Benedict XVI: His Life and Thought

Benedict XVI: His Life and Thought by Elio Guerriero. Ignatius Pr (November 6, 2018). 715 pgs.
In these pages Benedict XVI shares his story for the first time since his retirement from the papacy. Joseph Ratzinger is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our time. Born in Germany in 1929, he lived through Nazism, war, and Communism, like John Paul II, who after his surprising election in 1978, insisted on having Ratzinger at his side for his whole twenty-seven-year pontificate.

When Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005, he took the name Benedict XVI. He opened a path of purification for the Roman Catholic Church at a time when it was shaken by financial and sexual scandals. He has repeatedly said that Europe must return to its Christian roots and build a new humanism for the twenty-first century.

Benedict XVI was misunderstood by many, and in 2013, he astonished the world by resigning from the papacy. Many saw this gesture as a sign of the decline of Catholicism, but it was the opposite: it was a seed sown in the hope of bringing the Church a younger, more vigorous leadership in the face of so many daunting challenges.

Elio Guerriero, who for many years has had an ongoing relationship with the Pope Emeritus, presents a thorough, well-rounded portrait of the brilliant intellectual and humble man of the Church whom many more have come to love and respect since his resignation. This book includes a Foreword by Pope Francis, and contains the first interview of Benedict XVI since the end of his pontificate.

Elio Guerriero, theologian, philosopher, and historian, is the longtime director of Communio, and editorial manager at Jaca Book and Edizioni San Paolo. He edited the Italian edition of the History of the Church directed by A. Jedin. His other books include Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Drama of God, and Saint Giana Molla: Wife, Mother, and Doctor.

Called to Holiness: On Love, Vocation, and Formation

Called to Holiness: On Love, Vocation, and Formation Called to Holiness: On Love, Vocation, and Formation by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The Catholic University of America Press (April 4, 2017). 272 pgs.

This edited collection is the first to gather in one volume the most relevant addresses, speeches, and homilies of His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to seminarians and consecrated men and women into a single volume for the English-speaking world.

Called to Holiness is divided into three sections. The first section focuses on the mystery of vocation. The second section collects Benedict's writings around the crucial experience of Love. Finally, the third section covers Benedict's description of what a seminary should look like.

Pope Benedict XVI's words remind us of the fundamental meaning of a life of total consecration to God in a time of history where God is very much rejected. Moreover, in times where young people seek words of wisdom and certainty, Benedict XVI's words give a fundamental aid to such direction not only for people already pondering a vocation to consecration but for all men and women open to God's voice.

Joseph Ratzinger - Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy

Joseph Ratzinger - Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy Joseph Ratzinger - Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy
by Joseph Ratzinger.
Ignatius Press (May 5, 2014) 660 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.

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today by Joseph Ratzinger. Introduction by Gerhard Cardinal Müller. Forward by Pope Francis.

Ignatius Press (August 1, 2017). 392 pgs.

This inspiring collection of homilies delivered by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) over six decades offers deep theological and historical insights on the meaning of the life and the witness of a Catholic priest.

When Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year for Priests in 2009, he did so in conjunction with celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of John Vianney, the patron saint of all parish priests. Benedict's purpose for that special year is the same purpose of this book of homilies -- to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world. As St. John Vianney would often say, "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." This touching expression makes us reflect on the immense gift that priests represent, not only for the Church but for all mankind.

Contemporary men and women need priests to be distinguished by their determined witness to Christ. These homilies are meant to illuminate and to inspire priests to renew their commitment to "teaching and learning the love of God". The homilies cover a wide variety of important topics on the priesthood, all deeply rooted in Scripture, including acting in persona Christi, becoming an offering with Christ for the salvation of mankind, being there for God's mercy, and witnessing Christian joy.

The Last Testament: In His Own Words

The Last Testament: In His Own Words Last Testament: In His Own Words by Pope Benedict XVI, Peter Seewald (interviewer)

Bloomsbury Continuum (November 15, 2016) 224pp.

Pope Benedict made history by being the first Pope in over 700 years to resign from office. The Catholic Church the world over was stunned. Worn out by corruption in the Church and by an endless series of clerical sex scandals, he decided that the resolution of all these problems was outside his power for a man of his age.

