Harris M. Lentz, III. Popes and Cardinals of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Publishers, 2002. 256 pp. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7864-1094-1.
Berard Marthaler, ed. The New Catholic Encyclopedia: Jubilee Volume: The Wojtyla Years. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale Group, 2000. xiii + 681 pp. $95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7876-4787-2.
Bruno Steimer, Michael G. Parker, eds. Dictionary of Popes and the Papacy. New York: Crossroad, 2001. 278 pp. $50.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8245-1918-6.
Reviewed by Patrick J. Hayes (Adjunct Professor of Theology, Fordham University)
Published on H-Catholic (September, 2002)
Encyclopedias have helped form American Catholic consciousness since the second half of the nineteenth century. The great German and Italian encyclopedias, especially Gaetano Moroni's Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro ai nostri giorni helped train the seminary minds of several future American bishops. Moroni's authorship of this massive work was due in part to his intimacy with Pope Gregory XVI. Moroni was the Pope's ajutante di studio, his barber. A half century later, spurred on by John J. Wynne, SJ, the erstwhile editor of The Messenger (now America magazine), the Catholic Encyclopedia appeared between 1907 and 1914 and continued to be reprinted until 1957. It was supplanted by the New Catholic Encyclopedia a decade later. A special object of these works has been the papacy. The popes through two millennia, collectively and individually, continue to capture the attention of historians, as well as encyclopedists, who seem convinced that we have room for just one more volume. Although we are on the cusp of a new electronic era, ours is still an age of printed encyclopedias. For the papacy, there is no dearth of comprehensive reference tools.
It has been said that the attraction of encyclopedias is based on three principles: we want to check facts (basic utility); we want to increase our knowledge of a particular subject (usefulness for lifelong learning); and we want to refer inquisitive students to solid material (a teaching tool). Whether these three criteria are still valuable is a question, but they help guide this review of four major reference works on the papacy that have appeared in English over the last two years.
Under the editorial direction of Philippe Levillain, a professor at the Universite de Paris X, The Papacy: An Encyclopedia in three volumes is a mixture of good news and bad news. First, the good news. This is a translation from the one volume French Dictionnaire historique de la Papaute (1994), a hefty reference tool (c. 1,800 pages) covering all the popes, antipopes, and things papal. The editor and his companions on the project are drawn mainly from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. I counted eleven Americans among the authors, comprising about 5 percent of the total number of contributors.
The English edition updates each article's bibliography from 1994 to about the year 2000 and the sources range from the general to the obscure. The bibliography covers the modern European languages, though I occasionally scratched my head over the selection and omission of certain titles. One would expect that the pontiffs are thoroughly treated, and on this score the work is to be highly regarded, from the individual articles themselves to the various lists that are supplied (chronology, martyr-popes, saints who were popes). Several entries are of exemplary depth and quality in treating the popes, such as Andrea Riccardi on Pius XII.
Similarly, there are scores of learned subject articles, though I particularly want to single out the authors of the following as being especially probative and illuminating: "Alum of Tolfa," "Barber, Pope's," "Byzantium and the Papacy," "Canon Law," the multi-part articles on the "Curia," "Judaism," "Papal States" (with excellent maps) and "Rome." The articles are sometimes surprising, as in the case of entries on "Humor" and "Animals." The latter was a delight, though the author neglects the story of Pope Leo X's white elephant Hanno, recently told by Silvio Bedini, The Pope's Elephant (2000). Similarly intriguing are the historiated letters--little costumed figures related to the papacy that greet each new section of the alphabet. The index for all three volumes is over 120 pages and is thoroughly comprehensive. In short, this encyclopedia will have lasting value and will continue to reward the reader for years to come.
Now for the bad news or, at least, puzzling news. The translation is not as smooth as one would hope. Without much effort, I detected more than two dozen errors of fact, grammatical mistakes, mistranslations, and typographical errors in the first volume alone. The cost of these volumes signals that a good portion of the sales gets sunk into translators' fees, but it is at times difficult to justify them.
