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BOLD PROPOSALS FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

A Church in Search of Itself:
Benedict XVI and the Battle for the Future

By Robert Blair Kaiser
Knopf, 2006. 250pp. $26.95

MaryEllen O’Brien

A Church in Search of Itself by Robert Blair Kaiser

Robert Blair Kaiser’s new book A Church in Search of Itself is both a compelling depiction of the making of a pope and a rallying cry for a revolution of sorts among the faithful. Kaiser is a heavy hitter among Vatican watchers and prognosticators –it has been his beat since he was Time magazine’s man in Rome covering the Second Vatican Council. More recently he has been Newsweek’s Rome correspondent. He’s also one of the rare religion correspondents with actual theological training –he was a Jesuit for ten years, leaving just shy of ordination to pursue a career in journalism. He’s got the experience, connections, expertise and sharp vision to present an invaluable guide to what really went on, inasmuch as that can be known to anyone outside a locked conclave when John Paul II’s successor was being chosen in April 2005. But this is no unbiased piece of reportage –Kaiser is a man with a mission and that mission was solidified when the white smoke went up signaling a new pope had been chosen: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In response to this event the writing of a book about the making of a pope became the writing of a book about what the "People of God" can and should do to "take back the Church" from an authoritarian monarch who would stymie the voices calling for change in the Church.

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