Cardinal Ratzinger addresses the challenges and responsibilities that both the Church and society in Europe face after the collapse of Marxism. Both liberalism and Marxism have denied religion the right to have any influence on public affairs and the common future of humanity. Since there is also a great spiritual emptiness growing in the West with the increased secularization, consumerism and hedonism, Ratzinger’s comments apply as much, if not more, to the United States as well.
With the downfall of Marxism, religion has been discovered anew as an ineradicable force for both the individual and society. While there is renewed interest in religion, the dangers also exist to lay hold of religion as an instrument to serve various political ideas. Ratzinger, whose theological work has often dealt with the “reasons for our faith,” reflects upon the various problems facing humanity at this turning point of our history and offers genuine hope based upon a deep Christian faith. He also addressed the critical role that the Church has in relationship to the world and the essential task of bringing Christ back into our culture.
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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.