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Pope Benedict with Cardinal George Pell in Sydney for World Youth Day, July 2008 (CNS/Paul Haring)

Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is universally regarded as one of the finest theologians and writers in the papacy’s almost 2000-year history, writes Cardinal George Pell. Source: The Australian.

He wrote prolifically during his whole priestly life. At one stage, I thought I had read most of his writings and was amazed to see the number and variety of his earlier works, none of which I had read.

The Second Vatican Council in Rome was the most important event in Church life in the 20th century and Ratzinger was present as a young priest-theologian. He was active in the reforming majority movement which prevailed in the consensus-making for the conciliar decrees.

Pope Paul VI appointed Ratzinger as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in March 1977 and then in June created him a cardinal. This was a year before Pope Paul VI’s death, the brief reign of Pope John Paul I, and the advent of the Polish Pope John Paul II. The new Cardinal Ratzinger was an active, pastoral archbishop during his five years in Munich, committed to implementing the Council decrees.

Pope John Paul II appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and he commenced there in February 1982, beginning a brilliant partnership with the Polish pope. It was here Benedict did his best work, just as some claim Paul Keating was a better treasurer than prime minister and Tony Abbott was Australia’s most successful opposition leader and a less effective prime minister.

After being elected pope on April 19, 2005, Benedict continued to write and teach at a level that was historically rare among popes and senior ecclesiastics. 

His resignation in 2013 was an extraordinary decision for a prelate and scholar deeply versed in Church history, aware of the challenges in maintaining unity in a worldwide Church; for a pope who in every other way was the champion and exponent of Catholic tradition.


Pope Benedict: A Christian gentleman of the old school (By Cardinal George Pell, The Australian)


The piety of Pope Benedict XVI and his passion for the truth (By Tracey Rowland, ABC News)

The pope of paradox: Reflecting on the complex legacy of Benedict XVI (By Miles Pattenden, ABC News)

Death of Benedict XVI marks passing of a ‘Pope of Ironies’ (By John L Allen Jr, Crux)