The theology of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger played a major part in my book After Our Likeness (1998), which sought to develop a trinitarian, nonhierarchical understanding of the church. He thanked me politely for the copy I sent him and added, “You don’t expect me, of course, to have changed my mind after reading it.”
I had no such expectation. I am a Protestant in the bewildering world of restless spiritual energy splashing from below, in the world of multiplying churches, small and large, traditional and contemporary. He was then the guardian of orthodoxy and the second-ranking person in the Catholic Church, the body whose distinctive mark is visible social unity. I was advocating for new and emerging churches, while he was trying to keep them from making inroads among his flock.