Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI

by Rupert Shortt
     
 

For decades before his election, Pope Benedict XVI was known across the world as an unwavering upholder of Catholic orthodoxy. Critics charged him with high-handedness, and even likened the Vatican department he ran to the KGB. His backers hailed him as a courteous, deeply intelligent figure whose concern to rein in relativism and other forms of dissent appeared

Overview

For decades before his election, Pope Benedict XVI was known across the world as an unwavering upholder of Catholic orthodoxy. Critics charged him with high-handedness, and even likened the Vatican department he ran to the KGB. His backers hailed him as a courteous, deeply intelligent figure whose concern to rein in relativism and other forms of dissent appeared timely. Both sides agreed that he was the single most important enforcer of John Paul II's policies, and that intellectually, he towers over most of his recent predecessors.

What kind of a man is Benedict XVI behind the slogans? What were the influences that shaped him, and how might the Catholic Church evolve under his leadership?

Written for the general reader, this book aims to answer these and other questions, including the puzzle over the then Joseph Ratzinger's disavowal of his youthful liberalism from the late 1960s onwards. Following the approach adopted in his study of Archbishop Rowan Williams, Rupert Shortt summarises the Pope's thought in the course of a biographical narrative. The assessment he provides will help dispel the stereotypes and misunderstandings that often mark discussion of church affairs generally.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Rupert Shortt, Religion Editor of The Times Literary Supplement, explores the life of the enigmatic Joseph Ratzinger, offering us an enlightening account of the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI.

Publishers Weekly
The latest offering in a flurry of books about Catholicism's new leader delves into the mind of the man and explores how his thinking is likely to affect the church and the world. Shortt, religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement and author of two previous books (one on Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury), traces Benedict's evolution from supporter of reform to agent of restoration. In analyzing the new pope's past and present views, Shortt probed Benedict's extensive writings and interviewed about three dozen individuals spanning various religious and academic realms in Europe, Latin America and the United States. He skillfully blends Benedict's own words with the observations of others to create a balanced portrayal of the man who was first characterized by such appellations as "enforcer" and "God's Rottweiler" (though Shortt seems to prefer casting Benedict as "The German Shepherd," the title of his last chapter.) Throughout his concise assessment, the author touches on Benedict's involvement in such issues as liturgy, the relationship of church to world, the ordination of women, ecumenism and liberation theology. Shortt's book is commendable for its balance and thoroughness, though some readers may find its theological analyses a bit tedious. (July 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
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, Ratzinger's 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 Ratzinger's 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. Shortt's book is stylistically flat but fairer in evaluating Ratzinger's suitability as leader of the Church. Gibson's 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780340909058
Publisher:
Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
Publication date:
09/28/2006
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Rupert Shortt is the former Religion Editor of The Times Literary Supplement. His former books include ROWAN WILLIAMS: AN INTRODUCTION and ROWAN'S RULE.

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