Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • Guest Op-Ed: Fighting for the soul of Europe. Rorate Caeli 3/29/16. The following guest Op-Ed was penned by a newly ordained diocesan priest, writing under the name Monsieur l'Abbé, comparing the pontifical approaches to Islam of Pope Francis and his predecessor:
    At the heart of the juxtaposition of the Easter Vigil of 2008 and this year’s Holy Thursday is the radical difference between the two possible approaches to the problem of Islam in Europe. In 2008, Benedict XVI personified a Church that was confident in her identity. For him, the Church is the only force that can offer transcendence to a secular Europe ... Even before his election to the Papacy, Joseph Ratzinger had an exceptional understanding of Europe and its relationship to Islam. Experiencing the extremism of National Socialism and Communism in Europe during his lifetime, Ratzinger knew what was at stake in the fight for Europe’s heart. The invasion of Islamism is the next battle that Europe is fighting, and Ratzinger has offered a unique perspective as to how the battle could be won. ...

    In contrast to Ratzinger’s immersion in European culture, Jorge Borgoglio grew up in Peronist Argentina in a milieu that saw itself as independent of European interests and more civilized than the rest of Latin America. Since his election in 2013, the pope’s preference for ministry to the “peripheries” and the marginalized has left Europe as an undefended afterthought.

  • Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is “slowly, serenely fading” but remains "very lucid". 03/24/16. Joseph Ratzinger is “an old man, of course, but very lucid. Unfortunately, it’s become difficult for him to walk and he needs to use a walking frame,” Georg Gaenswein said in an interview with the Italian magazine BenEssere.

  • Full text of Benedict XVI's recent, rare, and lengthy interview Catholic News Agency. 03/17/16:
    In a recently published interview on issues of justification and faith, Benedict XVI has addressed issues of mercy and our need for forgiveness, salvation through the cross, the necessity of baptism, and the importance of sharing in Christ's redeeming love.

    The discussion with Fr. Jacques Servais, SJ, took place ahead of an October, 2015 conference in Rome studying the doctrine of justification by faith.

    Benedict's answers, originally in German, were read aloud as a text at the conference by the Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein.

    They were later published as the introduction to a book in Italian on the conference texts and conclusions, titled “Through Faith: Doctrine of Justification and Experience of God in the Preaching of the Church and the Spiritual Exercises,” by Fr. Daniel Libanori, SJ.

    • See also: Benedict and Francis are more Lennon-McCartney than Frazier-Ali, by John Allen Jr. Crux 03/19/16. "As Benedict sees it, he inherited the emphasis on mercy in recent papacies from St. John Paul II, laid out the intellectual case, and then handed it on to Francis, who’s taking the message to the streets."

  • The Law of Benedict, by Samuel Gregg. The Public Discourse 03/16/16. Pope Benedict XVI often ventured into venues historically hostile to the Judeo-Christian tradition. A new collection of essays discusses many of these speeches, probing the relationship of reason to religion, the West, and natural law. A review of Pope Benedict XVI's Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law.

  • Three years ago brought history’s greatest act of papal humility, by John Allen Jr. Crux 02/19/16. "Pope Benedict XVI, shown here in 2012, was the first pope to renounce his powers as the result of an honest self-examination."

  • The silent reform of Benedict XVI's papacy Catholic News Agency 02/11/16. In his new book on Benedict XVI, Vatican journalist Marco Mancini argues that while the retired pontiff became known for his shocking resignation three years ago, his real legacy began far earlier.


Christ’s Descent into Hell: John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, and Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Theology of Holy Saturday Christ’s Descent into Hell: John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, and Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Theology of Holy Saturday, by Lyra Pitstick.

Eerdmans (May 17, 2016) 144 pages.

Pope John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) both held Hans Urs von Balthasar in high regard. Many assume that their praise of Balthasar indicates approval of his controversial theology of Holy Saturday, but this book by Lyra Pitstick shows that conclusion to be far from accurate.

Pitstick looks at what John Paul II, Ratzinger, and Balthasar have in fact said regarding the creedal affirmation that Christ “descended into hell,” and she shows that there are radical differences in their views. She then addresses a number of important questions that follow from these differences.

This careful, concise exploration of what three of the twentieth century’s most famous Catholic theologians had to say about Christ’s descent into hell provides an accessible take on a difficult point of theological debate.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • Clear and colorful: A common property in unscripted papal preaching, Carol Glatz (Catholic News Service) reports on a new publication of Joseph Ratzinger:
    Never-before published, the 10 homilies are informal, colorful, off-the-cuff reflections that seek to make the mystery, relevance, and force of the faith clear and inspirational to everyday Catholics in a small Bavarian parish. The 100-page book — currently available only in Italian — is titled, The Homilies of Pentling, the German village where the cardinal vacationed and kept a home he had hoped to retire to one day.

