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Pope Benedict XVI: His Life and Mission [Hardcover]

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Item Number 444910  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.7" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 21, 2005
Publisher   Tarcher
ISBN  1585424501  
EAN  9781585424504  
UPC  619580019953  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy shocks some and delights others. He is both an ardent intellectual and a driven traditionalist charged with leading a divided Catholic Church into a new era. In Pope Benedict XVI, bestselling author Stephen Mansfield tells the story of a youth who grew up in Nazi Germany and went from being a liberal theologian associated with Vatican II to a theological conservative who became Pope John Paul's closest ally. As a cardinal, the new pope pursued a firmly traditional path in the last quarter century: he excommunicated radical priests, cracked down on Marxist liberation theology in Latin America, and shaped some of John Paul's more socially conservative positions. He also drew a line of distinction between Catholicism and other faiths, promulgating respect for, but not equality among, the historic religions. The new pope is-according to some-the ultimate insider, whose election ensures that the revolution of John Paul will be rendered permanent in the early part of our century. Mansfield provides a portrait that suggests the very theme of the new papacy: Benedict XVI will be the Great Caretaker. He will sustain the return to tradition marked by John Paul, and he will-so early signs suggest-seek to reevangelize Europe. For all the talk of Catholicism gravitating to Africa and Latin America, the choice of Benedict XVI unmistakably indicates the intent to preserve and rebuild Catholicism on the continent. Because of Ratzinger's wealth of public statements, his positions on most pressing social issues-e.g., stem cell research, contraception, the role of women-are clear. What is less clear is, writes Mansfield, is how or whether he will reach out to Islam. We have, however, some early indications even there, which are explored in Pope Benedict XVI: As a cardinal, Ratzinger publicly opposed the inclusion of Turkey into the European Union, suggesting that its seventy-million predominantly Muslim population would alter the character of Europe, and encouraging Turkey to align with other Muslim nations. This is not a man who is going to meet the world on terms shaped by so-called multiculturalism. Whatever olive branches he extends, Mansfield contends, are going to have conditions attached. Pope Benedict XVI examines the new pope specifically from the perspective of a non-Catholic-a committed Christian without fealty to Rome. Mansfield's academic depth, his poetic but widely accessible writing style, and

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More About Stephen Mansfield

Stephen Mansfield Stephen Mansfield is the New York Times best-selling author of The Faith of George W. Bush, Benedict XVI: His Life and Mission, and Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill, among other works of history and biography. Founder of both The Mansfield Group, a consulting and communications firm, and Chartwell Literary Group, which creates and manages literary projects, Stephen is also in wide demand as a lecturer and speaker. For more information, log on to David A. Holland is an author, speaker, media consultant, and award-winning copywriter who writes the popular blog and the satirical He is the co-author of Paul Harvey s America, as well as numerous articles, essays, and opinion pieces.


Stephen Mansfield currently resides in Nashville, in the state of Tennessee. Stephen Mansfield was born in 1958.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Benedict the healer?  Oct 25, 2007
This is a readable, short essay type book that gives an accurrate picture.A pope named Benedict,the name suggests a throwback to the past. No more John Pauls,at least for now.No immediate future Peter,Paul, and Mary's.The author suggests that the era of liberal,politically correct relativism,has created a crisis in the church that has forced a return to more conservative ideologies. Benedict may be a transitional rest for catholics trying to heal from the confusion and scandals of the the late twentieth century.But to stop for rest is somewhat of an admission of defeat?Ratzinger from my read of this book,seems like he is not going to try to be a religious "superstar" but is content as a "humble worker in the vineyard". So the question comes up."Does the man have no passion,is he against progress"?Or does he just know when to shut the heck up?It will be interesting to see how he balances the church's "invitation to the party" without becoming politicized. I particularly liked the stories in the book where Ratzinger funneled generous donations to worthy causes with no recognition for himself or his organization.As more vocal ideologists say"Silence is Golden,but Golden is yellow"!so too is the bile from some of the more insincere vociferous ideologues we've all heard by now.Benedict is just a great name for a new era,but don't ever expect a Pope Tetzel I.
Good as a high school report, substandard as a biography  Jun 23, 2006
This is not the book for you if you want to learn about the Pope. The author has interviewed no one for his primary materials - neither Benedict XVI nor anyone who knows him. Instead he relies on recent materials written by others. Since this leaves insufficent material to print and bind a book, he fills the pages with biographical material of our previous pope.
This leaves unanswered the question "Who is Benedict XVI?".
A good overview of the new pope  Nov 20, 2005
Stephen Mansfield is not really a religion or theological writer - he concentrates on the political and the leadership aspects of people, drawing in spiritual and theological issues as they support that underlying framework, and that is largely what one gets here in this quick production on the life, accession and likely direction of Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Ratzinger.

In the first chapter, Mansfield explores the childhood and early adulthood of Ratzinger, growing up in Bavaria in the midst of the second world war and Nazi domination of the country. Ratzinger's family was anti-Nazi, but mostly tried to stay out of conflicts military and political as much as possible. Ratzinger himself was criticised for having been a Hitler Youth, but Mansfield and other commentators point out that this affiliation was a mandatory aspect of life in Germany at the time, and that Ratzinger, while not a martyr or activist, was not a supporter or enthusiastic participant, either. Mansfield gives a bit of history of the kind of Catholicism that shaped Ratzinger and his family in Bavaria; this is one of the more staunchly Roman Catholic areas of Europe, and has been for centuries, and this kind of communal shaping would have significant effects later.