Sometimes an article was approved without updating it or the bibliography. For example, the piece on "Anglicanism," though sound, needs revision, especially in light of Ut Unum Sint and The Gift of Authority. Some articles go unsigned or the cross-references do not exist. I expected separate articles relating to "in forma specifica" and "in forma communi" statements from the pope--the subject of considerable discussion lately--but these are subsumed in an entry on "Approbations, Papal." One wonders about the editorial agenda as well. For instance, the article on "Anti-Christ" merits ten columns while the article for "Pope" receives two (seven for "Anti-Pope," though I am less disturbed by this); the article for "Freemasonry" is four pages longer than the article on "Franciscans"; the social encyclicals are addressed under the article entitled "Marxism and the Papacy"; and so on.
Before moving on to the other encyclopedias under review here, I must disagree with the author of one of this encyclopedia's most important entries, that of "Magisterium" by Dominick Le Tourneau, a canon lawyer at the University of Navarre. Le Tourneau is the author of a number of other entries related to papal powers, all of which display an earnest scholarship even if, as in the case of his entry on "Papal Primacy," he tends toward juridicization. Suffice to reflect on a few passages.
Le Tourneau characterizes the authentic magisterium as "infallible throughout, including the concrete formulations by which authority he declares that a particular doctrine is considered infallibly defined if it is manifestly established." He then cites the current Code of Canon Law, c. 794 3 in support of this position. The canon in question pertains to his last clause, but the assertion that the authentic magisterium is "infallible throughout," without further clarification, is both untenable from a canonical perspective and inaccurate from a theological perspective. As it stands, the definition is too broad and doesn't square easily with Le Tourneau's "degrees of adhesion to the Magisterium." No mention is made of the hierarchy of truths.
This has particular relevance for teachers in the sacred sciences who, according to Le Tourneau, "must always show respect and reverence (obsequium) for the magisterium, the ultimate arbiter. This duty of obsequium is a limitation on the rights of scholars to free research (c. 218). Consequently, freedom may be exercised only in areas where no definitive resolution has already been pronounced." To the contrary, it is not that obsequium places a limit on legitimate research (indeed, the canon cited by Le Tourneau supports freedom of inquiry), nor is conscience to be abandoned in favor of magisterial dictates (though prudence avoids characterizing conscience, too, as the "ultimate arbiter"), nor finally is the scholar's job done when a "definitive resolution has already been pronounced." Simply put, Le Tourneau's commentary on the notion of the papal magisterium is highly problematic. It is perhaps testimony to the efficacy of this encyclopedia that I became so exercised about this matter. For the rest, I willingly concur with the editor that "this is an exhaustive dictionary on the popes, the nature of the papacy, and its evolution in history."
The New Catholic Encyclopedia: Jubilee Volume: The Wojtyla Years is edited by Berard Marthaler, OFM Conv., of the Catholic University of America. This magnificent volume is the most thorough treatment of the papacy of the current pope presently available. 177 contributors wrote entries for this encyclopedia, which acts as both a capstone to the older first edition and a preface to the forthcoming second edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia (hereafter NCE), due off the press in November.
The Jubilee volume is divided into two parts. The first is a series of essays on various aspects of Pope John Paul II's papacy, including George Weigel on the Church and the collapse of communism, Gregory Baum on the pope's economic teaching, and George Coyne, SJ, on the pontiff's dialogue with science. In the second part, the editors assemble a much lengthier historical chronicle of John Paul's papacy, giving detailed biographical information on him before moving into more institutional aspects of his pontificate. These latter sections focus on the synods of bishops, magisterial documents, people and places, institutions and events, and saints and beati. Contributing editor Katherine Rabenstein has assembled and written (pages 429-637) biographies of nearly all the saints and beati canonized by Pope John Paul II--a Herculean task given the volume of canonizations in this pontificate. Alas, this is also the major shortcoming of the volume, since their listings are by now incomplete. Rabenstein has also compiled a listing of patron saints, intercessors in times of peril and illness, and patrons of places.
