This book offers portraits of the popes whose convictions and reigns were historically determinant. We discover “modernist figures” such as Pie VII, who signed Napoleon’s Concordat limiting the power of the church in relation to the French State. Conversely, the author analyses the impact of more conservative papal governments, such as Pie IX’s, who organized the Council of Vatican I and launched the dogma of the papal infallibility. The book also recounts the history of the twentieth century’s great popes: Pie XI’s opposition to the totalitarian forces emerging from the rights and left and, conversely, Pie XII’s blindness to the events leading to the Shoah, as well as John XXIII and Paul VI’s instrumental role in initiating, with Vatican II, the great shift of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century. John-Paul II and Benedict XVI followed: would the current pope become a leading, historical figure?
Henri Tincq is the specialist on religious affairs for the journal Le Monde. He has published, amongst other works, Jean-Paul II (Librio), Les Génies du christianisme (Plon), L’Étoile et la croix (Lattès), and Les Médias et l’Église (CFPJ).