A Luminous Life of Benedict
When Joseph Ratzinger did his book-length interview The Ratzinger Report with the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori in 1985, the future pope explained that the Second Vatican Council, during which he served as an adviser, “wanted to mark the transition from a protective to a missionary attitude. Many forget that for the Council the counter-concept to ‘conservative’ is not ‘progressive’ but ‘missionary.’”
That’s only one of the many gems in Joseph Pearce’s brief but big-hearted new book Benedict XVI: Defender of the Faith, a concise portrait of the figure who may have been the greatest theologian ever to become pope, to many “the Mozart of theology.”
It’s typical that he repeatedly refused the efforts on various sides to impose a political framework of Right and Left on the Church. Pearce is especially useful just now because of the polarization once again being stirred up among Catholics. Benedict’s wisdom might offer us a way forward.
That wisdom was most evident in the way he handled questions about liturgy. Pearce briskly recounts how the new liturgy was imposed on the whole Church within only six months, about which Benedict comments: “I was dismayed at the prohibition of the old missal since nothing of the sort had ever happened in the entire history of the liturgy.”