In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

book reviews723 gatherings (circuit minores according to language),the resulting statements and propositions, the council chosen for the periods between sessions, etc., are described. The conflicts are considered fully both minor and major (such as celibacy, contraception, and general sacramental absolution). Special emphasis is understandably given to the role of the Spanish bishops, but never disproportionately or to the neglect ofthe other participants. Full statistical information is provided, for example, on the composition of the successive gatherings. Inevitably, uncertainties about individual names have crept in. As an instance of error, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop ofAustralia, Stylianos, is twice listed as from New Zealand (pp. 278 and 296). One feature that is as valuable as the information itself are the author's brief evaluations at the end of each chapter. These are as useful as the factual records and are worthy of separate English translation. As is evident, the synodal sessions after 1995 now require that a further volume be published soon. Perhaps this could be augmented in various ways, especially with a full analysis of the Synod of Bishops as a developing phenomenon in church life, the potential for its becoming a deliberative body, its integrity as an elected assembly in contrast to the college of cardinals as nonelected and curial (Roman) in character, and the like. Once again, the Spanish Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos and, in particular, Manuel Alcalá have left us greatly in debt, and this work is strongly deserving of continuation. Frederick R. McManus The Catholic University ofAmerica Man of the Century: The Life and Times of Pope John Paul II. By Jonathan Kwitny. (NewYork: Henry Holt and Company. 1997. Pp. xii, 754. $30.00.) Jonathan Kwitny, for many years a feature writer for the Wall StreetJournal, has with Man ofthe Century:The Life and Times ofPopeJohn Paul II, offered the reading public yet another long and deeply felt biography of the present Holy Father. This is not a finished work of historical scholarship. Nor was it intended to be such. It is a biography; and as Allan Nevins reminds us in The Gateway to History (Garden City:Anchor, 1962), biography can be an important aid to history, especially when it "humanizes the past and enriches personal experience of the present in a way that history can seldom do" (p. 349). There is,however, a danger. Unless biographers are ever alert,they can fall into the trap which Carl G. Gustavson has termed the "Great Man theory," whereby major developments of history are all too easily attributed to individuals who are presented as exerting "an almost superhuman control over the fate of their generation" (cf. A Preface to History [NewYork: McGraw-Hill, 1955] , p. 123). 724book reviews In the judgment of this reviewer,Jonathan Kwitny has not escaped the Gustavson trap. He is striving to refute the contention of Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi that Communism crumbled in Europe because of a secret collaboration between Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan (cf. His Holiness [New York: Doubleday 1996]) and in the process concludes that virtually all of the credit for the crumbling belongs to the Holy Father. Thus, the result is not so much a clear-headed biography as a thesis straining to uncover proofs and often settling for a good deal less. All the same, the book is well worth the time of a reader who wishes to learn more about the extraordinary successor of Saint Peter who has been shepherding the Catholic Church over the past twenty years. It presents the major events in his life gracefully and with immense respect, and it provides a good deal ofinsight especially into the years before he was elected to the papacy. Finally, it introduces the reader to many persons and groups in Poland who are not well known outside that nation and certainly appear to have exerted considerable influence on the character and outlook of Pope John Paul II. Still, one cannot help but feel that an editor well acquainted with things Catholic ought to have been invited to go through the text in order to remove some of the more unfortunate inexactitudes. To imagine that the Belgian College in Rome can best be described...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 723-725
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.