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There was no neutral response to the announcement that the "enforcer"—Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—had been elected Benedict XVI, the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Conservatives saw it as the final triumph of their agenda. Liberals were aghast. Everyone else wondered what to expect. Award-winning religion journalist David Gibson explores the "war of ideas" that will be a defining feature of this new papacy.
Gibson persuasively argues that by tackling the modern world head-on Benedict XVI is gambling that he can make traditional, orthodox Catholicism the savior of contemporary society. But if the elderly Benedict fails in his battle with modernity, will Catholicism wind up as a "smaller-but-purer church"—the new kind of fortress Catholicism that some conservatives want? Such fears haunt millions of American Catholics pressing for change. Gibson points to the early warning signs of a papacy hyperfocused on "right belief" and shows how the key decisions of this surprising papacy will profoundly impact the future of Catholicism.
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David Gibson is an award-winning religion writer and a committed lay Catholic. He writes about Catholicism for various newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Boston magazine, Fortune, Commonweal, and America. He was the religion writer for the The Star-Ledger of New Jersey. Gibson has worked in Rome for Vatican Radio and traveled frequently with Pope John Paul II. He has co-written several recent documentaries on Christianity for CNN.From Publishers Weekly:
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's name was announced as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005, Gibson, a journalist and Catholic convert, was among the throng but not cheering. The author of The Coming Catholic Church considers himself part of "the silent majority of Catholics, who were hoping, praying, for the vibrancy and openness that would herald a new chapter in the history of the church." Instead, he writes, they got a "polarizing figure" with a well-publicized past, a man known for his heavy hand with liberation theologians and others deemed to veer toward heterodoxy. In this detailed examination, Gibson tells how Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, and why his ways of thinking about the church may not bode well for efforts to reform it in such areas as governance and opening the priesthood to women or married men. He paints the new pontiff as someone who is more interested in the personal piety of Catholics than their engagement with the world and issues of social justice. Readers who have been watching the new pope for signals of what his papacy will bring will find this to be absorbing reading. (Oct.)
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