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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An Introduction to the man who became PopeAug. 1 2005
Mark D. Merlino
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"Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith" is an interesting collection of Pope Benedict's writings on several different themes. This book was put together by former students of then Cardinal Ratzinger in honor of his 75th birthday and they did a wonderful job at showing his ideas and abilities on a broad range of issues.
The book begins with two separate entries that define faith and theology. Both illustrate the clarity and precision of his thought. The next entry is a detailed look at the Holy Spirit. Here, Pope Benedict bases his analysis on the writings and thought of Saint Augustine, who has had much influence on his ideas.
The book then two long sections on the themes of communion, the Eucharist, fellowship and mission, which appear frequently in his thought. There are also several entries on church related themes, such as ministry, the priesthood, and church movements. Pope Benedict XVI has an amazing ability to describe things as they are but without losing focus on Christian ideals.
The book concludes with several fascinating entries on the ecumenical movement, inter-religious dialogue and the contemporary church. Two of the most interesting are letters of correspondence between then Cardinal Ratzinger and an Orthodox Metropolitan and a Lutheran Bishop about ecumenical discussions. As well, the book contains an amazing bibliography, listing the titles of all of the publications made by Pope Benedict XVI up until 2002, even listing all translations made of these works up until that point in time.
Throughout the book, Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates his ability to argue from Biblical scholarship, patristic sources, church history, contemporary theologians and from his own personal experience and reflections. This truly is the best introduction that you can get to the mind of this man who became Pope. An excellent read.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Tying together Church, Spirit, Christ, and SacramentsAug. 12 2005
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With his election as Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger's views, style, and thought have taken on a new relevance. Pilgrim Fellowship Of Faith: The Church As Communion
is as good a place as any to start to gain insight into the man.
A collection of speeches, papers, and letters collected by his students for his 75th birthday, it examines the relationship between theology, faith, ecclesiology, and sacrament. It reveals a man who strives to be ecumenical in the most serious way -- who seeks real dialogue, which requires all participants to be as honest and searching about their beliefs and to accord dignity and respect to other interlocutors. This collection includes gracious letter exchanges with Orthodox Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland and with Lutheran Provincial Bishop Johannes Hanselmann of Bavaria.
In the course of the works cited, Ratzinger deals in depth with these and other questions: What is theology, what is its relation to faith, and how can her methods lay claim to providing knowledge? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in ecclesiology, in our understanding of the Church? What is the relation between Communion as Eucharist and communion as Christian fellowship, and how does christology shape ecclesiology? What role to lay movements serve in the Church? How does the Church go about remembering and atoning for sins?
If there is a common theme, it is the primacy communion -- a vision of God as triune communion, a vision of the Universal Church with many local churches in communion, a vision of the ecumenical movement as a striving to realize Christian communion as a gift from God, a vision of sacraments as visible signs of communion. Also interesting is what he declares communion not to be. Specifically, it is not to be taken as a cover for blanket centralization of ecclesiastical authority in Rome.
It's a good read. A comparison with Wojtyla's style is perhaps inevitable. Ratzinger's writing is perhaps more pragmatic and concise, less gradiose. There's a quiet precision and grace here. Ratzinger seems like a quiet, patient teacher, a somewhat self-effacing man with a penetrating mind. It's an excellent way for Catholics to begin to learn their new pope's mind. It's a great book for other Christians who want an insight into how ecumenism fits into Pope Benedict's theological views. It's also a good book for non-Christians who wonder how the Church sees itself.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Deepest Understanding of CatholicismJune 5 2005
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I am still reading this book; I have several of our new Pope's books because I wanted to get to know his thinking about the Catholic Church better. I am deeply touched and thrilled spiritually with his writings.
Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church As Communion should definitely be read and re-read and meditated upon.