is an ongoing compilation of news and commentary relating to Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei ("In the Light of Faith") -- the content of which was initially composed by Pope Benedict XVI, and subsequently embraced and completed by his successor.

News and Commentary

  • In first encyclical, pope celebrates faith as the light of human life, by Francis X. Rocca. (Catholic News Service). 07/05/13.
  • Encyclical illustrates continuity of two papacies, officials say, by Cindy Wooden (Catholic News Service) 07/05/13.
    Presenting Pope Francis' new encyclical and acknowledging how much of it was prepared by retired Pope Benedict XVI, top Vatican officials hailed it as a unique expression of the development of papal teaching and unity in faith.

    "It is a fortunate coincidence that this text was written, so to speak, by the hands of two popes," said Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a news conference July 5 marking the release of "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith").

    "Notwithstanding the differences of style, sensibility and accent, anyone who reads this encyclical will immediately note the substantial continuity of the message of Pope Francis with the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI," the archbishop said. ...

    Cardinal Ouellet told reporters, "A pillar was lacking in Benedict XVI's trilogy on the theological virtues" begun with his encyclicals on love and on hope. "Providence willed that this missing pillar should be both a gift from the pope emeritus to his successor and a symbol of unity."

    Pope Francis' decision to take up the work begun by Pope Benedict and add some of his own reflections, which he states explicitly in the encyclical, witnesses to their unity in faith, the Canadian cardinal said. "The light of faith is passed from one pontiff to another like a baton in a relay, thanks to 'the gift of the apostolic succession.'"

    For Cardinal Ouellet, the encyclical's "shared mode of transmission illustrates in an extraordinary way the most fundamental and original aspect of the encyclical: its development of the dimension of communion in faith," of the importance of believing in and with the church and of living one's faith in solidarity with others.

    The text of the finished encyclical, he said, reflects "much of Pope Benedict and all of Pope Francis."

  • The Light of Faith" by Four Hands, by Fr. Thomas Rosica. Salt and Light 07/05/13. In order to begin to understand the magnitude of Pope Francis’ first Encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” we must take into consideration a scene in the Vatican Gardens early this morning which preceded the unveiling of this great papal teaching prepared by “four hands.” ...
  • Francis on the "Light of Faith" First responses to 'Lumen Fidei' by Drew Christiansen, Robert P. Imbelli, James Martin, SJ, Peter Folan, S.J., Christiana Z. Peppard. America Magazine. 07/05/13.
  • 14 things you need to know about Pope Francis’s new encyclical, by Jimmy Akin. National Catholic Register 07/05/13.
  • In first encyclical, Francis reaches out to seekers, by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter 07/05/13.
  • Lumen Fidei and Taking the Right Stand, by David Cloutier. dotCommonweal 07/05/13:
    If you do not take a stand, you will not understand. Understanding requires standing. These are the culminating themes of the account of the concept of faith in Joseph Ratzinger’s 1968 Introduction to Christianity, in which faith is named as “taking up a position” and “to take one’s stand on something.” Ratzinger is trying to identify faith with a certain type of stance toward reality, rather than with any formulae, claiming that faith is the prerequisite of all real human understanding. Without faith, he suggests, all understanding eventually is reduced to “making” – that is, not to standing somewhere, but to remaking the world in one’s own image. (By “faith” here, I hasten to add that Ratzinger is speaking more broadly that about “the Faith” – he’s showing that understanding is really only possible if there is acknowledgment of meaning in the world that is PRIOR TO my own definitions, and to acknowledge such meaning is to trust, have faith.

    Chapter 2 of Lumen Fidei quotes Isaiah 7:9, “Unless you believe, you will not understand,” the very verse on which Ratzinger bases his reflection in his 1968. The hand of Benedict is very much present here, weaving a complex reflection on how love, the senses, and reason all work together in fruitful concert when grounded in faith, a faith that itself must be embodied in the community of the Church (chapter 3) and in service to the common good (chapter 4). ...

  • The Encyclical on Faith, by James V. Schall, SJ. Catholic World Report July 7, 2003:
    ... What struck me about this latest encyclical was how little it addressed itself to current events. It does say that marriage is between one man and one woman for their good and that of the child, but that is nothing new. One would think that a Church that wanted to be “relevant,” with a new Pope, some greater effort would be made to speak of economics and foreign affairs. I can imagine the editorial writers in the world press and media scratching their collective heads trying to figure out how to deal with this obviously important document. They are not used to being told that they cannot explain the condition of their own souls without the faith that addresses itself to the whole of human existence.

    I suggest that the encyclical’s purposeful indifference to such things is precisely its point. In the long run, these worldly things are not particularly important if they are not also taken up with the great drama of faith that constitutes salvation history. We cannot explain ourselves by ourselves to ourselves. "Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the center of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation that unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires…". This encyclical spells out the alternative to the self-centered man. We are not the center of our own reality; yet, we really exist and there is a center.

  • You've got to love an encyclical that name-checks Wittgenstein - Peter Bradley. Lex Communis 07/05/13.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pope Benedict Roundup!


  • Ratzinger to return to the Vatican the second of May, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 04/26/13:
    Benedict XVI returns to the Vatican. He left the Holy See on 28 February, the last day of his pontificate, which ended officially on the evening of that same day, following his resignation. Unless there is last minute change of plan, the Pope Emeritus is expected to return to the Vatican the second of May. The former cloistered monastery where the former Pope will be living, is now ready for him to move in. ...
  • Author Charles Coulombe was inspired to write The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI because he considered Benedict to have been ‘the best pope I’ve lived under' National Catholic Register 04/26/13.
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict 'relieved' he is no longer pontiff Pope Emeritus Benedict's older brother has said the former pontiff is "relieved" to be free of the responsibility of running the Catholic Church, as he insisted that while he is growing weaker with old age, he is not suffering from illness. The Telegraph 04/23/13.
  • Ratzinger celebrates first birthday as Pope Emeritus La Stampa 04/16/13
    Benedict XVI turned 86 today, celebrating his first birthday as Pope Emeritus in the solitude of Cstel Gandolfo, surrounded by his small “family”, made up of his secretary Georg Gänswein, the four Memores Domini sisters, the secretary Sister Birgit and his brother, Georg Ratzinger.

    Pope Francis made a cordial telephone call to him, repeating the wishes he sent him during mass. He also sent his wishes to Georg Ratzinger for his name day on 23 April (the two share the same name, the Pope's own name being Jorge).


  • Pope Benedict XVI’s “First Convert”, by Roger Dubin. The Catholic World Report 04/16/13. The story of how a New York Jew wrestled with Christ and became Catholic.
  • From the Archives: Neuhaus and Ratzinger, by Matthew Schmitz. First Things "First Thoughts" Recalling Cardinal Ratzinger's 1988 Erasmus Lecture, "Biblical Interpretation in Crisis, presented in New York City and hosted by the Institute on Religion and Public Life.
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s Legacy: Faith and Future Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger on "Six essential and enduring themes of the pontificate of the Pope Emeritus." Catholic World Report 04/23/13.
  • Benjamin Wiker has written a seven part reflection on Pope Benedict's pontificate (and his battle with secularism) for the National Catholic Register. Wiker's latest book is Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion.
  • Benedict XVI and the End of the “Virtual Council”, by Tracey Rowland. The Catholic World Report 04/19/13. Up to the final days of his pontificate, Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of interpreting the Council in continuity with what came before it.
  • Pope Francis wishes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI a Happy Birthday 04/16/13:
    [Tuesday] morning, on the occasion of the birthday of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, the Holy Father Francis began the celebration of Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, inviting all those present to pray with these words: “Today is Benedict XVI's birthday. We offer the Mass for him, so that the Lord be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation.”

    During the morning, Pope Francis then made friendly a phone call to Benedict XVI to wish him a happy birthday as well as to extend his greetings and best wishes to his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who has been at Castel Gandolfo for several days, staying precisely to celebrate in a familial and fraternal way, today's occasion and who will in turn celebrate his saint's day, St. George, this coming 23 April, just as Pope Francis will.

  • Pope's sister: Francis 'plenty tough enough' to lead John Allen Jr. interviews Maria Elena Bergoglio, sister of Pope Francis. National Catholic Reporter 04/03/13:
    There’s only one other person on earth who can really understand what your brother’s going through, and that’s Benedict XVI. They’ve already spoken several times. In the same way, there’s probably only one other person who can appreciate what you’re going through, and that’s Benedict’s brother Georg. Have you thought about calling him for advice?

