By Hans Kung. In this extraordinary book, the controversial and profoundly influential Hans Küng chronicles the Roman Catholic Church’s role as a world power throughout history. Along the way, he examines the great schisms—between East and West, and Catholic and Protestant—as well as the evolving role of the papacy, the stories of the great reforming popes, and the expansion of a global church infrastructure. The book concludes with a searching assessment of how the Catholic faith will confront the immense challenges posed in the new millennium by those seeking reform of traditional strictures. Modern Library (2003), English, Paperback: 272 pages.
The Catholic Church is the best history of the Church in many years. Unlike many such books, it is written clearly enough to be understood by lay readers, regardless of their knowledge of Christian history; and it is short enough that it can be read in a day or two. Furthermore, Kung's controversial views are not presented as mere polemic. They are grounded in objective historical facts. Thus, he succeeds in providing a history that is both committed and objective. Readers who share those commitments will find a trove of knowledge to support their beliefs; readers who disagree will be moved to consider carefully the question of whether and how the Church should be further reformed. --Michael Joseph Gross