The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church--The Story of John XXIII and Vatican II

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Overview

On November 23, 1958, Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the son of peasant Italian farmers, became Pope John XXIII. Widely expected to be a transitional pope, John surprised the Church hierarchy and the world by convoking an ambitious ecumenical council—the first such council in more than a century—to bring the Catholic Church into the modern era. "I want to throw open the windows of the Church," he said, "so that we can see out and the people can see in." Broken into four sessions and held over four years, the ...

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The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church--The Story of John XXIII and Vatican II

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Overview

On November 23, 1958, Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the son of peasant Italian farmers, became Pope John XXIII. Widely expected to be a transitional pope, John surprised the Church hierarchy and the world by convoking an ambitious ecumenical council—the first such council in more than a century—to bring the Catholic Church into the modern era. "I want to throw open the windows of the Church," he said, "so that we can see out and the people can see in." Broken into four sessions and held over four years, the Second Vatican Council ("a new Pentecost," according to John) breathed new life into the Church and its pastoral mission, knocking down the centuries-old wall between the Church hierarchy and the laity and repositioning the Church as a universal instrument of hope, justice, and compassion for people of all faiths.

Fifty years after he convened the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII remains one of the most beloved and remarkable fi gures in the history of the Catholic Church. Affectionately known as Il Buono Papa, or the Good Pope, John is remembered today by Catholics and non-Catholics alike as an enduring symbol of peace, ecumenicalism, and Christian spirituality. In The Good Pope, Greg Tobin recounts John's remarkable story, from his impoverished childhood in Bergamo, Italy, and his successful tenure as a papal ambassador in war-torn Europe to his surprise ascendancy to the throne of St. Peter. In the process, he traces John's legacy as the spiritual father of the modern Church and explains why the Good Pope and his great council are as vital, vibrant, and important to Catholicism as ever before. Meticulously researched and engaging, The Good Pope captures the heart, soul, and spirit of the man who ushered in a new era of religion in the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

James Martin
“You cannot understand contemporary Catholicism without understanding Pope John XXIII. Greg Tobin’s new marvelous book is a terrific introduction to the pope who changed the church, and to the man whose spiritual wisdom may change your life.”
Thomas Groome
“The story of Good Pope John is always worth telling but all the more so in the current climate of retreat from his vision of aggiornamento. Greg Tobin tells it very well. As we wait for better days, this story will help to keep hope alive.”
Mary Higgins Clark
“A beautiful and enlightening book about a humble priest who became one of the most powerful and beloved pontiffs in the history of Catholicism.”
Pope John Paul II
“[Pope John XXIII] impressed the world with the friendliness... which radiated the remarkable goodness of his soul. . . . Everyone remembers the image of Pope John’s smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart!”
Shelf Awareness
“Tobin’s well-rounded, comprehensive biography offers an authoritative portrait of an inspiring, courageous man who radiated ‘an aura of humility, humor and sanctity’ even in the face of opposition.”
Time magazine
“In spite of his farm-bred love of land and custom. John XXIII was, in the best possible sense, a revolutionary—a Pope of modernization who kept in continuity with the church’s past, yet made even the most enlightened of his 20th century predecessors seem like voices of another age.”
Life magazine
“In 1958 John XXIII set in train a series of events which have since moved that huge old galleon, the Roman Catholic Church, back into the mainstream of world history and have profoundly altered the silhouette it presents to mankind.”
CatholicPhilly.com
The Good Pope is both a well-written and thoughtful biography of Pope John XXIII, and a helpful study of the events, personalities and issues of the Second Vatican Council.”
David Gibson
“This is the best single volume on John XXIII and the events he set in motion 50 years ago, transforming the church and the world.”
Library Journal
Anticipating the 50th anniversary in 2013 of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) with the likely raising of Pope John XXIII to sainthood, Tobin (vice president for university advancement, Seton Hall Univ.; Selecting the Pope) offers a readable biography of the humble Angelo Roncalli (1881–1963). Elected in 1958 as a harmless "transitional" pope, Roncalli's pivotal ideas of aggiornamento (updating) moved an institutional church from entrenchment to engagement with the modern world through Vatican II. While many biographies of Pope John XXIII have been written, especially in the 1960s, Tobin offers a 50-year contextual perspective on world events leading to Vatican II and beyond. He identifies such factors that shaped Pope John's impact as his peasant background, his humanitarian outlook, and his participation in diplomatic church activities throughout Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, France, as patriarch of Venice, and, finally, as pontiff. VERDICT Both biography and Vatican II overview, this book offers new generations interested in religion and Roman Catholic Church history a fresh look at a world figure who balanced continuity with change and opened dialogs with believers and nonbelievers alike. Recommended.—Anna M. Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A sincere, adoring look at the life and legacy of the humanist pope who helped modernize the Catholic Church with the convening of Vatican II. Although he served only briefly, from 1958 to 1963, Pope John XXIII, born a Bergamo peasant farmer's son named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, pushed back against the ultraconservative wing dominating the papacy since Pius X's turn-of-the-century reign. In this accessible biography, Tobin (Holy Holidays!: The Catholic Origins of Celebration, 2011, etc.) marks the 50th anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962 and John's likely canonization in 2013. At times, the author sounds a little awestruck in describing Roncalli's many diplomatic talents. Born in 1881 and ordained a deacon in 1903, he was formed by his early apprenticeship under Bishop Radini-Tedeschi of Bergamo, who employed a circle of liberal clergy advocating "the idea of Christ as an instrument of social change." Under his tutelage, Roncalli became an activist and world traveler, tiptoeing around Pius X's thundering denunciation of modernism; Roncalli was appointed by the more liberal Benedict XV for missionary work, then by Pius XI and Pius XII for diplomatic missions in Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and postwar France. Revered for his work with refugees and ability to bring factions together, and well-liked by the other cardinals, Roncalli was nevertheless elected as a "transitional figure" to the papacy on October 28, 1958. Immediately, John began planning the first ecumenical council of the Church in 90 years, in the hope of embracing new currents of reform and renewal, especially as played out by the Cold War. The role of priests, evangelizing, use of the vernacular in Mass and changes in the liturgy, among others, were all reconsidered in the spirit of aggiornamento ("bringing up to date"). An upbeat survey of a decent, likable modern leader.
Time Magazine
"In spite of his farm-bred love of land and custom. John XXIII was, in the best possible sense, a revolutionary—a Pope of modernization who kept in continuity with the church’s past, yet made even the most enlightened of his 20th century predecessors seem like voices of another age."
Life Magazine
"In 1958 John XXIII set in train a series of events which have since moved that huge old galleon, the Roman Catholic Church, back into the mainstream of world history and have profoundly altered the silhouette it presents to mankind."
David Gibson
“This is the best single volume on John XXIII and the events he set in motion 50 years ago, transforming the church and the world.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062089434
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Pages: 267
  • Sales rank: 652,680
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Greg Tobin is publishing director of A.A. World Services. He is the author of multiple titles including Saints and Sinners and Holy Father (a biography of Pope Benedict XVI) and was featured widely in national and international media. He lives in West Orange, New Jersey, with his wife and sons.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    an author­i­ta­tive biog­ra­phy of a poor peas­ant who became Pope

