Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Pope and prayer

Benedictine monk Fr. Hugh at Douai Abbey reflects on Pope Benedict's comments about prayer in Light of the World:
I have just begun reading the recently-released book of the interview Pope Benedict gave to Peter Seewald during the summer, entitled Light of the World. Not too far into the interview Seewald asks the Pope how he prays.
In light of the fact that the Pope is, and has been for decades, a first-rank theologian, I was half expecting a weighty and perhaps even complex approach to prayer. Instead he is as direct and to the point as it is possible to be, and reveals a beautifully simple and authentic prayer life. To the person familiar with his writings both as theologian and as Pope it becomes clear that the spirituality of his theology is distilled to its essence in his prayer, which is situated right in the heart of the Church as the communion of saints, and its rich and profound traditions, focused on the Lord with whom he relates as “by old acquaintance”.

"Papal infallibility—or, the prisoner of the Vatican"

Phil Lawler reviews Light of the World at
Reading Light of the World, the book-length interview in which Pope Benedict XVI reveals so much about himself, one is frequently reminded of the title that Pope Gregory the Great preferred: The Roman Pontiff is the servus servorum Dei: the servant of the servants of God. 
Secular commentators look upon the Pope as an absolute despot, who could change Church teachings if he wished, with just a stroke of his pen. Not so.
The Pope has considerable authority, to be sure. But he cannot use that authority to enforce his own preferences; he can only teach what the universal Church teaches—what the Church has always taught.
When a gently smiling Joseph Ratzinger walked out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s basilica on that fateful day in April 2005, to be introduced to the world at Benedict XVI, servus servorum Dei, he was accepting a task that allowed him less freedom than he had previously enjoyed, not more. Light of the World drives home that truth, in ways both big and small.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the term "People of God" and...

... the real meaning and purpose of "hierarchy", from Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, an Interview with Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press, 1997):

We Are the People of God

The term "people of God" is understood today as the idea of an autonomy vis-à-vis the official Church. The motto is "we are the people", and what the people says has to be done. On the other hand, there is also the expression "vox populi, vox Dei". How do you understand this term?

If we are theologians and believers, we listen first to what the Bible says. In other words, we ourselves can't invent the major concepts: "Who is God?" "What is the Church?" "grace", and so forth. The gift of faith consists precisely in the fact that there is a prior given. The term "people of God" is a biblical one. The biblical use is thus also normative for how we might use it. It is first and essentially an Old Testament term; the term "people" comes long before the era of nations and is connected more with the clan, with the family.

Above all it is a relational term. More recent exegesis has made this very clear. Israel is not the people of God when it acts simply as a political nation. It becomes the people of God by turning to God. It is the people of God only in relation, in turning to God, and in Israel turning to God consists in submission to the Torah. In this sense, the idea of "people of God" in the Old Testament includes, first, the election of Israel by God, who chooses it for no merit of its own, despite the fact that it is not a great or significant people but one of the smallest of the peoples, who chooses it out of love and thus bestows his love upon it. Second, it includes the acceptance of this love, and concretely this means submission to the Torah. Only in this submission, which places Israel in relation to God, is it the people of God.

In the New Testament, the concept "people of God" (with perhaps one or two exceptions) refers only to Israel, that is, to the people of the Old Covenant. It is not a concept that applies directly to the Church. However, the Church is understood as the continuation of Israel, although Christians don't descend directly from Abraham and thus actually don't belong to this people. They enter into it, says the New Testament, by their descent from Christ and thereby also become children of Abraham. Thus, whoever belongs to Christ belongs to the people of God. One could say that the term "Torah" is replaced by the person of Christ, and, in this sense, the "people of God" category, though not applied directly to the new people, is tied to communion with Christ and to living like Christ and with Christ, or, as Saint Paul says, "hav[ing] the mind of Christ" (Phil 2:5). Paul goes on to describe the "mind of Christ" with the words: "He became obedient unto death on the cross." Only when we understand the term "people of God" in its biblical usage do we use it in a Christian way. Everything else is an extra-Christian construction that misses the real core and is, in my opinion, also a product of arrogance. Which of us can say that we are the people of God, while the others perhaps are not.


Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the Dogma of Infallibility and the Truth of the Gospel

From Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, an Interview with Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press, 1997):

Referring to criticism of the Church, you once spoke of a classical "canon of issues": women's ordination, contraception, celibacy, the remarriage of divorced persons. This list is from 1984. The "Petition of the People of the Church" of 1995 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland shows that this canon of issues hasn't changed one iota. The discussion seems to be going wearyingly in circles. Perhaps a few clarifications would help get beyond this impasse. It seems to me that many don't know exactly what they're talking about when they speak of the papacy and priesthood, that they actually don't know the meaning of these terms.

I would stress again that all of these are certainly genuine issues, but I also believe that we go astray when we raise them to the standard questions and make them the only concerns of Christianity. There is a very simple reflection that argues against this (which, by the way, Johann Baptist Metz has mentioned in an article on the "Petition of the People of the Church"). These issues are resolved in Lutheran Christianity. On these points it has taken the other path, and it is quite plain that it hasn't thereby solved the problem of being a Christian in today's world and that the problem of Christianity, the effort of being a Christian, remains just as dramatic as before. Metz, if I recall correctly, asks why we ought to make ourselves a clone of Protestant Christianity. It is actually a good thing, he says, that the experiment was made. For it shows that being Christian today does not stand or fall on these questions. That the resolution of these matters doesn't make the gospel more attractive or being Christian any easier. It does not even achieve the agreement that will better hold the Church together. I believe we should finally be clear on this point, that the Church is not suffering on account of these questions.


The Salt Lake Tribune on George Wiegel and Two Popes

The Salt Lake Tribune has an in-depth article about George Wiegel, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
Five years into the papacy of Benedict XVI, biographer George Weigel is struck by the continuity of mission between Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, both of whom pursued activist papacies engaging an often-skeptical general culture.

Both popes are products of early 20th-century European Catholic culture, John Paul in Poland and Benedict in Germany. Both were deeply influenced by World War II and its aftermath, and both were partly shaped by Vatican II in the 1960s.

