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The Trial of Pope Benedict - Joseph Ratzinger and the Vatican's Assault on Reason, Compassion, and Human Dignity

The Trial of Pope Benedict

Joseph Ratzinger and the Vatican's Assault on Reason, Compassion, and Human Dignity

By Daniel Gawthrop
Categories: Biography & Memoir, History
Paperback : 9781551525273, 320 pages, 2013


On February 28, 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign. In abandoning a role that nearly every one of his predecessors had seen as a calling from God to be heeded until death, Joseph Ratzinger, the man who became Benedict, also relinquished a controversial religious career in which he was largely responsible for the Catholic Church's prodigious troubles: his scorched-earth assault on modernity and the world of ideas destroyed any hope of progress in the Church while leaving a trail of shattered lives in its wake. Thanks to his antediluvian teachings about human sexuality, bioethics, and Original Sin, Ratzinger helped the Church to remain a reactionary breeding ground for ultra-conservative orthodoxy. Along the way, he enabled the moral and spiritual squalor of clerical child sex abuse that has led to a mass exodus from the pews.

In this persuasive new book, author Daniel Gawthrop argues that Ratzinger must not be allowed diplomatic immunity from the abuse scandals that have rocked the Vatican. Gawthrop not only accuses Ratzinger of quitting to avoid dealing with an explosive new sex scandal, but also indicts him for promoting a toxic theology whose destructive impact can be felt far beyond the Church itself. As proof, the book examines Ratzinger's career in all its infamy, from his medieval understanding of women and demonization of homosexuality to his war on liberation theology. It also offers insight into Ratzinger's successor, Pope Francis, and provocative ideas on how the Church can transform itself as a means to restore the faith of its disenchanted followers.

During his eight years as pope, Ratzinger attempted to rebrand himself from "God's Rottweiler" to Prince of Peace. The Trial of Pope Benedict reveals the true Ratzinger, in the process telling one of recent history's most astonishing tales of institutional power, religious bullying, and systemic abuse.


A strong, clear exposition of the case against the former pope and an intelligent reflection on the lost opportunities of Vatican II. It is a book that will engage and inform all readers, no matter where or whether they worship.
-Vancouver Sun

- Vancouver Sun

A must-read indictment of one of the most powerful, reactionary, and secretive organizations in the world. Gawthrop's insightful investigation of a man whose ideas have ruled the Catholic Church for the better part of the last half-century nicely skewers the Ratzingerian mindset--and is all the more devastating, coming from a former member of the flock.
-Stan Persky, author of Then We Take Berlin and The Short Version: An ABC Book

- Stan Persky

An informative and damning account.
-The Stranger

- The Stranger

Heartbreaking and magisterial . .. If Gawthrop's tone is tempered by generosity and compassion, it is because this is what you should expect from a work that is also the memoir of a Roman Catholic atheist (there is such a thing). The Trial is written for everyone: for the free-thinker and for the faithful, and mostly, for the countless millions of obscurantism's victims.
-Terry Glavin, author of Come from the Shadows and Waiting for the Macaws

- Terry Glavin

A damning indictment . .. The writer recounts in exhaustive detail the litany of misdeeds perpetrated by the Vatican under this particular pope, the first to resign in centuries.
-Gay and Lesbian Review

- Gay and Lesbian Review

In the same spirit of j'accuse journalism as Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Daniel Gawthrop takes on the legacy of the recently retired Pope Benedict XVI (n Joseph Ratzinger) in an impassioned broadside that takes readers through a laundry list of scandal and sin . .. [Gawthrop] shines a welcome light into some of the darker corners of the Vatican while making a strong case for greater openness and reform.
-Quill and Quire

- Quill and Quire