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Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI

Author(s): Tracey Rowland

ISBN13: 9780199207404

ISBN10: 0199207402


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  • A general introduction to the theology of Pope Benedict XVI, including his approach to issues in moral and political theology, ecclesiology, liturgy, interpretations of the of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and the theology of history. Tracey Rowland also addresses the question of Pope Benedicts place in the constellation of contemporary Catholic theologians. It has become a commonplace observation that Pope Benedict has been influenced by the thought of St Augustine, in contrast to many of his predecessors in the papacy who were much more strongly influenced by St Thomas Aquinas. Rowland therefore asks in what way Benedict is an Augustinian, and how this marked difference in theological perspective may play out in the coming years. Her book includes an extensive thematic bibliography, which will be valuable for students.

    Readership: Theologians, especially those with an interest in Catholicism; general readership interested in knowing the mind of the Pope

  • Tracey Rowland

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    The character of each papacy only becomes clear in retrospect. With the reign of Benedict XVI it is too early to tell. But those seriously interested in how things will develop will find much of interest in this book, which was widely hailed when it appeared last year in the more expensive hardback edition.

    The author is Professor of Political Philosophy and Continental Theology at the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne. Drawing on the Popes own writings and pronouncements, she outlines with scrupulous clarity his approach to many of the key issues of the day.

    Already we have seen how the Pope has maintained or brought back many small traditions of the Church over the centuries - but this should not obscure the deep philosophical base on which he builds. Rowland explores the central matter of how the theology of St Augustine, in contrast to that of Thomas Aquinas, has influenced him. This may be a very Germanic thing: Luther too was much concerned with Augustine.

    But this focus on St Augustine is part of a larger picture. Pope Benedict has a clear tendency to locate himself in the traditions not only of the Church, but also of European, and indeed Germanic, culture. But if the Church is truly universal, its message of salvation must be transmittable in terms of other cultures too. Here, undoubtedly, the encounter with an increasingly militant Islam (as attempted at Regensburg) suggests Benedicts path will not be an easy one.

    Towards the end of the book the author has a telling comment contrasting John Paul II with the present Pope. The late Pope insisted, over his cardinals objections, in hosting a pop concert, in his homily afterwards stuffing allusions to the lyrics with a Christian meaning. John Paul was always prepared to try a strategy of sugar coating the medicine, whereas Benedict tends to deliver it straight. Both however, were in agreement about the cultural healing needed.

    This contrast may well be the key to the future.

    - Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic


Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI