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Between God and Man: Six Sermons on the Priestly Office.

Between God and Man: Six Sermons on the Priestly Office. By Pope Innocent III. Translated with an introduction by Corinne J. Vause and Frank C. Gardiner. Medieval texts in Translation. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004. xxxii + 131 pp. $19.95 paper.

Innocent III has long been recognized as a pivotal figure in the history of the medieval church. His pontificate was shaped by the need to confront a wide range of problems including heresy, perceived threats from Islam and the Orthodox Church as well as the institutional crisis of the church's failure to meet the changing spiritual needs of lay society. The translated sermons in this volume allow us further insight into the complex mindset of the individual who sought to promote both institutional and spiritual reform, who not only sponsored the Franciscans, and presided over the Fourth Lateran Council, but who also launched the Albigensian and Fourth Crusades.

Dating from different periods of his pontificate, these sermones de diversis reflect Innocent's concern for reform of the clergy, whom he saw as the vital mediators "between God and man," and thus for promotion of better pastoral care for Christian society. The texts include sermons: for clergy at a synod, for the occasion of his consecration and first anniversary, on the consecration of pontiffs, for the Fourth Lateran Council, as well as a letter sent by Innocent to Arnald of Citeaux, which accompanied a collection of his sermons. The volume also has a useful introduction on the historical and textual context. Although presenting only a small selection of his writings, this volume will enable both specialist and student alike the opportunity to understand more fully the ways in which Innocent sought to mediate between differing concepts of reform.

Kathleen G. Cushing

Keele University
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Author:Cushing, Kathleen G.
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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