Power and peril: The Catholic Church at the crossroads

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Author: Higgins, Michael W

Edition: First Edition

EAN: 9780002557450

Release Date: 01-12-2002

Languages: English

Item Condition: UsedGood

Binding: Hardcover

Details: Product Description The beginning of the new millennium seems an appropriate time to assess therole of the Catholic Church in modern life. As a centuries-old institution, ithas been rocked by forces of war, politics and scandal. Recently there have beencontinual calls for change, and how the Church responds to these diverse voiceswill signal an institution that is either accepting and inclusive, or one thatis fearful and withdrawn.In Power & Peril, Michael Higgins and Douglas Letson tacklehead-on the issues that are facing the Church daily. The authors combine animpressive depth of academic research, knowledge of Church history and numerousinterviews with key international figures, interviewed specifically for thisbook, to bring fresh perspectives to the challenges confronting the Church inthe contemporary world.Power & Peril is sure to provoke strong reactions and opinionsfrom many stakeholders. As the book makes clear, there is much in the Church tobe admired, preserved and emulated. But it is undeniable that the future itfaces is fraught with questions and debate. Review Some Catholics are angry with their Church, provoked by its many contradictions. They express their complaints in books or articles in a tone of accusation, seemingly addressing the Church from a position outside of it. The more substantial literature critical of the Catholic Church, however, is produced by Catholics strongly identified with the Catholic tradition, who love their Church and think of themselves as located at its theological centre. They understand this critical literature as part of an ongoing conversation within the Catholic community. The present book belongs to this conversation. The two authors are professors at St. Jerome's College, the Catholic college on the campus of the University of Waterloo, where one of them, Michael Higgins, is president and the other, Douglas Letson, past president. The two colleagues have previously co-authored three books, Women and the Church: A Sourcebook (Toronto: Griffin House, 1986), My Father's Business: A Biography of His Eminence G. Emmet Cardinal Carter (Toronto: Macmillan, 1900) and The Jesuit Mystique (Toronto: Macmillan 1995). Their new book analyses in four long chapters, each about 80 pages, the problems confronting the Catholic Church at this time. Chapter 1 offers an account of the Church's recent evolution through the pontificate of John XXIII, the Vatican Council and the subsequent years under Paul VI and John Paul II. In this historical development a number of contradictions have emerged within the Catholic Church. Chapter 2 deals with the unresolved problems the Church's location in a secular society has produced for Catholic schools, Catholic universities and Catholic hospitals. As Rome seeks ever greater control over these institutions, society-and many Catholics-become increasingly impatient with the intervention from the central administration. Chapter 3 deals with the Church's conservative teaching on women, sexuality and married life and the critical reactions to this teaching by Catholic lay people and professional theologians. Many Catholics find it unseemly that a small group of old bachelors committed to celibacy desire to define the moral norms regulating the sexual life of humanity. Chapter 4, entitled "The Curse of Clericalism", analyses the harm done to the Catholic community, to people's freedom, creativity and holiness, through the presence of a powerful elite exercising parental authority over lay Catholics looked upon as children. Chapter 5 (as long as each of the preceding) reveals the ongoing spiritual vitality within the Church, despite its unresolved problems. My comments on this beautiful chapter will be made at the end of this book review. What are the contradictions generated by the Church's recent history? Let me mention some of them. Over a period of many centuries, the power to teach and legislate has been increasingly concentrated in the papacy. V

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