Both popes preach “the centrality of discipleship,” both seek to spread the gospel — Benedict, especially, in Western Europe — and both believe in outreach to the young, Weigel said during a stop here to lecture on his newest book, The End and the Beginning.

Weigel, John Paul’s biographer in 1999’s Witness to Hope, also wrote the forward to Light of the World, a new book-length interview on a range of topics Benedict conducted with German journalist Peter Seewald.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bishop Thomas Tobin on Light of the World, condoms

From News Channel 10 in Providence:
Tobin said the pope's comments were misunderstood.

"It's a very highly nuanced, a very refined theological position, but one that is very difficult to explain in the public sector. It doesn't translate well easily into headlines," Tobin said.

Tobin said that the pope's comments are not a reflection of a change in the church's stance against condom use, but that the comments reflect moral awareness.

"It's still wrong. It's still evil. But if a person uses condoms to prevent the spread of disease, at least there is some kind of humanity there, some kind of decency, that the pope referred to as the first step toward moralization," Tobin said.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

R.R. Reno: "The Pontificate Of Continuity"

At First Things, R.R. Reno reviews Light of the World:

I’ve never met Benedict XVI, but I feel as though I have. Or at least I think I have a pretty good sense of how his mind works: clear, to the point, and earthy. OK, maybe not D. H. Lawrence earthy, but for a German university professor very direct, concrete, and capable of a memorable turn of phrase.

These qualities are very much in evidence in an extended interview of Benedict by Peter Seewald, recently published under the title Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times. Seewald is a sympathetic interlocutor, and this new book is his third published interview with Benedict, with the previous two taking place when the present pope was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for Doctrine and the Faith. The topics vary, but one theme is clear throughout. This papacy wants to italicize and underline and put into bold one word: continuity.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Love and the Law

Father Raymond J. de Souza writes:

To follow the law is to be under a burden, to be compelled, to be constrained. To love, on the other hand, is to embrace the capacity to choose, to be creative, to be liberated.

In his recent book, Light of the World, Pope Benedict considers that way of thinking as having wrought catastrophic damage in the life of the Church. The opposition of love to law, as if the former required an abandonment of the latter, is an error widespread in society too, with similarly deleterious consequences. The context for the Holy Father's comments was the sexual abuse scandals.

"The archbishop of Dublin told me … that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly, it was not perfect – there is much to criticize about it – but nevertheless it was applied," Benedict said. "After the mid-'60s, however, it was simply not applied any more. The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people."

Even those with a rudimentary knowledge of canon law were aware that severe penalties existed for clergy who were guilty of sexual misconduct of all sorts. Yet the punitive sanctions of the law were not applied. It is true that today there are stricter laws and more severe punishments, but what has principally changed is that the Church's law in such cases is being more vigourously enforced.
 Read the whole piece at the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Bloomberg News reviews Light of the World

Catherine Hickley reviews Light of the World for Bloomberg News:
Even as a lapsed Protestant, I was engrossed by the book’s rare insights into a leader who usually appears impossibly aloof -- an elderly, white-robed patriarch viewed from afar, waving to crowds and speaking Latin. (He wears the cassock even at home, he says. No sweaters for him.)

Often seen as a dry academic steeped in dogma, Benedict is better known for the things he did before, rather than after, his election as supreme pontiff in 2005. In his 24 years as John Paul II’s doctrinal enforcer, he helped oust priests who diverged from orthodoxy and asserted the superiority of the Roman Catholic Church over other Christian religions. His hard- line stances on homosexuality, women priests and birth control won him enemies, both within the church and without.

Though there’s plenty here to make non-believers balk, his clarity on complex issues is compelling. If nothing else, the book succeeds as a public-relations vehicle for a pope who has had his share of PR disasters. 

Sydney Morning Herald on Light of the World

Gerard Henderson reviews Light of the World for the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Vatican, apparently like God, works in strange ways.

A series of official meetings at the Holy See last week served as a reminder that, in its governance function, the Catholic Church is very bureaucratic. Yet Pope Benedict has just done what few government or religious leaders would do. He gave six interviews of one hour's duration each to the German journalist and author Peter Seewald.

The product of this conversation is contained in Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times (Ignatius Press), which has just been published. In the Western world, which is increasingly subsumed with sex and celebrity, media attention has focused on the Pope's answers to two questions about HIV/AIDS in Africa and the church forbidding condoms.


Monday, December 6, 2010

William Oddie on the secular media and condoms

At the Catholic Herald UK, William Oddie analyzes the impact some Catholic commenters had on the secular media's reaction to the condom issue.
Francis Philips got it dead right in her last blog; the pope’s gripping, highly readable and indispensable book The Light of the World (and if you haven’t read it yet you really should) is about a great deal more than just sex.
The extraordinary distortion by the secular Press of his passing remarks about condoms is now generally seen for what it was: a sign of the fact that papers have to have splash headlines; that’s the way they’re designed: hence the Sunday Telegraph’s declaration of a “historic U-turn by [the] Catholic church”. So the secular response is understandable: journalists need stories; it’s not so much that they don’t care about the truth, but that they really aren’t necessarily equipped, in a story about the Church, to recognise it when it’s staring them in the face.

But parallel to this kind of understandable secular distortion, there was a jumping on this particular bandwagon by some Catholics who really didn’t have that kind of excuse. Perhaps the most informative example of the “historic U-turn by Catholic Church” syndrome among Catholic journalists was the Today programme’s “Thought for the Day” on the morning after the Sunday Telegraph splash headline, uttered from on high by Clifford Longley, the BBC’s token “authoritative” Catholic and the elder statesman of the Tabletistas.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Catholic Media Review on "Light of the World"

Julie D. at Catholic Media Review gives her reflections on Light of the World:
As most people know by now, Light of the World covers questions about modern times including, but not limited to, the sex scandals, relativism, the Church and Islam, ecumenism, global warming, contraception, AIDS, women priests, homosexuality, and relativism. In other words, if there has been bad press about it lately, Seewald asked about it.

