Many people are familiar with the later career of Joseph
Ratzinger ? recently elected Pope Benedict XVI — when he served
under Pope John Paul II as Prefect for the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith. But eventful though that quarter-century
was for Ratzinger, the preceding half-century was in many ways
more dramatic and consequential. In Milestones: Memoirs 1927-
1977, the future pope himself tells the fascinating story of his
early family life, the years under Nazi oppression in Germany,
and his part in World War II — including how as a teenager he
was forced to join the Hitler Youth and the German army, from
which he then risked his life to flee. He also recounts his
calling and ordination to the priesthood, the intellectual and
spiritual formation he received, his early days as a parish
priest, his role as an expert at the Second Vatican Council, his
experience as a popular university professor and theologian, and
his appointment as Archbishop of Munich-Freising in Germany.
Written before he became pope in 2005, Milestones remains a
valuable road map to the man?s mind and heart. It dispels the
media myths and legends, and it reveals the real Benedict XVI —
a man of the Church who loves God and humanity, a scholar, a
theologian, a teacher, and a humble pastor with deep compassion
and profound spiritual insight.
“Here is Cardinal Ratzinger at his most surprising. Who
imagines him a teenager risking his life escaping a Nazi forced-
labor camp? Or a doctoral candidate shattered by rejection of his
dissertation? Or a priest telling of ‘the sufferings necessary
for the priestly ministry . . . those dark nights that alone can
give full shape to the radical assent a priest must give’?
Milestones, rich with theological insights as are all his works,
gives us finally Ratzinger the person. He is a joy to meet.” -?
JOHN CARDINAL O?CONNOR, former archbishop of New York
“A very personal, compelling narrative of a life that continues
to have inestimable influence in shaping the mission of the
Catholic Church. A rare mix of candor and charity, this book is
an opportunity to know personally one of the truly great figures
of our time. It should not be missed.” — Fr. Richard John
Neuhaus, Editor, First Things
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