Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas, offers a challenge to his church. Read more...
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Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas, offers a challenge to his church. Can he bring about significant change? Should he?
Garry Wills, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, argues provocatively that, in fact, the history of the church throughout is a history of change. In this brilliant and incisive study, Wills describes the deep and serious changes that have taken place in the church or are in the process of occurring. These include the change from Latin, the growth and withering of the ecclesiastical monarchy, the abandonment of biblical literalism, the assertion and nonassertion of infallibility, and the erosion of church patriarchy. In such developments we see the living church adapting itself to the new historical circumstances.
As Wills contends, it is only by examining the history of the church that we can understand Pope Francis's and the church's challenges."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-19
- Reviewer: Staff
Is it possible, or even prudent, for an institution that has survived for 2,000 years to change? The Catholic Church, according to Wills (Why I Am a Catholic), professor emeritus at Northwestern University, has changed substantially over the course of its existence and must continue to do so if it is to survive. The author presents fascinating historical snapshots of the church throughout its history and illustrates the shifts it has navigated, from adopting and then dismissing universal Latin for its liturgical language to rejecting its embedded anti-Semitism at the Second Vatican Council. The current pope is not mentioned as often as the title might suggest, although one cannot fault the author for attempting to ride the wave of interest in Francis that’s sweeping the globe. The section on church-state relations is well researched, offering valuable insights into the contemporary American political landscape. And though he’s not a theologian, the author has obviously read in-depth exegetical work, and he presents solid and intelligent interpretations of Scripture to buoy his theses. Those familiar with Wills won’t discover any surprising conclusions, but most will take pleasure in the way he articulates them. Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency. (Mar.)