The impact of this for Peter's successors and for the tradition of the papacy
as an institution cannot be overestimated.
If efforts by the papacy
to establish its primacy vis-a-vis the secular rulers was only partially successful, papal primacy within the church was to become a reality.
Surveying the book as a whole, the overwhelming impression is the dexterity of the papacy
, despite all its human weaknesses, in dealing with challenges that have bested state actors (such as absolutist monarchies and totalitarian states) that may have seemed invincible and far stronger, institutionally speaking, than the papacy
at the time.
Joseph Ratzinger was elected as a short-term caretaker pope, and nearly eight years is a sufficient amount of time to let the echo of Pope John Paul II's perhaps too-long papacy
There are too many gems to recount, but among them are his title for chapter 9, covering the beginnings of institutional reform in the late-tenth to the mid-eleventh centuries, "Saving the Papacy
from Itself." Chapter 13 coves the hubristic Boniface VIII, famed for his uncompromising bull of 1302, Unam Sanctam, with its bellowing "extra ecclesiam nulla salus." The subtitle of the chapter, which tells the tale of a pope who died a man broken by secular rulers tired of his megalomania is simply "Big Claims, Big Humiliation" (129).
Benedict, since the start of his papacy
, has also distinguished himself from his predecessor by seeking to diminish his stature, deferring to "God alone" as the main actor in Catholic life.
The Orthodox contribution consists in questioning the church-dividing status of some differences and in rediscovering eucharistic ecclesiology, which calls for a reform of today's papacy
and autocephalous national churches, in light of the fullness of the local eucharistic assembly.
Chester Gillis compiled twenty-eight primary texts and essays in his newest book, The Political Papacy
: John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Their Influence.
He was also the first non-Italian pope for 445 years and the conclave will have to decide whether to return the papacy
The contributors include several prominent ecumenists, each of whom considers ways to rethink the role of the papacy
for a "new situation." Representing both Catholic and several Protestant traditions, the authors discuss the papacy
in light of changing definitions of power, the challenges of democratization and the ecumenical movement, and the call to evangelization.
Because it was an elective monarchy and because of the tendency to elect candidates "of great age and little life expectancy" (179), the papacy
can offer a kind of time-lapse view of diplomatic maneuvering and political change.
IS THE OLDEST, as well as arguably the most influential, of all human institutions'.