Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal   Death & Succession   -     By: John-Peter Pham
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Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death & Succession

Oxford University Press / 2005 / Paperback

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Product Description

This book is a highly accurate portrait of the modern Vatican--indeed, the only account to reveal the striking changes to papal succession procedures make by Pope John Paul II. Blending political and ecclesiastical history, Pham goes beyond a mere description of the complex rituals--including a rare insight into the dramatic shifts inside the College of Cardinals, whose 130 members now hail from 57 nations around the globe. Pham takes us into the secret conclave (from the Latin cum clave, "with key"), where the electors are kept under lock and key, incommunicado, until they have selected a new pope. Here we find a fascinating chronicle of political intrigue set in the context of ritual--including a chapter devoted to the intrigues of the 20th century, when the first conclave had an emperor's veto and the last was won bye the first non-Italian in four centuries because the Italians were bitterly divided.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2005
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.12 (inches)
ISBN: 0195178343
ISBN-13: 9780195178340
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

Publisher's Description

The death of Pope John Paul II and consequent election of Pope Benedict XVI has shed light on a political process that the world has not been privy to for almost twenty-six years. People from around the world gathered in St. Peter's Square, wondering who the next Vatican leader would be and how the election process really worked, while everyone from international news correspondents to local priests added their own opinions to the debate.
In Heirs of the Fisherman, former Vatican insider John-Peter Pham presents a candid portrait of the modern Vatican, the only account to reveal the striking changes to papal succession procedures made by John Paul II. Blending political and ecclesiastical history, Pham goes beyond a mere description of the complex rituals to offer rare insight into the dramatic shifts inside the College of Cardinals, whose 100 members now hail from 50 nations around the globe. He takes us into the secret conclave, where the electors were kept under lock and key, until they had selected a new pope. He also includes a chapter devoted to the intrigues of the 20th century where the first conclave had an emperor's veto and the last was won by the first non-Italian in four centuries becauase the Italians were bitterly divided.
With a new Preface, Afterword, and appendices that include an English translation of the last will and testament of Pope John Paul II, Heirs of the Fisherman is an illuminating history and must-have guide to this vitally important world event. It will continue to be an indispensable reference to observers of future Catholic Church politics.

Author Bio


John-Peter Pham is a frequent writer and commentator on religious and public affairs. An alumnus of the post-graduate Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, he served as a Vatican diplomat as well as an aide to both the Vicar General of His Holiness for the Vatican and the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Dr. Pham is presently the Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University.

Publisher's Weekly

When the next conclave meets to choose a successor to Pope John Paul II, this book could easily be required reading for papal observers and journalists reporting on the election. Pham, a writer and former Vatican diplomat and aide, presents an insider's view of the coming election buttressed by a thorough history and thoughtful analysis of the picking of popes. He explains the origins of the conclave (taken from the Latin, cum clave, meaning "with key") and how the present pope's alterations of the system that chose him will affect the first papal election of the 21st century. Pham also proposes and vets a short list of possible candidates, known as papabili. Although he is not the first to preview the next papal election in this fashion (John Allen's 2002 book, Conclave, provided a concise and readable overview), Pham's work is notable for its detail. He devotes extensive space to notes and appendices that include a complete list of popes beginning with St. Peter; John Paul's 1996 document on papal elections; a list of cardinals currently eligible to vote; biographical annotations on figures mentioned in the text; and a glossary of church terms. Pham's exhaustive approach and informed view will appeal to anyone interested in more than a cursory treatment of this fascinating subject. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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