Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 26 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cosmas and Damian
home iconVoices & Views
line break icon

What is your favorite quote or book by Benedict XVI?


Elizabeth Scalia - published on 06/28/16

elizabeth brooklyn

Elizabeth Scalia, Editor-in-Chief, Aleteia English Edition

My first real exposure to the mind and wisdom of Pope Benedict came shortly after his election to the papacy, when I opened up a copy of God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald, and made acquaintance with lightning, barely held in check. I had always known that Cardinal Ratzinger was a towering intellect — his eyes may be deep but they snap with intelligence — but the man I encountered in those pages was not just brilliant, he was accessible. Pope Benedict possess the ability to communicate his faith, his friendship with Jesus and his stunningly instructive theological insights with a clarity and warmth that makes reading him feel like time spent with a beloved relative who has much to share and great warmth in how he shares it. Discovering that the book — a simple conversation between two men recorded over a number of days — was transcribed with only minimal edits from Ratzinger, “for clarity only” as Seewald wrote, I was a bit stunned: all of this poured out of the man in conversation, with bare editing required? Whuuuut? This speaks of wisdom that is distilled from the springs of daily prayer and contemplation — a full-on engagement with Christ and the Creator — that is almost unimaginable, yet inspiring.

Like Katrina Fernandez, I love the Benedictus book, which is a Ratzingerian feast for the mind and soul, but also for the eyes; it is put together with Magnificat’s typical attention to beauty, and it is a book I cannot do without. It was within its pages that I found this excerpt,

It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist . . . If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. – Principles of Catholic Theology

That is the sort of beautiful, true, instinctive insight that is wise and deep but completely comprehensible. You needn’t be a genius to understand this spark that is Benedict. You can open any of his writings and feel immediately like you have come into the company of that dearest grandfather, who greets you with, “hello, my dear, thank you for visiting me; it is good that you exist, now let us talk…”


Finally, a personal tribute from Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Founder and Editor, Ignatius Press

Professor Ratzinger was my mentor and dissertation director from 1972-74. Later, when he was the ‘cardinal protector’ of Casa Balthasar in Rome, we on the board of directors met with him at least yearly. And, of course, Ignatius Press was and is the primary publisher of his books. This relationship has been one of the great blessings of my life.

Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict’s intellectual brilliance and gentle demeanor became well known to all soon after his election to the papacy. People suddenly realized that the Panzerkardinal, the Vatican Enforcer, the humorless, predatory doctrinal watchdog was in fact none of these things. Quite the opposite in fact.

It would take a full-length biography to record all that is good and holy about this exemplary man of the Church. I would like to pay tribute to him by listing his defects. It won’t take long.

He is sometimes a poor judge of character. (Accepting me as a doctoral student should be proof enough.) There are some reasons for this: Being so deeply good himself, he can be naïve about others. He sees the best in everyone and takes them at their word. He is never defensive or self-protective. And there is simply no trace of jealousy or ambition in the man.

He is ill-suited to leadership in a fast-paced, competitive commercial enterprise. And when sectors of the Church—even at the highest levels—become tainted with this spirit of the world, he is not the one to ‘clean house’.

That’s it.

Read more: 10 Pithy and Potent Quotes from Pope Benedict

When Fr. Joseph Ratzinger predicted the future of the church

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Pope Benedict XVI
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.