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On Conscience (Bioethics & Culture) [Hardcover]

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Item Number 114535  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   82
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.44 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2007
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  1586171607  
EAN  9781586171605  

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Item Description...
Prepared and co-published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, this book is a combination of two lengthy essays written by Cardinal Ratzinger and delivered in talks when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both talks deal with the importance of conscience and its exercise in particular circumstances. Ratzinger's reflections show that contemporary debates over the nature of conscience have deep historical and philosophical roots. He says that a person is bound to act in accord with his conscience, but he makes it clear that there must be reliable, proven sources for the judgment of conscience in moral issues, other than the subjective reflections of each individual. The always unique and profound insights that the new Pope Benedict XVI brings to perennial problems reminds the reader of his strong warning before the recent Papal conclave of the great dangers today of the "dictatorship of relativism."

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More About Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Pope Benedict XVI Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus XVI; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) is Pope emeritus of the Catholic Church, having served as Pope from 2005 to 2013. In that position, he was both the leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Benedict was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II, celebrated his papal inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005.

Ordained as a priest in 1951 in his native Bavaria, Ratzinger established himself as a highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities—the last being the University of Regensburg, where he served as Vice President of the university in 1976 and 1977—he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals, and as such, the primus inter pares among the cardinals. Prior to becoming pope, he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century" as "one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals"; he had an influence "second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of John Paul II's closest confidants.

He was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. His prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love. Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He renewed the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, viewing the use of beauty as a path to the sacred, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal garments, for which reason he was called "the pope of aesthetics". He has been described as "the main intellectual force in the Church" since the mid-1980s. Several of Pope Benedict's students from his academic career are also prominent churchmen today and confidantes of him, notably Christoph Schönborn.

On 11 February 2013, Benedict announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his advanced age. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. He is the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294. As pope emeritus, Benedict retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of Pope, and will continue to dress in the papal colour of white. He was succeeded by Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, and he moved into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae monastery for his retirement on 2 May 2013.

Pope Benedict XVI was born in 1927.

Pope Benedict XVI has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Benedict XVI
  2. Bioethics & Culture
  3. Communio Books
  4. Fathers (Our Sunday Visitor)
  5. Giniger Books
  6. Publication
  7. Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought
  8. Spiritual Thoughts

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Benedict in Clear English  Apr 19, 2008
This small book ought to be near the top of the list for people who want to begin reading Pope Benedict. It has three distinct advantages as such an introductory text. First, the two talks on conscience are close to the center of his overall message, distinguishing personal subjective concepts of conscience and morality from objective truth. This of course has been restated many times since his papacy, but the second advantage here is its brevity and concentration on essences.

But the real advantage here is the third -- these are 2 talks originally in English, no translation is necessary. Benedict's English is clear, direct and thereby modern -- also subtly colored without sounding merely academic, an effect sometimes left even after the best of translations. It is one of the best Benedict items in the Ignatius Press catalog, and amply speaks for itself and in rich dimensionality, belying its length.
Two Brief, Insightful, and Timely Speeches on the Role of the Conscience  Mar 1, 2008
The contemporary man is so often tempted to interpret the prophetic words of "do what your heart tells you" as meaning that his heart is the sole arbiter of his morality. Of course, this forgets that the
"heart" may desire one thing but also realize that it may be wrong, thereby judging that the person needs to probe deeper into the matter in order to really know what is in consonance with his heart. Implicitly, Truth is involved in the formation and direction of the conscience, thereby eliminating the wholly subjectivist interpretation of "conscience," a term which should be remembered as being con-science, knowing with, thereby presupposing the greater community of humanity and the world.

Cardinal Ratzinger's consideration of the Conscience in these two talks is well timed in an age which as forgotten that the conscience is more than a relativistic term. Both essays aim to reunite the subjective conscience with its orientation to the objective Truth and the whole of the community from whence it takes its promptings and toward which it provides growth. In the consideration of what seems to be a human anamnesis of conscience which points mankind with fits and starts toward the same Truth, the conscience already shows itself to have an orientation to the objective. In addition, one can talk of the conscience changing over time, of becoming more formed or deformed with the making of choices. Once again, Ratzinger points out that this is this points to something outside of oneself. This also provides a direction for how to understand the place of the Church in relation to academic theologians, a subject considered in the second essay. The community of the Church takes on the character of the moral arbiter which passes along the experience which grows from the struggle of the Church through the ages. In order to completely understand this struggle, it must remain in dialogue with "scientific" theologians who help shape the moral dialogue in each age. These theologians remain in service to the community and thereby stand both as a shaper as well as a subject to the moral tradition which informs the Catholic conscience.

Like the other works of Ratzinger (or later as Pope Benedict XVI), this text is insightful yet very accessible to readers of varied levels of theological and philosophical acumen. It is marked by the character of a man who has a deep love of that communion of faith in which he has been formed and which he now leads as spiritual father. In a world which has forgotten the necessary relationship of the conscience to objective truth (and therefore the community of Church, mankind, and world), this text is a gentle introductory corrective which is insightful and fruitful.
Illuminating  Nov 21, 2007
An eloquent essay on the Conscience. Helps to explain our responsibility, and how to know what it is, as children of God. Essential reading for the aspiring Saint.

-Jeremy Smalling
Essential Reading for All People Trying to Act Rightly  May 15, 2007
On Conscience is an essential book for anyone trying to figure out how to know the right thing to do in any given situation. Today there are many who -- while continuing to recognize that acting rightly (whatever that means) is still important -- a large number seem also to believe that anything is right as long as they sincerely think it is right. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) shows very clearly, and very dramatically and convincingly, that this can not be true. While continuing to honor the ancient tradition that a certain conscience must be followed, he shows that there also must be a serious effort to form a correct conscience, and illustrates from recent human history what can happen if this effort to cultivate a correct conscience is not taken. This book deals directly with the apparent conflict between individual conscience and external authority. The only shortcoming of the book is that some of the explanations are unduly long, and make for dry reading as a result. Well worth the effort anyhow.
Spectacular Reflections on Conscience!  Apr 2, 2007
To the best of my knowledge, these essays were presented in English (both were keynote addresses to bishops' workshops.) and it may partly this fact - their lack of translation by a second party - that makes the texts so wonderfully approachable. Having studied a great amount of Ratzinger's work from his more than forty-year career, I feel that I have a decent grasp of his world-view, approach and theological method. Absolutely consistent with his previous and following work, the essays reprinted in "On Conscience" (one from 1984, the other 1991) are real gems.

What is perhaps the most interesting and significant feature of these texts is the insider's view one obtains from the 1991 address. Written just under a year before the publication of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, of which Ratzinger was primary editor, this address highlights almost verbatim much of what is written in the CCC under the heading of conscience. I have to wonder whether or not the bishops at the time really appreciated the preview they were privy to.

Both texts and the introduction total around 85 pages, so this is a very short read. I highly recommend it, especially for it's clear language and well articulated views.

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