In interviews during the mid-1990s with George Weigel for the definitive biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger identified two distinguishing characteristics of John Paul’s intellectual work and pastoral approach: a “passion for man” and a capacity to “uncover the spiritual dimension of history.” Continue reading
A year after doing what no similarly situated pope had ever done, the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI now belongs to history. How history will judge that decision remains to be seen; it is too soon to tell. Benedict would be the first to acknowledge that utter novelties in the life of the Church are usually mistakes, which is why so many were unsettled that the grand master of the Catholic Tradition did something that, while permitted by that same tradition, could not in any sense be considered as belonging to it. Continue reading
Pope Francis had a smashingly successful first foreign visit to Rio for World Youth Day. Sadly, most of the world missed it. Even worse — it was largely the Church’s own fault. Continue reading
With his first encyclical, Pope Francis facilitates the completion of his predecessor’s trilogy about the theological virtues.
On the eve of his election to the papacy in 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke of the “dictatorship of relativism.” He spent the following eight years returning to the theme, explaining how, if nothing is acknowledged as objectively real, then competing views cannot be evaluated against the standard of truth to judge, which is valid. Instead, the only way to resolve disputes becomes an assertion of power — whether tyrannical or clothed in democratic processes — and, hence, the door to dictatorship is opened. Continue reading
After the election of Benedict XVI in 2005, one cardinal remarked that if the only consequence of Joseph Ratzinger’s election was that people would now read his books, it would be a success. Continue reading