Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fr. Robert Barrron reviews Light of the World in the Washington Post

Fr. Robert Barron reviews Light of the World on the Washington Post "On Faith" site:
Over a period of about 15 years, in the 1990's and early 2000's, the German journalist Peter Seewald conducted a number of interviews with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The edited conversations appeared as two rather lengthy books, The Salt of the Earth and God and the World. Seewald's pointed questions dealt with fundamental matters--God, creation, Incarnation, redemption, sin and grace--and Ratzinger's answers--clear, succinct, illuminating--were marvels of the teacher's art. Perhaps the most extraordinary fruit of these encounters was Seewald's conversion from an unfocused agnosticism to a full embrace of the Catholic faith.

In the summer of 2010, Seewald sat down once again for a lengthy discussion with Joseph Ratzinger, but this time he was dialoguing, not with a curial Cardinal, but with Pope Benedict XVI. The only slightly edited version of that six-hour conversation has appeared as Light of the World, and one is happy to see that Ratzinger's elevation to the highest office in the church has not tempered the dynamic quality of their exchange. No question seemed to have been off-limits, as Seewald presses the Pope on everything from the sex abuse scandal, to women's ordination, to AIDS and condoms, and to his personal reaction upon being raised to the throne of Peter. Throughout, Benedict's mien is calm and his responses are models of clarity, concision, and insight. However, those who are looking for substantive information about Benedict's psychological and personal life are going to be disappointed. The Pope seems far more comfortable expatiating on matters theological and cultural than exploring his own motivations and inclinations. 


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