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The Rise of Benedict XVI: The Inside Story of How the Pope was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church [Kindle Edition]

John L. Jr Allen
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.78
Sold by: Random House LLC

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"The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis"
The New York Times best-selling historian takes on a pressing question in modern religion— will Pope Francis embrace change? Learn more

Book Description

From the author of Conclave and All the Pope’s Men comes the story of Pope John Paul II’s last days, the behind-the-scenes dynamics within the College of Cardinals that led to the choice of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.

On April 18, 2005, the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church gathered to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II. Faced with several potential candidates, the cardinals made a bold choice, entrusting the Keys of the Kingdom to 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a man whose views on the challenges facing the Church and the broader culture could not be more unambiguous, or controversial.

Questions arose as the world watched while Ratzinger was installed as Pope Benedict XVI, the 266th pontiff of the Catholic Church. Why Ratzinger? Why someone so clearly identified with the previous pope? Why not a “compromise” choice? Why a Cardinal from Western Europe and not from Africa or Latin America? What would this mean for the future of the Catholic Church?

No one can tell the story of exactly what took place during the closed doors meeting, known as the conclave, when Cardinals from around the world cast their votes for the next pope, better than John L. Allen, Jr. As a correspondent for National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio, Allen has spent years covering Vatican politics and personalities, and his unique access to Roman halls of power has enabled him to write the ultimate behind-the-scenes account of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The Rise of Benedict XVI is based on extensive research and exclusive interviews with eight cardinals representing five nationalities, guaranteeing readers an intimate glimpse into this monumental decision.

But Allen’s insight also means that he is in a unique position to evaluate the accomplishments and legacy of the man now known as Pope Benedict XVI, and to provide some analysis of the direction he would take the Catholic Church in the coming years. Ratzinger’s long career as a major Vatican insider, force of influence, and occasionally polarizing figure, has ensured that his pontificate will be one of the most fascinating in the history of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI would certainly have a major impact on the lives of the faithful around the world, and John Allen’s riveting new book is the definitive work on this turning point in history.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Pope Benedict XVI walked onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on April 19, it was the first time that many people had ever heard of him. But for the last 24 years, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was a celebrity in Catholic circles, widely known for his intellectual prowess and his role as the Vatican's notorious defender of the faith. Allen's book seeks to fill in the blanks about the man known in the media as "God's rottweiler," revealing a person who cannot be summarized in a catchphrase. But this book isn't just an examination of the new pope's Christian principles; it is also a glimpse into the inner machinations of the Vatican, which Allen covers for the National Catholic Reporter and from time to time on CNN. Drawing on his many sources—including eight cardinals who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict—Allen gives a play-by-play assessment of how the pope was chosen and what he might have in store for the church's 1.1 billion followers. Readers who want a cloak-and-dagger political whodunit should look elsewhere. Allen's book is much smarter than that; it's a rich and thoughtful analysis of the present-day Catholic Church and its complex new spiritual leader. (June 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Praise for John L. Allen, Jr.’s, Conclave

“An invaluable primer . . . highly informative.” —Washington Post

“Definitely a winner.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“It’s surprising how much you learn from this book . . . [Allen] explain[s] the process in an engaging way, and offers history, context and his own list of front-runners.” —Arizona Republic

Praise for John L. Allen, Jr.’s, All the Pope’s Men

“[A] superb book” —Chicago Sun-Times

“The National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican correspondent John L. Allen, Jr., unpacks several popular myths as well as the psychology, sociology, and theology that inform the Holy See’s worldview. But All the Pope’s Men is not a polemic. It’s a patient look at Vatican ways of thinking and acting.” —San Antonio Express-News

“An exceedingly valuable book.” —Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, First Things

“By turns enlightening and highly amusing, the book deserves a wide readership.”

