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Synopsis

From the author of Conclave and All the Pope’s Men comes the story of Pope John Paul II’s last days, the behind-the-scenes dynamics within the College of Cardinals that led to the choice of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.

On April 18, 2005, the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church gathered to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II. Faced with several potential candidates, the cardinals made a bold choice, entrusting the Keys of the Kingdom to 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a man whose views on the challenges facing the Church and the broader culture could not be more unambiguous, or controversial.

Questions arose as the world watched while Ratzinger was installed as Pope Benedict XVI, the 266th pontiff of the Catholic Church. Why Ratzinger? Why someone so clearly identified with the previous pope? Why not a “compromise” choice? Why a Cardinal from Western Europe and not from Africa or Latin America? What would this mean for the future of the Catholic Church?

No one can tell the story of exactly what took place during the closed doors meeting, known as the conclave, when Cardinals from around the world cast their votes for the next pope, better than John L. Allen, Jr. As a correspondent for National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio, Allen has spent years covering Vatican politics and personalities, and his unique access to Roman halls of power has enabled him to write the ultimate behind-the-scenes account of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The Rise of Benedict XVI is based on extensive research and exclusive interviews with eight cardinals representing five nationalities, guaranteeing readers an intimate glimpse into this monumental decision.

But Allen’s insight also means that he is in a unique position to evaluate the accomplishments and legacy of the man now known as Pope Benedict XVI, and to provide some analysis of the direction he would take the Catholic Church in the coming years. Ratzinger’s long career as a major Vatican insider, force of influence, and occasionally polarizing figure, has ensured that his pontificate will be one of the most fascinating in the history of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI would certainly have a major impact on the lives of the faithful around the world, and John Allen’s riveting new book is the definitive work on this turning point in history.


From the Hardcover edition.

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