On December 31, 2022, the world mourned Pope Benedict XVI’s death when the former head of the Catholic church died at 95. Upon his resignation as the pope in 2013, he became known as Pope Emeritus or “retired pope” in English. He has since held that title until his death.
On April 16, 1927, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, or Pope Benedict XVI, was born in Bavaria, Germany. After becoming a priest in 1951, he established himself as a theologian by the late 1950s. Ratzinger also became a professor in 1958 at the age of 31. His career growth was impressive, and he quickly became one of the late Pope John Paul II’s closest confidants.
He was also highly influential and known to have reintroduced some of the traditional papal vestments during his time. Since the ’80s, his reputation was known as the “main intellectual force in the Church” and the “pope of aesthetics.” His eloquent speeches are top-notch, which he has written himself—showcasing his deep theological knowledge.
Pope Benedict’s writings were prolific, many of which defended traditional Catholic doctrine and values. As an accomplished academic, he had written sixty-six books, three encyclicals, and four apostolic exhortations. Several works are translated into multiple languages, including his native German.
With so many books available, it can feel overwhelming to choose just one. Suppose you’re looking to learn more about the person in his own words. In that case, it may be best to consider “The Ratzinger Report,” written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger himself.
Before becoming pope, renowned theologian and Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith offered an in-depth interview with Italian journalist Vittorio Messori. Some topics he touches on include the state of the church in the twentieth century’s end and its challenges in the Post-Vatican II era.
The book offers a clear and uncompromising report on what the eventual Pope believes will threaten the Faith. Since it was published in 1985, readers can expect a brief view of history along with the interview. Nevertheless, his observations are hopeful and balanced—reaffirming to readers of the positive work of the Second Vatican Council. Readers will find that his views are consistent with his life work before and after he became pope.
While you may not get any personal details of the man himself, the Ratzinger Report offers a fascinating look into his views, which he continues to practice until his death.