Heirs of the Fisherman

Heirs of the Fisherman : Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession

3.67 (28 ratings by Goodreads)
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The election of a new pope always captures the world's attention, as all eyes turn to the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, where the color of the smoke is our only clue to the secret deliberations inside. In this fascinating volume, former Vatican insider John-Peter Pham takes us where outsiders have never gone before, providing vital background to the selection of the heir of the fisherman. Here is a highly accurate portrait of the modern Vatican-indeed, the only account to reveal the striking changes to papal succession procedures made 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 where the first conclave had an emperor's veto and the last was won by the first non-Italian in four centuries because the Italians were bitterly divided. In a most timely analysis, Pham also provides a valuable one-by-one assessment of the present-day cardinals and possible candidates (papabili, or pope-ables) to succeed John Paul II. He explores the legacy of this highly influential pope-looking beyond his papacy to discuss the highly-charged issues that his successor will have to confront, including financial and sexual scandals, the roles of priests and women, and the very future of the church itself. And throughout the book, he provides a gold mine of information that make this book an indispensable reference, including appendices that contain biographical notes on many of the key personalities of Catholicism past and present as well as a useful glossary of Catholic history and theology. Here then is an illuminating history and must-have guide to a vitally important world event, one that is moving ever closer and will be watched with intense interest by more than a billion people around the globe.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 164 x 236 x 36mm | 721.22g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195178343
  • 9780195178340
  • 1,985,731

Review quote

"While it looks to the future, Heirs of the Fisherman offers a grand historical sweep of significant elections past. Pham explains how conclaves developed and the forces that shaped their present, and still evolving, form. He writes with clarity and verve.... Makes history come alive in a way that illumines the present.... For those interested in understanding the conclave, Pham's book will be invaluable."--Ann Rodgers, America"Both interesting and pleasurable to read."--thepopeblog.com"A lucid and useful book.... Pham's long and detailed account of the historical intricacies of one pope succeeding another, going back two millennia, makes clear what a profoundly human institution the papacy is."--James Carroll, Washington Post Book World"A timely reference for those handicapping the race for the next pope--and contemplating the future of Catholicism.... Pham's study may well be the last word--for now--on the arcane and controversial ways popes have been selecteshow more

About John-Peter Pham

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 recently joined the faculty of the Center for Liberal and Applied Social Sciences at James Madison University.show more

Rating details

28 ratings
3.67 out of 5 stars
5 14% (4)
4 54% (15)
3 18% (5)
2 14% (4)
1 0% (0)
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