The Holy Father gives honest and candid answers. If any reader ever wanted to ask the Pope questions ripped from the headlines, then this is just the book for them. More than anything I was impressed with the Pope's realism. He answered in a way that let us know he is completely aware of what people think about various issues for the most part. As he continually pointed out, he does not exist in a vacuum, and has meetings every day with people from around the world.

Bishop Paprocki on Condoms, Light of the World, and Catholic Teaching

Bishop Paprocki's December 5, 2010 Column from Diocese of Springfield in IL on Vimeo.

ZENIT: Light of the World a Must-Read

Elizabeth Lev, writing for ZENIT, reviews Light of the World:

I'd like to thank the New York Times and other secular media for helping me get my priorities straight. I had no plans to read right away Benedict XVI's new book-length interview with Peter Seewald, as I was buried under final exams. I was saving the book for quieter times.

But between the international headlines generated by the New York Times and Associated Press reports, I stopped everything I was doing and picked up "Light of the World." It was the best thing I did this semester, as his message of hope in the face of tremendous challenges offers calm amid chaos.

Not surprisingly, the secular media got the Pope's message wrong. One would think with all the expensive educations milling around these news conglomerates, someone might have taken a class in reading comprehension. Ironically, the Associated Press claimed: "Pope's remarks on condoms sow widespread confusion." I would have gone with "Journalist illiteracy wreaks pandemonium."

The point of contention is in Chapter 11, when the Pope speaks hypothetically of a prostitute using a condom as a sign of an awakening of his moral conscience. This tiny paragraph has now spawned novels -- proving the Pope's point in the preceding lines, that "concentrating on condoms alone banalizes sexuality."

His remarks make perfect sense, the only mystery being why Catholics would look to the secular media for interpretation of the Pope's teaching, especially those outlets that had spent most of this year trying relentlessly yet unsuccessfully to accuse him of complicity in the sex abuse crisis. Why not read Cardinal Raymond Burke, or papal biographer George Weigel, or a moral theologian such as Father Thomas Williams? Better yet, why not just read the Pope himself?

One thing is for sure -- reading "Light of the World" will be more satisfying and fulfilling than any pundit's pronouncements.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fr. Robert Barron on Light of the World

"Misrepresenting Benedict’s Bravery"

Matthew Hanley, author of Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS: What Africa Can Teach the West, writes about the Pope and AIDS at The Catholic Thing:
Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about condoms and AIDS – or rather confusing manipulations of those remarks – are reverberating around the world. But they do not represent the change in his thought or Catholic teaching that the media have vigorously claimed, however much progressive or dissenting theologians, and perhaps even some papal aides, wish otherwise. And they are not a vindication of public health authorities who have, for decades, unsuccessfully advocated technical means of battling sexually transmitted epidemics, while refusing to emphasize the kinds of behaviors that would avoid infection altogether.

The New York Times tells us the pope’s words, in the newly published book Light of the World, were received with “glee from clerics and health workers in Africa, where the AIDS problem is worst.” The pope as anachronistic obstacle to global health has long been a fashionable narrative. But consider: decades of robust condom promotion (and other technical interventions) utterly failed to curb Africa’s AIDS epidemics, and common-sense changes in sexual behavior accounted for Africa’s handful of AIDS declines. Is one misrepresented remark from the pontiff now to do what lavish and sophisticated condom campaigns couldn’t? Public health leaders should be carefully scrutinized. They, not the pope, are explicitly charged with containing epidemics.
Read more... 

"The Pope believes that dialogue with Islam is crucial"

Francis Phillips writes in the Catholic Herald UK about the Pope's urgent message of the necessity of dialogue with Islam--and why "dialogue does not mean we have to water down what we know to be the truth."
But “dialogue” does not mean we water down what we know to be the truth; it means that, guided by the Holy Spirit, we first of all enter into a relationship of charity towards Muslims and treat them as our brothers and sisters, men and women made in the image and likeness of God, rather than as our antagonists. Of course, Muslims do not always treat Christians thus; but as ours is the religion of love par excellence it is we who have to show them that this is the better path.


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. 


"Why Are the Media Fixated on Condoms?"

Dr. Janet Smith asks the question and responds to it in an essay for ZENIT:
Most people remember their grandmothers at some point telling them that pointing a finger at someone means that three fingers are pointing back at you. The media are obsessed with the issue of the Catholic Church and condoms because they seem to believe that condoms are the solution to preventing the transmission of the HIV. Might it be time they began to think about other organizations, such as themselves, that might bear some responsibility?

Who can deny that if people were living by the Church's teaching on sexuality, if people were having only married heterosexual sex, there would be no problem with the HIV (and a host of other problems)? Certainly, in this fallen world, that is not going to happen everywhere. But why doesn't it happen more often? Why does it seem that so many people think sex outside of marriage and homosexual sex is perfectly acceptable? That people should be allowed to have whatever kind of sex they want to have? Benedict XVI calls this the "banalization of sexuality."

I have been teaching on sexuality for many decades. When I started, nearly three decades ago, even though promiscuity was in full swing even then, I could generally count on young people agreeing with me that sexual intercourse was meant to be an expression of love. In fact, "making love" was a euphemism for "having sex," but who says that anymore? When I would speak about "sex" they would naturally think of an act performed by spouses. Some argued that if you were in love and intending to get married, it could be moral to have sex before marriage. Even so, there was also fairly widespread agreement, that if you weren't ready for babies, you weren't ready for sex. Few were arguing that it was moral to have any kind of sex.

How things have changed since then! Now, when I speak of "sex" people think of a profoundly pleasurable sexual act that has no connection to love, commitment or babies. Young people are a bit surprised when I maintain there is a natural connection between sex, love, commitment and babies.


A "Reluctant Sinner" reviews Light of the World

The UK blog "A Reluctant Sinner" reviews Light of the World:
I popped into the St Paul's bookshop yesterday, to buy a copy of Pope Benedict XVI's interview with Peter Seewald, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times. It is both a fantastic and a fascinating read! In fact, I haven't been able to put it down since I bought it!

It's so refreshing to read the words of a world leader who does not shirk away from reality. The Holy Father's answers to the questions posed by Seewald are honest, humble, erudite and rational. He is the antithesis of a modern political or global leader - he has his feet firmly in the Shoes of the Fisherman, and his mind in the scholarly works and books which he calls his "advisers"! His heart, of course, if firmly fixed on Christ, with whom he is "united simply by old acquaintance." 

