THE CHURCH offers a sweeping history of how the Roman Catholic Church theologically understands its internal organization and its relationship to the rest of the world.
For example, where did the idea of the Pope's infallibility come from? Why are priests celibate and women barred from the priesthood? What inspired the Inquisition? What was the position of the Catholic Church on Hitler's policies in World War II, and what is their current relationship to Islam? Will Pope Benedict XVI entrench the Church in tradition, or will the growth of the Church in South America, Africa and Asia shape its future? THE CHURCH answers these questions by helping the reader understand the history of how the Catholic Church views itself, it's leadership, and its relationship to national governments and world religions.
THE CHURCH explains in layman's terms the doctrines pertaining to the Church itself as an entity and community, with an explanation of its origin, its relationship to the historical Christ, its role in salvation, its discipline, its destiny and its leadership. From Jesus's apostle Peter to Pope Benedict XVI, McBrien surveys the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church, its power, its scope, its theology, and influence.
INTERNAL CHURCH POLITICS: McBrien addresses issues raised in the Pope's encylicals, conclaves, Church Councils and publications regarding authority, hierarchy and papal infallibility. He charts the significant theological shifts as a result of Vatican I and II, public sacraments and personal salvation.
EXTERNAL GLOBAL POLITICS: McBrien examines the Church's troubling role in the Crusades and the Inquisition, its relationship to governmental authorities, and the Church's stance on war.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: As he moves into more recent times, McBrien discusses the roles and responsibilities of priests, nuns, and laity, as well as the contemporary concerns of poverty, health, and justice in developing countries facing a more global church.