    “Apart from a few small corrections, I kept the familiar style of the text just as it flowed out back then,” the retired pope wrote in the book's preface. He said he hoped the homilies, taken from transcribed audio recordings between 1986 and 1999, would help not just "my fellow citizens of Pentling," but all readers in “understanding and living the word of the Gospel."

    While Pope Francis consistently crafts clever, memorable metaphors in his writings and talks, many people don’t remember that Pope Benedict was quite good at it, too.

  • Ratzinger Prize Recognizes Lebanese, Brazilian Scholars 11/16/15. "The Ratzinger Prize this year recognizes a Lebanese scholar who translated Joseph Ratzinter's complete works into Arabic, and a Brazilian theologian who twice served on the International Theological Commission."

  • How about a Masters in "Ratzinger Studies"? - Fr. John Zuhlsdorf reports that in Rome, there is now a Masters program in RATZINGER STUDIES. The Fondazione Vaticana Joseph Ratzinger Benedetto XVI is sponsoring a Masters Program in "Joseph Ratzinger: Studies and Spirituality." [Link to PDF of the brochure].

  • Kasper vs Ratzinger, the Unending Dispute, by Sandro Magister. Chiesa. 10/30/15. "Francis reignited it and the synod has not resolved it. In the paragraphs on the divorced and remarried the word “communion” isn’t there. But the pope could introduce it himself, by authority."

  • How Benedict XVI played a special role in a Pope's cause for sainthood Catholic News Agency. 10/20/15. "On his path to beatification, John Paul I can count on a very special supporter: Pope emeritus Benedict XVI."

  • Benedict: "From Where Does Evil Come?", by James C. Schall, SJ. Crisis 09/21/15:
    The former students of Pope Benedict have an annual seminar (Ratzinger Schülerkreis) to think about his vast and profound intellectual accomplishments. This year’s meeting was held Castel Gandolfo. On August 30, in the Church of the Teutonic Cemetery in the Vatican, Pope Benedict gave a brief, penetrating homily in German to the group. The general subject of discussion was “How do we speak of God today?” (L’Osservatore Romano, September 4, 2015).

    The Gospel reading in the Pope’s Mass was from Mark 7. This passage concerned the Scribes and Pharisees questioning Christ and the disciples about washing hands and utensils in dining. Christ was annoyed with these gentlemen for concerning themselves with external cleanliness when inside they were avaricious and vain. Christ concluded with the famous passage: “Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him impure; that which comes out from him, and only that, constitutes impurity” (Mk 7:15, 20). In other words, the world’s problems are not external to our souls but originate there. We cannot reconstruct the world in order to reconstruct ourselves. We always have to attend to ourselves first.

    At this group’s meeting three years previously, using the same text from Mark, Christof Cardinal Schönborn, O. P., a former student and colleague of Pope Benedict, posed the issue in this manner: Must one first be “purified exteriorly and not only interiorly, and [does] evil only [come] from within?”

  • Benedict XVI: the Hidden Legacy 08/31/15:
    “A theological family.” This is how Fr. Stephan Horn, Salvatorian, describes the circle of former students of Joseph Ratzinger. Fr. Horn served as academic assistant to Joseph Ratzinger in Regensburg from 1971 to 1997, and today he is the secretary of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis, which gathers once a year since 1978. ...

  • Regensburg Redux: Can Benedict say ‘I told you so’ about Islam?, by David Gibson. Crux / Religion News Service. 09/11/14:
    Eight years ago this Friday, Sept. 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria in which he seemed to diagnose Islam as a religion inherently flawed by fanaticism.

    It was an undiplomatic assertion, to say the least — especially coming a day after the 9/11 anniversary — and it sparked an enormous outcry among Muslims. It came to be seen as one of a series of missteps that would plague Benedict’s papacy until he resigned last year.

    Now, with the Islamic State on the march in the Middle East, leaving a trail of horrifying brutality and bloodshed that has shocked the world, some of Benedict’s allies on the Catholic right are saying, in effect, "He told you so."

  • Cardinal Danneels Admits to Being Part of 'Mafia' Club Opposed to Benedict XVI, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 09/24/15.

  • Cardinal Danneels' Biographers Retract Comments on St. Gallen Group (but the cardinal's assertion that the secretive "mafia-like" group existed and opposed Joseph Ratzinger still stands), by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 09/26/15.
    • FLASHBACK: Ex pope Benedict denies he was forced to resign, by Philip Pullella. Reuters. 02/26/14:
      Former Pope Benedict, in one of the few times he has broken his silence since stepping down nearly a year ago, has branded as "absurd" fresh media speculation that he was forced to quit.