Dr. Deal Hudson, 'On Condoms: More Dostoevsky, Less Catechesis'

Dr. Deal Hudson weighs in on the "condom controversy":
There is, of course, no new rule about condom use: The Church still teaches that contraception during intercourse between a man and woman is forbidden, even in the case where one or the other is HIV positive.

What Benedict actually said is much more interesting than what is being wrongly reported by the media. The Holy Father was probing into an imagined individual's moral psychology, rather than rehearsing a new item in the next edition of the Catechism.
 Read more....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"The Church and Condoms"

Fr. Roger J. Landry provides another clear-sighted analysis of the Church's teaching on contraception and Pope Benedict's comments on condom use:
Last weekend, headlines focused on how Pope Benedict was apparently changing the Church’s teachings about the immorality of the use of condoms. The comments, excerpted from a book length interview of the Pope with journalist Peter Seewald, led many news outlets, like The New York Times, to claim that this was “the first Vatican exception to a long-held policy condemning condom use.” Many Catholics were confused. The controversy revealed widespread misunderstandings of the Church’s teachings with regard to the use of contraception. It’s therefore worthwhile to read what Pope Benedict said in context and then to make some important clarifications. 

"Benedict XVI: Christian Radical"

Samuel Gregg at the Acton Institute reviews Light of the World:

...perhaps the interview’s most revealing aspect is the picture that emerges of Pope Benedict as nothing more and nothing less than a Christian radical.

Those accustomed to cartoon-like depictions of Joseph Ratzinger as a “reactionary” might be surprised by this description. But by “radical,” I don’t mean the type of priest or minister who only wears clerical garb when attending left-wing rallies or publically disputing particular church doctrines.

The word “radical” comes from the Latin radix, meaning “root.” It’s in this sense Benedict is radical. His pontificate is about going back to Christianity’s roots to make, as Benedict says, “visible again the center of Christian life” and then shining that light upon the world so that we might see the truth about ourselves.

From Rome, new words on the clergy abuse crisis

Catholic San Francisco reports on the Vatican reforms regarding the handling of abusive clergy. Also coming up for comment are the comments that Pope Benedict XVI made in Light of the World regarding the abuse crisis and the response to it:
Also on Nov. 20, the depth of the pope’s grief over the abuse crisis, and the complexity of its causes and of the response to it, came to light when the Vatican newspaper published excerpts from journalist Peter Seewald’s book-length interview, “Light of the World.”

Seewald asked: “It is not only the abuse that is upsetting, it is also the way of dealing with it. The deeds themselves were hushed up and kept secret for decades. That is a declaration of bankruptcy for an institution that has love written on its banner.”

The pope replied: “The Archbishop of Dublin told me something very interesting about that. He said that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly it was not perfect –there is much to criticize about it – but nevertheless it was applied. After the mid-1960s, however, it was simply not applied any more. The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.

“Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate.”
 Read more, including comments from Cardinals Levada and Burke.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Why haven't you heard about THIS papal quote?"

Phil Lawler ponders why the condom quote was the one that got the most media attention.
If you want to drum up controversy on the basis of one quote pulled out of the Pope's book-length interview Light of the World, how about this one, found on page 152:
Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.
Unlike the now-famous quotation about condom use, this sentence isn't pulled out of context. The Pope isn't merely speculating. He isn't raising a possible objection or exception to his own argument. His point is clear.

Read more at the Catholic Culture website.

"A public relations flub, but no seismic shift in teaching"

Russell Shaw, in an opinion piece for CNA, says regarding the condom controversy that "...a lot of people have blamed the media for the confusion that has surrounded this incident. In some instances, the media did indeed blow it, but that was hardly their fault."

Read more from his perspective here.

"Pope says ordaining women is not the church's choice to make"

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his latest book, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed that the church has "no authority" to ordain women as priests and rejected the idea that the rule was formed only because the church originated in a patriarchal society.

The pope said that man did not produce the form of the church, and does not have the power to change it. Christ gave the form of the priesthood when he chose his male Apostles, he said in the book-interview, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times."

"The church has 'no authority' to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying we don't want to, but that we can't," he said. This requires obedience by Catholics today, he added.


Marcel LeJeune reviews Light of the World

Marcel LeJuene, author of Set Free To Love and blogger at Aggie Catholics, has a review up of Light of the World:
Benedict is honest and direct in his answers. You won't find any dodging of the tough question as a politician might. Rather, Benedict is quite honest the the human side of the Catholic Church is full of sinners who mess up all the time and that he himself has made errors. He is critical of the Church's communication efforts, among other issues, and his compassion for the victims of the sex abuse crisis is quite clear. Yet this does not keep him from honestly analyzing the situation to notice innocent priests have to face consequences as well.

Review of Light of the World by Brandon Vogt

Brandon Vogt, blogging at The Thin Veil, reviews Light of the World:

The travesty is that this book will now be known only for these couple of paragraphs when the book provides so many other fascinating insights. Light of the World really is a monumental effort, and anyone who reads it cover-to-cover will appreciate how much of a gift it really is. Never before has a Pope granted such an in-depth interview, nor directly answered so many challenging questions in rapid succession.
Read the entire review...

"Pope’s ‘switch’ on condoms"

Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley has contributed a guest editorial to the Napa Valley Register in California, debunking the media claims that the Pope has endorsed condom use:

Judging by the media hype, you’d think the pope just published a book about condoms. His new book, “Light of the World,” actually covers a wide range of issues raised by veteran journalist Peter Seewald: the clergy sexual abuse scandal, climate change, moral relativism, spreading the Gospel, relations among religions, the search for Christian unity, dialogue with Islam, religion in public life, the roles of faith and reason, reforms in the Church, and the second coming of Christ, to name only a few subjects.

The questions are direct, often challenging; the answers, equally direct and often perhaps surprising.
Yes, the pope talks a bit about condoms. But contrary to what has been widely reported, he doesn’t endorse their use, even in “rare cases.”

