I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher -
This fascinating and sensational story of the last two centuries of the papacy is a vital call for the reevaluation and reimagination of papal power by one of today's preeminent theologians
In 1799, the papacy was at rock bottom: The Papal States had been swept away and Rome seized by the revolutionary French armies. The cardinals were scattered across Europe, and Catholics feared they would be unable to elect the next pope. Even if Catholicism survived, it seemed the papacy was finished. And yet, just over two hundred years later, the pope still stands "at the very center of the central conversations of our time" (Time). His influence reaches across the world--from Cuban politics to gender equality to the refugee crisis--and the strength of his "soft power" is incomparable.
In this gripping narrative of religious and political history, Paul Collins tells the improbable success story of the last 220 years of the papacy, from the unexalted death of Pope Pius VI in 1799 to the celebrity of Pope Francis today. As a historian, journalist, and theologian, Collins also poses pressing, critical questions to the Catholic Church: Does today's church governance stray from the teachings of the gospel Is the papacy's internal power so great that it might be considered heretical If so, what can be done to ensure a credible--and Christ-like--path forward
Absolute Power is required reading for anyone interested in the history of today's complex power structures--as well as anyone invested in religious, political, and social progress in the West.
I am going to admit I am not Catholic and my judgment is quite clouded towards the religion due to pedophile sex scandals, watching "The Borgias" on tv (he was a pope!!!) and having read the novels of Dan Brown who definitely does NOT like Catholicism. (I would, as a librarian, kill to see their archives though!) . When you consider that Henry VIII had England leave the Catholic church so he could divorce his wife (thus founding the Anglican/Church of England faith) and that 500 years later the UK is now considered a Catholic country by having more Catholics than any other Christian faith (and closely followed by Muslims) you realize that the Pope has major power in countries we would never think of as "Catholic"!
This book is excellently written and was impeccably researched which make me a big fan of this book - the fact that there are more Muslims in the world is interesting as they do not have a "leader of the faith" like the 1.2 billion Catholics do. This is a very interesting read for any history or religion fan who will enjoy the excellent facts and figures and insight into this issue presented in this book. Five stars.