Augustine is also a saint — one who not only knows about the things of God, but loves God and follows Him.
This too, Pope Benedict argues, is consistent with reason, for what other reason could there be for an omnipotent and self-sufficient God to create angels and human beings and animals and lakes and mountains except out of love?
The ancient philosophers sought after the cause of being. Biblical faith responds that the reason for being is nothing other than divine love.
And the reasonable response to love is to love in return.
Observers have wondered why Pope Benedict’s first two years have not been focused on contemporary controversies, but on preaching the love of God, and looking repeatedly to the first centuries of the Church for wisdom and teaching.
Perhaps it’s because Benedict knows that the world today lacks confidence in the possibility of reason to know the truth, and in the possibility of true love. The man buried in Pavia is one of the great witnesses that in God this world’s restless heart can indeed find both.
Amplyfing the above article, another author added:
Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P., in his excellent book, The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger (T&T Clark, 1988; republished in 2005 as The Thought of Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger [Burns & Oates]), has a entire chapter, "Augustine and the Church."
It is dedicated entirely to examining the influence of the great Augustine on the thought and theology of Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), especially his approach to ecclesiology:
Believing with Romano Guardini that the twentieth century was proving, theologically, the "century of the Church", when the idea of the Church was re-awakening in all its depth and breadth, Ratzinger chose to scour the Augustinian corpus for insight into the nature of the Christian community of faith. ... For Augustine, the Church is at once the "people and the house of God". (p. 29)
And this interesting note:
None the less, the culture which Augustine brought to the exploration of the Christian faith in his early writings was largely philosophical, and so it is, naturally, from a philosophical perspective that Augustine first considered the mystery of the Church.
Here Ratzinger identifies two main elements that form the Ansätze, "starting-points" of Augustinian ecclesiology. Augustine's reflections on the concept of faith will be vital for his understanding of the Church as people of God. By contrast, his concept of love is more important for his portrait of the Church as the house of God ... (p. 33).
Ecclesiology was a primary focus in many of Joseph Ratzinger's writings, while a central theme of his pontificate, of course, has been love. As both Frs. de Souza and Nichols indicate, the effect of Augustine's thought on Pope Benedict has been profound.
And while there are many obvious differences between two bishops who lived so many centuries apart, there are, I think, several intriguing parallels, or commonalities: the theological and philosophical erudition, the deep knowledge of both Christian and non-Christian beliefs and philosophies, the interaction with non-Christian philosophies, an ability to both be open to such systems while at the same time defending Catholic doctrine, the ability to be both theologian and pastor, a theological focus on ecclesiology, and so forth.