George Wiegel on The World Over Live

George Wiegel, who contributed a foreword to the US edition of Light of the World, appears to discuss the book on EWTN's The World Over Live. (Segment starts at the 6:00 mark.)

"Should the Pope clarify his remarks? He already did."

Over at Catholic Culture, Phil Lawler addresses the confusion some people are having over the Pope's words about condoms:
 Amid the furor about the Pope’s statement on condom use, perhaps you’re asking why the Holy Father didn’t say something clear and unequivocal. Why didn’t he condemn the drive to accept recreational sex, and rely on condoms for safety? Why didn’t he say something like this:
This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves.
The above paragraph, of course, is exactly what Pope Benedict did say—in the paragraph directly preceding the one that’s caused all the fuss. Find it on page 119 of Light of the World


Monday, November 29, 2010

"Media Barriers to Truth"

National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Fr. Thomas Williams on Light of the World and the media reaction.
So what exactly did the pope say in his new book and what does the Catholic Church say about condom use? Father Thomas D. Williams is a Michigan-born Catholic priest, professor at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome, and author of Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience, Greater Than You Think, and A Heart Like His, among other books. He took some questions about the current papal media frenzy about condoms.
Q. We’ve read in the New York Times that the pope is sowing confusion on condoms in the new book-length interview with him, Light of the World. What’s the pope thinking going around confusing people?
A: The fact is that people, including Catholics and even many priests, are already confused about the Church’s teaching on contraception and natural family planning. They know that the Church opposes contraception but they don’t know why. The pope’s remarks didn’t cause this confusion but they did bring it to the fore. All this attention on the possibility of using condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa actually provides us with a singular “teaching moment.” People are asking important questions: Why is the Church opposed to contraception? What about the use of condoms in homosexual relationships? How about condoms in the case of prostitutes? Unmarried couples? These issues are usually taboo, and now is a great time to discuss them.
Read the whole piece here.

"The Pope Whisperer"

The Irish Times profiles Peter Seewald: the time of the book’s Vatican presentation, on Tuesday, Seewald had been quizzed for three days about nothing but condoms, condoms and condoms.

He complained to the assembled press that it was a “crisis of journalism” if 17 lines about condoms could overshadow the rest of his 214-page scoop.
 Read more....

Jimmy Akin discusses the condom controversy in the media

"Pearls From the Holy Father"

The editors at National Catholic Register have assembled their own favorite quotes from Light of the World.
The book offers a fascinating insight into the Pope’s way of thinking over a wide range of subjects. We at the Register were so impressed that we thought we’d treat our readers to some golden nuggets … with an encouragement to read the entire work.
 Read the quotes they selected here.

Amy Welborn on Pope Benedict in USA Today

Catholic author and blogger Amy Welborn writes about Pope Benedict and Light of the World in USA Today:
Forbes recently named Pope Benedict XVI the fifth-most-powerful person in the world, right between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and well ahead of any other religious leaders — Iran's top ayatollah (26th) and the dalai lama (39th).
An 83-year-old man, the out-of-touch figurehead of a dying mythological system, is the fifth-most powerful person in the world? How can this be?

The Curt Jester on Light of the World

Jeff Miller, a.k.a. "The Curt Jester", has a review of Light of the World up on his blog:
There has been much controversy over one of the Pope’s answer to one question and they focused on a word. Catholic convert Marshall McLuhan said “The Media is the Message” and I would add often that the “Media misses the message.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski on "Light of the World"

Writing in the Miami Herald, Archbishop Thomas Wenski gives an appreciation of Light of the World:

All readers -- whether they do not count themselves among his flock as well as those who, like the Holy Father, call the church ``mother'' -- can profit from engaging in this ``conversation'' with a man who continues to surprise and disarm his critics with the authenticity of his witness. As an intellectual and as a pastor, Benedict witnesses -- with great joy and unwavering hope -- that ``God does matter.''

Read more ...

"New book shows Pope’s commitment to Jews and Israel"

The Jerusalem Post reviews Light of the World:
In a Platonic format of questions and answers, the conversation, deftly guided by German journalist and author Peter Seewald, was recorded last summer at the pontiff’s summer residence near Rome. It provides a lively guide to Pope Benedict XVI’s thoughts on all the major dilemmas of his papacy and times. Seewald leaves no holes in the story, presenting his illustrious interviewee (and readers) with an accurate portrait of public opinion.

Joseph Ratzinger, the man and the Pope, replies without reticence, revealing the reflective and unpretentious traits of his personality and an unusual capacity to listen respectfully.

"Let’s move on from condoms. What the Pope said about the priesthood is more interesting"

Francis Phillips at the Catholic Herald UK describes what she finds most interesting about Light of the World:
Given the amount of ink spilled recently over Pope Benedict’s reference to the use of condoms during his interview with journalist Peter Seewald, people might be forgiven for thinking that his book, “Light of the World” is all about sex – in particular, sex in sinful circumstances. Thinking this would be a great pity. The conversation ranged over a large number of topics, to which the Holy Father responded with great frankness and originality. I am thinking especially of his reply to a question raised by Seewald on the need for married priests.

Rome Reports interviews Father Fessio on Light of the World

Friday, November 26, 2010

Phil Lawler: The Pope's message turned upside-down

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture writes:
Today, what the world thinks Pope Benedict said is almost exactly the opposite of what he clearly intended.

In Chapter 11 of his new book, Light of the World, Pope Benedict mounts a strong defense of his argument that condom use is not the appropriate means of fighting the AIDS epidemic.

This week, millions of people received the impression that the Pope made precisely the opposite argument-- that he recommended condoms as a defense against AIDS...
He goes on to argue that the public relations effort on the part of the Vatican has fallen short. What do you think?


CNA interviews Peter Seewald

CNA recently spoke exclusively with German journalist Peter Seewald, author of the new book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI.

Last summer, Seewald interviewed the Pope over a period of several days at Castel Gandolfo. The conversations were compiled in his new book, "Light of the Word: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times."

Seewald previously published two books on then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "The Salt of the Earth," and "God and the World."

CNA's edited interview with Seewald is below:

Click here to

Reminder: Light of the World at 20% off until the 30th!

