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Power and the Papacy: The People and Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility [Hardcover]

By Robert McClory (Author)
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Item description for Power and the Papacy: The People and Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility by Robert McClory...

This popular work traces the development of infallibility, how it is understood today, problems and questions it has engendered, and what may be its future.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Power and the Papacy: The People and Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility by Robert McClory has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Booklist - 10/01/1997 page 288
  • Publishers Weekly - 09/29/1997 page 84

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Liguori Publications
Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.35" Width: 6.29" Height: 1.01"
Weight:   1.14 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2000
Publisher   Liguori Publications
Edition  New  
ISBN  0764801414  
ISBN13  9780764801419  

Availability  0 units.

More About Robert McClory

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Robert McClory is an author, journalist, professor, and former Roman Catholic priest. He is the author of six books and a professor emeritus at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Robert McClory currently resides in the state of Illinois. Robert McClory was born in 1932.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Church History
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecclesiology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about Power and the Papacy: The People and Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility?

Breezy, readable overview  Jan 16, 2008
Robert McClory has written another enjoyable history aimed at the non-scholarly reader. Though the subtitle of "Power and the Papacy" is "The People and the Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility," that's only part of the book. McClory comes from the liberal Catholic angle, and his motivation for writing the book appears to be "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis," John Paul II's decree that the church cannot ordain women, which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith later claimed was "infallibly taught by the ordinary universal magisterium." McClory decided to give a general history of the doctrine of infallibility, then discusses the current situation.

McClory first gives a general overview of the growth of the role of the papacy in the church. Basically, the author notes that the church of Rome was held in esteem in the early centuries, then discusses how after Constantine's conversion, the church model became more hierarchical, and the Bishop of Rome gradually assumed a larger role. He doesn't cover the patristic period very thoroughly, and for readers who are interested in such an examination, I would suggest Klaus Schatz's Papal Primacy. Of course, the papacy got stronger during the medieval period. During the western schism, when there were 2 competing popes, it appeared that conciliarism, the doctrine that a council was above the pope, was gaining ground. It ultimately failed to do so, however. With the rise of state-church alliances in Austria, France, and other European countries in the 16th century, popes had limited power to interfere with the church affairs of those countries, since they had to consult the secular monarchs. Ultimately, once the state-church system collapsed in the mid-19th century, and the world was in the grip of industrial revolution and the rise of anti-clerical governments, many Catholics believed that a strong papacy, with the ability to speak infallibly on matters of faith, would protect them from the state. It would also offer them certainty in an increasingly uncertain world. Relying on the Frenchman Joseph's de Maistre's book "The Pope," the ultra-Montane movement was formed. Ultra-montane literally means "beyond the mountains"- meaning Italy, or Rome specifically.

McClory then discusses the First Vatican Council in 1870 under Pius IX, and the debates that took place during it. The purpose of the council was to discuss the dogma of papal infallibility- that when the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, his statements are irreformable and not subject to the consent of the church. Despite the determined opposition of minority bishops such as Dupanloup, Strossmayer, and Dollinger, Papal Infallibility was declared a dogma. McClory notes that all the minority bishops, under pressure from the Vatican, submitted and accepted the dogma, except Dollinger, who was excommunicated. Academics who continued to speak loudly against the dogma, particularly in Germany, were excommunicated, forming the Old Catholic movement.

Finally, the author turns his attention to the situation in the contemporary church. He discusses historians and theologians who either deny infallibility or minimize it. He notes that even John Paul II was reluctant to use "ex-cathedra" pronouncements. McClory discusses the debate on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and how far the "Ordinary Universal Magesterium" extends in regards to teaching authority. Essentially, McClory notes that the church has made mistakes in the past, and believes the issue of the ordination of women is an example of such a mistake. He expresses the hope for reform of the church through increased lay participation.

Like "Turing Point," "Power and the Papacy" is a fast, easy read which readers of social history and church history will likely enjoy. Ultimately, I think that some change along the lines that McClory is calling for is inevitable, though how long remains to be seen.

Raises good questions  Feb 9, 2003
McClory raises crucial questions regarding the role of the papacy in both the Catholic Communion and christendom at large. While he is sympathetic to the Catholic Church's authority structure, his reading of the history of the dogma of Papal Infallibility has lead him to understand that the doctrine has been influenced greatly by less than Christian motivations and less than Scriptural perspectives.

While many Catholics would reject his conclusions as based upon an inability to see the Holy Spirit's hand in history, or that he misreads the historical record (because we all know that God uses even wrong motivations to accomplish His will), I still think that they could find much value in this book since it will help them to understand the perspective of critics of the Church's dogmatic formation on the principle of authority.

As an Eastern Orthodox, I found it useful for the same reasons, disagreeing with the author at various times, but overall appreciative of his analysis. It is not a fluffy book that skims the surface and it is very well-written.

An engaging look at the power plays in the Catholic Church  Jan 24, 2001
Going to Catholic schools for 17 years (kindergarten through grad school) we were always taught that the Pope could be infallible. I didn't understand it then, and as an adult couldn't get my mind around the concept until I read Professor McClory's book. It's a fascinating account of last minute politics, desperate pleas, and the passions of those on both sides of the issue when it was to be decided. It's not really normal for me to sit down with a book on the history of infallability in the Catholic Church and read more than a few pages at the bookstore. This one I bought, took home, and read twice. That should say something about the way Mr. McClory writes, and how what should be dry subject matter is suddenly as relevant as the changes the next Pope will bring. An excellent book.
interesting with a liberal slant  Jun 30, 1999
An interesting and well-researched book that explains the struggle over the Catholic Church's papal infallibility controversy. It is a very readable account but seems to me biased in favour of a more 'collegial' view of infallibility.

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