    You know, no one’s asked me that before. It’s true, probably no one knows what my brother is feeling as much as Benedict. I’ve never thought about calling his brother, but I’m sure it would be a very interesting phone call.

    If you did have that phone call, what would you want to ask him?

    It’s not so much that I have anything I’d want to ask, but I would like to congratulate him for the brother he has. Benedict XVI is an extremely humble man and an extremely honest man, and it takes a lot of guts to renounce power like he did. Also, I’d like to express how grateful I am to Benedict XVI, because he did all the hard work. First of all, he had to follow John Paul II, which was almost impossible, especially because Benedict was more introverted and shy, more intellectual. I also feel sorry for Benedict because in many ways he had to do the dirty work in the church, such as starting to talk about the bad things in the church, the rotten tomatoes, such as the abuse cases.

    You mention the abuse cases. How do you think your brother will respond to them?

    I have no idea what he’ll actually do, but I know that he’ll do what needs to be done.

    Are you glad that your brother is following Benedict and not John Paul II? Do you feel like that will make things easier for him?

    Probably, yes, because John Paul II was so much in the hearts of the people. It was an extremely difficult job for anyone to follow him. I don’t think my brother will be exactly like John Paul II or Benedict XVI … in some ways, at least in terms of personality, he’s a good mix of both of them.

  • Benedict XVI’s Theology of Holy Saturday, by Tania M. Geist. First Things "On The Square" 03/30/13.
  • The Archiving of Benedict, or a Defense of Pope Benedict XVI (Dyspeptic Mutterings 03/28/13). A stern (and warranted) essay by Dale Price on those who would use the pontificate of Pope Francis as a means to criticize -- or otherwise dismiss -- his predecessor.
  • Love, Hope, and Truth: Benedict XVI’s Three Encyclicals, by Carl Olson. 03/25/13.


Reason: Open to God The Word Made Love: The Dialogical Theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI
by Christopher S. Collins.

Liturgical Press, February 2013.

In The Word Made Love, Christopher Collins identifies in the structure of Ratzinger s thought the presentation of God as one who speaks and who ultimately speaks Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Humanity s posture before God is one of hearing and responding. For Ratzinger, then, dialogue is the basic structure of all reality, and the Christian vision articulates the radical transformation that happens when we enter into this divine dialogue. Collins argues that this dialogical, communicative structure is a distinctive aspect of Ratzinger s thought and a unique contribution to the renewal of theology in our day.

Christopher S. Collins, SJ, is assistant professor of theology at Saint Louis University. He is a former parish priest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, as well as a high school instructor at both Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, Arizona, and Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas, Texas.

Reason: Open to God Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, Vol. 2: Anthropology and Culture (Ressourcement: Retrieval and Renewal in Catholic Thought)
by Pope Benedict XVI. Edited by David Schindler and Nicholas J. Healy.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (January 2013)

In this second volume of Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, Pope Benedict XVI speaks to various issues relating to humanity today -- conscience, technological security, the origin of human life, the meaning of Sunday, Christian hope, and more.

As editor David L. Schindler notes, "Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) rarely writes on any churchly matter that does not manifest its implications for man and culture, and vice versa. Indeed, this indissoluble linking is one of the main distinguishing features of his theology." This is the second of three volumes; the first deals with themes relating to the Church, and the third volume is to focus on theological renewal.

Reason: Open to God
By Mariusz Biliniewicz.
The Liturgical Vision of Pope Benedict XVI: A Theological Inquiry Available in the UK only - order overseas from

Peter Lang AG, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften (20 Feb 2013)

This book presents and evaluates the liturgical vision of Pope Benedict XVI and the theological background underlying that vision. It describes the main features of Joseph Ratzinger's theology of the liturgy and analyses them within the context of his theology as a whole. Ratzinger's evaluation of the contemporary Roman Catholic liturgy is explored in relation to his overall assessment of the post-Vatican II era in the Church, alongside an examination of his project of liturgical renewal ('reform of the reform') and its practical implementation during his pontificate. The author discusses the various critical voices which have been raised against the Pope's liturgical agenda and against certain aspects of his general theology. Overall, the book offers an assessment of the importance of Ratzinger's vision for the Church at the threshold of the third millennium.

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