Pope Benedict XVI has preached many homilies, delivered dozens of speeches, and conveyed regular messages to the Church and the world. He has spoken to hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, to small groups of the sick and disabled, to ambassadors, university faculties, priests and religious, children, the faithful gathered at places of pilgrimages, and the curious stopping by St. Peter’s Square on a warm Wednesday morning, wondering who this fellow is and what all the fuss could be about. Is it possible to pull a common thread from this rich, diverse body of works?
I believe it is, and this book is the fruit of that conviction. His fellow academics have correctly discerned many fundamental themes in the work of theologian Joseph Ratzinger: an interest in the relationship between faith and reason, religion and culture, modernity and faith; the liturgy; and the continuity and discontinuity in historical development.
A pope does not leave his own interests and expertise at the door of the Sistine Chapel when he is elected, so all these points of study that interested Joseph Ratzinger over his decades as an academic theologian continue to inform his writing as pope.
However, when you listen and read the papal writings attentively, it is difficult not to notice one particular element that seems to come into focus no matter what the specific topic or who the audience is. That “element” is a person: Jesus Christ. Benedict made this focus clear from his first homily as pope.