Friday, October 25, 2013

Good Pope, Bad Pope (Servant Books)

In the history of the Catholic Church, there have been 266 popes serving as leader to the world's Catholics for nearly 2000 years. Throughout that illustrious history, there have been some truly great popes, some mediocre popes, and some downright awful popes. The one thing that remains constant is their position as head of the Catholic Church; even through very trying times, the Church that Christ established has not collapsed under a single pope.

In the book, Good Pope, Bad Pope Mike Aquilina highlights a selection of popes through the history of the Church - starting with St. Peter and ending with soon-to-be St. John Paul II. Ten other popes are also examined, including one of my favorites, St. Clement, and some lesser known ones like Liberius and Vigilus. As the title suggests, some of the popes are good, and some are bad. However, Mr. Aquilina selected these twelve to show how the papacy developed through the centuries.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Pope Pius XII. Pope Pius XII reigned during the time of Nazi Germany. His reign was very polarizing, and there is no real middle ground on people's view of him. They have either staunchly defended him or vilified him, saying he didn't do enough for Jewish people during his reign. Mr. Aquilina did a masterful job presenting all the facts regarding what Pope Pius XII did to help Jewish people. The most impressive action Pope Pius XII took was opening up monasteries, convents, and even Castel Gandolfo to Jewish people as a place to hide. Detractors of Pope Pius XII would do well to realize that if it wasn't for him, thousands more Jewish people would have died.

It is no surprise to me, or to anyone who has read Mr. Aquilina, that he delivers another solid work with Good Pope, Bad Pope. There were plenty of good and bad popes he could have chosen to highlight in this book, but his selections were thoughtful and made sense. Before you get scandalized that he would willingly air the Church's dirty laundry, you should realize that the main purpose of this book is to remind us that the Church is not a man-made institution, but one established by Jesus Christ. This means that, despite the bad popes, the Church still has not erred in doctrinal teaching. If you want to read a fascinating book about twelve remarkable men, pick up this 5-star book!

Note: The back of the book says that an Afterword is included, which discusses Pope Benedict XVI's retirement and Pope Francis' election. There was a glitch in printing somewhere, and it only appeared in the digital edition, not the print edition. If you own the print edition and would like to read the Afterword, you can click here.

I received this book for free from Franciscan Media in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here, and hit Yes!