On November 23, 1958, Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the son of peasant Italian farmers, became Pope John XXIII. Widely expected to be a transitional pope, John surprised the Church hierarchy and the world by convoking an ambitious ecumenical council—the first such council in more than a century—to bring the Catholic Church into the modern era. "I want to throw open the windows of the Church," he said, "so that we can see out and the people can see in." Broken into four sessions and held over four years, the Second Vatican Council ("a new Pentecost," according to John) breathed new life into the Church and its pastoral mission, knocking down the centuries-old wall between the Church hierarchy and the laity and repositioning the Church as a universal instrument of hope, justice, and compassion for people of all faiths.
Fifty years after he convened the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII remains one of the most beloved and remarkable fi gures in the history of the Catholic Church. Affectionately known as Il Buono Papa, or the Good Pope, John is remembered today by Catholics and non-Catholics alike as an enduring symbol of peace, ecumenicalism, and Christian spirituality. In The Good Pope, Greg Tobin recounts John's remarkable story, from his impoverished childhood in Bergamo, Italy, and his successful tenure as a papal ambassador in war-torn Europe to his surprise ascendancy to the throne of St. Peter. In the process, he traces John's legacy as the spiritual father of the modern Church and explains why the Good Pope and his great council are as vital, vibrant, and important to Catholicism as ever before. Meticulously researched and engaging, The Good Pope captures the heart, soul, and spirit of the man who ushered in a new era of religion in the twentieth century.
Greg Tobin has written extensively about the papacy and Catholicism. His books include Selecting the Pope and Holy Father, the first biography of Benedict XVI to be published after the historic 2005 conclave. Tobin has had a distinguished career in book publishing and in higher education and is currently vice president for university advancement at Seton Hall. Tobin has been featured widely in national and international media, including the New York Times, CBS, MSNBC, and FOX News. He is a graduate of Yale University.
John XXIII was, in the best possible sense, a revolutionary—a Pope of modernization who kept in continuity with the church’s past, yet made even the most enlightened of his 20th century predecessors seem like voices of another age.
The story of Good Pope John is always worth telling….Greg Tobin tells it very well. As we wait for better days, this story will help to keep hope alive.
—Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College, author of Will There Be Faith
Published in the 50th anniversary year of the historic Vatican Council II, The Good Pope by Greg Tobin is the first major biography of Pope John XXIII, a universally beloved religious leader who ushered in an era of hope and openness in the Catholic Church—and whose reforms, had they been accepted, would have enabled the church to avoid many of the major crises it faces today. Available prior to John XXIII’s likely canonization, Tobin’s The Good Pope is timely and important, offering a fascinating look at the legacy of Vatican Council II, an insightful investigation into the history of the Catholic Church, and a celebration of one of its true heroes.