Offer ends Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 at 12:00 midnight EST.
These prices are available online only through

  • What caused the clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?
  • Was there a "cover up"?
  • Have you considered resigning?
  • Does affirming the goodness of the human body mean a plea for "better sex"?
  • Can there be a genuine dialogue with Islam?
  • Should the Church rethink Catholic teaching on priestly celibacy, women priests, contraception, and same-sex relationships?
  • Holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics?
  • Is there a schism in the Catholic Church?
  • Should there be a Third Vatican Council?
  • Is there any hope for Christian unity?
  • Is Christianity the only truth?
  • Can the Pope really speak for Jesus Christ?
  • How can the Pope claim to be "infallible"?
  • Is there a "dictatorship of relativism" today?
Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World. Taken from a recent week-long series of interviews with veteran journalist Peter Seewald, this book tackles head-on some of the greatest issues facing the world of our time. Believers and unbelievers will be fascinated to hear Benedict's thoughtful, straightforward and thought-provoking replies.This is no stern preachment or ponderous theological tract, but a lively, fast-paced, challenging, even entertaining exchange. Get your copy today at 20% off!
• Visit for more information
See more books by Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Peter Seewald

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are you on Facebook? Want to win a free copy of Light of the World?

Facebook users can enter a free book giveaway! Details here. Visit our Facebook page here.

"Into the 'Light': Pope Benedict comes into clearer focus in new book"

CNS reports on Light of the World:

In the middle of Pope Benedict XVI's new book is a story about a hat, and it sheds light on the trials and tribulations of the modern papacy.

The book's interviewer, German journalist Peter Seewald, recalled a public appearance one winter day when the pope donned the "camauro," a red velvet cap trimmed with ermine that was last worn by Pope John XXIII. Seewald suggested this was one of those subtle signals that marked a return to the old ways of the church.

In reading the pope's answer, one can almost hear him sighing.

"I wore it only once. I was just cold, and I happen to have a sensitive head. And I said, since the camauro is there, let's put it on. But I was really just trying to fight off the cold," he said.

The pope's appearance in the cap caused a minor uproar in the media, which saw it as a kind of pre-Vatican II fashion statement. In the book, the pope said he hasn't put it on since that day, "in order to forestall over-interpretation."

"Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times" is that kind of book: It deflates myths, explains papal decisions and offers unexpected insights, leaving the German pontiff in much clearer focus.


ABC, CBS Inaccurately Report Pope's Condom Remarks as 'Change in Policy'

Newsbusters shows how inaccurately the mainstream news media has been in its reportage of Pope Benedict's statements on condoms:

On Tuesday evening, ABC and CBS furthered the mainstream media's largely inaccurate reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks on the morality of condom use. While the pontiff stated that condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection," World News anchor Diane Sawyer stated that "the Pope shifts his rules on condom use." Evening News anchor Katie Couric labeled Benedict XVI's comment a "historic statement," and trumpeted how supposedly, "Pope Benedict says, for the first time, that condoms are okay to protect against HIV and other diseases."

Light of the World - Book trailer

"Fearless and engaged"

Kris Dmytrenko at Salt + Light TV in Canada gives a very insightful review of Light of the World.
A few pages into “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times”, Peter Seewald disappeared. The German journalist had secured one of the world’s most elusive interviews—a one-on-one with the Pope. Since the start of his pontificate, Benedict XVI had until now given only a couple of interviews, apart from brief sessions where the questions were carefully pre-selected. And those other interviews—most notably, with Polish state television in 2005 and with German media the following year—were not nearly as generous as the six one-hour audiences that this author was granted.

Seewald doesn’t squander the opportunity. He poses almost all of the questions that a Catholic journalist might want to know. As I read the book last week—transfixed, in two sittings—Seewald receded from the interview. It became a conversation between the Pope and me. As Archbishop Rino Fisichella described the book at its launch in the Vatican, the Holy Father “opens the door of his apartment and lets us in”.
Read the entire review...

Review of "Light of the World" in the San Francisco Chronicle

Rev. Michael Sweeney, OP, the president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California, gives a review of Light of the World, saying that "...What emerges in the interviews is a man who in his own words is 'a simple beggar before God - even more than all other people' who, nonetheless, is deeply confident in the future of the church and of Christianity."

Read the entire review...

"Condoms! Condoms! Condoms!"

In a guest post at the Chicago Tribune's The Seeker blog, Fr. Robert Barron laments the tone of the coverage Light of the World has been getting.

He writes that "one of the stupidest and most dispiriting expressions of the media culture that I have ever encountered is the 'coverage' of Pope Benedict’s recently-published interview entitled Light of the World. I can’t really say that I was surprised."
Read more here...

"Now we can read the Pope's inspiring interview in full, enough of the prurient obsession with condoms"

Andrew Brown at the Telegraph UK laments the obsession with condoms that has become the main talking point about Light of the World and offers an appreciative review:

I only got my copy yesterday, and already I’ve nearly finished it – the book is a gripping read. Pope Benedict’s agile mind is perfectly suited to the dialogue form and he is a gifted teacher.
Read the entire review...

Amy Welborn's Quick Takes on Light of the World

Author, blogger, and speaker Amy Welborn has been on the road, publishing "short takes" on Light of the World at her blog, Charlotte was Both. She's up to #4, and each entry is worth reflecting on.

From Quick Take #1:
As I said last week, what I found most compelling about this book was not what the Pope has said about this or that issue but his articulation of his spiritual life.  It is a thread running throughout the entire interview...
From Quick Take #2

...the whole section on the abuse crisis is very important.  He never hesitates to call it what it is  – sin, filth, evil, destruction. And he never blames any force or institution outside of the Church...
 From Quick Take #3
There is grumbling here and there about the existence of this interview as well as anyone’s interest in it.  It confuses things, it’s overreach, the Pope’s personal views on all of these issues are really unimportant, and the Vatican PR office is clearly not up to the task of heading off controversy or quickly dealing with ambiguity.
From Quick Take #4

Pope Benedict is often accused of being unduly fixated on Europe, ignoring the vitality of the Church in the rest of the world. That accusation won’t stick anymore.  He affirms the importance of reviving Catholicism in Europe, certainly, but frequently points to what he has experienced on his trips, and the life which he has seen.
 Read them all at her blog.

