It’s been almost four years since Catholics around the world heard the news that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning from his place as pope. His papacy lasted almost eight years, and ended on February 28, 2013. Less than a month later, the news of Pope Francis’s election spread throughout the world.
In his latest book, Benedict and Francis: Their Ministry as Successors to Peter, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwgi Muller examines the papacies of both men. He examines both their strikingly different approaches the papacy, as well as their shared fundamental vision of the world and of mankind.
Cardinal Muller shows readers that the popes are bound by the testimony of the Word of God in Scripture and tradition, and that when the Church liberates herself from worldly thinking the way is cleared for a spiritual renewal in Jesus Christ.
In the book, Cardinal Muller examines each man’s papacy and writes on the differences and similarities of the two men. But he doesn’t just look the two latest papacies in the Catholic Church. Instead, he examines the ministry of the papacy throughout the history of Catholicism, and shows how the visible head of the Church is tasked with carrying out the pastoral ministries of Christ here on earth.
Society and the modern world provided both popes with challenges. Here are some distinct characteristics of the two pope’s reigns that Cardinal Muller examines in his writings. It’s just a sneak peek of the wealth of knowledge found in his latest book.
Father Benedict’s appreciation of reason and faith.
In one of his most groundbreaking writings as pope, Father Benedict wrote about the connection between faith and reason in the Regensburg Lecture in 2006. In the letter, the pope wrote that faith and reason are protected from dangerous pathologies by mutual correction and purification.
In his papacy, Father Benedict combined his role as the universal teacher of the faith with his incredible mind as a theologian. There is no better place to examine this combination than his three-volume work, Jesus of Nazareth.
In the book series, he discusses the life of Christ. From the very first words of the first volume, Father Benedict asks himself the question: “Who is Jesus of Nazareth, for men and for the world?” He approaches the question with historical accuracy and clarity.
Pope Francis’ Love of the Poor
The Catholic Church is authentic whenever the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed in conjunction with Christ’s love for the poorest of the poor. Pope Francis’ papacy takes up this theme from the very beginning. In Evangelii gadium, he writes, “I want a Chruch which is poor and for the poor.”
Father Benedict’s rejection of worldliness
“Benedict XVI addressed a concern with his demand for a certain ‘liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness’, in other words, its constant alignment with the gospel,” Cardinal Muller writes.
Want to explore more of the papacies of these two great men? Pick up a copy of Cardinal Muller’s Benedict and Francis: Their Ministry as Successors to Peter at your local Catholic bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.