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Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times [Hardcover]

Pope Benedict XVI , Peter Seewald
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, Nov. 24 2010 --  

Book Description

Nov. 24 2010
Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World. Taken from a recent week-long series of interviews with veteran journalist Peter Seewald, this book tackles head-on some of the greatest issues facing the world of our time. Twice before these two men held wide-ranging discussions, which became the best-selling books Salt of the Earth and God and the World. Then, Seewald's discussion partner was Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's chief doctrinal office. Now, Joseph Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI, the spiritual leader of the world's over one billion Catholics. Though Seewald now interviews the Pope himself, the journalist "pulls no punches", posing some of the thorniest questions any Pope has had to address. Believers and unbelievers will be fascinated to hear Benedict's thoughtful, straightforward and thought-provoking replies. This is no stern preachment or ponderous theological tract, but a lively, fast-paced, challenging, even entertaining exchange.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody should read this!!! Feb. 15 2011
Format:Hardcover
This interview with Pope Benedict XVI, while still rigorously theological and steeped with biblical and contemporary social knowledge, remains accessible to everyday readers. With a global and historic perspective, the Pope takes a pastoral approach touching upon the complex issues that face the modern world. It is an awesome read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luminous and Accessible March 20 2011
By Xaviera
Format:Hardcover
An excellent and heartening MUST READ for all modern Catholics. Indeed, Christians of all denominations will be impressed by this very accessible question and answer format. Peter Seewald does not pull any punches in his questioning, nor does Pope Benedict XVI waffle on any of his responses. Any who wondered about Joseph Ratzinger's ability to fill some very large shoes or doubted that he is indeed the man for the hour, will be completely reassured and encouraged by his wisdom, knowledge, and intellect; and buoyed up, in the very dark times in which we find ourselves, by his personal warmth and resounding faith in the Grace of God and the Love of Jesus Christ. Masterfully written for a general audience: mature teens to adults.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers from Pope Benedict March 7 2011
By reader
Format:Hardcover
This is an amazing book. It's as though you were having a conversation with Pope Benedict,with him answering all the questions you ever wanted to ask. It is so easy to read,and so honest. I feel as though I got to know him personally while reading it. Every catholic should have one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Down to Earth Truth Aug. 5 2012
By Bernie
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
Anyone who is truly interested in the truth, "Light of the World" is a must read. The book deals with the present situation of the world and it is a staight forward, down to earth response, by this intellectual Pope, to questions posed by Journalist Peter Seewald. I highly recommend as the content is something that all people need to ponder.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  66 reviews
156 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read Nov. 25 2010
By Jeffrey Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have sometimes wondered as a convert what it would be like to have been a cradle Catholic and to have studied and lived the faith throughout my life. To have fully interiorized the faith. Oh and If I were a lot more intelligent I would get a idea of this what this would be like by the Pope's latest book Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times by the answers he gives.

This is the third interview book he has done with Journalist Peter Seevald who talked with the pope for an hour each time over six weeks and the book is made up by his questions, follow up questions and the answers the Pope spoke to him. There has been much controversy over one of the Pope's answer to one question and they focused on a word. Catholic convert Marshall McLuhan said "The Media is the Message" and I would add often that the "Media misses the message."

Having read the previous to Seevald books along with the large majority of Cardinal Ratzinger's writings you defiantly get a sense of the man and a man who has in no important ways changed as pope. His honesty and humility is shown throughout the book and he does not allow the interviewer to maker larger claims on what he has achieved than is warranted. Seevald would make factual claims about the size of the Church numerically and the Pope in terms of Power and Pope Benedict wold remind him that while the number of members is numerically large that the number of people living the Catholic faith is much smaller and of course would also dismiss things in term of power. While Pope Benedict XVI has great gifts, he realizes who those gifts are from. Throughout the book the Pope's replies are very direct and at the same time fully eloquent in reply to the questions. While reading this book I often wished that others would imitate the pope in his honesty in replying to question without the slightest hint of spin or building themselves up.

There are also very human and funny moments in the book. His reply to why he wore the Camauro was hilarious and a warning to those who would give too much meaning to what the Pope wears at times. His talking about his small community in the papal household and their watching of DVDs together was nice look into his life that is so busy. Some of his feelings of becoming Pope have been released before, but this book goes more into those questions and his feelings at the time. He really was surprised to be elected Pope and like so much of his life once again turned himself over fully to Christ and not his predilection of living a quiet intellectual life with his brother for the rest of his days. Also very interesting was his talking about his relationship with Pope John Paul II and that it was his book "Introduction to Christianity" that was a factor in him seeking Josef Ratzinger as head of the CDF. His answers like much of Catholicism are of the both/and type. When it comes to the Church and secularism his answer was about where we could learn from secularism and what we must oppose.

