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Why I Am a Catholic Paperback – October 8, 2003
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This says simply and clearly all that needs to be said on the WHY I AM A CATHOLIC. In this book GW says much more than needs saying, unlike many of his other books such as BARE RUINED CHOIRS and NIXON AGONISTES.
Wills' book goes through the centuries of the Bishop of Rome, as it moved from the Apostle all the way to the current pope, and it can seem a bit long-winded. It did, I must say, spur me on to learn a lot more about the early Christian church, and I have gone on to learn a great deal more about how the early church decisions lead to important historical events like the great Schism of the 11th century. I am happy that Wills took the time to lay out the evolution of the Pope's position because it took me in places that I had never known about (like Pope Honorius who was declared a heretic by subsequent popes for naming someone else as a heretic earlier).
It is through learning about the Church leaders, whether they be the popes or other leaders within the Church (and Wills loves Augustine!), that Wills accepts the divine inspiration of the Church (the entirety of the Church, not just the leadership) through the centuries. He then goes to the core prayers of inspiration--the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer--and explains how they have moved him to be a better man.
A very good book.