Includes a new foreword on the resignation and legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
The sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI comes as the capstone to a papacy that that shocked some and delighted others. Pope Benedict was both an ardent intellectual and a driven traditionalist charged with leading a divided Catholic Church into a new era.
In Pope Benedict XVI, bestselling author Stephen Mansfield tells the story of a youth who grew up in Nazi Germany and went from being a liberal theologian associated with Vatican II to a theological conservative who became Pope John Paul’s closest ally. As a cardinal, the outgoing pope pursued a firmly traditional path in the last quarter century: he excommunicated radical priests, cracked down on Marxist liberation theology in Latin America, and shaped some of John Paul’s more socially conservative positions. He also drew a line of distinction between Catholicism and other faiths, promulgating respect for—but not equality among— the historic religions. To some, Pope Benedict was the ultimate insider whose election ensured that the revolution of John Paul was rendered permanent in our century.
Mansfield’s portrait of Pope Benedict was validated by recent history: Benedict XVI will be remembered as the Great Custodian. He sustained the return to tradition marked by John Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI examines its subject specifically from the perspective of a non-Catholic—a committed Christian without fealty to Rome. Mansfield’s academic depth, his poetic but widely accessible writing style, and his ability to take complex religious ideas and make them understandable to the nonreligious make his treatment of Pope Benedict XVI significance for readers of all philosophies and faiths.
What distinguishes this book from the plethora of books already available on the newly elected pope are its straightforward style, its accessible language, and the fact that the author does not have a hidden agenda or an ax to grind. Mansfield (The Faith of George W. Bush) presents an objective portrait of Pope Benedict, even pointing out character traits-such as his sense of humor-that were generally thought to be lacking in this former head of the Holy Office. By closely examining Joseph Ratzinger's life and teaching, Mansfield attempts to predict what kind of man he will be as pope. John L. Allen Jr.'s Pope Benedict XVI (originally published in 2000 as Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith) is a more detailed biography, while Aidan Nichols's The Thought of Benedict XVI: An Introduction to the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger (originally published in 1988 as The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger) offers a more substantial introduction to Ratzinger's thinking. Of the three, however, only Mansfield's is not simply a repackaged reprint. Recommended for most collections.-Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Stephen Mansfield is the New York Times–bestselling author of numerous books on history and leadership, including The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of the American Soldier. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. His website is www.mansfieldgroup.com.