Monday 10 September 2018

A Pope of Surprises The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky

A Pope of Surprises 
The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy
Helena Scott
Ethel Tolansky
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860826719
CTS Booklet B731

I have been able to confirm that Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky co-wrote 8 different books for the Catholic Truth Society. This was the seventh of the eight that I have been able to track down and read. They are all excellent read. In many ways this book continues from the CTY Biographies book, Benedict XVI, that the two wrote. The revised edition of that biography has a new final chapter with a brief paragraph summarizing each of the first five years of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. This book takes those paragraphs and expands them each into a chapter. The sections in this volume are:

Chapter 1 A Pope of Surprises
     Dialogue and Love
     Theology and Liturgy
Chapter 2 A Call To Love and Dialogue First Year: 2005
     Catholic and Jews - A Future of Hope
     Dear Young People - WYD Cologne
     Example of the Saints
     Judaism and Christianity - The Path of Dialogue
     Muslims and Christians
     Deus Caritas Est - God is Love: First Encyclical
     The True Meaning of Love
     The True Nature of Charity     
Chapter 3 Opening New Frontiers Second Year: 2006
     Visiting Poland The Land if John Paul II
     The Shoah Learning From the Past
     Centrality of Families World Meeting, Valencia
     Faith, Reason and Islam, Regensburg
     Peace Through Dialogue Visit to Turkey
     His Love of Scripture and the Apostles
Chapter 4 A Call To See The True Face Of Jesus Third Year: 2007
     Sacramentum Caritatis Eucharist as the Sacrament of Love
     Church Is Always Missionary, Brazil
     Love for the Poor and Disadvantaged
     Summorum Pontificum Extraordinary for of the Mass
     Pilgrimage to Austria
     Spe Salvi Saved in Hope: Second Encyclical
     Responding to a Crisis of Faith
     A Firm Hope in God
     Jesus of Nazareth A Personal Search
     The Early Christians and the Fathers of the Church
Chapter 5 A Voice for the Ethical Reasoning of Humanity Fourth Year: 2008
     The Pope and the University, La Sapienza, Rome
     Voice of Ethical Reasoning
     The Church in America
     Science and Ethics Must Work Together, UN
     Year of St. Paul
     Be Ambassadors of Hope WYD, Sydney
     Don't Be Afraid to Stand Up For Christ
     Lourdes and the Sick
     The Benedict XVI Foundation
     Blessed John Duns Scotus
Chapter 6 Foundation for the Future Fifth Year: 2009
     The "Society of St Pius X" Offering Reconciliation
     Cameroon and Angola The Church and Aids
     Hope to the sick and War Weary
     Jordan and Israel Pilgrimage to Holy Land
     Dialogue Always Built on Mutual Trust
     Year for Priests
     Caritas in Veritate Charity in Truth: Third Encyclical
     Love Essential to Heal Modern Ills
     Rediscovery of Fundamental Virtue
     Cardinal John Henry Newman
     Czech Republic And the Heart of Europe
     Personal Ordinariates for Convert Anglicans
     Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II
     Great Saints and Theologians
Chapter 7 Most Intellectual of Popes Sixth Year: 2010
     Visiting the Rome Synagogue
     Meeting the Bishops of England and Wales
     Lay Apostolate
     The Church in Ireland
     The First Australian Saint
     Footsteps of St Paul Visiting Malta
     Entrusting All To The Lord

As can be seen this book breaks down each year and highlights travel, publications, and key focus. There is much to appreciate about and learn from through reading about these early years of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate. The section called 'The Church in America' begins with these words:

"In April 2008 Pope Benedict travelled to the United States. On the flight there, a journalist raised the question of the sex abuse of children by Catholic priests and the suffering this was causing the Church in America. The Holy Father spoke with great pain about how hard it was "to understand how it was possible for priests to fail in this way in the mission to give healing, to give God's love to these children. I am ashamed and we will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen in the future." He outlined the specific directions these efforts would take."

Reading this passage in 2018 I too feel the sadness of Benedict. Not only that it happened in the past, but continued under his watch. The description on the back of the book is:

"The first five years of his papacy!

Pope Benedict arrives in Britain in September 2010. Despite gloomy predictions on this new papacy, in the first five years since his election Benedict has surprised everyone, accomplishing far more than was expected. One of the most intellectual Popes in history, Benedict understands that Christianity is a matter of the heart. As he said from the onset: "In all humility we will do what we can. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer Him Our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength.""

Reading this book I was surprised. I was encouraged, and I was personally challenged. This book is a wonderful read, especially if you have read the earlier biography of Benedict XVI. The writing of Scott and Tolansky have such an engaging writing style. The book is easy to read. I raced through it and then reread it at a slower pace. Because of the booklet format it can easily be read in a sitting or two, but I encourage you to take your time. 

Another incredible read by Scott and Tolansky and from the Catholic Truth Society!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Scott and Tolansky:
Pius XII
Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan
Benedict XVI

Josemaria Escriva
Alvaro Del Portillo

A Pope of Surprises: The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy
Sophie Scholl and The White Rose: Resistance to the Nazis
Johann Gruber and Jacques Bunel: Victims of the Nazis

Books by Benedict XVI:

Way of the Cross Meditations and Prayers
Way of Calvary: Stations of the Cross 
Spiritual Masters Fathers and Writers of the First Millennium 
Spiritual Masters Medieval Fathers and Writers

Books About Pope Benedict:
Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI - Regina Doman and Sean Lam
Benedict XVI - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
A Pope of Surprises: The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky

Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI - Amy Welborn and Ann Kissane Engelhart
Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion – Amy Welborn and Ann Engelhart
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris Stubna

Related Articles:
Daily Study Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI
Which popes do you have a devotion to and why?

Author profile and interview with Helena Scott.

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