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Publisher's Summary

The second volume of Peter Seewald’s magisterial life of Pope Benedict covers the period from the Second Vatican Council (1965-68) to the present day.

Emeritus Pope Benedict commands both adulation and unremitting criticism. In this second volume of Peter Seewald’s authoritative biography, the story runs from the Second Vatican Council (1965-68) that shaped Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s conservative ideas about the role of the Catholic Church, through his short, scandal-ridden papacy and unprecedented resignation. This second volume introduces listeners to the Pope Emeritus living in the Vatican Gardens, contemplating the future of the church and his controversial legacy within it.

We see how Benedict was influenced by the Vatican Council and the ensuing political unrest all over Europe in the 1960s. Appointed in 1981 as Prefect of the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith, and quickly nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler”, he was intransigent on the controversial issues of abortion, contraception, gay rights, and gay marriage. But elected Pope in 2005, his tenure of office was riven with shocking revelations of controversy and scandal and it seemed that by his resignation in 2013, he was incapable of handling the complexities of the church in the modern world.

Vatileaks, sexual abuse by priests, the Regensburg speech which became the spark of an eruption of rage in the Muslim world - all these hit the world’s media headlines.

Peter Seewald is the only person close enough to Benedict to assess the man himself and to uncover the truth about so many of the controversial issues surrounding this papacy.

©2021 Peter Seewald (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

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  • David Schutz
  • 12-22-21

Valuable but I wish it were more

Seewald’s autobiography of Joseph Ratzinger is very helpful and valuable for the way it brings together his entire life right up to his final conversation with him in 2018. It must not be forgotten that the author spent many hours talking directly to his subject, and therefore there is a certain authority to this biography. Nevertheless, more than once I have found myself wishing for better footnotes, references, and factual basis for some of the claims he makes. At times too, it is close to hagiography, but that is often the case with people who tell the story of those they love. This biography will, one assumes, one day be a valuable source for a proper academic study of the life of the man who was Pope Benedict XVI.