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4.7 out of 5 stars
Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2010
It is no secret that never in modern history has a Pope given an actual interview where free questions can be asked on what it is that he actually believes. Well, here is that book.

The book is written very definitively. Primarily, it is what it says on the tin. It's an interview between the Pope and Peter Seewald. The book is structured along the lines of questions asked and answers given. The interview itself was conducted over a 7 day period and so included many different topics.

A short summary of each chapter is as follows:

1. On the Pope's election, and his thoughts on it.
2. The Pope's response to the abuse scandal.
3. The Pope's response to the lifting of the excommunications of Marcial Maciel Degollado.
4. The Pope's response to the current economic and environmental crisis's.
5. The Pope's arguments against relativism, and against liberal intolerant tolerance.
6. The Pope's call to re-evangelise and the possibilities of a third Vatican counsel.
7. Clarification on the Pope's election, whether he is up to the task and whether he is scared of being assassinated.
8. The Pope's response to Judaism.
9. The Pope's ideas on cooperation with Islam.
10. The Pope's comments on sexuality and marriage.
11. The Pope's response to the political belittling of Christianity, despite all the good the church does for the world. He lists a few examples also.
12. The Pope's response to the Williamson affair and the sadness that he feels with regards to holocaust deniers.
13. The Pope's ideas on the unity of the church and whether it has a role to play in the modern world.
14. The Pope's comments on issues of reform. Whether homosexuality, divorce, woman ordinations, and married ordinations are to be promoted.
15. The Pope's comments on how the church could be renewed. I did find his comment here rather orthodox, i.e. the promotion of the Eucharist.
16. The Pope's comments with regards to Fatima, and the light that world received from the mother of God.
17. The Pope's comments on end time eschatological theology. His comments here really impressed me, especially the way in which he did not promote a fundamentalist rapture type end times theology, but rather talked about us meeting Christ every day as part of the liturgy.
18. Clarification on the Pope's eschatological views. Most noticeably focus was placed on rebuilding the modern church into something more glorious, and which reflects the Kingdom of God.

Whilst the above form a basic summary of the chapters, one should appreciate that each chapter forms an interviewed topic. This means that multiple issues are explored within the various chapters. Most noticeably is the following questions are explored: whether the Pope actually has any political/economical power, the Pope's views on condoms and gays, and finally the relationship between science, reason and faith.

Overall I have read a lot of stuff written about this Pope (if you read the newspapers its mostly not good). I have also read a few of his theological books which he has written (Jesus of Nazareth and Saint Paul are the best). Nevertheless, having the opportunity to actually read what it is that he thinks was truly a treat. What really struck me was just how much wisdom he really possesses. Far from public opinion, this Pope really understands what is going on in the world and really does care about making the world a better place. The emphasis that he places on love, respect, reason and tradition really shines through on every page.

Overall I thoroughly recommend this book. I can honestly say that it made me think about the Pope differently, and it actually left me with a bit of a warm spot for him. In the world where media propaganda only tells you a tenth of the truth - if you really want to know about this larger than life individual then this is the best place to go. I truly enjoyed the book, and I hope that you do too.

Happy reading.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2010
I start by saying that like any other Catholic, I adored Pope John Paul II, and was a bit dismayed when Pope Benedict XVI was elected... as time went by, I started do admire his culture and intelligence, and I found that, John Paul II we went to see Him, while Benedict we go to hear Him. This book, an interview, is a marvelous account of the how fundamental this Pope will be in the history of the Church. He may not yet be the Star the we would like Him to be, but He really cares for His flock,as I had the opportunity to see for myself when I attended His Angelus in Rome on January 1st, and His mass in Oporto in May the 14th! A Catholic or not, a must read book, that will surprise most of the readers, who will find a Pope with a deep knowledge of the world of today, in ALL its areas, be it religious, economical, environemental, social, technical, sexual, moral... He justifies consistently every view of the Church in all these areas, leaves no doubt about His view and total disapproval of the sexual crimes of the clergy, shows an amazing understanding of this ever changing world, and an amazing will to connect (not convert!) with other religions... for those who thought this to be an inflexible man, previously head of what was centuries ago the Holy Inquisition, it will be a changing experience, and an easy book to read... which is not the norm. His Holiness's books (for example Jesus of Nazareth) are of very dificult reading... this is not the case.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2010
As a staunch Vatican II Catholic I had been concerned that Pope Benedict was trying to turn the clock back - this interview shows that, on the contrary, he is even more of a reformer than his predecessor and that he has been very seriously mis-represented by both traditionalist and liberal Catholics and by the secular forces undermining Christian teaching. In this book, and in his own words, he shows tremendous wisdom and understanding of the real world, whilst nevertheless promoting timeless Gospel values. He also demonstrates a degree of humility which other, more vociferous, leaders and would-be opinion makers would do well to imitate.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2010
I like many was a little disappointed when Ratzinger was elected Pope. However, seeing him in Hyde Park and witnessing the care he took of his flock changed my opinion. I read this book with enormous interest and the breadth of his intellect, knowledge but more importantly love, shines through.