      Church law says a pope's resignation is valid only if he takes the decision in full freedom and without pressure from others.

      "There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry," Benedict, 86, who now has the title "pope emeritus," said in a letter to the Italian website Vatican Insider published on Wednesday.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pope Benedict Roundup


  • Ratzinger at mass with former pupils: "The epidemic of the heart leads to corruption" La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 08/30/15:
    “The truth, love and goodness that come from God, make man pure and truth, love and goodness come together in the Word which brings liberates a world that no longer thinks of God from ‘forgetfulness’.” This was at the heart of the homily which the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI pronounced during a mass he presided over this morning in the Teutonic Cemetery church in the Vatican. The mass was attended by members of the Schuelerkreis (Ratzinger’s “student circle”) and the New Schuelerkreis, who gathered at Castel Gandolfo in recent days to reflect on the theme “How to speak to God today”. The priest and philosopher Tomas Halik also participated. The news was posted on the Ratzinger Foundation website. ...

    The mass was followed by a ceremony for the inauguration of the “Pope Benedict-Joseph Ratzinger Hall”, which the Pope Emeritus blessed. The ceremony took place in the buildings adjacent to the Teutonic Cemetery. In his introductory speech, Mgr. Hans Peter Fischer, Rector of the Teutonic College, announced that a ceremony will be held on 18 November to mark the opening of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Roman Library. The library is entirely dedicated to the works and life of Joseph Ratzinger as a scholar and a Pope and is housed inside the Library of the Teutonic College and of the Roman Institute of the Gorres Society in the Vatican.

  • The modern world's biggest challenge, according to Benedict XVI Catholic News Agency. 08/27/15:
    Benedict XVI considers the quest for God to be contemporary society's foremost challenge, according to one of the emeritus Pope's former students, who has organized the annual meeting of Ratzinger's students to discuss that very topic.

    The Ratzinger Schuelerkreis will gather August. 28-30 to discuss the theme set them by their former professor. The group has gathered to discuss topics in theology and the life of the Church since 1978, shortly after their mentor was pulled from academia to become a bishop.

  • Francis visits Ratzinger before latter’s departure for Castel Gandolfo La Stampa 06/30/15.


  • Benedict XVI: the Hidden Legacy, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Monday Vatican 08/30/15:
    “A theological family.” This is how Fr. Stephan Horn, Salvatorian, describes the circle of former students of Joseph Ratzinger. Fr. Horn served as academic assistant to Joseph Ratzinger in Regensburg from 1971 to 1997, and today he is the secretary of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis, which gathers once a year since 1978. In an interview granted to ACI Stampa and Catholic News Agency last week, he explained that Benedict XVI wanted the group to be a “theological family.”

    The terminology is precise, as that of all the theologians who have studied with Benedict XVI. The notion of family is the interpretative key to understanding Benedict XVI’s pontificate, but it also crucial in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops. ...

  • Benedict XVI and Christian Europe, as seen by a Japanese scholar Catholic News Agency 08/14/15:
    Benedict XVI’s role in Europe is the focus of a Japanese scholar who says the Pope emeritus’ recent decades show his engagement in a dialogue that promotes both Catholic identity and what he saw as the best of Western values.

    “What Pope Benedict XVI wanted to emphasize was the independence of the Catholic Church,” Hajime Konno told CNA Aug. 12. He said this principle of self-determination was central to the Pope on questions of Church reform.

    At the same time, Benedict did not hesitate to dialogue with thinkers such as the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas and the Italian Social Democrat and atheist Paolo Flores d’Arcais. ...

    • See also: Benedict XVI As No One Has Seen Him Before. From Japan, by Sandro Magister. 08/06/15. "In the land of the Rising Sun, an outstanding book with a new interpretation of Ratzinger as theologian and pope. Written by a specialist in German history and culture. And with a Latin title: Renovatio Europae Christianae."

  • The return of Benedict XVI, by Damian Thompson. The Spectator UK. 07/11/15. "The Pope Emeritus has not vanished into monastic silence. He’s still offering comfort for those who prefer his vision to that of Pope Francis."

  • Benedict and Francis, a Choir of Two Voices, by Sandro Magister. "In Paraguay, great music for Pope Francis: that of the Jesuits of the “Reducciones.” And from Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI gives an exceptional listener’s guide."

