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The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the Decision That Shook the World

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From the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of The Theory of Everything and Darkest Hour comes the fascinating and revealing tale of an unprecedented transfer of power, and of two very different men - who both happen to live in the Vatican. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS AND JONATHAN PRYCE. In February 2013, the arch-conservative Pope Benedict From the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of The Theory of Everything and Darkest Hour comes the fascinating and revealing tale of an unprecedented transfer of power, and of two very different men - who both happen to live in the Vatican. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS AND JONATHAN PRYCE. In February 2013, the arch-conservative Pope Benedict XVI made a startling announcement: he would resign, making him the first pope to willingly vacate his office in over 700 years. Reeling from the news, the College of Cardinals rushed to Rome to congregate in the Sistine Chapel to pick his successor. Their unlikely choice? Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,200 years, a one time tango club bouncer, a passionate soccer fan, a man with the common touch. Why did Benedict walk away at the height of power, knowing his successor might be someone whose views might undo his legacy? How did Francis - who used to ride the bus to work back in his native Buenos Aires - adjust to life as leader to a billion followers? If, as the Church teaches, the pope is infallible, how can two living popes who disagree on almost everything both be right? Having immersed himself in these men's lives to write the screenplay for the upcoming motion picture The Pope, Anthony McCarten masterfully weaves their stories into one gripping narrative. From Benedict and Francis's formative experiences in war-torn Germany and Argentina to the sexual abuse scandal that continues to rock the Church to its foundations to the intrigue and the occasional comedy of life in the Vatican, The Pope glitters with the darker and the lighter details of one of the world's most opaque but significant institutions.


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From the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of The Theory of Everything and Darkest Hour comes the fascinating and revealing tale of an unprecedented transfer of power, and of two very different men - who both happen to live in the Vatican. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS AND JONATHAN PRYCE. In February 2013, the arch-conservative Pope Benedict From the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of The Theory of Everything and Darkest Hour comes the fascinating and revealing tale of an unprecedented transfer of power, and of two very different men - who both happen to live in the Vatican. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS AND JONATHAN PRYCE. In February 2013, the arch-conservative Pope Benedict XVI made a startling announcement: he would resign, making him the first pope to willingly vacate his office in over 700 years. Reeling from the news, the College of Cardinals rushed to Rome to congregate in the Sistine Chapel to pick his successor. Their unlikely choice? Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,200 years, a one time tango club bouncer, a passionate soccer fan, a man with the common touch. Why did Benedict walk away at the height of power, knowing his successor might be someone whose views might undo his legacy? How did Francis - who used to ride the bus to work back in his native Buenos Aires - adjust to life as leader to a billion followers? If, as the Church teaches, the pope is infallible, how can two living popes who disagree on almost everything both be right? Having immersed himself in these men's lives to write the screenplay for the upcoming motion picture The Pope, Anthony McCarten masterfully weaves their stories into one gripping narrative. From Benedict and Francis's formative experiences in war-torn Germany and Argentina to the sexual abuse scandal that continues to rock the Church to its foundations to the intrigue and the occasional comedy of life in the Vatican, The Pope glitters with the darker and the lighter details of one of the world's most opaque but significant institutions.

30 review for The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the Decision That Shook the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    Anthony McCarten was brought to fame by his nonfiction book Darkest Hour which got Gary Oldman an Oscar after he transformed himself into a Victorian Englishman, and by his screenplay, The Theory of Everything, which nearly offered the same accolade to Eddie Redmayne. McCarten is clearly a kingmaker and in this book, The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the decision that shook the world, he tackles one of the world’s grandest institutions: the Catholic Church. At heart, this book is a comparative s Anthony McCarten was brought to fame by his nonfiction book Darkest Hour which got Gary Oldman an Oscar after he transformed himself into a Victorian Englishman, and by his screenplay, The Theory of Everything, which nearly offered the same accolade to Eddie Redmayne. McCarten is clearly a kingmaker and in this book, The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the decision that shook the world, he tackles one of the world’s grandest institutions: the Catholic Church. At heart, this book is a comparative study between the two Popes, Francis and Benedict, two very different men with somewhat similar backgrounds. This background includes a close proximity with dictatorship/authoritarian regimes/fascism and violence. For Joseph Ratzinger it meant a childhood and youth spent in Nazi Germany, forceful enlisting in the Wehrmacht and in the Hitler Youth as well as a permanent fear of communism. For Jorge Bergoglio it meant a whole life spent in a politically unstable country where government changed at the whims of military juntas with the occasional human rights infringement to boot. It is undeniable that Ratzinger was much more protected, first by his parents and then by the fact that he was lucky enough to live on the “right side” of the wall. After the war ended he was afforded the peace and freedom of West Germany which allowed him the luxury of complacency and a life spent in the proverbial Ivory Tower – a place he should never have left. Bergoglio’s case is very different, and that is why his mistakes have much more dire consequences. He spent his adulthood dealing directly with violence, poverty, and the disfranchising of the poor. One of his closest friends was tortured and killed during the Argentinian Dirty War. McCarten makes clear that Bergoglio was partly to blame for the torture and imprisonment of two Jesuit priests; a fact that he's tried to deny – and actively conceal – until this day. It is fascinating that despite the gravity of Bergoglio’s errors the reader still finds him more sympathetic than Ratzinger. We get the feeling, and clearly so did McCarten, that Bergoglio is aware of his sins, and tries to atone for them. Ratzinger sounds as if he believes himself sinless, as if he lives on a plane of existence higher than the rest of humanity. His blunders are owed not to the force of circumstances, nor to situations of pressure or difficult decisions. They are of his making, they are the product of his inability to lead, to empathize with others and especially, which is the most serious offense for a priest, an utterly lack of self-awareness and examination of the self. The Ratzinger that emerges from McCarten’s account is a disoriented old man who doesn’t understand the world and, what is worse, doesn’t understand himself. To his credit McCarten does try to be impartial, but his subjects don’t really help. We sympathize more with Francis simply because Francis is much more sympathetic. My issue with the book is not the unbalance between the two personalities; they are what they are. The problem is that the structure of the book is very faulty and nonlinear. He begins by telling us about Bergoglio, then jumps to Ratzinger, and then go backs to Bergoglio for no apparent reason. Furthermore, it doesn’t really tell us anything new. It’s not really a work of investigation but rather an account of information that can easily be found on the internet or in other books. Overall, a good introduction to the theme but by no means a comprehensive one. I am looking forward for the "Major motion picture" they're making out of this, though.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Excellent history on these two men, Benedict and Francis. The backgrounds of both of these men surprised me. The author did an excellent job of comparing and contrasting them. As well, he explains some of the decisions made by both. A clearly written history that leads us to where we are in the church today. Glad I read this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    BookTrib.com

