The Catholic Labyrinth: power, apathy and a passion for reform in the American church by Peter McDonough
Call Number: BX1406.3 .M35 2013
American Catholicism has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals, declining attendance, a meltdown in the numbers of priests and nuns, and the closing of many parishes and parochial schools. Yet the church hierarchy is increasingly dominated by conservatives. In The Catholic Labyrinth, Peter McDonough tells of the struggles that animate various groups - such as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Voice of the Faithful, and the Leadership Roundtable - pushing to modernize the church. One contest pits reformers against those who defend traditional standards of sexual behavior and gender roles. In addition, the church's far-flung operations in education, social services, and healthcare raise constitutional issues about the separation of church and state. Once a sidebar to this debate, the bishops' campaign to control terms of employment and access to contraceptives in church-sponsored ministries has added fuel to the conflict. McDonough draws on behind-the-scenes documents and personal interviews with reformers and 'loyalists' to explore how retrenchment and resistance to clericalism have played out. In the midst of growing support for changes like optional celibacy for priests and the ordination of women, the flood of defections from the church continues. Nevertheless, immigration and a lingering reaction against the upheavals of the sixties, together with the polemics of neoconservatives, have helped sustain acceptance of traditional authority among Catholics in the pews.