Toward a Catholic Constitution

Leonard Swidler, Author, Andrew M. Greeley, Editor
Leonard Swidler, Author, Andrew M. Greeley, Editor Herder & Herder $19.95 (204p) ISBN 978-0-8245-1626-0
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Of the many sweeping reforms to emerge from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the vision of a constitution for the Catholic Church whose design would embody the liberating power of Jesus' love, as well as carry the work of the Church into the 21st century, has been one of the most powerful impetuses for church renewal within Catholicism. Those involved in the movement to produce a written constitution for the Catholic Church contend that such a document would reform the often rigid hierarchical structure and autocratic governance of the church and introduce a more democratic form of church procedure. With critical theological acumen, Swidler, a professor of theology at Temple University, examines the revolutionary and dynamic turns Vatican II took. Such turns, he argues, provided the impetus needed for laypeople to organize a variety of church renewal movements which reclaimed the freedom of the individual believer from the static doctrinal authority of the church. The revolutionary nature of the proposed constitution for the church, the Second Vatican Council version that Swidler reproduces in an appendix, is demonstrated by a clause which states that ""All Catholic women have an equal right with men to the resources and the exercise of all the powers of the Church."" Swidler's study provides significant insights into the character of contemporary American and European Catholicism, and it offers important suggestions for bringing the church into conversation with contemporary culture. (Sept.)
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