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Rule of Benedict, paperback

Author(s): David Gibson

ISBN13: 9780061161223

ISBN10: 0061161225


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  • Newly Revised and Updated

    A top religion journalist presents a behind-the-scenes look at the early years of Pope Benedict XVI and what his papacy means for the future.
  • David Gibson

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    When Cardinal Joseph Ratzingers name was announced as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005, Gibson, a journalist and Catholic convert, was among the throng but not cheering. The author of The Coming Catholic Church considers himself part of "the silent majority of Catholics, who were hoping, praying, for the vibrancy and openness that would herald a new chapter in the history of the church." Instead, he writes, they got a "polarizing figure" with a well-publicized past, a man known for his heavy hand with liberation theologians and others deemed to veer toward heterodoxy. In this detailed examination, Gibson tells how Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, and why his ways of thinking about the church may not bode well for efforts to reform it in such areas as governance and opening the priesthood to women or married men. He paints the new pontiff as someone who is more interested in the personal piety of Catholics than their engagement with the world and issues of social justice. Readers who have been watching the new pope for signals of what his papacy will bring will find this to be absorbing reading. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

    - Publishers Weekly

    Presumably, at least two factors have contributed to the spate of books released this past year by and about the new pope, the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. First, given that the previous papal conclave was held over a quarter of a century ago, the changing of the guard in 2005 was something of a historical event. Second, Ratzingers notoriety in his previous post as the arch-conservative head of the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith made his election controversial, both within and outside of the Church. Here, religion journalists Gibson and Shortt address both concerns, providing the same basic outline of Ratzingers life and placing his career in the context of Church politics from the late 19th century to the present. Gibson provides more detail in his long, entertaining, and elegantly written book than does Shortt, although not all of it is strictly relevant (e.g., an excursus on the history of the papal election process). He seems to have an ax to grind, drawing generalizations from anecdotal evidence provided by opponents of Ratzinger and occasionally making contradictory complaints (e.g., he alternatively charges Ratzinger with being too heavyhanded and too hands-off). Shortt, while acknowledging some criticisms of the new pope as valid, balances them with concessions, allowing, for instance, that the liberation theologians Ratzinger suppressed sometimes did veer too far off the doctrinal course. Shortts book is stylistically flat but fairer in evaluating Ratzingers suitability as leader of the Church. Gibsons book is better suited for readers with as much interest in Church history generally as in the current pope. Both books are suitable for public library collections.-Charles Seymour, Mabee Learning Resources Ctr., Wayland Baptist Univ., TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

    - Library Journal

    Clear-minded and thorough introduction to the new pope. In this balanced work, Gibson (The Coming Catholic Church, not reviewed) successfully combines biography and journalism to illuminate Benedict XVI, one of the most controversial religious figures of our time. He begins with an in-depth exploration of John Paul II, with whom then-Cardinal Ratzinger worked closely and in whose inimitable shadow the new papacy stands. Contrasting the two popes as "Pontifex Maximus" and "Pontifex Minimus," Gibson encapsulates the personalities and approaches of both. The author then explores Ratzingers background as a young man growing up in Nazi Germany. Pushing aside tabloid headlines about the future popes involvement or non-involvement in that regime, Gibson does discuss the impact these youthful experiences had on his personality. Subsequent chapters cover Ratzingers years as a progressive scholar during Vatican II and his role as a neo-conservative following the Council. Gibson then provides an in-depth account of Ratzingers quarter-century as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Comparisons and contrasts between Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict round out the survey. Though not focusing entirely on American issues, Gibson provides discussion of the relationship between Benedict and U.S. Catholics. His summaries are fair, his analysis free of hyperbole. He states at one point that Benedict "comes off as not just countercultural, but anticultural, and even fatalistic." The new popes most avid supporters may not be pleased, but the average Catholic (or non-Catholic) will find this book worthwhile. Gibsons ability to provide in-depth background about church history,theology and hierarchy is also of great value to lay readers. An important reference for anyone with an interest in the modern papacy.

    - Kirkus Reviews


Rule of Benedict, paperback

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