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Encyclopedia of the Vatican and papacy
Coppa, Frank J.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 483 pages ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


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BX955.2 .E53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This comprehensive source book focuses on the Vatican from the Renaissance through the 1990s. Developments are studied within the broad context of European and world history. Crucial pre-Renaissance events are included as are entries on all of the popes, and the twenty-one councils from Nicea (325) to Vatican II (1962-1965). Alphabetically arranged, the entries provide valuable and often difficult-to-find information on the structure and organization of the church. While the emphasis remains on the interaction between the Vatican and Papal Institutions within the wider political, diplomatic, social and cultural world arena, theological questions are considered as well as the attitudes and reactions of the Vatican to key historical events, such as the French Revolution, Imperialism, World War I and II, the Ethiopian War, and the Holocaust. Entries on heresies and condemnations are included along with those on the Vatican reaction to various ideological movements such as Arianism, Jansenism, Gnosticism, Fascism, Racism, Marxism and Americanism. Entries address current issues such as the Papal position on social questions, abortion, homosexuality, liberation theology, and birth control.

A valuable tool for Papal scholars and researchers, this informative encyclopedia provides, in one volume, a wealth of easily accessible information on the influence of the Papacy and the Vatican throughout the development of the modern world. In addition to complete listings on all of the popes and all of the councils, topics and individuals are thoroughly indexed.

Author Notes

FRANK J. COPPA is Professor of History, Director of the Doctoral Program in Modern World History, and Chair of the Vatican Symposium at St. John's University. He has published over a dozen volumes on Papal and Italian History. Among his monographs are biographies of Giovanni Giolitti, Pope Pius IX, Camillo di Cavour and Cardinal Ciacomo Antonelli.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The reign of Pope John Paul II has produced great interest in the papacy, owing to his travels, his prominent role in world affairs, and now his ill health and speculation about his successor. This encyclopedia is a timely and unique contribution to the reference literature about the papacy. The volume "focuses on the historical, political, diplomatic, social, cultural, and religious role of the Vatican and the papacy in the modern world." Its unique contribution lies in the fact that it attempts to discuss these relationships in a context beyond that of an individual pope. Entries explore the relationship between the papacy and such social controversies as abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia. Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Vichy government in France, Nazi Germany, NATO, and Zionism/Israel are described. There are historical entries addressing the Vatican and World War I, World War II, and one for Holocaust and the papacy. Earlier historical events are also treated, the Reformation in Europe being one example. Terms specific to the Vatican and papacy are also defined. For example, what is meant by infallibility? What is the difference between a papal bull and an encyclical? Finally, there are biographical entries for all popes and antipopes as well as descriptions of all 21 Councils of the Church. Entries are alphabetically arranged and signed by the scholars who wrote them. Supplemental bibliographies are generally provided at the end of each entry. Three appendixes conclude the work, providing an alphabetical list of popes, antipopes, and Councils of the Church. Because the biographical entries for popes and antipopes are arranged alphabetically in the encyclopedia, the appendixes should have listed them chronologically. Fortunately, the Councils of the Church are listed chronologically. Much of the biographical information about individual popes as well as definitions of terms can be found in any number of dictionaries and encyclopedias. Two other recent titles come closer to the content of this new work. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (Oxford, 1986) contains only biographical entries for all popes and antipopes that place the lives and careers of these men in their historical contexts. Catholic scholar Richard P. McBrien's Lives of the Popes [BKL O 1 97] provides more information. Biographical entries, chronologically arranged, are given for popes, not antipopes. But McBrien's work also includes a glossary of terms (e.g., curia, encyclical), a brief description of key papal encyclicals, and appendixes on how popes are elected and removed from office, some of which is not covered in this new title. Although there is an entry for Anglican-Vatican relations, other ecumenical dialogues are not addressed (e.g., Lutheran-Catholic). Also, the Catholic Church has not yet joined the World Council of Churches; a discussion of the reasons for this would have been useful. Nevertheless, the Encyclopedia of the Vatican and Papacy charts new ground in its treatment of the role of the Vatican and papacy in world and social affairs. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.

Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Although these clear, brief articles emphasize the Vatican from the Renaissance to the 1900s, this volume covers every pope from Peter to John Paul II. Most of the entries are 200 to 300 words in length though some ("Holocaust and the Papacy," for instance) are several pages long. Each article ends with a bibliography, and appendixes provide lists of the popes, the antipopes, and Ecumenical Councils. While the entries are informative and readable, fact discrepancies warrant owning other books on this topic. For example, the article on Nicholas the III states that "Dante praises Nicholas for his efforts to join the houses of Anjou and Hapsburg..."; while in The Inferno, the poet discovers Nicholas-with the other Simonists-in the third chasm of Hell, head down in a narrow hole. The article on Gregory the III lists his feast day as November 28th (as does the Britannica) but Butler's Lives of the Saints (Liturgical) and the Pocket Dictionary of Saints (Image, 1983) both list it as December 10th. For collections with other books on the subject, such as Monika Hellig and Michael Glazier's Modern Catholic Encyclopedia (Liturgical, 1994) or Richard McBrien's Lives of the Popes (HarperCollins, 1997), this book will make a useful addition. However, it should not be a library's only source on one of the most important elements of Western history.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Coppa's brief encyclopedia attempts to cover the entire history of the Vatican, but its strength lies in the more recent centuries. It would have benefitted had brief mentions of little-known popes and antipopes been dropped to allow for more information on topics of interest. Entries for major encyclicals would have been more useful than Dioscorus and Formosus, and there are no articles on Thomism, the Dominicans, and collegiality. That said, most of the entries are solid. Only that on the Conciliar Movement is actually erroneous, placing Eugene IV at the Council of Constance, not at Basel. Some entries, like those on Freemasonry and Exequatur, contain much useful information in a brief space, and that on the Golden Rose is a model of utility combined with brevity. Most of the authors have limited themselves to summaries of Catholic doctrines and important events, although the entry on abortion shades toward editorial. Each entry concludes with a useful bibliography. Appendixes that list popes, antipopes, and ecumenical councils are unfortunately alphabetical, not chronological. The classifications of antipopes and councils reflect recent Catholic scholarship, especially in excluding the Pisan popes Alexander V and (first) John XXIII, who were included in Annuario Pontificio until a few years ago. A detailed index and a list of contributors conclude the work. It will supplement but not replace other reference sources like The New Catholic Encyclopedia (18v., 1967-89; CH, Jun'67). T. M. Izbicki Johns Hopkins University

Table of Contents

The Encyclopedia
Appendix A Alphabetical List of Popes
Appendix B Alphabetical List of Antipopes
Appendix C Ecumenical Councils