Al Bità's Reviews > Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes

Saints and Sinners by Eamon Duffy
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Mar 06, 2010

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Read in March, 2010

Published in 1997 this work concludes during the pontificate of John Paul II. In general it is an excellent introduction to the popes, and provides good coverage of both the good and the bad among them. Overall, however, the author tends to take a conciliatory approach to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. While it provides pertinent insights into the politics of the times for each pope, 'bad' actions tend to be framed, usually, within the political shenanigans of their periods, and thus one tends to be forgiving if their actions do not sit well with our modern sensibilities.

Other authors (and their numbers are increasing as more information is dug up or becomes available) are far less forgiving. The reality that for many, many centuries the papacy was a not-so-very-spiritual political power which tended to defend its position of authority with totalitarian efficiency and complete mercilessness against its real or imagined enemies in decidedly un-Christian ways, tends to remove the shine that apologetic Christian historians have added to the history of the papacy.

Duffy's work is somewhere in between; yet by being basically 'honest' to the story, the final effect is one of 'as a rule they did their best'. For an organisation purporting to represent Christ on earth, if you read between the lines, it seems obvious to me that this 'best' is simply not good enough.
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12/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Hear ! Hear!
And the sordid saga continues.
Both saints and sinners and criminals have hitched a ride on this Falling Star (Will it ever be a Dead Star??) Some have used it to do MUCH good which they could have achieved outside its oppressive sponsorship.
But no institution is pure and incorrupt.
Perhaps the Church is a necessary evil for good??
It certainly needs a good purge or enema...starting at the top NOT the bottom!!!
The Boys' Club that rules from Rome, homophobic, sexually sick due to the celibacy myth, mysogonistic,etc etc....why don't catholics rebel!!!!
AAAAAAaaaaaaaaHHhhhhhhhhhhhh GGGrrrr!!!

message 2: by Al (new) - rated it 3 stars

Al Bità Indeed, indeed!

Come the revolution!

I think the real problem is that we all think 'good' and 'evil' as necessarily opposed entities (the old Zoroastrian belief). In reality, it seems to be that they co-exist and are relative... and that's the 'problem'. As the saying goes. 'One man's meat is another man's poison'. 'Evil' might just as easily be used for 'good'; but people seem to want to deny that more often than not, 'good' is used in ways which in reality are very evil indeed!

message 3: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Yes, we seem to just rely on the simplicity of two opposites, two polarities, when often good can come from evil and evil from good.And as you say one result can have many different effects depending on so many variables.Hollywood has kept this illusion alive for years, dumbing down our perception of reality.Life is far more challenging and rich and confusing.
Stop the World, I want to get off!!!!!

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