During his years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, well-known Vatican prelate Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has given three in-depth interviews. The first two interviews have become best selling books: The Ratzinger Report and Salt of the Earth. Because of the tremendous reception those books received, the Cardinal agreed to do another interview with journalist Peter Seewald, who had done the very popular Salt of the Earth interview. This third in-depth interview addresses deep questions of faith and the living of that faith in the modern world.
The interview took place over three full days spent at the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino in a setting of the silence, prayer, and hospitality of the monks. For this meeting with the highly regarded Churchman, theologian, and author, the seasoned journalist, who had fallen away from the faith but eventually returned to the Church, once again provided a very stimulating, well-prepared series of wide-ranging questions on profound issues. The Cardinal responds with candor, frankness, and deep insight, giving answers that are sometimes surprising and always thought provoking.
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“We must think of love as suffering. Only if we are ready to endure it as suffering and thus ever again to accept each other and once again to take the other to ourselves, only then can a lifelong partnership develop.” (Page 84)
“The essence of faith, however, is that I do not meet with something that has been thought up, but that here something meets me that is greater than anything we can think of for ourselves.” (Page 29)
“it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human.” (Page 322)
“Saint Thomas says on this point that it is the soul that gives shape to the body—it is the soul that forms a body for itself. Identity means, therefore, that the soul, which through its resurrection has been given anew its power to shape, will build from within an identical body. But to speculate about just exactly what resurrection corporeality and substance might look like would, it seems to me, be quite useless anyway.” (Pages 436–437)
“With this attitude I no longer ask, What can I get for myself, but I simply let myself be guided by him, truly lose myself in Christ; when I abandon myself, let go of myself, then I see, yes, life is right at last, because otherwise I am far too narrow for myself. When, so to speak, I go outside, then it truly begins, then life attains its greatness.” (Page 44)
Peter Seewald is a German journalist who has been a staff writer for two of Germany’s top weekly magazines as well as for one of the country’s most respected newspapers.
Joseph Ratzinger is one of the most revered Catholic prelates, scholars, theologians, teachers, and authors of our time. He has spoken on many crucial subjects, including sexual consumerism, roles of men and women today, marriage, the priesthood, and the future of the world. On June 29, 1951, Joseph Ratzinger was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Freising on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. He also received his doctorate in theology in 1953 from the University of Munich. Starting in 1959, Ratzinger taught theology at the University of Bonn.
After many years of teaching at several German universities, Ratzinger was appointed by Pope Paul VI as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in March 1977, and was elevated to cardinal in June 1977. In November 1981, Ratzinger was summoned by Pope John Paul II to Rome, where he was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and President of the International Theological Commission.
On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to be the 265th pope. He took the name Benedict XVI, after St. Benedict of Nursia. As pope, he received worldwide respect and was a spiritual influence to Christians and non-Christians alike. In 2013, he resigned the papacy, becoming the first pope to do so in since the fifteenth century. He retired to a monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where he continues to study and write.