OSV on Light of the World

Our Sunday Visitor has an extended review of Light of the World by renowned Catholic journalist Russell Shaw. The print edition that this appears in is very beautiful, but for online readers, OSV has provided Shaw's entire article. Read it--and perhaps think of getting a copy at your local parish or bookstore that carries the paper!

The review, titled "Book reveals Pope Benedict's quiet strength":
Tough and resilient may not be the first words most people would use to describe Pope Benedict XVI, but this scholarly, reserved man of 83, who once said his preferred retirement job would be Vatican librarian, lately has been giving lessons in toughness and resilience that just about anyone might envy...

Shedding Some Light on The Light of the World

Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, and Carl E. Olson, editor of Ignatius Insight, talk about the unprecedented and heavily anticipated interview with Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, by Peter Seewald.

Click here to listen to or download this podcast.

Fr. Joseph Fessio on All Things Considered

NPR's All Things Considered invited Fr. Fessio to clarify what the Pope meant by his comments on condoms in Light of the World.
 KELLY: A lot of the media coverage over the past few days has presented the pope's comments as representing a big shift in the policy of the Roman Catholic Church. It sounds like you don't see it that way.

Father FESSIO: I don't see it that way. The pope doesn't see it that way. And it's not that way. There's no shift here.
Read the entire transcript or listen to the interview here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jimmy Akin on the Pope and Condoms

Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin has been following the controversy about the Pope's statement on condoms over at the National Catholic Register website.

So far, he has written three substantial posts: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

In his latest post he addresses the UK Catholic blogger for the Telegraph, Damien Thompson, who has claimed that the Pope has declared the use of condoms to be "justified" in certain cases.
Not so fast, Damian. Let’s try to keep from putting words in the Pontiff’s mouth. As you yourself have noted on a prior occasion, the Pope did not use the word “justified” or “permissible” or anything along those lines.

One is tempted to ask, a little cheekily, “What part of the Pope’s statement that the Church ‘does not regard it as a real or moral solution’ don’t you understand?”
Read more from Jimmy.

Cardinal Burke: What the Pope Really Meant


Cardinal Raymond Burke is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the court of final appeal at the Vatican.

The Wisconsin native is the first American to hold that curial position. Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed him to the post in 2008, elevated him to cardinal Nov. 20, along with American Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and 22 other bishops and archbishops from around the world.

In the midst of activities related to the consistory of Nov. 22, Cardinal Burke took some time to read an advance copy of Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, Pope Benedict’s book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, just as a controversy about the Pope’s views on condom use broke in the press. Cardinal Burke discussed the issue by phone Nov. 22 with Register news editor John Burger.

Read the rest of this interview at

Did the Pope “justify” condom use in some circumstances?

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, founder of Ignatius Press, presents this guest editorial for Reuters.

Did the Pope “justify” condom use in some circumstances?

No. And there was absolutely no change in Church teaching either. Not only because an interview by the Pope does not constitute Church teaching, but because nothing that he said differs from previous Church teaching.

Then why all the headlines saying that he “approves” or “permits” or “justifies” condom use in certain cases?

That’s a good question. So good that the interviewer himself asked virtually the same question during the interview.

The Pope made a statement in the interview, which statement has now been widely quoted in the worldwide media. Immediately, the interviewer, Peter Seewald, posed this question: “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?”

The Pope clarified and expanded on his previous statement.

So let’s look at the two statements.


The New York Times interviews Archbishop Dolan

New USCCB president Archbishop Dolan gives an interview to the New York Times that addresses, in part, Pope Benedict's comments on condoms in Light of the World:
In an expansive interview in the front parlor of his residence on Madison Avenue — the only news interview he has granted since he spoke to a Catholic television station after last Tuesday’s election — Archbishop Dolan discussed his surprise at his election, whether the bishops will push for repeal of the health care overhaul and what Pope Benedict XVI said about condoms.

“The Pope didn’t say, ‘Oh good, you should use a condom,’ ” Archbishop Dolan said, referring to a controversial comment the pope made in a book that is being released worldwide on Tuesday.

Rome Reports: Book with exclusive interview of Pope Benedict XVI is published

Light of the World and the Mainstream Media

Ignatius Press president Mark Brumley has been busy fielding questions about Light of the World from a multitude of media sources. But they all seem to ask the same questions…

Mainstream Media:  So the Pope has written a book about condoms!

Mark Brumley: Well, actually, it’s an interview book.  And journalist Peter Seewald interviewed Benedict about a wide-range of topics, not just about condoms.

MM: Yes, but condoms must be a major theme of the book.  Look at all the coverage that has focused on condoms!

Mark: Actually, the Pope’s comments about condoms cover only about two pages out of about 200 pages of Q & As.

MM: Well, what did the Pope say about condoms?

Mark: You can go here and read for yourself what he said.

MM:  Many readers won’t want to be bothered to do that.  Can’t you just tell us?

Mark: Really, the Pope’s remarks aren’t very long.  And Ignatius Press has gone to the trouble to have them translated into English, so English-speakers can read them for themselves.

MM:  I’m sure people appreciate that, Mr. Brumley, but, please, summarize things for us.  When can we use condoms, according to the Pope?

Mark: The Pope never said we may use condoms.

MM: That’s not what I read online.  I read the headline “Pope Approves Condoms” or something like that.

Mark: May I suggest that you and your readers actually look at what the Pope said?

MM: Mr. Brumley, you seem like you’re trying to dodge my question.  Please, answer my question.  When, according to the Pope, may we use condoms?

Mark: Ok. Let me try to explain this to you.  The Pope did not approve condom use.  Not even on rare occasions, contrary to what some media reports said.

Bishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix on "Light of the World."

Bishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, diocesan administrator of Québec, has posted this video review (in French) of Light of the World. Enjoy!

"Light of the World" available to order. Save 20%!

