Absolute Truth

Edward Stourton, Author TV Books $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-57500-148-7
Much has happened in the Roman Catholic Church over the relatively short 35 years since the closing of the landmark Second Vatican Council, and British journalist Stourton has managed to condense it all into a succinct, engaging history that uses truth as its theme. Stourton, a television anchor with the BBC, is a Catholic who was educated by the Benedictines. As he analyzes the developments in the worldwide church since Vatican II--which effected a host of liturgical and other changes that Stourton likens to an earthquake--he combines his knowledge of church teaching with the objective eye of a journalist, occasionally adding his own commentary. Stourton deals in particular with the various disagreements over church teaching that have shaken the foundations of Catholicism in recent years. At times he is critical of his church, identifying areas where he thinks it has been heavy-handed in defending the truth. He cites, for example, the 1997 excommunication of Father Tissa Balasuriya of Sri Lanka, who challenged both the church's ideas about Mary, the mother of Christ, and its continued opposition to artificial contraception (a ban that Stourton says has been widely ignored). Although Stourton considers the church to have been ""badly battered"" by the events of the last three decades, he ends on a hopeful note, suggesting that the church's universality remains a strength amid the strain of disagreement. Although Catholic insiders will find Stourton's work of particular interest, his storytelling skills make this a fascinating read for so-called outsiders as well. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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