This work features the most discussed topics of the life of the Church, treated with unique frankness and depth by the Church’s spiritual and theological leader. In this collection of essays, theologian Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, tackles three major issues in the Church today—the nature of the Church, the pursuit of Christian unity, and the relationship of Christianity to the secular/political power.
The first part of the book explores Vatican II's teaching on the Church, what it means to call the Church "the People of God", the role of the Pope, and the Synod of Bishops. In part two, Ratzinger frankly assesses the ecumenical movement—its achievements, problems, and principles for authentic progress toward Christian unity. In the third part of the work, Ratzinger discusses both fundamental questions and particular issues concerning the Church, the state and human fulfillment in the Age to come. What does the Bible say about faith and politics? How should the Church work in pluralistics societies? What are the problems with Liberation Theology? How should we understand freedom in the Church and in society?
Beneath a penetrating analysis on these important topics by this brilliant teacher and writer, both concise and also surprising, is revealed the passion of a great spiritual leader. The result is an exciting and stimulating work, which can be provoking, but never boring.
"In tricky theological disputes, Pope Benedict XVI separates the wheat from the chaff—a gift for precision that defines this compendium of his thought on ecclesiology and ecumenism. Dating from the 1970s and 1980s, the essays, interviews and lectures contained in this book remain highly relevant. Careful distinctions are his winnowing fork as he cuts through the confusion to identify what is orthodox and heterodox in the important controversies of our time."
— George Neumayr, Editor Catholic World Report
"In this wonderful collection of essays, Pope Benedict XVI offers to us a sophisticated, though accessible, understanding of the relationship between politics, the church, and the differing religious communities that encounter one another across the globe. The vision that the Pope imparts is one that supports religious liberty without entailing theological relativism. He shows us that one can take theology and ecclesiology seriously, as authoritative knowledge traditions, without rejecting the best insights of Enlightenment liberalism."
— Francis J. Beckwith, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University. Author of Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice