A comprehensive and scholarly appraisal of both historical and contemporary influence political, theological, spiritual -- of the Roman Catholic Church, with an estimate of the possibilities for a world-wide return to the faith -- this should prove timely in Holy Year promotion. A translation from the French by Jean Misrahi of Fordham, this is primarily of interest to the Catholic audience, but may prove inflammatory material with aggressive non or anti Catholics. Using the reigns of the popes, from Saint Peter to Plus XII as focal points, the author summarizes the history of the Church in terms of political and geographical influences against a background of dissolution and consolidation of nations, of states. The definition of the Protestant Reformation as ""an opposition of spirit"" a Babelian weakening of the Christian faith growing out of a tumultuous period and a succession of weak Popes, may produce fireworks among those who will resent the imputation of political opportunists to fervid and radical personalities like Luther and Calvin. M. Pichon claims they saw their chance to acquire influence in the midst of religious confusion. He treats of Church policy in the period between Leo XII and Pius XII through the formation of new groups within the Church; he discusses the relations with Germany, the fight against the onslaught of Fascism and the greater threat of Communism. In his discussion of the Church and the non-Christian world, the author points out the progress in adapting and consolidating Eastern tradition into Western concepts, and the difficulties attendant on this missionary enterprise. But it is in the section concerned with Christian unity that the most controversial aspects emerge. He considers the character of the Protestant sects, evaluates the Roman Catholic elements in Protestant practice and suggests methods for unification -- contingent, however, on a return to the mother church. The author is by no means optimistic, but in looking forward to a ""flowering"" of the Church he feels it is the sole bulwark against Communism. The last section is an appraisal of the role of the Church today in the countries of Europe; American Catholicism is considered more or less incidentally. The belief in the supremacy of Roman Catholicism is an judgment throughout and many will feel that the author is dogmatic in his treatment of other beliefs and ambiguous -- if not destructive -- in his assumptions on racial issues and minority groups. These phases of his book should be more carefully analyzed than in possible in brief review. Catholic sales primarily.