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His Holiness Paperback – August 1, 1997
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Two veteran reporters, American Carl Bernstein (co-author of All the President's Men) and Italian Marco Politi have teamed up to present the case that Pope John Paul II worked closely with American political figures to cause the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. Their conclusions are controversial, but His Holiness provides an insightful look at the connections between governments, the Catholic Church and the Solidarity movement in the Pope's native Poland. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
An in-depth study of the papacy?what a leap of faith for a guy who helped break the Watergate story. Bernstein is joined by Italian journalist Politi, who has covered the papacy for 15 years.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This was a delicate balancing act for John Paul. As Stalin so famously pointed out about a previous pope, he had no military power, only moral and spiritual power. As they recount his first trip as Pope back to Poland
"What was talking place now in Warsaw's Victory Square was a breakthrough to unknown horizons. John Paul II never uttered a word that might lead directly to a confrontation between Church and state, between the party and Christian believers, but everything he said marked the beginning of a grand turnabout for the Church -- in Poland, in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet Union, in world affairs. Through him the Church was laying claim to a new role, no longer simply asking space for itself. Through him it was demanding respect for human rights as well as for Christian values, respect for every man and woman and for the autonomy of the individual. These demands represented a direct assault on the universal pretensions of Marxist ideology, which by now had become an empty shell in the countries under Soviet influence."
A campaign just by Solidarity, even aided by the Pope, may have gotten no farther than the Hungarians in 1956 or the Czechs in 1968. What was different now was that the West, especially the Reagan Administration in the US, and Margaret Thatcher's government in Great Britain, had moved away from detente and began to actively push back. John Paul II had similarly moved away from the Ostpolitik of Pope Paul VI. The book details the co-operation in intelligence between the US and the Vatican. It also provides, through Politburo minutes obtained by the authors, the futile attempts by the old men of the Kremlin, and later the unsuccessful attempts of the younger Gorbachev, to get the toothpaste back in the tube.
This book, which was released in 1996, was a five year collaboration between Carl Bernstein (best-known for his work with Bob Woodward in All the President's Men and The Final Days) and Marco Politi, who is both the dean of Vatican journalists working for La Repubblica and then Il Messaggero, and a former Moscow correspondent. Countering a criticism, over how do we know what was really said at private meetings recounted in these exposé books, this book is quite detailed in its sourcing. The authors conducted, and documented, a long series of interviews with the people involved, up to and including President Reagan. The participants are quoted directly, and a Sources section at the back of the book shows who said what.
The book probably would have done better focusing strictly on the East-West struggles, but it was extended to include both a short biography of John Paul II's early life, plus a critique in the latter part of the book of the theological controversies during John Paul's long reign (and there were still nine years to go after the book came out.) While I'm interested in having Carl Bernstein as a guide through some of the great political struggles of the late 20th century, I really don't need him as a theology teacher.
While this isn't a new book, it is an interesting retrospective on one part of John Paul II's papacy.
There is a brief history of Pope John Paul II's life and his ascendancy to the Seat of Peter. The coverage of the Pope's early life up until his ascension to the throne was very interesting and pretty well done. And we get a brief look inside of the Vatican's political apparatus. Even though I felt that there appears to be an anti-Catholic agenda in the later half of the book, it is worth reading. John Paul II was a gift to the world in our lifetime whose main message was that we could be better than we are. The author seems to forget that the Pope is Catholic first and last. He always did take the highest Catholic stance on matters of faith and morals as would be expected of a pontiff. I found this an interesting and fast read.