“ . . . this dispassionate book is the best written about the Vatican in a long time and belongs on the desk of every editor and religion writer in the English-speaking world.”
—Andrew Greeley, National Catholic Reporter

“An informative and readable look at Vatican structures, policies, and personalities . . . filled with useful data and engaging anecdotes.” —Crisis Magazine

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1055 KB
  • Print Length: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Image; 1st edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0013380Y6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,383 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Allen shows again why he's so respected August 1, 2005
There's this thing called the "historian's fallacy," wherein anything that happens can be seen, retrospectively, as having been inevitable. And on one reading of John L. Allen's "The Rise of Benedict XVI," you'd be able to make a case that the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy was pretty much inevitable. But it's to Allen's credit as a journalist that he doesn't succumb to the "historian's fallacy." In fact, I think he makes a good case that Ratzinger's election was not only not inevitable, but in some ways even more revolutionary than the election of Karol Wojtyla in 1978.

Prior to the 2005 conclave, conventional wisdom made Ratzinger's election look pretty unlikely. One "what's going to happen at the next conclave" book by a well-known writer on Catholic topics even said flat out, "Although Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ... is a highly regarded theologian and intellectual, he is one of the least likely to be elected pope."

What made Ratzinger's election happen -- and the discussion of which makes this such an interesting book -- is what Allen calls "the funeral effect." Although leaders of the Roman Catholic Church knew Pope John Paul II was popular, it wasn't until they saw first-hand the world's response to his death that they realized the transforming effect he had on the Church's position in the world. Conventional wisdom said that the College of Cardinals would probably select a quiet, pastoral type with solid administrative skills to allow the Church some "breathing room" to process and assess the legacy of John Paul. But "the funeral effect" made it clear that the Church -- and the pope in particular -- now had a spot on the world stage that could not be filled by a largely unknown "smiling pope" like John Paul I.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Instant history but well done June 23, 2005
I found this book surprisingly satisfying for being "instant history" -- in print less than two months after the conclave selecting Pope Benedect XVI. John Allen does present an insider view in the sense of someone who covers the Vatican, knows the players and the issues. I wasn't left wanting for much, except perhaps more about Benedict's views on the decline of vocations and the corresponding rise in lay leadership as deacons and ecclesial ministers. My curiosity about his views on women sent me to the last chapter early. The only chapter a bit difficult for the nontheologian was "Battling a `Dictatorship of Relativism,'" but it is worth rereading passages to fully understand our new pope's world view. On the whole I think Allen succeeded in presenting a balanced view of recent historical events and of the new pope. I have a greater appreciation for the former Cardinal Ratzinger's gifts and his potential to grow into an entirely new role. I'm sure I will pick up this book often in months and years to come to help me understand the context of new developments in the church.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Writing, Delivers On Its Premise September 15, 2005
John Allen, author of Conclave, another book on Roman Catholicism's governing traditions, delivers this fine study of the recent transition from the sad last days of Pope John Paul II, to the nascent reign of one of the most intellectually-bright and morally intractable men ever to occupy the Holy See: Pope Benedict XVI.

Allen's work is partly a biography of Joseph Ratzinger's life up to his elevation to the Papacy last spring, and part study of the workings of the modern Church. Allen discusses at length the politics that put a conservative German Cardinal into religion's highest office, and also presents an educated guess at how the Pontificate of Benedict XVI might unfold. I think the most telling foreshadowing of what this man might concentrate on in his reign is detailed on page 174 of the hardcover edition in a chapter entitled, "The Gravest Problem Of Our Time". This crisis, according to Pope Benedict, is "relativism" a view common in the modern west and which has brought about unwavering criticism from Ratzinger as a priest, Cardinal and now as Pope. Basically Benedict argues that truth and morals, having being crafted by God and defined by Jesus, are neither mutable nor subject to the varying interpretations of humankind in each and every age. Benedict is deeply troubled by the popularity of the concept that each human must decide on personal morals, rather than trusting in the morality pre-defined by the Church, that steadfast custodian of Christ's teachings.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good 'popular' account of recent history September 8, 2005
One commentator called this book 'instant history', and to a certain extent, that is true - the interregnum between John Paul II (the Great?) and Benedict XVI was very brief, the Conclave short, but the road leading up to these events were well established and well documented, often by author John J. Allen, Jr. himself. Allen is the author of many books on this topic, include a book entitled 'Conclave', written several years ago in anticipation of the Conclave from earlier this year (2005). He also has written books on the College of Cardinals and other Vatican officials, Opus Dei, and numerous articles on various papal and Vatican subjects in his capacity as a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

