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John Cornwell
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2001
"Redefines the entire history of the 20th century."(The Washington Post)

"Explosive . . . Cornwell makes a case in Hitler's Pope that is very difficult to refute."(The New York Times Book Review)

As John Paul II's papacy draws to a close, the Church, its policies, and its future are being scrutinized by governments, religious leaders, and millions of Catholics around the globe. The election of the next pope will have a greater impact on world affairs than that of the next president of the United States—or the leader of any single nation. In his controversial bestseller Hitler's Pope, John Cornwell eloquently expressed both disagreement with the Catholic Church and his own deeply felt commitment to it. Here, he examines a Catholic Church in crisis, providing a penetrating overview of this institution at a crossroads.

In Breaking Faith, Cornwell explains why he left the Church but returned to it after twenty years because he "couldn't do without it" and because he is convinced that Catholicism still has the power to make the world a better place. Cornwell addresses issues that range from the core concepts of everyday practice—confession, liturgy, sexual practices, divorce—to issues that concern the organization of the church globally including the changing face of priesthood, the ordination of women, and the challenge of the conservative movement worldwide. He argues that the Church is a vital channel for good works and a source of broad moral direction, even for those who are not bound by its strictures.

Cornwell has spent a lifetime thinking about individual choice and the Catholic Church. He offers readers a highly provocative, personal, and passionate book that explores both the striking divisions in today's Church and the strengths upon which it can draw to survive and thrive in the coming century. Breaking Faith is sure to spark worldwide debate among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After daring to challenge the legacy of Pope Pius XII in Hitler's Pope, Cornwell has taken on another daunting subject: the future of the church he left as a young adult and to which he later returned. This latest work mingles the author's personal memories and feelings with history, statistics and some analysis. Sometimes Cornwell tries to play the role of journalist, merely reporting how both sides view the current state of affairs in the church. But as one who is clearly identified with the liberal Catholic wing, he can hardly mask his displeasure with those who represent the church's conservative element, particularly the present pope. Overall, Cornwell paints a dark picture of contemporary Catholicism and lays much of the blame for it at the feet of John Paul II, a "master of spin" who he says has demoralized millions of Catholics by accusing them of sinful sexual conduct. Apart from getting a new pope, though, Cornwell is not particularly clear about what should be done to remedy the church's problems. On one hand, he concedes to conservatives their point that Catholicism can't survive by making itself look like other religions, but on the other he seems to be urging the church to conform to the world by adjusting its teachings on sexuality. Regardless, fellow liberal Catholics will find much here with which to commiserate, and those seeking a provocative viewpoint will not be disappointed. (Oct.)Forecast: Hitler's Pope spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. This title should get a sales boost from an October 1 appearance on the Today show and a four-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this semiautobiographical work, a committed Catholic assesses the current state of affairs within Catholicism. A British historian, contributor to the international Catholic weekly the Tablet, and noted commentator on decidedly more liberal Catholic issues, Cornwell (Hitler's Pope) takes a respectful yet critical look at the pontificate of John Paul II and the church he has created over the past 25 years. Issues of sexuality, morality, the ordination of women, participation in sacramental and liturgical observances, lack of religious vocations, and the centralization of power in the Roman Curia are addressed with the critical tone of someone who clearly has a passionate love for both the institution and its people. Cornwell discloses his religious journey with great honesty while confronting those who seek to discredit his analysis. He painstakingly measures the divisions and contradictions within Catholicism yet gives credit where appropriate, portraying the church as a vital channel for good despite some glaring flaws of practice and policy. A provocative, deeply personal, and intelligent book; recommended for public and academic libraries. John Leonard Berg, Univ. of Wisconsin, Platteville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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