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Posted January 7, 2013

Book: The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church
Author: Greg Tobin
HarperOne, New York. 2012. Pp. 267

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

On November 23, 1958, Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the son of peasant Italian farmers, became Pope John XXIII. Widely expected to be a transitional pope, John surprised the Church hierarchy and the world by convoking an ambitious ecumenical council -- the first such council in more than a century -- to ring the Catholic Church into the modern era. "I want to throw open the windows of the Church", he said, "so that we can see out and the people can see in."

Broken into four sessions and held over four years, the Second Vatican Council ("a new Pentecost," according to John) breathed new life into the Church and its pastoral mission, knocking down the centuries-old wall between the Church hierarchy and the laity and repositioning the Church as a universal instrument of hope, justice, and compassion for people of all faiths.

Fifty years after he convened the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII remains one of the most beloved and remarkable figures in the history of the Catholic Church. Affectionately known as Il Buono Papa, or the Good Pope, John is remembered today by Catholics and non-Catholics alike as an enduring symbol of peace, ecumenicalism and Christian spirituality.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Pope John XXIII was a gentle revolutionary. Far from being the caretaker that the Church expected, John created an atmosphere in which, said Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray, "a lot of things came unstuck -- old patterns of thought, behavior, feeling. They were not challenged or refuted, but just sort of dropped."

The monolithic Church of the Middle Ages would not -- perhaps could not -- resist historic movement, encouraged by this pope, toward dynamism and diversity. However, painfully, Mother Church would change. And she would then face the inevitable internal reaction and retrenchment that follows any cultural or spiritual revolution.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Priest and Protection

1. Pastor et Nauta, Shepherd and Navigator

2. Early Priesthood and Rome

3. Family, youth, and seminary

4. The Great War and after

5. Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey

6. France and Venice

Part II: The Soul of a Pope

7. Election and first days

8. The first year

9. A unique pontificate

10. World in crisis

11. Aggiornamento

Part III: Father of the Council

12. A new Pentecost

13. Peace on earth

14. Finis

15. The good pope and his great council