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Pope Benedict XVI: A Personal Portrait [Hardcover]

By H. J. Fischer (Author)
Our Price $ 16.96  
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Item Number 137441  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.48" Width: 5.74" Height: 0.84"
Weight:   0.89 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2005
Publisher   The Crossroad Publishing Company
ISBN  0824523725  
EAN  9780824523725  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
After decades of reporting on the Catholic church and many personal meetings with Joseph Ratzinger, no other writer but Dr. Fischer could present this insightful look at the life of the complex theologian and cardinal, and the challenges confronting the new Pope Benedict XVI.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
An Interesting perspective; Unique Commentary  Sep 18, 2006
Having read several biographical accounts of the life of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI (Including John Allen's account and Benedict's own "Milestones."), I found this to be a unique perspective that is a must-read book for the scholar and pedestrian-scholar of Ratzinger/Benedict. It is important to note that this book does not provide the typical biographical chronology that one would expect in such a work. Rather, Fischer reflects from a more experiential perspective, providing insight into the life from the view of an acquaintance.

This is also a translation from the original German that adds another element of uniqueness. Aside from the Pope's own memoir, most of the English biographies currently available are written by native English speakers. While this is a good translation, as far as I can tell, one does not read it with the same flow as if it were originally written in English; something of a minor detail to note. Additionally, Fisher often inserts his own commentary about his life, interspersing it with narrative of the experience of Benedict XVI; something else to be aware of.

All in all, this is a nice read that provides a welcomed change of perspective. This is not the book to read if you have not read one of the other more in-depth presentations of the life of Benedict XVI. Read those first. Then pick up Fisher's book to supplement and vary your experience.
Fischer oddly misreads Benedict's character.  Nov 8, 2005
The author claims to be a personal friend of the new pope. One wonders. He seems to misread seriously Benedict's interpersonal style. I know several people who had frequent contact with the pope when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he was Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They consistently emphasise his great gentleness and kindness which they found to be at least as remarkable as his oft-noted intellectual brilliance and personal piety. They also observe that he is temperamentally quite shy but was never "cold" - a psychological distinction that seems to be lost on the author.

A biography of Benedict XVI filled with personal insight that many other "instant" biographies lack  Oct 1, 2005
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected to succeed the late Pope John Paul II, among the least surprised Vatican insiders was H.J. Fischer, a journalist who has enjoyed a personal and professional relationship with the new pope for nearly three decades. Unlike so many of the "instant" biographies of Ratzinger that appeared in the weeks following his election to the papacy, Fischer's book was in the works and was nearly completed before the death of Pope John Paul II in April of 2005. As a result, he offers a personal perspective lacking in books by authors who were forced to rely on secondhand, encyclopedic information about the new pope.

Because the book is based largely on Fischer's acquaintance with Ratzinger, there is little information about his early life, which is fine for those of us who care more about his theology and less about where he attended kindergarten. Fischer picks up the story in earnest in 1976, when he first interviewed the then-local theologian who was making a name for himself in ecclesiastical circles. As Ratzinger quickly rose to the positions of bishop, archbishop, cardinal, and dean of the college of cardinals, Fischer, the Vatican correspondent for a German newspaper, kept close tabs on the prelate's career and stayed in contact with him on a regular basis.

All that may lead you to suspect that an author who is also a native German Catholic would have a tough time maintaining his journalistic objectivity in writing about the first German to be elected pope since the sixteenth century (or the eleventh century, if you want to get technical, but I don't). However, Fischer paints a remarkably balanced portrait of Pope Benedict XVI, revealing such seeming paradoxes as his warm sense of humor but often cold personality. In fact, Ratzinger comes across as the embodiment of an array of paradoxes: a theological conservative who spearheads innovative efforts designed to bring the old church into a new millennium; a quiet, thoughtful, and content Bavarian theologian whose colleagues from around the world considered him to be God's choice to lead the church's 1.1 billion adherents through a time of seismic cultural change.

Fischer also examines the new pope's history of conflict with proponents of "liberation theology," a movement that arose in Latin America in the 1970s through which many Catholic clerics took up the cause of the poor and the oppressed against the rich and the powerful. For Ratzinger and many other Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the problem was not in the cause itself but in the Marxist thought and the highly politicized nature of the movement. He and other conservatives believed the church should find solutions outside the political arena; liberals believed there was no way the church could be effective in Latin America without entering the political fray.

The memory of that conflict could have prevented Ratzinger from rising through the ranks as he did, were it not for his unwavering stance on issues surrounding church doctrine. According to the author, the other cardinals held Ratzinger's interpretation of, and commitment to, doctrinal authority in such high regard that for many, his election to the papacy was a foregone conclusion.

A lover of classical music who is looking forward to meeting Bach and Mozart in heaven, Ratzinger was not so enthusiastic about ascending to the highest position in the Roman Catholic Church. During the papal voting process in April, he "begged God to spare him 'this guillotine'," Fischer writes. It's insights like that that make this biography a much more interesting and personal one than others on the market. If that's what you're looking for, along with a fairly extensive survey of the last thirty years of Catholic thought from a European perspective, then this is the book to buy.
A first-hand account of the new Pope's astonishing life and ministry  Aug 14, 2005
Heinz-Joachim Fischer is the leading Vatican journalist and Rome correspondent for one of Germany's premiere daily newspapers. With Pope Benedict XVI: A Personal Portrait, Fischer provides an informed and informative first-hand account of the new Pope's astonishing life and ministry. From simple, humble believer, Joseph Ratzinger, the man who became Pope Benedict XVI evolved into a world respected theologian, a Cardinal of the Church, the unwavering Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a primary confident of the late John Paul II. A theologically trained correspondent, Fischer proves himself to be an ideal biographer of the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church as he presents the history of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger for three decades, culminating in his being elevated to the Papacy, facing the problems and opportunities for the Catholic Church in the 21st Century. Both professionally and personally, Fischer knows the new Pope very well, and is able to place life story of the new Pope within the intricacies of Vatican City and the Catholic Church with an insider's insights. Pope Benedict XVI is very highly recommended reading, especially for those not yet acquainted with the life story of the newest Roman Catholic Pope.
It has it's good points, but has a rushed feel.  Jul 3, 2005
It's indicative of our society, that as soon as something happens, everyone has to scramble to get a corner of the market. This leads to sloppy journalism, and shoddy writing. The same was true after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, he hadn't been Pope for even a week, before books were already pouring out about him.

Sadly, this is one of those books. The journalist recounts his encounters with then Father Ratzinger, then leaps a few years to Bishop Ratzinger and leaps a few more to Bishop Ratzinger, and soon before you're even a third of the way through the book, Pope John Paul II has died, and Pope Benedict XVI has been elected.

The slipcover heralds the book as a masterpiece, I hardly think so. It has the same recycled pictures that have been all over the media for the past month or so, and it has many glaring typos.

The one point I did like is that they included both Ratzinger's homily at JPII's funeral, and BXVI's first few homilies, to the cardinals, and to the faithful.

I look forward to a year or so from now, when a good quality Biography should be emerging. In the meantime stick with Ratzinger's own autobiography, it's short, and sweet and takes you through the 1970's.

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