Cardinal Ratzinger has just been elected as the new pope. This book attempts to be a fair look at the new Benedict XVI.
During the funeral of John Paul II, one voice on CNN came through clearly. John Allen quietly gave commentary and corrected misconceptions of the funeral liturgy and Catholic teaching. John Allen is best known for his years as a reporter with the National Catholic Reporter.
In his 2001 biography of newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, Allen gives us a glimpse of this influential theologian. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of Pope John Paul II's most influential advisors. But who is this man? Allen presents a portrait of a man that conservative Catholics embrace as their champion. Ratzinger raises the ire of liberal Catholics around the world. But who is this man?
Until his election to the Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The purpose of this office is present the Catholic faith to its own Church. It is not to explain it to those outside the Catholic Church. That is for others to do. The prefect is to call Catholics to be faithful. But who is this man?
John Allen turns to Benedict's own writings and reflections, the documentary evidence, and develops a balanced portrait. In Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith, Allen examines his relationships with radical student movements, his colleagues, and the extreme theological movements on the right and left. Allen presents the issue clearly:
Reaction to Ratzinger is often uncritical, driven more by emotion and instinct than sober reflection. Progressives do not read his books, they disregard his public statements, and they assume every position he takes is based on power politics. Conservatives revere most of what he says as holy writ, often spouting mindlessly without penetrating to the principle or value he seeks at stake. Neither response takes Ratzinger seriously.
Obviously that time is past. Any person interested in the future of the Catholic Church should read John Allen's book with an eye to understanding the new Pope.