The good folks at Catholic Pulse asked me to write an essay
reflecting on the three encyclicals of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and
that essay has now been posted. Rather than just recap the three texts, I
reflected on some of the significant themes developed through each and
indicate how those themes demonstrate the cohesive theological vision of
the encyclicals and, of course, of Benedict. Here are the opening
paragraphs of my essay:
Putting the pontificate of Benedict XVI into context and making
judgments about the nebulous creature named “legacy” is a difficult
task, especially just weeks after his pontificate concluded. Although I
tend to be a “glass half empty” type of person and generally try to
avoid hyperbole, I do believe we are living in a golden age of the
papacy, at least in terms of popes who are holy and brilliant, a
combination not to be taken for granted.
If Blessed John Paul II is, as many (including myself) think he is,
the greatest philosopher-pope in the history of the Church, then
Benedict is, I think, the greatest theologian-pope, whose theological corpus
was already quite impressive in both scope and depth prior to his
election. Equally remarkable is the body of work produced during his
relatively short, eight-year-long pontificate, notably (but not limited
to) the three Jesus of Nazareth volumes; the audiences on the
apostles, saints, fathers, mystics, and doctors of the Church; the
audiences on prayer; apostolic exhortations on the Eucharist and
Scripture; and, of course, the three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est (on Christian love), Spe Salvi (on Christian hope), and Caritas in Veritate (on integral human development).
Entire books could be written about each encyclical and, in fact, some have already been written.
My modest goal here is to consider how these three significant texts
provide a cohesive, integrated understanding of the person of Jesus
Christ (Christology), the nature and mission of the Church
(ecclesiology), and salvation and the last things (soteriology and
Read the entire essay, "Love, Hope, and Truth: Benedict XVI’s Three Encyclicals", at CatholicPulse.com.