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Absolute Power

How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World

Paul Collins



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08 May 2018
In 1799, the papacy was at rock bottom: The Papal States had been swept away and Rome seized by the revolutionary French armies. The cardinals were scattered across Europe, and Catholics feared they would be unable to elect the next pope. Even if Catholicism survived, it seemed the papacy was finished. And yet, just over two hundred years later, the pope still stands at the very center of the central conversations of our time. His influence reaches across the world - from Cuban politics to gender equality to the refugee crisis - and the strength of his soft power is incomparable.

In this gripping narrative of religious and political history, Paul Collins tells the improbable success story of the last 220 years of the papacy, from the unexalted death of Pope Pius VI in 1799 to the celebrity of Pope Francis today. As a historian, journalist, and theologian, Collins also poses pressing, critical questions to the Catholic Church: Does today's church governance stray from the teachings of the gospel? Is the papacy's internal power so great that it might be considered heretical? If so, what can be done to ensure a credible - and Christ-like - path forward?

Absolute Power is required reading for anyone interested in the history of today's complex power structures - as well as anyone invested in religious, political, and social progress in the West.
By:   Paul Collins
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 167mm,  Width: 245mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   598g
ISBN:   9781610398602
ISBN 10:   1610398602
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   08 May 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Undergraduate ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unknown

Paul Collins is a theologian with degrees from Harvard and the Australian National University and is now a fellow of Trinity College of Music, London. He has worked as a religious commentator for Australian Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, NPR, and more; as a teacher of theology and history; and as a Catholic priest. In March 2001, he resigned from active ministry due to a doctrinal dispute with the Vatican over his book, Papal Power. He is also the author of The Birth of the West, published by PublicAffairs in 2013.

Reviews for Absolute Power: How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World

Fasten your seat belt for a rollicking ride through two hundred years of papal history culminating in a generally positive assessment of Pope Francis' new approach to the role. Paul Collins offers a broad and deep albeit astonishingly accessible read of the complicated, deeply fraught currents in the Roman Catholic Church. He wisely does not presume to predict what will be next. But scholars and interested observers alike will want this resource at hand to make sense of it as it unfolds. --Mary Hunt, codirector of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) Convincing history... This trenchant work will be of primary interest to general readers curious about papal authority since the Enlightenment era. --Publishers Weekly Extensively researched and well written, Collins' latest is a tour de force. If you want to have a deep understanding of the modern-day papacy and want to discover the deep roots of the challenges facing anyone (like Pope Francis) who seeks to reform it, then get this book. You won't put it down! --Robert Mickens, English language editor, La Croix International In this essential guide to the history of the papacy, Paul Collins dramatically traces the Vatican's near-death experience and remarkable restoration of power over the past two centuries. Absolute Power reveals how the history of the papacy affects--and distorts--our understanding of the church today, and offers a prophetic challenge to an institution that must evolve if it is to survive. Collins has given us an urgent, meticulous historical study that reads like a page-turner. --Jamie L. Manson, columnist and books editor, The National Catholic Reporter Well-documented... An honest but critical analysis of the role of the papacy in both the church and the world in modern times. --Library Journal A thoroughly researched but tendentious history in support of a call for a radically different papacy and church. --Kirkus Reviews

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