In the second chapter, Mansfield explores Ratzinger's affinity with Augustine, the early great intellectual of the western Christian tradition, whose works such as the Confessions and City of God continue to have profound influence in circles Catholic and Protestant to this day. Aquinas was not as strong a figure for Ratzinger as was Augustine, and Mansfield shows some of the ways in which these figures battle for primacy within Ratzinger's thought, but Mansfield sometimes slips into simplistic analysis ('Augustine thought in exclusively biblical categories, while Aquinas thought in inclusive philosophical categories', Mansfield writes, but neither idea is as generally true as this statement makes them sound).

Mansfield devotes a good amount of space to Ratzinger's work with Pope John Paul II, and the legacy that is left in the wake of such a long and eventful pontificate. Mansfield also looks specifically at Ratzinger's time in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the place from which Ratzinger's infamy as God's Pit-Bull and the Vatican Enforcer arise.

Mansfield does draw in a lot of material. In one part, he explores the different interpretations that could be applied to Pope Benedict XVI vis-à-vis the prophecy of St. Malachy; in another, he gives a listing of passages and quotes from Ratzinger's own writings and speeches (as well as a few that have come after his succession to the papacy). Mansfield is fairly balanced, very accessible, and interesting to read. A bit more depth in various points would be appreciated, but as a general interest, quick-history text, it succeeds on several levels.
Emerging Portrait of the New Pontiff.  Oct 20, 2005
Who is this Pope Benedict XVI, successor to Saint Peter and, most recently, the charismatic Pope John Paul II. During the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), he was perceived as "God's Rottweiler" for his orthodox and unwavering interpretation of Catholic doctrine and dogma. Characterized (often unfairly) as rigid, inflexible, and overbearing by his detractors and the media in particular, he appeared, in the minds of many, to be ill-suited to assume the mantle of Shepherd of the Flock.

In the months since his election, a different side of the man has emerged; here was a shy, gentle, scholarly theologian, firm yet collegial, in his approach to matters of the church. Although less charismatic than his predecessor, his pastoral qualities have begun to emerge. This is no small part, due to a fresh examination of his life, and in particular, to this book.

Stephen Mansfield, author of THE FAITH OF GEORGE W. BUSH, presents a brief, yet informative overview of Pope Benedict's life, from his youth through his multifaceted life as cleric - especially his roles as a professor, a theologian with roots deep within Vatican II, bishop, and in recent decades, as Cardinal, prince of the Church. Mansfield focuses on his role as head of the CDF. This position was, in effect, a lightning rod as Ratzinger's charge to maintain the integrity of the faith often put him at odds with those who sought to change the Church to meet their own conceptions of the faith.

The author objectively examines the Pope's background, his election and the challenges he will face as leader of the Catholic Church. His analysis is thorough, conveyed in a direct and natural style. The content is well-organized and allows both for sequential reading as well as review of individual chapters. Although more weighty explorations of Pope Benedict XVI await, Mr. Mansfield's book is a wonderful introduction for those who wish to learn about the new pontiff and those issues that will influence his papacy.
"Quickie" biography, but a decent and respectful "quickie"  Sep 22, 2005
I've read two books on Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI by the respected Catholic journalist John L. Allen, and so I readily admit Allen's work is my yardstick, for better or worse, for measuring other books about the new pope. Stephen Mansfield, author of "The Faith of George W. Bush" as well as books on Churchill, Booker T. Washington, and "The Faith of the American Soldier," among others, has produced a biography of the pope that while hardly approaching Allen's standards for insightful journalism, does give a respectful, elevated, and even "inspirational"-reading introduction to the man.

Mansfield's book is a decent capsule biography that shows why Ratzinger is controversial -- particularly in the American Catholic church -- without getting down-and-dirty in the details of theological or personality conflicts. Most interesting is his assertion that Ratzinger underwent a "makeover" in the days before the Conclave. Mansfield argues that Ratzinger's speeches became more polished, his "personal style" became more relaxed, and even that his prominent role in the various memorials and celebrations of the late pope's life were part of the German's effort "to show himself as the leader the Church clearly needed" (p. 144). Perhaps as a non-Catholic, a writer on presidents, and someone relatively unfamiliar with the rituals and mores of the Vatican, Mansfield fell into the not-uncommon trap of seeing a Conclave as akin to a presidential election. Allen, who knows the Vatican much more thoroughly, painted a somewhat different picture in his book on the new pope. Mansfield's outsider perspective certainly has value, but in this case I'm more inclined to give Allen's view greater weight.

Nevertheless, Pope Benedict XVI is someone for whom American conservatives -- religious and political, Protestant and Catholic -- are likely to have considerable interest and sympathy. As he is the author of a book on President Bush's faith, and cites interviews with Michael Novak and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, I feel pretty confident placing Mansfield in that camp. While not as in-depth a portrait as it's possible to find elsewhere, neither is this either firebreathingly negative or hagiographically flattering. It's a decent balance, a good introduction, and a pretty quick read.

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