    It’s a fascinating and revealing tale of an unprecedented transfer of power, and of two very different men – who happen to live in the Vatican. In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope had done in hundreds of years: He resigned, leaving the world with two living popes for the first time since 1415. The Church’s choice of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, who would become Pope Francis, left even more unanswered questions. Pope Benedict had been a traditionalist, and Pope Francis wa It’s a fascinating and revealing tale of an unprecedented transfer of power, and of two very different men – who happen to live in the Vatican. In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope had done in hundreds of years: He resigned, leaving the world with two living popes for the first time since 1415. The Church’s choice of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, who would become Pope Francis, left even more unanswered questions. Pope Benedict had been a traditionalist, and Pope Francis was more progressive. Why did Benedict walk away at the height of his power, knowing his successor might be someone who might damage his legacy? How did Francis – who used to ride the bus to work back in his native Buenos Aires – adjust to life as a leader to a billion followers? If, as the Church teaches, the pope is infallible, how can two living popes who disagree on almost everything both be right? -- Read the rest of the review here - https://booktrib.com/2019/01/a-tale-o...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Koen

    Surprisingly very interesting. I didn't particularly want to know more about Francis of Benedict but the book caught my eye and it ignited my interest after reading a couple of pages. I never really realized the uniqueness of the fact there are actually two popes at this moment and the delicate situation the abdication of Benedict posed to the Catholic Church. This is the story of that decision that shook the world. Well the Catholic world mostly but that's still quite a big chunk of the world i g Surprisingly very interesting. I didn't particularly want to know more about Francis of Benedict but the book caught my eye and it ignited my interest after reading a couple of pages. I never really realized the uniqueness of the fact there are actually two popes at this moment and the delicate situation the abdication of Benedict posed to the Catholic Church. This is the story of that decision that shook the world. Well the Catholic world mostly but that's still quite a big chunk of the world i guess. The author provides us with gripping narratives of the 2005 and 2013 conclaves and substantial biographies of Ratzinger and Bergoglio. I assume, if you follow the Vatican closely, much of what's in the book might not be news but if you're not and you are interested this book is an excellent introduction to the last two popes and the papal situation. Of course there's quite some 'dirt', both popes have questionable pasts. The author doesn't shy away from that and leaves it to the reader form his or her own opinion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Apparently lapsed Catholics are the 4th largest “religious” group in the US, behind Protestant, Catholic and “nothing in particular”. This book really encapsulates all the reasons why, while also offering insight into both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis and their core tenants of belief. It’s interesting reading about Pope Francis likely actions during Argentina’s Dirty War; Pope Benedict’s failure to drive action against pedophile priests both as Pope, and previously as head of the CDF. In their Apparently lapsed Catholics are the 4th largest “religious” group in the US, behind Protestant, Catholic and “nothing in particular”. This book really encapsulates all the reasons why, while also offering insight into both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis and their core tenants of belief. It’s interesting reading about Pope Francis likely actions during Argentina’s Dirty War; Pope Benedict’s failure to drive action against pedophile priests both as Pope, and previously as head of the CDF. In their way, they both very much continued the Catholic Church’s complicity/comfortability with despots and autocrats (see also, Pius XII for an additional example) but both appear to have regrets and to have attempted real change. I think the author’s final conclusions on Benedict’s decision to retire are very interesting, I’m not sure I agree, but a very interesting thought. This was very good, very thought provoking read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Max Limpag

    Good read. Provides theological context and back story to Benedict and Francis. Can't wait for the movie. From the epilogue: Why were these resignation letters sent to Ratzinger left unsigned by him? It seems quite possible that Benedict, after deciding he would step down, chose to make Bergoglio’s candidacy at least possible, leaving the actual choice of the next pope to the cardinals and, of course, to God.... Francesco, rebuild my church.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sukyong Suh

    Confirmed for this lapsed Catholic that the Catholic Church is not something I can ethically be a part of. A good read but it made me rather sad.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Chin

    Gave me a better understanding of how the papalcy works and the biography of these men

  9. 4 out of 5

    Francine

    Interesting read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike Snyder

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily Benda

  12. 5 out of 5

    Harrison

  13. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kalyan Koneru

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marce

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elle Esse

  18. 5 out of 5

    Al

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Poteet

  21. 4 out of 5

    Flatiron Books

  22. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Ran

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe Maguire

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Benevelli

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andra Legge

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  29. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

  30. 5 out of 5

    Connie

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