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POPE-COMPLETE Oct-22-2008 (560 words) xxxi

German publishing house to release complete book of pope's works

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Over the next eight years, the German publishing giant Herder and the Pope Benedict XVI Institute of Regensburg, Germany, will offer the public "The Complete Works of Joseph Ratzinger."

Presenting the first volume in the 16-tome series, Bishop Gerhard Muller of Regensburg told reporters Oct. 22 that Pope Benedict XIV personally approved the project and insisted that it carry his birth name.

Bishop Muller said the pope wants to make it clear that the works, almost all of which were completed before his election in 2005, reflect his personal theological thought and not the magisterial teaching of the church.

Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House, which controls the copyright of all the written work of the pope, including the writings in the series, said discussions already are under way with the U.S.-based Ignatius Press to publish English translations of the volumes.

The preface to the first published volume, dedicated to articles, lectures and homilies about the liturgy, is signed "Benedict XVI."

"When, after some hesitation, I decided to take on the project of the publication of my collected works, it was clear to me that the priorities of the (Second Vatican) Council were the most important, which is why liturgy had to be first," the pope wrote.

The liturgy volume includes his 2000 book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy."

In the volume's preface, Pope Benedict said that, unfortunately, the only thing most people know about the book is that it is the place where he discusses the direction the priest faces during Mass.

"At a certain point, I had even thought of striking that chapter, which was nine pages in a 200-page work, so that what I really wanted to say would come out," he said in the preface.

Pope Benedict said that after his book came out in 2000, two other well-known works have appeared showing "that the idea of the priest and people facing each other is a modern invention. The priest and people do not pray to each other, but to God."

While he had written in 2000 that he did not think it was a good idea to remodel churches and place the main altars back against the wall, in the preface to the liturgy volume of his collected works he said was pleased with the solution of placing a crucifix in the middle of the altar "so that the priest and people look together toward the Lord."

"But," he wrote, "maybe once again I have gone on too long about what is only a detail" in a book meant to highlight the importance of the liturgy for the life and faith of the church.

Bishop Muller said each volume would include already published and well-known works along with homilies or lectures never previously published and a complete catalogue of references to other articles, homilies and letters by Joseph Ratzinger on the same subject.

The next volume, due out in March, contains the future pope's postdoctoral thesis on the doctrine of revelation in the works of St. Bonaventure, Bishop Muller said.

The only work originally published after Pope Benedict's election to be featured in the series, he said, will be the pope's 2007 book, "Jesus of Nazareth" and its anticipated second volume. The large volume containing them will also include older material on the pope's views about Christology.


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