Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity

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Assaults on the dignity and rights of the human person have been central to the ongoing crisis of the modern era in the last hundred years. This book takes a searching look at the roots of this problem and the various approaches to it by the eight men who led the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, from Pope St. Pius X and his crusade against "Modernism" to Pope St. John Paul II and his appeal for a renewed rapprochement between faith and reason.

Thus it offers a distinctive, illuminating interpretation of recent world events viewed through the lens of an ancient institution, the papacy, a key champion of human rights under attack in modern times.

The fascinating story is told through short profiles of the eight popes combining crucial, often little known, facts about each by an author who is a veteran observer of Church affairs, a former top official of the conference of bishops of the USA, and consultant to the Vatican. It is written clearly and simply, but with carefully documented precision.

A special feature are the substantial excerpts from the writ- ings of the popes that give important insights into their personalities and thinking. It also includes a useful overview of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and its pivotal role in reshaping the Catholic Church.

Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity contains judgments that will be challenged by partisans of both liberal and conservative ideological persuasions. But serious and open-minded readers, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, will find it an informative, timely, and inspiring guide to understanding many central events and issues of our times, while students of Church history will find it indispensable.

Russell Shaw

Russell Shaw is a widely published author and journalist who has written over twenty books, including American Church and Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church. For 18 years, Shaw directed media relations for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. From 1987 to 1997 he oversaw media relations for the Knights of Columbus.

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"Russell Shaw has been a leading voice on the American Catholic scene for decades, and his latest book— a vivid, engaging portrait of eight modern popes and their defense of human dignity— is a powerful reminder of the importance of the papcy and its achievements during a turbulent century."— Most Rev. Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia

"With great insight— Shaw narrates the story of the various crises these popes faced. He shows how they responded to this threat to the dignity of the human person by attempting to recreate a culture in which human beings could thrive and flourish.— Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., former member of the International Theological Commission

"Shaw takes up the central questions of our day: how to understand the postmodern culture and how most forcefully to witness to the Gospel in it. He brings to this important task the seasoned judgment of a senior statesman of the American Church, which he joins to a rigorous research and an abiding faith."— Gerard Bradley, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

"Engaging, clear, and concise, this insightful book wears its learning lightly. Shaw shows the prophetic courage of the modern popes' commitment to the defense and promotion of human dignity in the face of destructiveideologies, wars, andtyrannies."— Christopher Ruddy, School of Theology and Religious Studies, Catholic University of America

"This is the most authoritative account of the role that eight popes played in shaping the modern world in the twentieth century. The stories are both personal and historical, providing an illuminating grasp of major events inside and outside the Catholic Church, and the men who changed the world for the better."— Bill Donohue, President, Catholic League for REligious and Civil Rights; Author, Common Sense Catholicism

"It is moving to observe how incredibly talented and faith-filled each man was, causing one to conclude that the Church of the twentieth century was singularly blessed in having eight extraordinary shpherds."— Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D., Editor, The Catholic Response

"Shaw is profound in his treatment of complex issues, but he writes with admirable insight and clarity. One does not have to be a Catholic to appreciate this profile of a Church responding to an aggressive modernity. This book may be read as a chronicle of a period."— Jude P. Dougherty, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Catholic University of America

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