Peter Seewald as interviewer though is also a major part of what makes the book enjoyable. He asks a range of often astute questions that enables us to hear what the Pope thinks about something. Seewald as always has done his homework and has been a close watcher of the Pope and what he has written and said. This brings out a range of topics and important questions that a less skilled interviewer could not even approach. Though the only negative would be that Seewald has a view of Global Warming almost apocalyptic which almost ruins some questions. Though the Pope in answering them does not reply in the same tones and his answers are well-worth reading. Though it certainly seems to be true as evidenced by what the Pope has previously said that he has some belief in human caused global warming.

While the interview considers several controversies this is a book mostly about Jesus and his Church. Of following Christ closely and seeing Jesus as the one who comes. These sections of the book won't generate any headlines, but they are meant to generate saints. The Pope is first off a disciple of Jesus and one who sees his very life as bringing Jesus to others and in his role as Pope to the world.

When he does address various controversies again you see his discipleship. The sexual abuse crisis is certainly not lost on him and he sees directly this evil and what has been done by those in the church and most of all to the victims. There is an empathy in his tone in no way faked. On women's ordination and the idea that Jesus couldn't ordain women because of cultural concerns he directly labeled "nonsense" and that the cultures of the time were filled with priestesses. The issue of lifting the excommunication on the four SSXP bishops and the reason why was a fuller answer than I have seen before and he also addressed that somebody should have checked the internet to have determined the type of man Williamson was since it would have been treated much differently then. Oh and the Pope said something about condoms.

This book was a wonderful read which I admit to binge reading the moment it came in the mail. I though I could hardly love the Pope more, but now there is even more I love about him.

It is almost silly to review a book from our Pope. Really the review should be just go out and get it.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars POPE BENEDICT XVI IN A DETAILED, REVEALING, FAR-RANGING INTERVIEW Nov. 26 2010
By RBSProds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
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.)
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare look into the thoughts of a Pope Nov. 29 2010
By Brandon Vogt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
By now, whether through secular or religious outlets, you've likely heard about a recent book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI titled Light of the World (Ignatius Press, 256 pages, hardback). This book presents the third extensive interview between the Pope and journalist Peter Seewald, the first two coming before Benedict was Pope.

Light of the World has generated some serious controversy over a few obscure paragraphs in the middle of its 256 pages. In these paragraphs, the Pope is asked about the Church's position on condoms. He answers by re-articulating the Church's traditional position that contraception is inherently counter to true sexuality, but in some cases condoms may be a step toward a deeper morality.

The travesty is that this book will now be known only for these couple of paragraphs when the book provides so many other fascinating insights. Light of the World really is a monumental effort, and anyone who reads it cover-to-cover will appreciate how much of a gift it really is. Never before has a Pope granted such an in-depth interview, nor directly answered so many challenging questions in rapid succession.

Seewald--whom The Irish Times nicknamed the "pope whisperer"--is great at formulating these inquiries, pulling no punches along the way. He poses questions that are straight-forward, even borderline accusatory at times, such as:

* What caused the sexual-abuse scandal in the Church?
* Have you considered resigning?
* What do you think about the global climate crisis?
* Can there be dialogue with Islam?
* Is Christianity the only truth?
* Should there be a Third Vatican Council?

Pope Benedict's answers are characteristically charitable, intelligent, and well-articulated, even including a little humor here and there. He speaks here as a wise sage whose wisdom has been built and refined over many years.

But even with the clarity shared between both men, Light of the World has its difficulties. The book was compiled, translated, and published in such a short amount of time--the interview took place in July 2010--that it does lack some finish. At times, clunky punctuation choices, like periods instead of commas and sentences lacking subjects, make the reading slightly awkward.

Also, while the material is organized into eighteen distinct chapters, the questions within each chapter are fairly haphazard. For instance, a question about `communion on the tongue' is followed by a question on `women's liberation', then a discussion on `church attendance' statistics. However, this disordered structure does create lively, fast-paced reading as the topics jump quickly from one to another.

One of the most helpful parts of the book is the Appendix, which features snippets from some of Benedict's most contentious statements: his letter to Irish Catholics regarding the abuse scandal, his Regensburg address which riled many Muslims, and his earlier statements regarding the Church's position towards condoms and AIDs (which Light of the World embellishes, not contradicts).

Following these excerpts, there is also a lengthy chronicle of important events from Benedict's life and pontificate. Both the excerpts and the timeline provide good background to the statements and events referenced during the interview.

