From Library Journal
Having faced a barrage of critics for his New York Times best seller, Papal Sin, Pulitzer Prize winner Wills (history, Northwestern Univ.) responds to the frequent question, "Why do you remain a Catholic?" Considered by many a traitor to the Church, he passionately reaffirms his allegiance and loyalty to the constitutive elements of Catholicism. In a deeply personal narrative, he writes about a wonderful Catholic boyhood and an honorable Jesuit formation. No hint of anger here! The core of the text rearticulates the vicissitudes within the history and cultural context of the papacy from Peter, a companion of Jesus, to Pope John Paul II, the worldwide Vicar of Christ. The papacy is a living entity that evolves and changes much as society experiences a constant ebb and flow. Wills concludes this timely and hopeful work with an articulate reflection on the creed the real object of belief. A scholarly and serious analysis of examined faith, this is recommended for all public and academic libraries.- John-Leonard Berg, Univ. of Wisconsin, Platteville
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Although Papal Sin
(2000), Wills' dissection of "structures of deceit" in the papacy, infuriated some Catholics, it gratified many more readers, in and out of the church. Detractors and sympathizers alike, however, asked why Wills remained in the church. This book, his reply, is one part autobiography, three parts history, and one part confession of faith. The autobiography covers his Catholic upbringing and education; his abortive Jesuit novitiate; his discovery of the first of his Catholic personal heroes, G. K. Chesterton, whose writings lifted Wills' depression over leaving the seminary; and his first practical encounters with papal encyclicals and their uses while working for the National Review.
The historical parts analyze the development of the papacy from centuries-long nonexistence to temporal power in the Middle Ages to institutional calcification and authoritarian dogmatism during modernity to Vatican II and subsequent attempts to undermine it by the curiae of Paul VI and John Paul II. Finally, Wills parses the Apostles' Creed, drawing on another personal hero, St. Augustine, as well as Chesterton, again, to argue that professing the creed with complete sincerity entails endorsing freedom of conscience, democracy, and ecumenism. Although it is unlikely that this book, which cites many more papal sinners than its predecessor did, will mollify Wills' critics, it is compellingly argued, intellectually satisfying, and spiritually moving. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved