Pope Benedict XVI: His Life and Mission

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9781585424504: Pope Benedict XVI: His Life and Mission

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.

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Review:

Stephen Mansfield's biography of Pope Benedict XVI is undeniably a brief, light read. Indeed, Mansfield's intention is not exhaustive detail, but a strong narrative thrust catching the salient points of the former Joseph Ratzinger's life. He traces this life from Ratzinger's earliest history growing up in Nazi Germany through his tenure as Pope John Paul II's appointed head for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), an organization tracing its lineage to, in popular terms, the Spanish Inquisition. This particular life's journey included polarizing events, such as Ratzinger's stint as a Hitler Youth in his early years, and later while at the CDF he was seen as nothing less than Pope John Paul II's personal enforcer of doctrinal conformity. Mansfield is particularly interested in finding the substance and character of the man who took this journey. From showing the heart Ratzinger had for the youth under his care in Bavaria early in his career, through a discussion of the religious history behind the name Benedict and why Ratzinger may have chosen it, and finally to an appendix where Mansfield turns from author to editor and gives us excerpts from Ratzinger's own writings and speeches, we are left with no doubt that Ratzinger is indeed as conservative as his predecessor and friend John Paul was. But by this point Mansfield has managed to give the new pope a life in the reader's mind beyond the two-dimensional portraits found in the press. We are left with the image of a restless, energetic pope who loves his God, who yearns for revival in his church and who, despite his conservative pedigree, is open to new voices, such as the Catholic charismatic movement.--Ed Dobeas

About the Author:

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.

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