A vivid blow-by-blow of the controversies that have wracked the Catholic Church during the past twenty yearsLiberation theology, birth control, women's ordination, inclusive language, "radical feminism," homosexuality, religious pluralism, human rights in the church, and the roles of bishops and theologians-one man has stood at the dead center of all these controversial issues: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. A teenage American POW as the Third Reich crumbled and a progressive wunderkind at the Second Vatican Council,...
A vivid blow-by-blow of the controversies that have wracked the Catholic Church during the past twenty yearsLiberation theology, birth control, women's ordination, inclusive language, "radical feminism," homosexuality, religious pluralism, human rights in the church, and the roles of bishops and theologians-one man has stood at the dead center of all these controversial issues: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. A teenage American POW as the Third Reich crumbled and a progressive wunderkind at the Second Vatican Council, Ratzinger, for twenty years, has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (until 1908 known as the Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, or Holy Office). The book goes a long way toward explaining the central enigma surrounding Ratzinger: How did this erstwhile liberal end up as the chief architect of the third great wave of repression in Catholic theology in the twentieth century? Based on extensive interviews with Ratzinger's students and colleagues, as well as research in archives in both Bavaria and the United States, Allen's account shows that Ratzinger's deep suspicion of "the world," his preoccupation with human sinfulness, and his demand for rock-solid loyalty to the church run deep. They reach into his childhood "in the shadow of the Nazis" and reflect his formative theological influences: Augustine, Bonaventure, and Martin Luther(!) rather than the world-affirming Thomas Aquinas. When the cardinals of the Catholic Church next gather in the Sistine Chapel to elect a pope, Allen argues, they will in effect be deciding whether to continue the policies Ratzinger has been the central force in shaping."The servility of the sycophants, of those who shy from and shun every collision, who prize above all their calm complacency, is not true obedience. . . . What the church needs today as always are not adulators to extol the status quo, but men whose humility and obedience are not less than their passion for the truth; . . .men who love the church more than the ease and the unruffled course of their personal destiny."-Joseph Ratzinger (1962)
As Rome bureau chief for the independent liberal weekly National Catholic Reporter, where some of this book's well-written texts have appeared, Allen provides a unique overview of the activities of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (born in 1927, ordained in 1951), head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF, formerly the Holy Office) since 1981. Drawing upon a wide range of published, archival, and personal sources, Allen reviews theological and doctrinal controversies addressed by the Cardinal and CDF worldwide. The topics covered include teaching Catholic theology, liberation theology, gender issues, liturgy, and ecumenism. Ratzinger, a theology professor, rose to prominence during Vatican Council II as adviser to Cologne's influential Cardinal Frings. Allen illustrates his subject's shift to more conservative views by comparing his conciliar and post-conciliar writings. Recognizing Ratzinger's great intellect and faith, Allen focuses on polarizations within the church while advocating changes in traditional church doctrines. This will be of interest to informed readers.--Anna M. Donnelly, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
John Allen is still the Rome bureau chief for the National Catholic Reporter and CNN's on-camera expert on the death of JP II and the elction of the new pope. He is the author of the definitive Enlish-language biography of Cardinal Ratzinger (Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith, Continuum, 2000). Since then he has published 2 books with Doubleday: Conlave: The Politics, Personalities, and Process of the Next Papal Election (2002) and All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks (2004). From 1993-96, he ran the journalism program at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. During that time the student newspaper consistently ranked in the top ten in the nation and dozens of his students won national writing awards. He holds an M.A. in religious studies from the University of Kansas.