After Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, he never stopped thinking or writing. Near the end of his life, he and editor Elio Guerriero gathered together a whole volume of new material, dealing with the themes closest to his heart. The pope asked that it be published upon his death.
This final work is What Is Christianity? It takes up a kaleidoscopic array of themes: the Christian faith’s relationship with other religions, especially Judaism and Islam; the theology and reform of the liturgy; the priesthood; the saints; the Eucharist; the travesty of abuse; the beauty of nature; Italian and German culture; and much more.
With prophetic insight into our times, Benedict warns of a “radical manipulation of man” in the name of tolerance, insisting that the only “authentic counterweight to every form of intolerance” is Christ himself—and Christ crucified.
A lifelong Catholic, the late pope pays tribute to some of the giant figures of Christianity who have served him through the years as guiding stars: his predecessor Pope John Paul II, the twentieth-century German Jesuit martyr Alfred Delp, and the silent carpenter Joseph, his patron saint.
What Is Christianity? is a frank spiritual testament from a theological master, a churchman who loved the faith of simple Christians but who always stood ready, even in his last days, to dialogue about every aspect of human life—in love and in truth.
“Pope Benedict XVI showed us a Christianity faithfully lived with the piety of an innocent child, expounded with the insight of a great teacher, and embraced humbly by one called to accept ever greater responsibility in the Church. May all who draw from his last book come closer to the person of Jesus Christ, whom he knew to be the unique and definitive revelation of God in human history.”
— Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for Divine Worship
“The texts collected in this volume—in their clarity of expression, felicity of style, and depth of insight—remind us how much we miss Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger shows himself a disciple of his master Augustine, consistently presenting his arguments in a biblical framework. Anyone who loves theology and good writing will delight in this collection.”
— Bishop Robert Barron, Winona-Rochester Diocese; Founder, Word on Fire Catholic Ministries
“Pope Benedict XVI taught the Church so that the Church might offer the world the deepest truths about itself. His extraordinary learning, expressed with luminous clarity in these last reflections from a life nobly lived, will teach both the Church and the world long into the future.”
— George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
“The Last Writings of Pope Benedict are in some ways the most precious of all. No library of Ratzinger’s theology would be complete without this collection of his last and perhaps deepest and most personal theological insights.”
— Tracey Rowland, St. John Paul II Chair of Theology, University of Notre Dame (Australia)
“A fitting denouement to Pope Benedict XVI’s lifelong engagement with the mysteries of the faith in dialogue with contemporary thought and praxis. Each topic is treated with that refreshing originality which is his hallmark as a thinker, presented with a simplicity and eloquence that reflect the maturity of his thought. A true spiritual testament.”
— D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D., Professor Emeritus, St. Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth
“Benedict consistently provides gems of insight into the most central and contested domains of contemporary Catholic life. This book packs a powerful theological punch and shows the fruitfulness of Benedict’s final years.”
— Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
"For decades I have treasured every word published by this man. These last words are among his greatest."
— Scott Hahn. Author, Rome Sweet Home