Roman Catholicism stands at a crossroads, a classic ''best of times, worst of times'' moment. On the one hand, the Catholic Church remains by far the largest branch of the worldwide Christian family, and is growing at a remarkable rate. Yet the Church has also been rocked by a series of scandals related to the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, and, even more devastating, the cover-up by the Church hierarchy. The decade-long crisis has taken a massive financial toll, but the blow to both the internal morale and the external moral standing of the Church has been even steeper. Today, the Church has enormous residual strength and exciting future prospects, but also faces steep internal and external challenges.
The question of ''whither Catholicism'' is of vital public relevance, for believers and non-believers alike. In The Catholic Church: What Everyone Needs to Know, John L. Allen, Jr., one of the world's leading authorities on the Vatican, offers an authoritative and accessible guide to the past, present, and future of the Church. This updated edition includes a new chapter on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the election of Pope Francis, and his extraordinary tenure thus far.
John L. Allen Jr. is an Associate Editor at the Boston Globe and the Senior Vatican Analyst for CNN, and was previously Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. He is also the author of seven books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs, including The Future Church: How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church and All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks. His most recent book is The Global War on Christians.
Reviews of the previous edition:
"An excellent handbook for those who want (or need) to know more about the Catholic Church and for those who think they already know it all." -- Publishers Weekly
"John Allen is the English-speaking world's most informed, most insightful and most balanced commentator on the Roman Catholic Church today."--America
''Paints a fair-minded picture of the Roman Catholic strain of the faith, its beliefs, its worship and its structures. [Allen] gets behind the image of stern Catholic uniformity and begins to show what a remarkably diverse body this really is.'' --Times Literary Supplement
"Allen's engaging writing keeps readers' attention and interest... Highly recommended." --CHOICE
"The best Anglophone Vatican reporter ever."--George Weigel, author of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
"The journalist other reporters-and not a few cardinals-look to for the inside story on how all the pope's men direct the world's largest church."--Kenneth Woodward, Newsweek
"The most authoritative writer on Vatican affairs in the English language."--The Tablet