  • Pope Francis: How the Narrative around Him Was Constructed, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Monday Vatican ("The Vatican at a Glance"). 07/20/15. [Read with a grain of salt -- Vatican conspiracy theorizing, but interesting nonetheless - Editor]:
    The latest interpretation of Benedict XVI’s resignation was given in recent weeks by Fr. Silvano Fausti, a Jesuit who was Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini’s confessor. Right before he died last month, Fr. Fausti granted a video interview and recounted that during their last meeting Cardinal Martini had told the current Pope Emeritus that the Roman Curia was not going to change, so it would be good if he were to resign. According to Fausti, Martini said this to Pope Benedict as if he were reminding him of an old agreement between them. That resignation paved the way for Pope Francis, whom Fr. Fausti admires. But this story must be decoded. It is now evident that in order to understand the reasons why Pope Francis was elected, one needs to return to the 2005 conclave.

In the Publishing World (Ratzinger Studies)

Innovation nnwithin Tradition: Joseph Ratzinger and Reading the Women of Scripture Innovation within Tradition: Joseph Ratzinger and Reading the Women of Scripture, by Mary Frances McKenna.

Fortress Press (September 1, 2015) 272 pages.

Innovation within Tradition is an exploration of the meaning and implications of Joseph Ratzinger’s biblical interpretation of the women of salvation history. Mary Frances McKenna argues that Ratzinger’s work, through his development and refinement of the church’s tradition, brings the important role and significance of the female characters of Scripture to the fore by placing them at the heart of Christian faith.

Explicating the pope emeritus’s concept of a “female line in the Bible,” which has a profound impact on the meaning and interpretation of the women of salvation history, the volume shows that this concept illustrates the practical value and creative nature of his approach to theology and biblical interpretation. Pivotal to the argument are questions around the findings on the notion of person, feminist theology, salvation history, and Mary, as well as the use of history in theology and biblical interpretation and the potential for the continuing development and deepening of the church’s comprehension of the meaning of revelation.

The book advances a constructive approach, in coordination with these questions, for a Trinitarian theology of society, addresses old theological issues anew, and provides a starting point for an interdenominational understanding of Mary.

Mary Frances McKenna is a tutor for the Centre for Marian Studies at University of Roehampton and chair of the relaunched Dublin (Ireland) branch of the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She received her PhD at All Hallows College, Dublin City University, and her MA and BA in history at University College Dublin. She has published on the topic of faith and knowledge in relation to science and philosophy. This is a revision of a dissertation completed at All Hallows College, Dublin City University, Ireland under Tom Dalzell.

"This book is an outstanding study of Joseph Ratzinger's theology of ‘the female line in the Bible.’ Mary Frances McKenna shows how a ‘Marian conversion’ in the life of Ratzinger enabled him to see even more clearly how Mary constitutes an essential element of authentic Christianity and how women are at the heart of salvation history. Filled with many fresh insights, Innovation within Tradition will, I believe, be recognized as of the best studies of Ratzinger's thought."

—Robert Fastiggi
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
President of the Mariological Society of America (2014-2016)

"This book reveals Mary Frances McKenna as a rising star on the theological horizon. Her analysis of Ratzinger’s exegesis of the female figures in Scripture is fascinating and thought-provoking. Suggesting that a line of female figures – from Wisdom to the Matriarchs to the Blessed Virgin Mary – stands at the heart of the Christian history of salvation, this book will be of interest both to traditional Catholics and to feminist theologians. It will also be enjoyed by students and teachers of religion, from the undergraduate to the advanced scholar, and will supply a great deal of material for discussion."

—Sarah Jane Boss
Director of the Centre for Marian Studies, University of Roehampton, UK

  • Irish theologian publishes book on Ratzinger’s theology, by Sarah McDonald.
    ‘The Female Line in the Bible: Mary and the Recovery of the Women of Scripture in Ratzinger’s/Benedict XVI’s Theological Journey’ has just been published by Dr Mary Frances McKenna.

    In it, she explores Ratzinger’s idea of a female line in the Bible which he argues runs from Eve to Mary and is in parallel to the male line, from Adam to Jesus.

    The book shows Ratzinger to be “a surprisingly innovative theologian” who works within the Tradition of the Church.

    It is "a practical example of his specific approach to and method of biblical interpretation.”

    According to Dr McKenna, "The female line idea offers a basis for new insights into salvation history and anthropology as well as a new angle for dialogue with feminist theology." ...

    Speaking to, Dr McKenna explained how Ratzinger’s approach to the female differs from that of Pope Francis.

    "Pope Francis’ style is radically different from Pope Benedict, a style that could be described as pastoral in contrast to that of the theologian Pope," she said.

