Our radical pope

Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute says that Pope Benedict XVI’s new book-length interview, Light of the World, reveals him as a full blown Christian radical.

The word “radical” comes from the Latin radix, meaning “root.” It’s in this sense Benedict is radical. His pontificate is about going back to Christianity’s roots to make, as Benedict says, “visible again the center of Christian life” and then shining that light upon the world so that we might see the truth about ourselves.

At Christianity’s center, Benedict states, is the person of Jesus Christ. But this person, the pope insists, is not whoever we want him to be…. According to Benedict, Christ is who Christ says he is: the Son of God. Hence, there is no contradiction between what some call “the Christ of faith” and “the Christ of history.”

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But what about the rival portraits of Jesus created by contemporary scholars? Couldn’t Jesus have been the entirely human Cynic… or Essene… or yogi… or revolutionary… or wandering apocalyptist of modern accounts?

Benedict argues, these “alternative portraits” can’t “explain how within such a short time something could suddenly appear that completely transcends ordinary expectations.” In short, Benedict states, “the only real, historical personage is the Christ in whom the Gospels believe, and not the figure who has been reconstituted from numerous exegetical studies.”

If you haven’t ordered Light of the World, you need to; it’s a fascinating read and the first of its kind in the history of the Church. When you order, please support our friends at Ignatius Press by clicking on the banner ad to the right and purchasing the book directly from them. If you buy it through Amazon or a bookstore, Ignatius gets a much smaller cut.


  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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