Pope's theology can be debated, cardinal says

Cardinal Georges Cottier

Cardinal Georges Cottier

March 7, 2011

As the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth was about to be published, a Swiss cardinal said it's important that people realize the book was written by the theologian Joseph Ratzinger and not by Pope Benedict.

"This distinction is not a matter of splitting hairs," said Cardinal Georges Cottier, the former theologian of the papal household.

Cottier said even if it may be confusing in the case of Pope Benedict, who was famous as a theologian before being elected pope, it is important for people to understand that theology is a human exercise, which is open to debate and criticism; but because of the Holy Spirit's gift to the Church and to the individual elected, the teaching of a pope requires a greater degree of assent.

The second volume of Jesus of Nazareth will be released at the Vatican March 10.

The first volume was published in 2007.

Cottier said the confusion between the work of the theologian Ratzinger and Pope Benedict was not helped by publishers of the first volume, who wrote "Pope Benedict XVI" on the cover in much larger letters than they wrote "Joseph Ratzinger."