The testimony and teachings of Joseph Ratzinger on the act of faith are particularly urgent for the Church today. Doctrinal confusion and other signs of crisis experienced by believers find their root in a crisis of faith. Understanding what it means to believe is more than an academic exercise; rather, it is a necessary step for authentic renewal in the Church.

In What Does it Mean to Believe?, Fr. Daniel Cardó outlines the different insights of Joseph Ratzinger on the act of faith—understood as a personal, integral, and ecclesial act. Cardó provides an organic view of the rich contribution made by the Pope Emeritus in his many theological works.

What Does it Mean to Believe? is also an invitation to appreciate the mind and the faith of one of the greatest theologians of our time.


Fr. Daniel Cardó was born in Lima, Peru. A member of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, he was ordained to the priesthood in 2006. He received his doctorate from Maryvale Institute and holds the Benedict XVI Chair for Liturgical Studies at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. He is also visiting professor at the Augustine Institute. He is the author of The Cross and the Eucharist in Early Christianity: A Theological and Liturgical Investigation (Cambridge University Press, 2019).


“This book offers a concise yet rich overview of Ratzinger’s profound vision of Christian faith. I have no doubt that Fr. Cardó’s work will help many of the faithful grow in their understanding of what it means to believe. It will also give them the insights needed to grow stronger in their faith and live it out in a society that is increasingly dismissive of it. I recommend this timely and accessible book to anyone who wants to live an intelligent faith with conviction in the modern world.”

Matthew Ramage
Benedictine College
Author of The Experiment of Faith


“More than anything else, we need a renewed encounter with the person of Jesus Christ and, through faith in him, communion within the divine life of the Trinity. Fr. Daniel Cardó focuses us on this burning necessity, drawing upon the rich thought of Joseph Ratzinger. In an age bound by the visible, yet still thirsting for the infinite, there is nothing more important for both the Church and society than strengthening our belief in God and allowing him to be the center of all we do. I commend Fr. Cardó for making Ratzinger’s insights more accessible, pointing us back to the centrality of faith, the only path to true freedom.”

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver


“At 1 Peter 3:15 we find the words, ‘Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.’ In this work one can read the defenses of Joseph Ratzinger, who is not just another big-name theologian, but the theologian of our time, the way that Newman was the theologian of the nineteenth century. In this ‘back to the fourteenth century’ decade of clerical corruption, something like the plague, and rampant nominalism, Fr. Cardo’s reflection on Ratzinger’s understanding of faith is a very consoling and edifying contribution to Emmaus Academic.”

Tracey Rowland
University of Notre Dame (Australia)


“As we witness a global recalibration and rebalancing, Fr. Cardó places in our hands a refreshingly lucid summary of Joseph Ratzinger’s understanding of faith to carry us through the twenty-first century. Far from anthropocentric, Christian faith is personal and Christ-centered: ‘Cor ad cor loquitur’ (St. John Henry Newman). Fr. Cardó shows that faith is an entrusting of the human self to Christ in the mind of Ratzinger. Highly recommended.”

Fr. Emery de Gaál, Ph. D.
University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary

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What Does It Mean to Believe? Faith In the Thought of Joseph Ratzinger