Offer ends Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 at 12:00 midnight EST.
These prices are available online only through

  • What caused the clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?
  • Was there a "cover up"?
  • Have you considered resigning?
  • Does affirming the goodness of the human body mean a plea for "better sex"?
  • Can there be a genuine dialogue with Islam?
  • Should the Church rethink Catholic teaching on priestly celibacy, women priests, contraception, and same-sex relationships?
  • Holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics?
  • Is there a schism in the Catholic Church?
  • Should there be a Third Vatican Council?
  • Is there any hope for Christian unity?
  • Is Christianity the only truth?
  • Can the Pope really speak for Jesus Christ?
  • How can the Pope claim to be "infallible"?
  • Is there a "dictatorship of relativism" today?
Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World. Taken from a recent week-long series of interviews with veteran journalist Peter Seewald, this book tackles head-on some of the greatest issues facing the world of our time. Believers and unbelievers will be fascinated to hear Benedict's thoughtful, straightforward and thought-provoking replies.This is no stern preachment or ponderous theological tract, but a lively, fast-paced, challenging, even entertaining exchange. Get your copy today at 20% off!
• Visit for more information
See more books by Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Peter Seewald


Pope Benedict's comments about Pius XII in Light of the World have angered some Jewish leaders who believe that the wartime pope did too little to prevent the Holocaust. However, as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports,

Dr. Michael Hesemann, a German historian who is combing through the Vatican archives for the U.S.-based Pave the Way Foundation, has found in recent research that Pope Pius XII may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht.

The new research shows that the perception of Pius XII as "Hitler's Pope" may be historically incorrect.


Some blogs and news sources have collected some good news roundups linking coverage of Light of the World.

Here's three we like:

Tito Edwards at The American Catholic: Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

Luke Coppen's Morning Catholic Must Reads at The Catholic Herald UK.

Christopher Blosser's The Benedict Blog.

"Pope repeats, condoms not AIDS answer"

USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman has piece on what the Pope said about condoms, citing author Amy Welborn among others.
Immediately, the Internet and some newscasts lit up with a breathless mangling of the pope's comments and their significance, says Catholic author and blogger Amy Wellborn. She was among the select few to have an advance, embargoed text of the book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.
Read more here...

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Beyond the controversy, a revealing glimpse into the mind of the Pope"

CNA Editor-in-Chief David Scott gives a review of Light of the World:

Although not officially released until Nov. 23, the book is already the talk of the world. That follows the odd decision by the Vatican newspaper to violate the embargo on the book’s release and publish fragments of the Pope’s remarks on the controversial subject of condoms and the worldwide fight against AIDS.

But there is far more to this 219-page book than grist for scandal-mongers and controversialists.
Read the rest of the article...

Rome Reports on the release of Light of the World

Father Joseph Fessio discusses Light of the World on the Today Show

The headline on this story is misleading, but Father Fessio's comments are not.

Deflating the NYT Condom Scoop

George Weigel writes on the National Review Online website:
Here is what the New York Times reported to its readers on November 21:

“Pope Benedict XVI has said that condom use can be justified in some cases to help stop the spread of AIDS . . . .”

No, the pope did not say that in his new book, Light of the World, to which I had the honor of contributing a foreword. Here is what the pope actually wrote...

Bishop Finn on Light of the World

Robert W. Finn, bishop of Kansas City / St. Joseph, writes an appreciative column on Light of the World:
Dear friends,
I recently had the opportunity to read an advance copy of a new book by Pope Benedict XVI. Entitled, “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church, and the Signs of the Times,” published by Ignatius Press. It is a book length conversation between the Holy Father and the German journalist, Peter Seewald, and it reaches the market this week. I don’t want you to think that I get any fee for saying so, but this text is another great gift from “Papa Ratzinger” to the Church.
In this first ever such interview of a sitting Pope, the Holy Father takes on the most direct, challenging and heart wrenching issues and questions of the day, including the response of the Church to the scandal of priest sexual abuse, the tension and promise of dialogue with other Christian and non-Christian denominations; as well as the somewhat neuralgic propositions urging the abandonment of priestly celibacy and the promotion of women’s ordination. Pope Benedict receives these and many other questions with warmth and addresses them with reasonableness and candor.
Read the whole column at the Catholic Key Blog!

"Open, Disarming, and Inevitably Misunderstood"

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., gives a wonderful review of Light of the World, warning that the hubbub over the Pope's comments on condoms have clouded the real issues being discussed in this book
...the Vatican's own semi-official newspaper, l'Osservatore Romano, violated the book's publication embargo and released excerpts of the content early. Not surprisingly, news media instantly zeroed in on the issue of condoms, and the rest of this marvelous book already seems like an afterthought.

Don't let that happen. Don't let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It's an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man.
Read the whole piece at First Things.

What does the Holy Father really say about condoms in the new book?

Dr. Janet E. Smith gives a concise explanation in this web exclusive from Catholic World Report:
The Holy Father does not in any way think the use of condoms is a part of the solution to reducing the risk of AIDs.  As he explicitly states, the true solution involves “humanizing sexuality.”

Pope Benedict XVI discusses condoms and the spread of HIV

An excerpt from Light of the World, Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI
From Chapter 11, "The Journeys of a Shepherd," pages 117-119:
On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on AIDs once again became the target of media criticism.Twenty-five percent of all AIDs victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on AIDs. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many AIDs victims, especially children with AIDs.


Official webpage for Light of the World

Visit the official site for Light of the World to see exclusive online content, such as the foreword by George Weigel:

What the Pope sees, and what he discusses with frankness, clarity, and compassion in this stimulating conversation with Peter Seewald, is a world that (to borrow from Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson) has lost its story: a world in which the progress promised by the humanisms of the past three centuries is now gravely threatened by understandings of the human person that reduce our humanity to a congeries of cosmic chemical accidents: a humanity with no intentional origin, no noble destiny, and thus no path to take through history. This is not, it must be emphasized, the cranky view of a man ill at ease in the postmodern world. Rather, as Benedict XVI takes pains to underscore in this conversation, his challenge to postmodernity is one intended to preserve and extend the achievements of modernity, not least in the sphere of political freedom — and to do so by encouraging postmodernity to rediscover some ancient truths about itself.