- Faith and Leadership: The Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church by Michael P. Riccards
This volume marks the third foray of Michael P. Riccards into papal history. Earlier volumes (Vicars of Christ: Popes, Power and Politics in the Modern World [New York, 1998] and The Papacy and the End of Christendom. The Leadership Crisis in the Church from 1500 to 1850 [Provo, UT, 2002]) sought to portray the role of the papacy in the modern era. With this latest work Riccards attempts the daunting [End Page 899] task of expanding that perspective to the entire gamut of papal history. In his introduction, the author explains that this is not a work of theology, nor of church history, but rather a study, “… of the papacy as a management structure resting on a large heterogeneous community of faith. How the popes exercise and have exercised leadership over the complex Roman Catholic Church are central questions of this work” (p. xi). In the introduction the author also sets out some biases—both as a Catholic and as a historian—and some generalities that provide a sense of his approach to the topic. Is he successful at this task? Yes and no.
Given the author’s deeper immersion in the scholarship of the modern papacy, Faith and Leadership sometimes has the appearance of being two different works. Much more coverage is given the later papacy (the last ten of the book’s twenty-six chapters cover the papacy only since 1800), and the scholarship and nuance seem much more in-depth in the later portion of the book. For example, the 140-year sweep of the Avignon papacy, the Great Western Schism, and conciliarism (1309–1449), a time when many historians would argue there was considerable development of and stress on the management style and leadership of the popes, was given barely two pages (75–76, 102). But the four-and-one-half-year reign of Pope John XXIII (1958–63) rated its own thirty-six-page chapter. In the early chapters there also seems to be a reliance on the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia as found on The New Advent Web site, without any attempt to reference the more recent scholarship in the updated editions of that work from 1967 and 2002.
One of the drawbacks of Faith and Leadership is the large number of misspellings as well as stylistic and factual errors found throughout the volume. To cite just a few examples: “Born Lothario Trasimund of Segno in 1160 at Anagi” (p. 72) should read “Born Lothario, son of Trasimund, Count of Segni in 1160 at Anagni.” The northern region of Italy is Lombardy or Lombardia, but not Lombardo (p. 278). Gregory XVI reigned from 1831 to 1846, not 1832 (p. 270). Not every papal document is an encyclical. Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (p. 285) and John XXIII’s Veterum Sapientia (p. 466) were not encyclicals. “The aged dean of the sacred college” was Luigi Cardinal Oreglia di Santo Stefano, not “Luigi Oreglia di Santo Cardinal Stefano” (p. 326). The fourth-century pope, Damasus, is incorrectly referred to as “Damascus” on pages 40, 331, and in the index. Twice (on pages 342 and 477) Pope Benedict XV is listed as the archbishop of Genoa. Genoa was his birthplace, but he served as archbishop of Bologna. The Silence of Benedict X on page 352 should read The Silence of Benedict XV. Cardinal Ildebrando Antoniutti was the prefect of the Congregation for “Religious,” not “Religion” (p. 478). “This was the first time that a pope had appeared at a Church council since the Council of Trent” (p. 491) is inaccurate. No sitting pope attended Trent. An editor or reader well versed in the topic could have helped the usefulness of Faith and Leadership.
Despite those faults, Faith and Leadership is a useful volume for students of the papacy and modern church history, particularly in its later chapters. The generalities that sometimes...