Overall, Light of the World is truly a special book, and deserves a better fate than to be known as "the condom book". Seewald draws some intriguing answers from Pope Benedict on many of the most controversial topics of our time. This book should be welcomed as a rare look into the typically secluded halls of the Vatican. For a birds-eye view of the Church and a peek into Pope Benedict's thought, pick up a copy of Light of the World.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative to a Protestant Dec 31 2010
By Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
I'm not exactly sure why I read this book. I'm a die hard Calvinist/Protestant who downloaded this on my kindle on a whim. I just wanted to read something different for a change I guess. Despite my protestantism I really did enjoy reading this book. It was very easy to understand and for someone who knows very little about the Roman Catholic Church (from a Catholic perspective anyway) - I really felt like I learned a lot. Also I got the sense from reading the book that Pope Benedict XVI is a very sincere person who really believes in his faith and honestly believes that his position as Pope is a specific calling from God. To be honest that is quite refreshing to see. Don't get me wrong - nothing in the book has caused me to jump over the Rome but it has picqued my interest to read more works on Catholicism written from a Catholic perspective. I would say that is a good thing.

One thing that I just don't quite understand is the whole Bishop Williamson affair - of which a whole chapter is dedicated. It seems to me that after restoring Bishop Williamson to the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope later regretted his decision because of Williamson's denial of the holocaust. Apparantly the Pope was unaware of this fact until after he was restored. The reason for this is explained and I accept the explanation - the Pope was honest about the fact that Williamson's past wasn't researched thoroughly enough by the church and his position on the holocaust was not known because the man wasn't investigated properly before his restoration. My big question after reading all of this though is: why can't the Pope just excommunicate the man again? For all his regret it seems to me that the Pope could make it right by kicking the man out again. This part of the book just confused me to no end. Perhaps a seasoned Catholic could explain the reasoning behind this to me.

Finally one comment on the whole condom controversy that this book sparked when it first came out. It's a joke. No way - no how does the Pope change his Church's stand on the use of condoms. In fact I felt that the Pope gave a great explanation of why his church condems the use of condoms. A view I had never heard quite frankly - and a view that I can genuinely respect - though I disagree with the Catholic Church's position on birth control. The Pope's comments on condoms and male prostitutes were taken completely out of context. The way the media is painting the scenario is completely off base.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Much More Than Condoms - Insights Into The Pope's Life and Thought Nov. 30 2010
By Marcel LeJeune - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
What a shame. Pope Benedict XVI has given us his thoughts on modern Western culture, Islam, Orthodoxy, Judaism, relativism, the priesthood, the burden of being Pope, the sex abuse crisis, infallibility, marriage, and much more and the average person will only think about one word that gets a brief mention - condoms.

Light of the World is the new book-length interview between German journalist, Peter Seewald and Pope Benedict XVI, who did two previous book-length interviews previous to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger being named to the papacy. This book is unprecedented, because never before has a Pope given such exclusive access with a no-holds-barred approach to a journalist. The book is just what you would expect it to be - an intelligent give-and-take between two men who respect one another. It certainly gives us an inside peek into the world of how the Pope lives and thinks.

I have been blessed to read most of Benedict's major works and his other interviews and Light of the World may be the best way to introduce a novice to Benedict's way of thinking. He clearly illuminates his understanding of the problems that face the Church, modernity, and culture. He is neither naive about the situation nor is he pessimistic. Rather, he has a good feel for what is ailing modern man and what will help turn us around - faith in Jesus Christ.

He understands that the proposal that the Church makes to the modern world is quite daunting - Jesus is the Lord of all of creation and died for our salvation. But, he also understands the urgent need our world has for this message, because if it is true, then there is nothing more important for the world to know.

Benedict is honest and direct in his answers. You won't find any dodging of the tough question as a politician might. Rather, Benedict is quite honest the the human side of the Catholic Church is full of sinners who mess up all the time and that he himself has made errors. He is critical of the Church's communication efforts, among other issues, and his compassion for the victims of the sex abuse crisis is quite clear.

Seewald is also to be commended. He asked questions that cut through the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. He isn't shy about asking tough questions, nor does he lack a sense of wit, which is evidenced by telling Benedict that he clearly lacks the personality of John Paul II. Benedict shrugs it off by saying he doesn't try to be anybody but himself.

If there is anything lacking in the book, it might be the translation. There are several times that phrases seem to be awkward and punctuation seems out of place. The book was originally done in German and translated to English, which is probably where the problems arise.

Light of the World helped me gain further insight into the Pope's thought process and understanding his opinions on a wide-range of topics. I highly recommend it for those interested in learning the same.
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