Pope Benedict XVI, 85, is stepping down as the leader of more than a billion Catholics worldwide on Feb. 28 because of declining health. The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.
A conclave of Cardinals could elect a new pontiff by Easter.
In light of this historic development, TheBlaze Books highlights The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches (only $3.99), a collection of his homilies, theological essays, as well as interviews with him and articles on the crises facing the church today.
On April 24, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, the twenty-first-century successor of the Apostle Peter.
So, who is this complex man whose office grants him sole charge of the world’s largest religion? How will his tenure influence the future? The Essential Pope Benedict XVI answers these questions by laying out Benedict’s thinking and relates it to a variety of contemporary issues, including modern culture’s abandonment of traditional religious values, social mores regarding conception and the sanctity of life, current challenges to the priesthood, and the Catholic Church’s tenuous relations with other world religions.
Here’s the ABC News report concerning Pope Benedict’s resignation:
The following excerpt from The Essential Pope Benedict XVI is taken from his “encyclical letter” to the church, dated Christmas Day 2005, the first year of Benedict’s papacy, in which he denounces Marxism and extols the virtues of charitable activity:
Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs. The modern age, particularly from the nineteenth century on, has been dominated by various versions of a philosophy of progress whose most radical form is Marxism. Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment: in a situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it appear at least to some extent tolerable. This in turn slows down a potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world. Seen in this way, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of preserving the status quo. What we have here, though, is really an inhuman philosophy. People of the present are sacrificed to the moloch of the future—a future whose effective realization is at best doubtful. One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes. The Christian’s programme—the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of Jesus—is “a heart which sees.” This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly. Obviously when charitable activity is carried out by the Church as a communitarian initiative, the spontaneity of individuals must be combined with planning, foresight and cooperation with other similar institutions.
The following are additional titles relevant to the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI:
- Let God’s Light Shine Forth: The Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI
- God’s Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church
- The Joy of Knowing Christ: Meditations on the Gospels
(Related: Who will be the next pope? This site throws down the odds on who might become the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.)