Five REVEALING Stars! Pope Benedict XVI in his own words in a startlingly frank and honest discussion on matters of our time, within and outside of the Catholic Church. Normally the Catholic faithful and the world is accustomed to the Pope speaking through such means as encyclicals, homilies during Masses, and through books such as Jesus of Nazareth, among other means whether ex cathedra (infallibly, "from the chair") or otherwise. This Ignatius Press book is another very direct conversation between the Pope and author Peter Seewald, as translated by Michael J. Miller and Adrian J. Walker. It will probably be widely read and evaluated by those from all walks of life in order to receive the pope's views on the Catholic Church, his personal life as Prelate, the 'state of the world' and the 'signs of the times". With respect to today's 'hot button' Catholic topics, the Pope gives frank, straight-forward answers, tackling issues of theology, philosophy, science, secularism, and other things dealing with 'modernity and eternity'. The book is broken down into 18 chapters divided into three parts: "The Signs of The Times", "The Pontificate" itself, and "Where Do We Go From Here?". The knowledgeable interviewer, Peter Seewald, asks astute questions that reveal his knowledge of both Joseph Ratzinger the man and of the matters of the 264th occupant of the office of the Papacy.
As the foreword says the Pope, the leader of over 1.2 Billion Catholics, sees the world differently from world leaders in politics, business, education, and intellectuals of all types, and he leads with faith, hope, and charity aiming for the ultimate salvation of mankind. He is disappointed by some activities and people within his own Church and the secular direction of the world outside the church. He takes the attitude that "the Church must not hide" and "Faith must be explained". He talks extensively about the sexual abuse scandal from different aspects: calling it "filth" that was inside the Church that should have been found and acted upon sooner. He outlines his plans to continue meeting with victims, to correct the injustices, to root out those not suited to be priests, especially at seminary level, and to not lose sight of the problem and the pain it has caused. Along the way we also get essentials: such as how 78 year old Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was set for retirement when the Lord, through the College of Cardinals, chose him as Pontiff; what the Pope does in his free time with his "family" of close associates; his commentary on infallibility; the true story of reinstating 'Bishop' Williamson; climate change and the environment; "turbo-capitalism" and how it hurts the poor; the "third secret of Fatima"; revisiting Pius XII; the Church's leadership in treating AIDS patients around the world; 'rapprochement' with Orthodoxy and Islam; the Pope's controversial "Regensburg Lecture"; the issue of condom use; eschatology ("the last things") and the Second Coming of Jesus; the need to return to the faith, joy, and enthusiasm of the early Christians; and if a "Vatican III" is possible; among many other topics. And do read the Appendix, part I, "Serious Sins Against Defenseless Children", which is the strongest accusatory Papal statement against child abuse I have seen and the one that Catholics have longed for from the Church. This interview is an essential book for Catholics, and should be of interest to other Christians and, indeed, all believers and perhaps some non-believers. My Highest Recommendation! Five HUGE Stars!! (This review is based on a digital download across Kindle text-to-speech, Mac, and iPhone platforms.)