The emphasis on Jesus' centrality to the Catholic faith in Pope Benedict XVI's first book as pope is likely to permeate his papacy, panelists told a Washington audience during a book launch event for "Jesus of Nazareth" May 15.
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., and Vatican analysts George Weigel and John Allen discussed the book at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. The event was hosted by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Bill Barry, publisher in the Doubleday religious publishing division....
...The three "news flashes" from the trip -- the pope's comments on abortion and Catholic politicians, his condemnation of drug dealers and his criticism of both capitalism and Marxism -- were reported as distinct from one another but had a common thread in "the false promises of ideologies" that seek to replace Jesus in people's lives, Allen said.
In his talk to the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, Pope Benedict made clear that "preaching Christ is not a distraction from the work of social justice; it is working for justice," he added.
The new book "is much more than an academic exercise," Allen said. "It is the Magna Carta of Benedict's pontificate."
Bishop Lori said the book arose from Pope Benedict's "pastoral concern over distorted and relativistic views of Jesus," such as those promoted by author Dan Brown in "The Da Vinci Code," also published by Doubleday.
Much more than an academic exercise or an "exposition of theory," the pope's book "aims to open our hearts and minds to Jesus," he said.