    However, she emphasised that where they are at one in their concern to ensure that Mary plays an essential role in the Church and every Christian's life, she added.

  • Symposium explores Ratzinger’s theology 04/21/14.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pope Benedict Roundup


  • In a New Letter, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Seeks Shepherds for the Whole World National Catholic Register. 05/12/15:
    In a letter to his former secretary of state, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has underscored the need for the Church to extend its pastoral care to nonbelievers and to share “the questions of the times” in its continuing efforts to announce the Gospel to the world.

    Benedict XVI’s new reflections came in an April 21 letter to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who served as his secretary of state from 2006 to 2013. A summary of the letter was published in the May 10 edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

    The letter is the second original work of Benedict XVI’s made public since his resignation in February 2013.

  • Retired Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates 88th Birthday With A Pint Of Beer Huffington Post 04/17/15:
    Retired Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 88th birthday Thursday with a party and a pint of beer.

    Photos released by the Vatican newspaper Thursday showed the German pope toasting a group of Bavarians in the Vatican gardens accompanied by his older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, and his longtime private secretary.

    Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Benedict's honor Thursday morning, saying he hopes God "supports him and gives him much joy and happiness."


  • My Cousin Is the Pope -- and It's Everything, by Lauren Cahn. Huffington Post 05/04/15:
    I'm Jewish. I married a Jew. Both of my parents were Jewish. And so on. And yet, apparently, I am the cousin of a Pope - specifically, the still-living but now-retired Pope Benedict XVI. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI and I descend from at least two common ancestral lines. ..."

  • How Benedict XVI vanquished the New Atheists, by Mary O'Regan. Catholic Herald 04/19/15.

  • On 88th Birthday, Benedict XVI Lauded for Emphasis on Mercy National Catholic Register 04/16/15. The Vatican official charged with organizing the upcoming Jubilee for Mercy says the topic was the “heart” of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, due to the emphasis he placed on love, which is lived out in mercy.

  • Abp Ganswein: Benedict XVI prayerful at 88 Vatican Radio [interview]. 04/15/18:
    Archbishop Ganswein told Mediaset’s La strada dei miracoli programme, “It is clear that a man who soon will turn 88 should be thinking about this [referencing his "dialogue of prayer in preparation for death].” He continued, “His is a Christian art – because preparing for death means preparing to meet the LORD, and this is a decisive meeting.”

  • Cardinal George Pell: Pope Benedict XVI laid the groundwork for financial transparency The Pilot 04/01/15. Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, explained that "it must not be thought that Pope Benedict XVI did nothing and we are now doing everything."

  • ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ Concluded Benedict XVI’s Theological Work, Secretary Says National Catholic Register 03/23/15:
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is no longer writing on theology, as he doesn’t have the strength to continue with this work, his personal secretary has said.

    In an interview with the Italian weekly magazine Oggi, published March 17, Archbishop Georg Gänswein said Benedict XVI “no longer dedicates himself to theological or scientific writings,” and with the completion of his three volumes of Jesus of Nazareth, "he has concluded his theological work.”

    “He says he doesn’t have the strength to write anymore," Archbishop Gänswein said. "He continues to preach a homily at holy Mass on Sunday — without notes. He has a great memory."

  • Two years into retirement, the legacy of Father Benedict endures, by Ann Schneible. Catholic News Agency 02/11/15. Two years to the day since Pope Benedict XVI told the world of his historic decision to step down from the papal office, those impacted by his pontificate say that his legacy is still burning bright.

Ratzinger Scholarship - Recent Books

A Liberation Ecclesiology?: The Quest for Authentic Freedom in Joseph Ratzinger's Theology of the Church A Liberation Ecclesiology?: The Quest for Authentic Freedom in Joseph Ratzinger's Theology of the Church

Peter Lang Pub Inc (April 29, 2015). 576 pp.

Freedom, one of the most potent ideals of the post-Enlightenment era, came to remarkable prominence in ecclesiology through the emergence of liberation theologies in the twentieth century. At the same time, Joseph Ratzinger - a German university professor - was appointed a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His interaction with the pioneers of the liberationist movement led him to engage directly with the Christian understanding of freedom and its significance. As a result, his interest in freedom as a theological question expanded from the 1970s onwards. This book explores whether the basis for a liberation ecclesiology can be attributed to Ratzinger in his own right. While the volume's focus is ecclesiological, the author also gathers together many strands of Ratzinger's core theological insights in an attempt to establish how he approaches an issue that is both provocative and highly topical. Ratzinger is a controversial and engaging figure, and this book is essential reading for those who wish to understand how he deals with a theological topic of ongoing concern to society in general and the Catholic Church in particular.

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