Last Testament is nearest to an autobiography from the shy and private man who has remained “hidden to the world” in a former convent in the Vatican gardens. He breaks his silence on issues such as:

  • The “Vatileaks” case in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters that alleged corruption and scandal in the Vatican
  • The presence of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican and how he dismantled it
  • His alleged Nazi upbringing
  • His attempts at cleaning up the “dirt in the church” (clerical sexual abuse)
  • The mysterious private secretary “Gorgeous George”
On a more personal level he writes with great warmth of his successor Pope Francis, who he admits has a popular touch, a star quality which he has lacked. Much controversy still surrounds Pope Benedict`s Papacy--in this book he addresses these controversies and reveals how at his late age, governing and reforming the Papacy and particularly the Vatican, was beyond him.

The Unity of the Nations: A Vision of the Church Fathers

The Unity of the Nations: A Vision of the Church Fathers The Unity of the Nations: A Vision of the Church Fathers

The Catholic University of America Press (March 16, 2015)

What did ancient Christians and pagans believe makes the unity of the nations? Just as he began serving as a major adviser at the Second Vatican Council in 1962, Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) studied this question in lectures delivered at Austria's University of Salzburg. These lectures, originally published in German, are now made available in English in this volume. According to Ratzinger, pagan Rome said the Empire was the "cosmopolis" which united the world. The church affirmed the goodness of the world, and acknowledged the proper role of the state. But Christian belief that Christ had given birth to the church, the eternal cosmopolis, present now, was revolutionary. Christ was the New Adam, who restores unity to a humanity scattered in the Fall and at Babel. For Origen, Israel was the true state that remained under the one God; other nations were under archons or dark angels, from which Christ came to liberate them. Christ instituted the eternal kingdom of peace, to which Christians belong now, living within and at the service of, their earthly nations. In Ratzinger's view, Origen thought peace between the church and world before the Eschaton - the eternal kingdom - was possible. Augustine responded in two ways to claims by pagans that the Christian God had not protected Rome from being sacked in 410. First, Rome's pagan civic religion was undermined in its function of aiding state security by the fact that it was not true. Second, Christianity, as the truth, was not subordinate to the state, but was a new community. In Ratzinger's view, Augustine saw the church, the City of God, as an alien citizen, but one very much within the City of Man and meant to renew, not take over, that earthly city, until Christ's Second Coming. This early work of Ratzinger's showcases the development of his theology, including themes that will inform his life's work, such as how God's transcendence and the doctrine of creation inform a Christian worldview, and the central role of the Incarnation in understanding how the church relates to the world.

The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology

The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology The Garden of God: Toward a Human Ecology The Catholic University of America Press (April 2014).

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 cre- ation 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. Further- more, he argues convincingly that as our love of God should cause us to protect the environment, so should our heightened sense of appre- ciation 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 under- stand more fully the relationships among the environment, Catholic social teaching, and theology. Whether speaking to a vast crowd, meet- ing with a small group of scientists, or writing letters to world leaders, Benedict has shown a clear path towards a theologically cogent con- cern for the planet on which we live.

Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, Vol. 2: Anthropology and Culture

Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, Vol. 2: Anthropology and Culture 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.

Pope Benedict XVI's Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law

Pope Benedict XVI's Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law Pope Benedict XVI's Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law by Marta Cartabia (Editor),‎ Andrea Simoncini (Editor) Cambridge University Press (March 5, 2015) 256 pages.
This book discusses the speeches in which the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reflected most explicitly on law, justice, democracy, and reason, along with the commentary from a number of distinguished legal scholars. Collectively, these addresses formulate a series of core ideas for a "public teaching" on the topic of justice and law.

Liberating Logos: Pope Benedict XVI's September Speeches

Liberating Logos: Pope Benedict XVI's September Speeches Liberating Logos: Pope Benedict XVI's September Speeches

St. Augustine's Press (15 Sep 2014).

Liberating Logos: Pope Benedict XVI’s September Speeches brings together six important addresses in one volume. The themes of these remarkable speeches are wide ranging: Benedict comments on the denaturing effects of Dehellenization, the true grounds of religious dialogue, the transpolitical and timeless nature of Christianity’s message, the relation of moral and political freedom to truth, the self-limitation of modern reason, and Europe’s and the West’s enduring Christian roots. Each speech offers an unwavering defense of the splendor and majesty of created human reason’s ability to know—and to be liberated by—the uncreated Truth.