THE PONTIFF IN WINTER: TRIUMPH AND CONFLICT IN THE REIGN OF JOHN PAUL II
THE PONTIFF IN WINTER is a critical assessment of the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II by the author of the best-selling HITLER'S POPE. John Cornwell, a former seminarian who has written for many Catholic publications, shows how John Paul was an agent for historical change in the 20th century, most notably in his support of the Polish church, whence he came, and in the downfall of the Soviet Union, in which it is generally believed he played a key role. Cornwell acknowledges the impact of the most traveled Pope in history as he directly and personally ministered to the faithful around the world, but he also addresses controversial major issues, including the role of women, relations with other religions, the stand on AIDS and contraception, and, perhaps most importantly, the centralization of authority in his office. In Cornwell's view, John Paul's legacy is the autocratic way in which he has exercised his power, and he offers an alternative vision: a church comprised of communities of the faithful. The most interesting aspect of this book is Cornwell's examination of the Pope's millennial vision and its connection with to the failed assassination attempt on May 13, 1980, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima--an event John Paul connected to the third revelation of Fatima, which, when it was made known to the world in 2000, seemed to preordain the event (though Cornwell points out discrepancies). Cornwell also writes interestingly and knowledgeably about the importance of symbol and about John Paul's profound sense of theatre, uncovering statements, actions, and events that have powerful meanings below the surface. Finally, he shares juicy details and insider accounts that reveal much about Vatican politics, the trappings of office, and the sometimes fallible man who was Karol Wojtyla.