Analyzes the relationship between Pius XI and the notorious Italian dictator, tracing how after coming into power in the same year they forged covert ties to one another to consolidate power and pursue political goals.
From his first appearance on a Vatican balcony Pope Francis proved himself a Pope of Surprises. With a series of potent gestures, history's first Jesuit pope declared a mission to restore authenticity and integrity to a Catholic Church bedevilled by sex abuse and secrecy, intrigue and in-fighting, ambition and arrogance. He declared it should be 'a poor Church, for the poor'. But there is a hidden past to this modest man with the winning smile. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was previously a bitterly divisive figure. His decade as leader of Argentina's Jesuits left the religious order deeply split. And his behaviour during Argentina's Dirty War, when military death squads snatched innocent people from the streets, raised serious questions--on which this book casts new light. Yet something dramatic then happened to Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He underwent an extraordinary transformation. After a time of exile he re-emerged having turned from a conservative authoritarian into a humble friend of the poor--and became Bishop of the Slums, making enemies among Argentina's political classes in the process. For Pope Francis - Untying the Knots, Paul Vallely traveled to Argentina and Rome to meet Bergoglio's intimates over the last four decade. His book charts a remarkable journey. It reveals what changed the man who was to become Pope Francis--from a reactionary into the revolutionary who is unnerving Rome's clerical careerists with the extent of his behind-the-scenes changes. In this perceptive portrait Paul Vallely offers both new evidence and penetrating insights into the kind of pope Francis could become.
American Catholicism has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals, declining attendance, a meltdown in the numbers of priests and nuns, and the closing of many parishes and parochial schools. Yet the church hierarchy is increasingly dominated by conservatives. In The Catholic Labyrinth, Peter McDonough tells of the struggles that animate various groups - such as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Voice of the Faithful, and the Leadership Roundtable - pushing to modernize the church. One contest pits reformers against those who defend traditional standards of sexual behavior and gender roles. In addition, the church's far-flung operations in education, social services, and healthcare raise constitutional issues about the separation of church and state. Once a sidebar to this debate, the bishops' campaign to control terms of employment and access to contraceptives in church-sponsored ministries has added fuel to the conflict. McDonough draws on behind-the-scenes documents and personal interviews with reformers and 'loyalists' to explore how retrenchment and resistance to clericalism have played out. In the midst of growing support for changes like optional celibacy for priests and the ordination of women, the flood of defections from the church continues. Nevertheless, immigration and a lingering reaction against the upheavals of the sixties, together with the polemics of neoconservatives, have helped sustain acceptance of traditional authority among Catholics in the pews.