Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger

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Though the election to the papacy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stunned the world, very few expressed doubt about the direction in which the allegedly authoritarian pope would lead the Catholic Church. Yet Benedict XVI is likely to surprise those expecting uncritical adherence to the policies of John Paul II, according to a new biography by Michael Rose, author of the best-selling Goodbye, Good Men. The first biographer seriously to probe Benedict’s vast intellectual record, Rose sheds penetrating new light on the man who was Ratzinger. Perhaps the most imposing intellectual ever to assume the papacy, Ratzinger has been recognized as a world-class theologian since the time of Vatican II. In two decades as the chief guardian of Catholic doctrine, he addressed every controversy facing the Church: clerical sex abuse, feminism, religious pluralism, sexual revolution and the culture of death, secularism, and militant Islam. This uncommonly rich record, Rose argues, promises a new Counterreformation, purifying and reorienting the Catholic Church.Rose reveals that Cardinal Ratzinger, unquestionably John Paul II’s closest collaborator, was privately critical of certain ecumenical, liturgical, and administrative policies of the late pope. While Benedict will undoubtedly follow John Paul’s fundamental path, Rose predicts some critical departures that could enable this supposedly “polarizing” figure to become a powerful unifying force, reviving the Church and reawakening the West’s Christian identity in its moment of crisis.In a valuable appendix to Benedict XVI, Rose provides an annotated list of all Ratzinger’s works available in English and a catalogue of the directives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during his prefecture.

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