Book Review: We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI



The very recent death of Pope John Paul II is still fresh for many of us, his funeral, the period of mourning, and then the historic conclave that quickly elected Pope Benedict XVI. In We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, (Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 2005), Matthew E. Bunson, has captured for history what happened during those momentous days in April. For a moment, the whole world was focused on St. Peter’s and the Vatican.

This book is easy to read and is insightful as a retrospective look at those historic days. Bunson discusses the sadness most of the world experienced upon the death of Pope John Paul II. He recounts the descent of millions on Rome to pay tribute to a tremendous leader, the many hours waiting in long lines to view his body, and the throngs of mourners at his funeral, one of the largest in history. Millions viewed the funeral live or in later recasts. And who can forget the crowds calling for his immediate canonization, “santo subito,” and his already well-used title, “the Great.”

Bunson recounts the events following the beloved Pontiff's burial, how the Church entered into the period of mourning and preparation for election of a new pope. He shares his experience of how the news media dealt with the papabile.

From the conclave's opening on April 18, to the bells confirming the election of the new pope and his appearance at the now famous balcony, Bunson takes the reader almost behind the scenes with stories of speculation, betting on the next pope, to the crystal clarity of who the successor of Peter would be.

In addition to the insights of the events of April 2005, We Have a Pope! has incredible color photographs of our new Pope, a timeline of history since 1922 with events in the life of Pope Benedict, a short biography and bibliography of the Pope’s works in English, and a glossary of terms used in the book.

This book is packed solid with useful information. A wonderful keepsake of the events of April 2005 — the reader will cherish this memory of Church and World history for years to come.

Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., writes from St. Gregory’s University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.

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