CONCLAVE: The Politics, Personalities, and Process of the Next Papal Election

John L. Allen, Author
John L. Allen, Author Doubleday $12.95 (240p) ISBN 0-385-50453-5
Reviewed on: 04/29/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
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As Pope John Paul II, leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics, becomes increasingly frail, the buzz over his successor grows louder by the day. Allen, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper, not only adds to the speculation but enlarges on it by giving a fairly detailed, yet concise look at the procedures involved in selecting a new pope. Although he adds fuel to the betting game about who will win the "papal sweepstakes" by offering his personal top 20 choices, Allen spends most of his time in this handy volume explaining what the pope does, what happens when he dies and exactly what goes on behind closed doors when the church's cardinals gather to choose a new leader. He also takes special note of several procedural changes the current pope has made that will go into effect with the next election and includes brief profiles of all the candidates. Allen is admirably objective, only revealing his own sympathies in describing the three "political parties" he believes exist, albeit unofficially, within the college of cardinals: the Border Patrol, Salt of the Earth and Reform parties. That aside, this is engagingly written and will make an excellent guide for reporters who will be covering the next papal election, as well as for readers with even a mild interest in who the next pope will be. (June)

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