The Catholic Church: What Everyone Needs to Know

John L. Allen. Oxford Univ., $16.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-19-997510-5
Allen is a veteran Vaticanista whose coverage of the papacy for National Catholic Reporter has made him the media's go-to guy on church politics. But Allen's ability to clearly explain the arcane workings of Roman Catholicism – to experts and lay people alike—is as impressive as his punditry, and that skill is on full display in his latest book. In 12 chapters, Allen gives a smart, highly readable primer on the mechanics of the Catholic Church and on the doctrines and history of Catholicism. His longtime perch in Rome also gives him a global perspective on Catholicism that is often obscured by events on the ground. Allen periodically indulges in his trademark analysis as well, salting the narrative with insights about present controversies and future possibilities for the church. This is an excellent handbook for those who want (or need) to know more about the Catholic Church—and for those who think they already know it all. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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