Fr. Vincent Twomey, a former doctoral student of Joseph Ratzinger, and a long time friend of the Popes, felt the need to respond to the common question he read and heard often after Ratzingers papal election, "What kind of person is the new Pope?" So often Twomey had read in the past false depictions of both the man, and his thought and writings, especially the image presented by the media as a grim, hard-line, enforcer, "panzer Cardinal", etc. Twomey offers here a unique double, presentation of the man, Pope Benedict XVI , a "theological portrait" that encompasses both an overview of the writings, teachings and thought of the brilliant theologian and spiritual writer, as well as the man himself, and his personality traits and how he communicates with others.
Since Ratzinger came in to the papacy already well known and highly regarded as one of the greatest theologians of our age, and having written so much on almost every theological subject touching on the faith, morality, the Church and State, it is important to know his mind on these topics and how he approaches the major spiritual and social issues of our times. Twomey shows his style is really the opposite of how he has been depicted in the past , that he is indeed very pastoral and will first win the hearts of people who will then read for themselves his writings. His very first encyclical, God Is Love, underscores that approach.
Twomey shows that the secret to the serene dignified behavior of Benedict is that, as a man who is an accomplished pianist, he is open to beauty as much as truth, that he lives outside himself, and is not preoccupied with his own self. He also is a man that Twomey says "has the courage to be imperfect", showing he has a deep humility and strives for teaching the truth even when misunderstood or not presented as well as he would like.
Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D., holds a PH.D. in Theology and is a Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University at St. Patricks College in Ireland. He is the author of several books including his most recent acclaimed study on the state of Irish Catholicism, The End Of Irish Catholicism?
D. Vincent Twomey is professor emeritus of moral theology, Pontifical University, Maynooth.
ln the middle of the usual pre-Christmas commercially driven media hype, Vincent Twomey, with the courage of Daniel in the lions den, spoke on Joe Duffys Liveline about the merit of saving Christmas hymns until - Christmas! This innocuous plea was greeted by most contributors to the programme with varying degrees of howling and hostility. He was accused of being a killjoy who would bring charities to ruin and deprive people in nursing homes of their annual festive cheer. With a relentless courtesy, good humour, common sense and humility Dr Twomey fielded the barbs of those who claimed to be offended by his suggestion. ln all this he displayed something of the qualities he attributes to Pope Benedict XVI in his current theological portrait of the Pope who has faced an uphill struggle with the media himself since he replaced the more obviously charismatic Pope John Paul ll in the chair of St Peter. ln evaluating with his customary lucidity and erudition the Popes writings, teachings and thought, Dr Twomey brings a depth of personal affection, experience and admiration of his subject. The lens through which he peers is clearly one of friendship and yet at the same time he saves his study from being mere hagiography by managing to summarise with fairness (even whilst efficiently dispatching them) the major criticisms faced by the man the media once dubbed Gods Rottweiler and whom they now prefer to tease for his taste in footwear. Complete with footnotes, index and inclusion of a notable sermon from the Pope preached to his former students this neat volume should help dispel some of the unfriendly myths and mockeries that have gathered around the first elected Pope of the 21st century.
- Fr Paul Clayton-Lea, Intercom