Saturday 5 March 2022

Benedict XVI Defender of the Faith - Joseph Pearce

Benedict XVI: Defender of the Faith
Scott Hahn (Introduction)
TAN Books
ISBN 9781618907363
eISBN 9781618907370

This is only the third book by Joseph Pierce that I have read, after reading the second I added almost a dozen of his book to my wish list. This book has also inspired me to add several other books both by and about Pope Benedict XVI to my reading list. One of my childhood memories is the year of three popes. As a revert it was the mass, the liturgy, confessions, and Mary that drew me back. I was never a John Paul II fan boy, but over time I have had a growing appreciation for Benedict XVI. The more I read by and about this man the more I am impressed. And this book by Pearce is an excellent volume. The description of this book is:

“Pope Benedict XVI will go down in Church history as one of the greatest popes. In this heartfelt defense of Pope Benedict’s words and works, a tribute to his life and legacy and a homage to his sanity and sanctity, Joseph Pearce’s biography provides an unforgettable encounter with this great historical figure. 

As the defender of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI fought tirelessly and largely successfully against the forces of secularism first as the indomitable Ratzinger and then as the incomparable supreme pontiff. As an uncompromising defender of the dignity of the human person, he fought the wickedness of the world in his unremitting battle against the dictatorship of relativism and its culture of death. Within the Church, he fought against the spirit of the world in his war on modernism and its worship of the spirit of the age, restoring the splendor of truth in his defense of orthodoxy and the splendor of the liturgy in his defense of tradition. Years from now, Catholics will still look back on Pope Benedict’s enduring legacy with enormous gratitude. For he successfully steered the barque of Peter in charity and truth against the evil tides that sought to engulf the Church.”

The chapters in this volume are:

In Gratitude
Prologue: An Apology
 1. Living with Big Brother
 2. Heilige Geist or Zeitgeist?
 3. Weapons of Mass Destruction
 4. The Rise of Ratzinger and the Fall of Man
 5. Being Human
 6. The Spirit and Antispirit of Vatican II
 7. Sex, Slavery, and False Liberation
 8. The Spirit of the Liturgy
 9. Habemus Papam!
10. Young People and the Love of God
11. Faith and Reason
12. Restoring Tradition
13. Faith, Hope, and Clarity
14. God and Globalism
15. A Pilgrimage to England
16. Defender of the Faith
About the Author
Selected Bibliography

This book was an absolutely fascinating read. I started reading it and worked my way through. Once I was done I used adaptive technology to listen to it a second time through. In the acclaim for this book George Cardinal Pell states:

“Joseph Pearce’s biography demonstrates the immense devotion and enthusiasm Pope Benedict evoked among the young disciples of Jesus around the world. Pope Benedict is probably the best theologian among all the popes and he should become a Doctor of the Church. Joseph Pearce’s work will help further this cause.”

It echo’s the sentiments I have from this volume and my ever growing love and appreciation for Pope Benedict XVI. Scott Hahn captures that sentiment even more so in the forward, for he states:

“This book is surprising. This book is unique.

But it earns those adjectives not because it is about the man we knew as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and know today as Pope Emeritus Benedict. Books about that man constitute a genre by themselves—and I love those books, because I love the man.

There are thick volumes that situate him in history, that summarize his writings on the liturgy, that synthesize his theology of the Church, that place him in relation to one or another thinker, that trace the development of his thought on faith and culture.

This book touches on all those things, but only in a subordinate way.
Joseph Pearce did not write this book to analyze anything, or advance an agenda, or incite responses from excitable academics or pundits.

What he did was produce a portrait of a beautiful man—a shy, kind, Christian man who received many gifts from God in the course of his life. And, as we see in these pages, he labored to use all those gifts in loving service of the Giver.”

And his forward ends with these words:

“At the end of the book, the response of my heart rose with words from the Roman Missal: Deo gratias! Thanks be to God!

Thanks, too, to my friend, Mr. Pearce.”

And that is how I feel. And writing this review early in 2022 I believe this is a volume that will put to rest rumours and attacks against Pope Benedict XVI, as a way of distracting the faithful, the media, and the world from what is happing under the current pontiff. From the prologue and the opening chapter ‘An Apology’ Pearce used his keen insight and deep reading of history to bring this work to life. It is a vibrant and penetrating work. One that will stir the hearts and spirit of the faithful, and one that will cause angst and hand writing by others. For Pearce captures the reactions to Benedict XVI in those two camps clearly:

“One imagines that similar scenes of joy erupted throughout the world wherever two or three faithful Catholics gathered together. In contrast, the election of Ratzinger was greeted with grief and horror by those heretical theologians and cafeteria Catholics whose heresies and backsliding equivocations had been condemned by the new Pope during his many years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As usual, these wolves in sheep’s clothing howled in unison with the wolves in the secular media, uniting themselves with the avowed enemies of the Church in their hatred of the hero of orthodoxy who had forced them into retreat during his years as John Paul II’s faithful and fearless servant. In the war of words that followed the Pope’s election, the enemies of orthodoxy decried the new German shepherd as “God’s Rottweiler.” Although the gentle and saintly Ratzinger did not deserve such an epithet, it is ironically apt that the wolves who would devour the flock should hate the Rottweiler who had courageously stopped them from doing so!”

He concludes that section with these words:

“The ultimate justification for this book is that it is an apology in the other and better sense of the word. It is an apologia: a spirited and heartfelt defense of Pope Benedict’s words and works, a tribute to his life and legacy, an homage to his sanity and sanctity. It is a vigorous defense of a rigorous and vigorous defender of the Faith. For this, at least, I make no apology because no apology is necessary.”

This book is a volume I am certain will rouse some controversy. But it is also one I believe will inspire, encourage and challenge all who approach it with an open heart, mind, and spirit. When I was younger, I did not appreciate Pope Benedict XVI’s heart and mind, as I have grown older and engaged more and more with his works and works about him, there is a sense of lost years. I appreciate that Pearce has written this book with devotion and passion. I highly recommend it!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Benedict XVI:


Books by Joseph Pearce:
Further Up & Further In: Understanding Narnia
Literary Giants, Literary Catholics
Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life
C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church
Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief
Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit
Frodo's Journey: Discover the Hidden Meaning of The Lord of the Rings
Merrie England: A Journey Through the Shire
Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton
Poems Every Catholic Should Know
Heroes of the Catholic Reformation: Saints Who Renewed the Church
Small Is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered
Shakespeare on Love: Seeing the Catholic Presence in Romeo and Juliet

Contributed to:
Tolkien: A Celebration - Collected Writings on a Literary Legacy

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