Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Faith and Leadership: The Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Faith and Leadership: The Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church

Article excerpt

Faith and Leadership: The Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. By Michael P. Riccards. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. Pp. xxii, 614. $110.00. ISBN 978-0-7391-7132-5.)

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 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 (13091449), 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. …

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