THE COURAGE TO BE CATHOLIC: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church

George Weigel, Author . Basic $22 (256p) ISBN 978-0-465-09260-4

American Catholics divided over the future direction of their church have managed to agree on one thing in recent months: much reform is needed in the wake of the clergy sexual-abuse scandal. Weigel, a theologian and papal biographer (Witness to Hope: The Biography of John Paul II), outlines the shape he thinks it should take in this incisive analysis. More than a problem of clerical misbehavior, he writes, the present crisis is rooted in the church's failure to be faithful to its own teachings. He traces the current woes to a "culture of dissent" that he says was allowed to flourish after the reforming Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), creating an internal schism in the church. After the "truce of 1968," which allowed church leaders to publicly oppose Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical on artificial contraception, without fear of reprisal, he says it became clear that the Vatican would not support bishops who wanted to maintain discipline among priests and theologians. Weigel lays much of the blame for the sexual-abuse scandal at the feet of the American bishops, whom he chides for acting more like corporate managers than apostles. But his criticism also extends to Rome, where he points to deficiencies in canon law and the Vatican's communications strategy. As expected, Weigel dismisses such reforms as abolishing priestly celibacy and ordaining women priests, but he counters with practical solutions, including changes in the way bishops are selected. This book should stimulate discussion among both progressive and conservative Catholics. (Aug. 20)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-465-09261-1
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-465-00994-7
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