George Weigel’s bestselling biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope, set the standard by which all portraits of the modern papacy are now measured. With God’s Choice, he gives us an extraordinary chronicle of the rise of Pope Benedict XVI as well as an unflinching view of the Catholic Church at the dawn of a new era.
When John Paul II lapsed into illness for the last time, people flocked from all over the world to pray outside his apartment. He had become a father figure to millions in a world bereft of strong paternal examples, and those millions now felt orphaned. After more than twenty-six years of John Paul II’s guidance, the Catholic Church is entering a new age, with its bedrock traditions intact but with pressing questions to address in a rapidly changing world. Beginning with the story of John Paul’s final months, God’s Choice offers a remarkable inside account of the conclave that produced Benedict XVI as the next pope, drawing on George Weigel’s unrivaled access to this complex event.
Weigel also incisively surveys the current state of the Church around the world: its thriving populations in Africa, Latin America, and parts of the post-communist world; its collapse in western Europe; its continued struggles in Asia; and the vibrancy of many aspects of Catholic life in the United States, even as the Church in America struggles to overcome its recent experience of scandal.
Reflecting on John Paul II’s greatness, drawing on firsthand interviews to paint an intimate portrait of the new Pope, and boldly assessing the Church’s current condition, God’s Choice is an invaluable book for anyone seeking to understand the Catholic future and the larger human future the Church will help to shape.
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George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.