From the great Hans Kung comes a landmark history of the Catholic Church and its place in the world, from its roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ to the present day. To recount the two-thousand-year story of how the church developed from a small band of persecuted Jews who followed Christ into the most enduringly powerful institution in the history of the world is to face controversy at every step. Hans Kung flinches at nothing, from the origins and legitimacy of the Vatican's claims to supremacy--and, much later, infallibility--to the matter of the Holocaust and the fierce debates Kung himself has been involved in as the primary author of Vatican II and one of the Christian world's great reforming voices. The great individuals--Paul, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, the magnificent popes, and the disastrous ones--and the watershed events--the conversion of the Roman emperors, the great schism with the east, the crusades and the challenge of Islam, the great heroes and their suppression, the Inquisition, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the change of modernity and the waning of the church's influence as an earthly power, the role of women, the treatment of the Jews--are all treated with magisterial wisdom and erudition. Always, Hans Kung distinguishes between what is timeless and universal in the Catholic Church's values and what is the product of human agency.
In this extraordinary book, the controversial and profoundly influential Hans Küng chronicles the Roman Catholic Church’s role as a world power throughout history. Along the way, he examines the great schisms—between East and West, and Catholic and Protestant—as well as the evolving role of the papacy, the stories of the great reforming popes, and the expansion of a global church infrastructure. The book concludes with a searching assessment of how the Catholic faith will confront the immense challenges posed in the new millennium by those seeking reform of traditional strictures.
Hans Küng obtained a doctorate in theology from the Sorbonne in 1957. In 1962 he was named a theological consultant for the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII, and he played a major role in the writing of the documents of Vatican II, which radically modernized key areas of Catholic teaching. The author of many books, he lives and teaches in Tübingen, Germany.
“This much-needed book tells the truth about the Catholic past for the sake of the church’s future.” —James Carroll
“Hans Küng has done more to shape contemporary Catholic hope than anyone else, and with The Catholic Church he does it again.” —James Carroll, author of Constantine’s Sword
“One of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Hans Küng . . . is one of the world’s great mavericks. . . . Indeed, he was once called ‘the greatest threat to the Catholic Church since Martin Luther.’” —The Independent (London)
“A well-told, sweeping, and often incisive portrait.” —Kirkus Reviews