Allen brings all of this background to bear with his good insight and accessible journalistic style to describing the events from the final days of John Paul II to the papal election ('Habemus Papam!'). These are presented in an interesting section with sensitive and compassionate writing about the final days and funeral of the late pontiff.

With regard to the election process itself, Allen presents many fascinating details, including a litany of conventional wisdom facts that Ratzinger/Benedict seemed to shatter. These include:

* he who goes into the Conclave a pope comes out a cardinal

* the cardinals from outside Rome would not elect a Curia insider

* the cardinals would not elect someone closely identified with the previous pope

* the cardinals would not elect someone from Europe, where the church is increasingly in decline

* the church would not elevate someone close to 80 to begin such a major ministry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pope of Ironies
As a respected Vatican correspondent, Allen was well placed and well qualified to write this book. Reading it in 2013 gives one a chance to benefit from Allen's contemporary... Read more
Published on February 6, 2013 by Mike DePue, OFS
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book On How And Why Benedict Was Elected
I bought a cheap copy of this book after seeing it on a friend's shelf. I have great respect for John Allen as a journalist. Read more
Published on August 24, 2010 by Conor B. Dugan
3.0 out of 5 stars About papabiles and popolitics
John Allen is 'our man inside the Vatican'. He knows how, and he knows when and why. The book looks back at the last days of Pope John Paul II and his legacy. Read more
Published on January 14, 2007 by A. K. A. Strieker
3.0 out of 5 stars The Papacy of Benedict XVI.
Allen details the rise of Joseph Ratzinger of Germany into the papacy. As Pope John Paul II's right hand man, Benedict is probably one of the more knowledgeable and intelligent... Read more
Published on July 7, 2006 by Kevin M Quigg
2.0 out of 5 stars Instant book of lasting value
This is a quickie book of reportage on the Vatican conclave which elected Joseph Ratzinger to be the new pope. Read more
Published on February 2, 2006 by The Sanity Inspector
4.0 out of 5 stars Election, 2005
Mr. Allen's book, Conclave, is an insightful look into how the Catholic Church chooses its pope. The weakness of Conclave is that it was written some years before the death of... Read more
Published on October 31, 2005 by Timothy Haugh
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Content, but poor editing
Allen did a lot of researching and veryfying for this book; he provides a lot of information not previously known, such as which other Cardinals were serious contenders, and other... Read more
Published on October 5, 2005 by Jesus B. Bustamante
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is Joseph Ratzinger and why was he chosen as the 264th successor...
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II one name you heard being discussed more than any other was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany. Read more
Published on September 11, 2005 by Paul Tognetti
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital reading for all Christians
John Allen puts his journalistic contacts to great use in this informative primer on the new pope. Protestant fans of John Paul II will be relieved to see that the Catholic Church... Read more
Published on September 4, 2005 by B. D. Weimer
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversion to Dialogue
I will refrain from regurgitating my review of John Allen Jr.'s excellent book, and simply point the reader to the place where I reviewed it on my blog.
[... Read more
Published on September 3, 2005 by ---- Justin Nickelsen
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More About the Author

JOHN L. ALLEN, Jr., is the Associate Editor for Crux, a web site covering the Catholic Church, and the Boston Globe. He also serves as senior Vatican analyst for CNN and is a popular speaker on Catholic affairs. He's published nine books and divides his year between Rome and his home in Denver, Colorado.
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