Assaults on the dignity and rights of the human person have been central to the ongoing crisis of the modern era in the last hundred years. This book takes a searching look at the roots of this problem and the various approaches to it by the eight men who led the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, from Pope St. Pius X and his crusade against “Modernism” to Pope St. John Paul II and his appeal for a renewed rapprochement between faith and reason. Thus it offers a distinctive, illuminating interpretation of recent world events viewed through the lens of an ancient institution, the papacy, a key champion of human rights under attack in modern times.
The fascinating story is told through short profiles of the eight popes combining crucial, often little known, facts about each by an author who is a veteran observer of Church affairs, a former top official of the conference of bishops of the USA, and consultant to the Vatican. It is written clearly and simply, but with carefully documented precision. A special feature are the substantial excerpts from the writings of the popes that give important insights into their personalities and thinking. It also includes a useful overview of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and its pivotal role in reshaping the Catholic Church. Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity contains judgments that will be challenged by partisans of both liberal and conservative ideological persuasions. But serious and open-minded readers, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, will find it an informative, timely, and inspiring guide to understanding many central events and issues of our times, while students of Church history will find it indispensable.