One of the special features of the volume is the inclusion of biographies of many of the cardinals created by Pope John Paul as well as those who have died since the appearance of the last supplemental volume of the NCE. Salvador Miranda's article on "Cardinals of the Catholic Church" is enhanced by a very useful chart of the first seven consistories in which the pontiff created some 159 cardinals. The names are accompanied by their positions, dates of birth, and dates of death. But, again, this is also now out of date, given the eighth consistory of February 21, 2001. One might consult the volume of Lentz, detailed below, for further information.
In addition to the members of the sacred college, other interesting persons are given thumbnail biographies: Pedro Arrupe, SJ, Shusaku Endo, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, and Morris West. There seem to be a notably small number of women who merit entries. However, several longer subject articles add further tone, especially "Communio," "New Religious Movements," and "Poland." A curiosity can sometimes be found in the choice of photographs that accompany the text as, for instance, the image of Pope John Paul II greeting children dressed as Dalmatian puppies from the film "101 Dalmatians." A useful subject index with names is provided as well. Every college library should have this volume.
A less expensive, but equally useful reference work is provided in the Dictionary of Popes and the Papacy, edited by Bruno Steimer and Michael G. Parker and translated by Brian McNeil and Peter Heinigg. The volume translates part of the third edition of the Lexicon fur Theologie und Kirche, organized under the thematic title Lexicon der Papste und des Papsttums. Herder is making the LThK available in English in installments. The Dictionary of the Popes and the Papacy is the first installment.
Steimer and Parker are, respectively, academic editors for Verlag Herder in Freiburg and Herder and Herder in New York. Steimer is also coordinating editor of the LThK. If the first installment on the papacy is any indication, the remaining translations will be of high quality. This dictionary is also divided into two main parts. The popes are alphabetically arranged (Adeodatus I to Zosimus) in the first 155 pages. The second section is devoted to the papacy itself (pp. 156-271). The editors provide a long list of frequently cited works and a selective list of pertinent volumes on the papacy that will be useful for the generalist who wishes to explore further. In addition to maps of the Lateran complex in the thirteenth century, Avignon in the fourteenth century, the papal states circa 1500, and the present boundaries of Vatican City, a complete index with cross-references rounds out the volume.
In the first section a considerable portion of the entries are undertaken by four authors: Georg Schwaiger, Sebastian Scholz, Harald Zimmermann, and Ludwig Vones. These entries range in length from one sentence (e.g., Donus II) to several pages (e.g., Peter). In a book such as this, the brevity of the entries often leaves the reader asking further questions. For instance, for the entry on Philip--a monastic installed and dethroned over the course of one day in 768--the author concludes his article by saying that "it is difficult to decide whether Philip ought to be considered a pope or an antipope." It seems to me the author could venture an opinion, perhaps one in keeping with the dictionary's own list of "illegitimate popes" or the Annuario Pontificio's list.
The section on the papacy has more authors drawn from outside Germany. Supplementing each individual article is a rich treasury of source material and bibliographic data, arranged by year of publication (earliest to latest). A special word of praise goes to Roger Aubert for his articles on Popes Pius VII-X. Aubert deftly captures the context and highlights of these four pontificates, even splitting his bibliographic entry on Pius VII into "general accounts" and "individual questions," which is a great help, even to the specialist.
The Dictionary of Popes and the Papacy's subject articles frequently overlap with the entries found in Levillain's The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. However, there are several articles unique to the former, such as "Acta Apostolicae Sedis," "Affectio Papalis," "Anagni," "Chronography of 354," "Encyclicals, Social" (written by the American Charles E. Curran), "Fables, Papal," "Names, Papal," "Petrine Ministry," and "Vatican-U.S. Relations" (written by another American, Gerald Fogarty), among others. Though it is less comprehensive in scope, this dictionary still delivers basic information in a scholarly yet accessible fashion.
