Sunday, April 13, 2008

Discovering Pope Benedict XVI

I've been reading The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches, edited by John F. Thornton & Susan B. Varenne, to "brush up" on the mind of the Holy Father prior to his arrival. =) I confess when I first heard of it I was skeptical (given the sheer volume of Ratzinger-Benedict's work), but upon reading it I must say they do an excellent job.

The book starts off with a lengthy introduction by D. Vincent Twomey, a formal doctoral student and longtime friend of the Pope (available online as "The Mind of Benedict").

Those interested in Benedict's "theology of politics" should pay particular attention to Twomey's discussion of an essay entitled "A Christian Orientation in a Pluralist Democracy?" -- wherein Ratzinger addresses the question: "How can Christianity become a positive force for the political world without [itself] being turned into a political instrument and without on the other hand grabbing the political world for itself?"

Following a sampling of "Sermons and Addresses" (starting with his now-famous homily at John Paul II's funeral mass), the authors present a broad selection of the Ratzinger/Benedict's writings and addresses organized by subject -- "The Church", "The Liturgy", "Theology", "Scripture", "The Priesthood" and "Christian Morality." Published in February 2007, they also include the text of Benedict's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.

Altogether a good orientation for those wanting to "dip into" the writings of the Holy Father and dispel some of the alleged "mystery" of who he is.