A landmark short history of the Catholic Church by the world's greatest living Christian theologian and historian.
Hans Kung describes the history of the Roman Catholic Church from its origins in St Paul's Rome, through the disputes of the medieval era to the modern world. He examines the historic tension in the Church between pluralism and exclusivity; how the role of the Pope has changed; the motivations of the great reforming pontiffs; the evolving functions of the bishops and cardinals; the church's enthusiasm for missionary activity; the origins of the Marian cult; and how the shock waves of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation can still be felt today. The book concludes with a searching assessment of how the Catholic faith confronts the immense challenges - from science, from the empowerment of women, from those seeking reform of the Church's strictures against abortion and contraception - in the new millennium.
'The sweep is vast and the tale told with pace and passion' Financial Times
Born in 1928 in Switzerland, Hans Küng was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, and taught at the Universities of Münster and Tübingen, where he also directed the Institute for Ecumenical Research from 1963. In 1962 he was named by Pope John XXIII a consultant for the Second Vatican Council. He played a central role in the writing of Vatican II, which in 1965 radically modernised key areas of Catholic teaching. He has since the early 1960s questioned such traditional church doctrines as papal infallibility, the divinity of Christ, and the dogma of the Virgin Mary. In 1979 the Vatican banned his teaching as a Catholic theologian, provoking huge international controversy, and in 1980 a settlement was reached that allowed him to teach under secular rather than Catholic auspices. Dr Küng is the only living Weidenfeld and Nicolson author with an entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.