The slenderest of the encyclopedias under review here is by Harris Lentz III, The Popes and Cardinals of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. This ready reference is a straightforward listing of all the popes and cardinals who have served the Church during the last century. Such a compilation is valuable as a reference for the study of the papacy insofar as the college of cardinals provide assistance to the popes in a variety of ways and it is this body that eventually chooses a deceased pope's successor. Given the creation of so many cardinals by Pope John Paul, the college's current shape and character will likely carry his imprint for another generation. In Lentz's book, there are only three pages dedicated to the popes; pages 7-203 offer data on the cardinals. There are two appendices. The first provides a listing and brief biography of the cardinals of the twenty-first century, all of whom were created in the consistory of February 21, 2001. The second lists all the cardinals mentioned in the book by country. A glossary, short bibliography, and a comprehensive index (pp. 229-250) round out this handy, if limited, volume.
To be sure, these are not the only reference books on the papacy that are being marketed currently. From Italy, there is a sumptuously illustrated compilation in three volumes under the editorial direction of Giuseppe Arnaldi, Enciclopedia dei Papi. In Germany, Reinhard Barth's Taschenlexikon der Papste is a less comprehensive but authoritative dictionary. In English, similarly, Richard McBrien's The Lives of the Popes is a useful complement to J. N. D. Kelly's earlier Dictionary of the Popes. The English translation by Raymond Davis of the Liber Pontificalis_, from which so many of these reference books draw their historical information, has been available for well over a decade now. Add to this a number of other books on the papacy over the last few years.
With so much knowledge available at this point, one wonders if we actually understand or interpret the popes and the papacy any differently at the beginning of the second millennium. Why do we make the popes saints or revile their "conservatism?" Why is the papacy dead to many who rely instead on their local church for spiritual sustenance or why is the pope the living embodiment of apostolic faith? Why is the papacy still the last best hope for ecumenical rapprochement or its principal stumbling block? Perhaps we have come to the limit of gathering information on the popes or the institution of the papacy itself and must begin a set of further inquiries. For myself, I believe that Klaus Schatz, a historian of papal primacy, is absolutely on target when he says that what is lacking in our present moment "is not critical historical knowledge, but historical hermeneutics."
. 103 volumes, with an index in 6 volumes (Venice: Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, 1878-1879).
. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana Fondata da Giovanni Treccani, 2000.
. Munich: Piper, 2000.
. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997.
. Richard McBrien, The Lives of the Popes (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997); J. N. D. Kelly, Dictionary of the Popes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).
. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989-.
. Cf., e.g., Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (Yale University Press, 2002); Agostino Parvicini-Bagliani, The Pope's Body, translated by David S. Peterson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000); George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1999); Gianvittorio Signorotto and Maria Antonietta Visceglia, eds., Court and Politics in Papal Rome, 1492-1700 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002); A. D. Wright, The Early Modern Papacy from the Council of Trent to the French Revolution, 1564-1789 (London: Longman, 2000); and the spate of books on Pope Pius XII, most recently critically examined in the review of Susan Zuccotti, Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001), reviewed for H-Catholic by Glenn Calderwood, June 21, 2002.
. Klaus Schatz, Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, translated by John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 3.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-catholic.
Patrick J. Hayes. Review of Lentz, Harris M., III, Popes and Cardinals of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary and
Levillain, Philippe, ed., The Papacy: An Encyclopedia and
Marthaler, Berard, ed., The New Catholic Encyclopedia: Jubilee Volume: The Wojtyla Years and
Steimer, Bruno; Parker, Michael G., eds., Dictionary of Popes and the Papacy.
H-Catholic, H-Net Reviews.
Copyright © 2002 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at email@example.com.