Book Reviews2101 Questions & Answers on Popes and the Papacy

Book written by Christopher M. Bellitto. 


For some people the pope and the papacy are a source of great curiosity.  Some have positive ideas or feelings towards the pope and the papacy while others have very negative ideas and feelings toward them.  Still, for many, the guy who wears white and lives in the Vatican is a source of great curiosity, as are those who work with him.


Christopher Bellitto’s book is a new addition to Paulist Press’ 101 Questions & Answers series.  Bellitto is an assistant professor of history at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.  He has written books about Catholic Church history and has been interviewed on various television networks reagarding the Catholic Church.  As a professor and Church history expert, he uses the questions that he has been asked over the years about the pope and the papacy as the main source for his 101 questions.  With these questions he provides factual and “entertaining’ answers.  He covers the history of the papacy from St. Peter down to today. 


Bellitto divides the book into three parts with a prologue in the beginning.  The prologue examines if St. Peter was really the first pope and shows where Catholics draw their belief in from the Bible.  He discusses who created the papacy and answers common objections from Protestants that Jesus did not intend for the successors of St. Peter to be the leader of the Church. 


Part one is the history part of the book.  He covers the early church period (ca. 50-800), the medieval and reformation church period (ca. 800-1600), and the early modern and modern church period (ca. 1600-present).  This part will be of interest to those interested in Church history. 


Part two is about the power and symbols, cardinals and conclaves.  Bellitto covers papal authority which examines the good and the bad or mistakes made by various popes.  He also mentions that Pope John Paul II during the Holy Year 2000 apologized for the mistakes and bad things that the Church and its leaders had done in the past. 


Part three is about all kinds of things connected with the papacy either factually or fictionally.  One of these is the legend of Pope Joan.  Who was the oldest or youngest pope?  Has a son ever succeeded a father as pope?  Which popes have been given the title “the great”?  How many popes are saints? 


The book also contains a list of the popes and the anti-popes, endnotes, and a short bibliography


This book is highly recommended to those interested in the history of the popes and the papacy, Church history, or who are curious about things papal.

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Dr. Christopher M. Bellitto is the author of The Church, the Councils, and Reform (June 2008), Church History 101 (2008), Ten Ways the Church has Changed (2006), General Councils (2002), Renewing Christianity (2001), Nicholas De Clamanges (2001), and co-authored Reforming the Church before Modernity (2005), Introducing Nicholas of Cusa (2004), and Nicholas of Cusa and his Age (2002).  He has written articles for various magazines and journals and appears on CNN, MSNBC, The News Hour, and various newspapers like The New York Times, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and others.

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