I dipped in and out of it rather than read it from cover to cover and I will refer to it again. He addresses head on the abuse scandal, women priests, priest and marriage and many more issues.

It is readable and worth reading to anyone wanting more about this interesting character.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2011
I am not a Catholic but having studied Theology at University, I enjoy reading about the subject from various viewpoints. This book shows Pope Benedict VXI to be an honest and a humble person. The answers given in the interview are heartfelt and above all, honest. I would recommend the reading of it, especially by those who are not of the Catholic "persuasion" This Pope is considered by some to be a controversial figure[given that he served in the German army during the second world war] but this interview shows that he is a deep seated thinking man with much to offer the Church and humanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2011
This book is quite different in style and content from other work by Pope Benedict xvi /Cardinal Ratzinger. It is definitely not a theology book. What it does, via an interview with a German journalist, is give a useful and clear view of the Pope's thoughts on a wide range of current issues and developments and the Church's response. There are also one or two personal insights which give it a human dimension. It is quite short ,easy to read and shows Benedict is more in touch than he is given credit for, and clearly acknowledges where things have gone wrong. The book will be interesting not only to Catholics but to anyone open to a broader and more balanced account of this Pope's personality and views than the one frequently portrayed in the media.
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This review is from: Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and the Signs Of The Times (Hardcover)
Five REVEALING Stars! Pope Benedict XVI in his own words in a startlingly frank and honest discussion on matters of our time, within and outside of the Catholic Church. Normally the Catholic faithful and the world is accustomed to the Pope speaking through such means as encyclicals, homilies during Masses, and through books such as Jesus of Nazareth, among other means whether ex cathedra (infallibly, "from the chair") or otherwise. This Ignatius Press book is another very direct conversation between the Pope and author Peter Seewald, as translated by Michael J. Miller and Adrian J. Walker. It will probably be widely read and evaluated by those from all walks of life in order to receive the pope's views on the Catholic Church, his personal life as Prelate, the 'state of the world' and the 'signs of the times". With respect to today's 'hot button' Catholic topics, the Pope gives frank, straight-forward answers, tackling issues of theology, philosophy, science, secularism, and other things dealing with 'modernity and eternity'. The book is broken down into 18 chapters divided into three parts: "The Signs of The Times", "The Pontificate" itself, and "Where Do We Go From Here?". The knowledgeable interviewer, Peter Seewald, asks astute questions that reveal his knowledge of both Joseph Ratzinger the man and of the matters of the 264th occupant of the office of the Papacy.

As the foreword says the Pope, the leader of over 1.2 Billion Catholics, sees the world differently from world leaders in politics, business, education, and intellectuals of all types, and he leads with faith, hope, and charity aiming for the ultimate salvation of mankind. He is disappointed by some activities and people within his own Church and the secular direction of the world outside the church. He takes the attitude that "the Church must not hide" and "Faith must be explained". He talks extensively about the sexual abuse scandal from different aspects: calling it "filth" that was inside the Church that should have been found and acted upon sooner. He outlines his plans to continue meeting with victims, to correct the injustices, to root out those not suited to be priests, especially at seminary level, and to not lose sight of the problem and the pain it has caused. Along the way we also get essentials: such as how 78 year old Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was set for retirement when the Lord, through the College of Cardinals, chose him as Pontiff; what the Pope does in his free time with his "family" of close associates; his commentary on infallibility; the true story of reinstating 'Bishop' Williamson; climate change and the environment; "turbo-capitalism" and how it hurts the poor; the "third secret of Fatima"; revisiting Pius XII; the Church's leadership in treating AIDS patients around the world; 'rapprochement' with Orthodoxy and Islam; the Pope's controversial "Regensburg Lecture"; the issue of condom use; eschatology ("the last things") and the Second Coming of Jesus; the need to return to the faith, joy, and enthusiasm of the early Christians; and if a "Vatican III" is possible; among many other topics. And do read the Appendix, part I, "Serious Sins Against Defenseless Children", which is the strongest accusatory Papal statement against child abuse I have seen and the one that Catholics have longed for from the Church. This interview is an essential book for Catholics, and should be of interest to other Christians and, indeed, all believers and perhaps some non-believers. My Highest Recommendation! Five HUGE Stars!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2011
I received this book very soon after ordering and I loved reading it. It gave me a very good insight into the way the pope considers very difficult topics in our modern world. I am a convinced Catholic, and this book helped me form my opinion about the difficulties that are facing all of us in this day and age.
Ann Gatt
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2011
A good read for everyone interested in finding out how Pope Benedict XVI thinks and feels about some very sensitive subjects. A good read, gives a deep insight into a world that non-catholics will find informative and interesting.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2011
It is exactly the kind of book I expected: none of the burning questions of the time are omitted, and the Pope's anwers are clear and straightforward.
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