Pope John XXIII

  • by Thomas Cahill
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Elected to the papacy at the age of 76, Pope John XXIII was to have a brief but important reign. Although he had a doctorate in theology, his gifts were pastoral, reaching out to the people of the Church. After his doctorate, he spent nine years working for the socially-minded bishop of Bergamo, acquiring a broad understanding of the problems of the working class. This pastoral sympathy for ordinary people was brought out in his papacy. Vatican II, which he convened, brought forth the idea of a church as a community, in which all God's people are a sign of redemption for the human race. Cahill, in his short biography, gives us a sense of the enduring importance of John XXIII's idea.

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Customer Reviews

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Anti-Catholic or Completely Atheistic?

I got this book hoping to take a look at the life of Pope John XXIII, but instead I received a book that either has an anti-Catholic stance or was written from a completely atheistic point of view. Either way, the author here obviously shows the Catholic Church in an absolutely horrible light.

The book begins easily enough with a brief introduction of a few sayings of Pope John XXIII. The author then decides to update the reader on the history of the papal lines to give you some "background" as to the papacy that John XXXIII was entering into. What then proceeds from this is a two and a half hour diatribe on every bad thing every pope did up to the time of Pope John XXIII. The reader is left with a sense that every pope in the Catholic Church was driven by lust, power, or greed. Even the very rare instances where the author attempts to shine a good light on the papal reform, it is downplayed with comments to make the reader feel that his efforts were futile due to the corruption in the entire church.

Additionally, the "colorful" language of the book adds comments to fundamental Catholic doctrine as "off the wall" and "unbiblical". This is especially true when the doctrines of Marry the blessed mother of Jesus are mentioned. I also found it ironic that the book spends about 20 minutes on the protestant reformation and how Protestantism turned some towns into places of "not much fun".

If you are Catholic and are truly interested in church history, I highly suggest you pass this one by.
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- Larry

John XXIII, The Greatest Pope

Thomas Cahill situates John XXIII’s person and papacy within the history of the Roman Catholic Church as well as developments in the Church after John’s death. Cahill begins with a lengthy description of papal history up until John’s time. He then briefly introduces John’s family life and movement toward the throne in Rome. Cahill then treats in detail—complete with Vatican intrigues!—John’s greatest contribution to the Church, the Second Vatican Council. Finally, Cahill compares John’s papacy with that of his more conservative successors.

Cahill’s “dark history” of the papacy might offend some, but it is largely accurate. Indeed, Cahill offers some papal highlights amid all the gloom, most notably the reign of Gregory the Great. Any objective history of the papacy will turn up just as much dirt, maybe even more—papal executioners, concubines, wars, excesses, and so on.

As a contrast to much of this debauchery or well-intended inaction, Cahill offers the wise and compassionate papacy of John XXIII. His anecdotal history of John’s family life and struggles through the priesthood make for especially enjoyable and spiritual listening. Current world affairs make John’s lifelong commitment to peace resonant and urgent. John’s equanimity and focus on Jesus, while making his way through well-meaning, but closed-minded bureaucrats, also offers a model of sanctity and compassion in the midst of disagreement and misunderstanding.

“Conservative” Catholics will probably dislike this book. “Liberal” members will most likely nod along. And the open-minded will probably learn a few things about a remarkable man and a model of sainthood.

Also Recommended on Audible: Hans Kung, -The Catholic Church-
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- Jack

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-24-2004
  • Publisher: Books on Tape