Religion Booknotes

Religion Booknotes

Ratzinger’s Faith
The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI
Tracey Rowland
Oxford University Press, $24.95, 224 pp.

Tracey Rowland is a young Australian theologian associated with the theological journal Communio; she also identifies herself as a fellow traveler of the Radical Orthodoxy movement. This book is, as the title suggests, a study of the theological ideas of the current pope, Benedict XVI. Within its pages, I detected two concurrent aims: the first, to outline the pope’s theological development; the second, to defend his theological project against its opponents. The exposition here is scholarly and lucid, the argument somewhat polemical. A word needs to be said about each.

Joseph Ratzinger wrote his first doctoral thesis on the thought of St. Augustine of Hippo, and a second on St. Bonaventure. As a young theologian and a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, he was among those who criticized the rigid secondhand Thomism found in the manualist tradition. He later distanced himself from some of the ideas expressed in the early days of the council, including his own. He decided that there had not been an adequate check on some of the liturgical and ecclesiological innovations occasioned by the council. As a theology professor, he also...

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About the Author

Lawrence Cunningham is John O'Brien professor of Theology (Emeritus) at the University of Notre Dame.