THE NEXT POPE by Peter Hebblethwaite


A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Forces That Will Choose the Successor to John Paul II and Decide the Future of the Catholic Church
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 Renowned Vatican watcher and journalist Hebblethwaite (Paul VI: The First Modern Pope, 1993, etc.) offers a savvy analysis of how the next pope will come to be chosen and of the challenges he will face. Since John Paul took office in 1978, he has survived an assassination attempt, the removal of a growth, and a hip replacement. It's too early to predict his successor, says Hebblethwaite, but the Catholic Church is now clearly in a pre- conclave period. He describes how popes have been elected since 1179 by the cardinals of the Roman Church and gives us the inside story on the (supposedly secret) elections over the last 150 years. Noting that every conclave has to decide between continuity and discontinuity with the previous pope, Hebblethwaite examines the contributions of John Paul II, such as his role in the fall of communism and his publication of the New Code of Canon Law and the recent Catechism. He offers an incisive critique of the Pope's vision of a renewed Europe and of his position that a democracy without values or a respect for the human person becomes an open or thinly disguised totalitarianism. Hebblethwaite sees John Paul II as ruling the Church from the extreme right and suggests that a future pope will be more centrist, more accepting of a ``loyal opposition'' within the fold and of pluralism in society, will reexamine the possibility of women priests, and will see the world in terms of the North-South, rather than the East-West, divide. Based on his own sources, Hebblethwaite (who died during the preparation of this book) assesses possible future popes, e.g., the forward-looking Italians Carlo Maria Martini and Achille Silvestrini, the African Francis J. Arinze (who has a special understanding of Islam), the charismatic (and Yiddish-speaking) Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris, and Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, who is said to want the job. The liberal Catholic position presented intelligently and loyally.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-063752-8
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995