The Vatican has dominated many headlines over the last nine months beginning with the Vatileaks scandal in the summer of 2012, followed by the virtually unprecedented retirement of Pope Benedict in early 2013, to the election of his successor, Pope Francis. The DePaul Library has a rich collection of books about the papacy and the Vatican. Profiled below are three relatively recent additions to the Richardson Library collection.
The culture of the Vatican is often characterized as hierarchical and secretive--qualities that make it challenging to accurately understand the activities of this centuries-old organization. Fortunately, one of the members of the vaticinista (the Vatican press corps) has written a timely book that breaks down several barriers. John Thavis has covered the Vatican for three decades as a reporter for Catholic News Service. He wrote this book not as an exposé, but to humanize this formidable institution with stories about the people who work at the Vatican (yes, some of these people are popes, but not all). As the Catholic Church begins a new papacy, The Vatican Diaries will provide newly found insight into the news coming out of Rome. (John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 262.136 T368V)
With a history spanning two centuries, many books written about the papacy are dense volumes that don’t always lend themselves to a pleasurable reading experience. Eamon Duffy has deftly winnowed this history into a nimble narrative of a select group of popes in Ten Popes who Shook the World. The men discussed in this work were in office from AD 64 through 2005, and in addition to shaking the world, they also shaped history, and not always in a religious context. Duffy asks the question in his introduction whether or not “the papacy is a coherent project, or an historical conglomerate…” (p. 10). Regardless of the answer to this question, Duffy has written a cohesive and accessible account of ten popes beginning with St. Peter through the papacy of John Paul II. (John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 282.0922 D858T)
The subject of the last book is one pope, John Paul II. Published in the year before his death in 2005, The Pontiff in Winter
examines the c
ontradictions of his papacy and the contradictions of the man. In order to understand these inconsistencies, John Cornwell begins with a look at the early years of Karol Wojtyla as a child, young priest, pastor, poet, professor, bishop, and cardinal. But the true focus of this work is the latter period of John Paul’s long pontificate, the 1990s through 2004, and of course his legacy. Still being reconciled today is the contradiction between his legacy as a man of peace with his role in ending communism, and his legacy as an authoritarian leader of the Catholic Church.
(John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 262.13092 J652Yc)