    The Good Pope: John XXIII & Vat­i­can II, The Mak­ing of a Saint and the Remak­ing of the Church by Greg Tobin is a biog­ra­phy of Angelo Giuseppe Ron­calli, the Pope. John XXIII is cred­ited with help­ing mod­ern­ized the Catholic Church even though he only served as Pope from 1958 to 1963.

    I wanted to read The Good Pope: John XXIII & Vat­i­can II, The Mak­ing of a Saint and the Remak­ing of the Church by Greg Tobin because I am very unfa­mil­iar with the Catholic dogma and beliefs. Being brought up Jew­ish I can also not com­pre­hend the ele­vated sta­tus to the Pope in the eyes of mor­tal men as well as the whole idea of ele­vat­ing a man into the sta­tus of “saint”.

    I found it fas­ci­nat­ing to read about the dif­fer­ent fac­tion within the Catholic church which I never knew existed. The whole “lib­er­als” vs. “con­ser­v­a­tives” divi­sion was explained very well with­out dis­sent­ing into blame or divi­sive­ness, as Mr. Tobin is sim­ply telling a story (and a good one at that) with­out tak­ing sides; of course the reader gets to see events more clearly from the point of view of the sub­ject of the book.

    I learned a lot from this book, not only about John XXIII, but also about the Chris­t­ian reli­gion in gen­eral and the Catholic sect specif­i­cally. How­ever, many of the terms are “tech­ni­cal” which I never heard of and had to look up many of them and then re-read the sec­tion to under­stand them within context.

    That being said, the book is very read­able, easy to read on a very like­able sub­ject. I got the impres­sion that John XXIII/ Angelo Ron­calli was truly a very good man, a strong Pope who kept his “priest in the trenches” pri­or­i­ties while hold­ing the high­est level in his occu­pa­tion. An unglam­orous man who was truly a man-of-G-d first and a politi­cian second.

    One of John XXIII great­est achieve­ments, out­side of pro­vid­ing spir­i­tual guid­ance for indi­vid­u­als, was con­ven­ing the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil which was try­ing to reform the church. The Sec­ond Council’s agenda was to open the reli­gion to the mod­ern world while pre­serv­ing the core tra­di­tions, a very dif­fi­cult mis­sion espe­cially with the con­ser­v­a­tives within the Vat­i­can fight­ing tooth and nail against those reforms.

    The Good Pope is an author­i­ta­tive biog­ra­phy of a poor peas­ant who became Pope, a man full of humil­ity, good­ness and a healthy sense of humor which helped him greatly through­out his ordeals, diplo­matic mis­sions and fac­ing his oppo­nents. Filled with per­sonal pas­sages from Roncalli’s jour­nal, the book is an amaz­ing insight into a man whose short tenure left a large legacy.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    inspiration

    fame isn't important; but our faith is!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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