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POSSIBLY the most 'unique' book ever written.
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.