THE CATHOLIC REVOLUTION: New Wine, Old Wineskins, and the Second Vatican Council
Andrew M. Greeley, . . Univ. of California, $24.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-520-23817-6
Greeley may be better known as a novelist than a sociologist, but in this latest book he is in full professional stride, offering studied observations on his Church in the years since the landmark Second Vatican Council (1962–65). As the title suggests, Greeley proposes that a revolution has occurred since the heady days of Vatican II. In fact, he likens the actions that made change possible to the storming of the Bastille. Vatican II's reforms were modest, Greeley believes, yet were "too much for the rigid structures of 19th-century Catholicism to absorb." In short, he says, the new wine burst the old wineskins. He attributes this to the Church's failure to adjust its rhetoric and style to educated contemporary Catholics who no longer blindly obey the directives of Church authorities. Thus, he writes, Church leadership is now in conflict with lower clergy and laity, who have redefined Catholicism on their own terms, holding onto core doctrines and traditions even as they disagree with the rules in such areas as sexual behavior. Greeley does not necessarily endorse these unofficial reforms, but he does applaud the laity for their faith and calls on Church leaders to recognize and respect them. He has especially harsh words for authoritarian liturgists who have imposed their vision of worship on congregations starving for a real connection between faith and daily life. Catholics who want to know what happened after Vatican II will find this compelling reading.
Reviewed on: 01/19/2004
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