The Papacy is the oldest and the most successful institution in the world. Asking the Pope to abandon or water down Catholic doctrine would be like asking him to abolish his own office. Joseph Ratzinger has been the most powerful figures in the Catholic Chuirch after John Paul II for decades. It is entirely right that he should have the opportunity to serve the Church as Pope for he is so obviously head and shoulders above the rest. And yet Benedict XVI remains a mysterious figure, who has operated from behind closed doors-most recently the doors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of The Faith in Rome. There will be studies of Ratzinger's theology. Indeed there have already been such. But who is the man of flesh, blood and spirit behind the not so public persona. Laurence Paul Hemming has observed the Papacy and the events leading up to the election of the present Pope meticulously. He has written a charming and warm portrait of The Holy Father to make this highly intellectual man more accessible to a wide public. When Benedict XVI declared himself 'a simple and humble labourer in the Lord's vineyard' he gave the world an early indication of his style.
A passionate defender of the Faith yet a man anxious to listen.
Laurence Paul Hemming is Dean of Research Students at Heythrop College, London.