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The Conclave: A Sometimes Secret and Occasionally Bloody History of Papal Elections Hardcover – June 6, 2003
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The Conclave is church history as it is meant to be written: with style, energy, and even wit. The sinful and the saintly, the conniving and the compassionate, the greedy and the good, make up this entirely fascinating survey of the history of papal elections. In a book for scholars and layperson alike, Michael Walsh offers solid research, brilliant prose, and, best of all, a terrific story. (James Martin, SJ, author of In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience)
In The Conclave, Michael Walsh has written a concise new history of the Papacy from a fresh perspective, focused not so much on the character and achievements of the Bishops of Rome during their time of office, as on the issues, struggles, and occasional violence and intrigue that have surrounded their elections. More than any other brief history of the papacy currently available, this book brings out the political and cultural context in which the Papacy operates, as authority is handed on from successor to successor in the Petrine ministry. Walsh combines a historian's learning and care for detail with a story-teller's gift for gripping narrative, and the result is both instructive and entertaining. (Brian E. Daley, S.J.,, Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame)
Recommended for seminary and academic libraries and for community libraries with strong religion circulations. (David I. Fulton, College of St. Elizabeth Library Journal)
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Walsh's text emphasizes the changing dynamics involved in papal elections over the centuries, including the waxing and waning of various political and popular influences. Although Church doctrine says the Holy Spirit chooses the next Bishop of Rome (and the machinations of plotters have often been defeated in surprising ways), more earthly and secular powers have had big roles to play too. Though it's not always easy to decipher the backroom politicking or strong-arming, the author has sorted facts and speculation into a very readable history. Though specialist historians will no doubt be left wanting something more in-depth, and I for one deeply regretted the absence of an index, most general readers will probably find this gives them a good comprehensive overview.