The Pope Benedict XVI Reader
By Pope Benedict XVI, Foreward by Robert Barron, Edited by Daniel Seseske

It is difficult to overestimate the impact that Pope Benedict XVI has had on the Catholic Church. He served the people of God as a priest, an advisor at the Second Vatican Council, a bishop, a cardinal, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the 265th pope. But in addition to his influence as a churchman, Joseph Ratzinger also stands out as one of the most significant thinkers in recent history. He is the author of more than sixty books, numerous articles, and countless homilies. Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been inspired and challenged by his theological writings. 

For many people, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The Pope Benedict XVI Reader offers a point of entry for those seeking a deeper engagement with his teachings, whether you have read little of his work or have enjoyed it for years. This wide-ranging collection draws together some of the finest excerpts from Ratzinger’s interviews, speeches, audiences, homilies, and books, with insights on a variety of topics, including the Trinity, the person of Jesus Christ, the Church, Mary and the saints, the Bible, the liturgy, prayer, the Second Vatican Council, and the challenge of living the faith in the modern world. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of a man whose legacy of scholarly erudition, pastoral gentleness, and deep and abiding love for Christ and his Church continues to awe the world.
Author: Pope Benedict XVI, Foreward by Robert Barron, Edited by Daniel Seseske
ISBN: 978-1-943243-75-4
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 378
Publisher: Word on Fire Institute
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Language: English
Release Date: 2021-04-16


By Bishop Robert Barron

Chapter 1: Early Childhood and Vocation

Chapter 2: The Young Professor

Chapter 3: A Peritus at Vatican II

Chapter 4: Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Chapter 5: Habemus Papem

Chapter 6: The Resignation


Chapter 7: Prolegomena on the Subject of God

Chapter 8: God: The Essential Matter

Chapter 9: One God in Three Persons


Chapter 10: Jesus Christ: The Incarnate Love of God

Chapter 11: The Birth of Jesus

Chapter 12: Jesus on the Cross

Chapter 13: The Resurrection

Chapter 14: Eschatology: The True Shape of Christian Hope


Chapter 15: The Holy, Catholic Church

Chapter 16: The Church in the Third Millennium

Chapter 17: Remaining in the Church

Chapter 18: Christianity and the World Religions


Chapter 19: A Council to Be Rediscovered

Chapter 20: The Meaning of Subsistit In

Chapter 21: The Hermeneutic of Continuity


Chapter 22: The Limits of the Historical-Critical Method

Chapter 23: The Senses of Scripture

Chapter 24: Lectio Divina


Chapter 25: Liturgy and Life: The Place of the Liturgy in Reality

Chapter 26: The Eucharist and the Sacraments of Mission

Chapter 27: On Being a Priest


Chapter 28: The Place of Mariology in the Bible

Chapter 29: The Mother of God

Chapter 30: The Faith of Mary


Chapter 31: St. Clement of Rome

Chapter 32: St. Ignatius of Antioch

Chapter 33: St. Justin Martyr

Chapter 34: St. Irenaeus of Lyons

Chapter 35: Origen of Alexandria

Chapter 36: St. Athanasius

Chapter 37: St. Basil

Chapter 38: St. Gregory Nazianzus

Chapter 39: St. John Chrysostom

Chapter 40: St. Hilary of Poitiers

Chapter 41: St. Ambrose

Chapter 42: St. Jerome

Chapter 43: St. Augustine

Chapter 44: St. Leo the Great

Chapter 45: St. Benedict

Chapter 46: St. Gregory the Great


Chapter 47: Prayer and the Natural Desire for God

Chapter 48: Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Chapter 49: The Nature of Christian Prayer


Chapter 50: The Dictatorship of Relativism

Chapter 51: The Two Levels of Conscience

Chapter 52: The Problem of Practical Atheism

Chapter 53: Defending the Rationality of Faith

Chapter 54: The Development of Peoples and Technology

JOSEPH RATZINGER (Pope Benedict XVI) was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1927. He served as pope of the Catholic Church from April 19, 2005, to February 28, 2013. A prolific author, theologian, and university professor, Ratzinger participated in the Second Vatican Council as a theological advisor. He was named Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977 and was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI later that same year. In 1981, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome to lead the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he served for twenty-four years until his election to the papacy. He is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders in recent history.

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) is, quite simply, one of the most important Catholics of the last hundred and fifty years. I hope this book might function not only as a summation of his thought but, more importantly, as a humble tribute to him.

—Bishop Robert Barron

Founder, Word on Fire Catholic Ministries

from the foreword to The Pope Benedict XVI Reader

Benedict XVI is quite rightly referred to by many experts as a doctor of the Church of the modern age. He provided an accurate analysis of the Christian faith and of today’s society, and at the same time indicated the way out of the crisis in which we find ourselves. Joseph Ratzinger was never one to guard the ashes, but rather the fire. He remains a great sage of the Church, a spiritual master who introduces us to the art of living. The Pope Benedict XVI Reader gives us the opportunity to see the broad spectrum of his work and to be inspired by the depth of his words and principles.

—Peter Seewald

Author of Benedict XVI: A Life

This book puts forward the central writings of the greatest theologian of our times. Here we find a gracious thinker who has been illuminated by the Logos, Jesus Christ, and who helps us meet this loving Lord in the Scriptures and the liturgy, deepening our faith through touching its very source. Word on Fire has given us a treasure!

—Matthew Levering

James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

This is the Ratzinger equivalent of a highlights disc. Within the pages of one book readers can find his best arias, most famous overtures, and his hauntingly pure slow-movement adagios. These excerpts are an opportunity to access the mind and heart of the master theologian of our age. Every Catholic home should have a copy of this book.

—Tracey Rowland

John Paul II Chair of Theology, University of Notre Dame (Australia)

This magnificent collection of Joseph Ratzinger’s writings will provide a firm foundation for those looking for an accessible entry point to this theological giant’s vast corpus. To those already familiar with Benedict’s thought, the book’s wide sampling of genres and topics will put the immense achievements of his oeuvre into context and likely reveal some new gems—particularly given that this up-to-date anthology uniquely includes texts from across Ratzinger’s career and even some lesser-known content penned after the end of his pontificate.

—Matthew Ramage

Associate Professor of Theology at Benedictine College