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Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church Paperback – Bargain Price, February 21, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A seasoned journalist who writes on social and religious issues, Bonavoglia interviewed hundreds of Catholic women—some in their 20s, most middle-aged or older, some traditionalist, most progressive—in order to show "how the Church has tried to silence women through time... and how Catholic women, undaunted, have persevered." Some chapters profile individuals such as Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun from Minnesota who defied a Vatican command, and Elizabeth Johnson, an academic who became Catholic University's first tenured female theologian only after defending herself before a committee of cardinals. Some describe groups in which women play a major role, such as Voice of the Faithful, formed to respond to the recent sexual abuse and cover-up scandals. Much of the book, however, is devoted to the many women who work behind the scenes—often in the face of formidable opposition—on behalf of mostly liberal issues such as gay and lesbian rights, reproductive choice, fair treatment of the divorced and the full inclusion of women in church life. Bonavoglia's accumulation of evidence points to serious structural flaws in the church, many of them caused or exacerbated by its systematic exclusion of women from leadership. Though conservatives will disagree with her suggested reforms, many readers will welcome this compelling account of what dedicated Catholic women are accomplishing for the church they love. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Bonavoglia was for many years a "Catholic in exile," but her faith and spirituality have been rekindled by the resurgence of a women's movement within the male-dominated church. Inspired by the growing number of females "bent on restoring women and lay Catholics to their rightful place in the Church," she began to track the justice and equality movement these astonishingly diverse women have been successfully revitalizing. The women profiled are representative of the breadth and variety of this progressive revolution. The causes they champion include reproductive and sexual rights, the ordination of women into the priesthood, and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the church family. Juxtaposed against the recent clerical abuse scandals, these and other calls for reform made by women all seem to make good common and spiritual sense. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060570636
  • ASIN: B002XULZ86
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,977,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Angela Bonavoglia is a writer on women's issues and Church reform; she also wrote The Choices We Made: Twenty-Five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion. She wrote in the Introduction to this 2005 book, "As I grew up, I saw how miserably the public Church failed to live up to its own ideals, deeply instilled in me, of justice and equality... By the time I was in my twenties, I became a Catholic in revolt.... But somewhere along the way, I gave up. I became a Catholic in exile, and a Catholic trapped... Today, I am an itinerant Catholic. I make my way to Mass as often as I can, hoping the sermon will not drive me away... Yet, what becomes of women in the Catholic Church will dictate what becomes of the Church itself. Women make up more than half of the Church's one billion members. When they leave, so do their children. Worldwide, the Church is in crisis... We are at a pivotal moment in terms of the Catholic women who are storming the Church's gates today.... these women are fighting for the soul of the Catholic Church, and they will not be moved.... This is their story."

She says in the first chapter, "For nuns, two major development causes cataclysmic changes in religious life. The first was the Sister Formation Movement of the 1950s... American nuns pursued advanced education as never before. They earned master's and doctoral degrees, becoming among the most educated employees of the Roman Catholic Church. The other influence was the Second Vatican Council... It called for the 'renewal of religious life,' empowering religious communities to change everything, from prayer rituals to internal governance to their place in the world." (Pg.
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Format: Hardcover
While the bishops of our country fiddle, the Church continues to be burned by abusive priests. This is a book that speaks to some real issues that need the attention of our bishops. Angela writes about a number of sad occurences that continue to plague the church. She shows how a great number of women who love the Church with a passion but who name the abuses that cause crisis for the People of God are working and praying with great energy to right some of the wrongs that have happened in our century. She is not afraid to call the abuse by its real name and her documented pages tell us that real people are struggling with some hard topics that need healing. These are women who have opted to stay in the church but can no longer stay with a church that is not ready to return to the values of Jesus. Angela shows how women are striving to change the church to a servant leadership model where power and prestige have very little place in the hearts of those who are called to be our leaders.

This is truly a book that indicates that we can no longer remain a status quo group but need to move back to the original values of the Church found in the Acts of the Apostles and in the letters to the early Churches.
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Format: Paperback
As a deeply conservative Roman Catholic, it would be dishonest for me to suggest that I read Good Catholic Girls with a terribly open mind. Billed as a fight for change, the introduction featured calls for "an end to mandatory clerical celibacy" and arguments for "women's moral authority on birth control, homosexuality, divorce, and abortion". Here was reform of the revolutionary variety.

Nonetheless, I read with curiosity. While Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" is causing a sensation in more orthodox circles, it will be sometime yet before the rest of the world catches on: tellingly, it receives no mention in Good Catholic Girls. Meanwhile, the heresies which author Angela Bonavoglia presents are the sort paraded out every time the Church is believed to be poised for reform. Thus, for instance, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger--ubiquitous villain of the book--was chosen pope, journalists bemoaned the election of another traditionalist who was content to allow the Church to lag helplessly behind the times. The implicit assumptions seem to be: 1) that the Roman Catholic Church will one day shake loose the bonds of tradition and embrace modernity in all its forms; and 2) that the reluctance to do so is what prevents Her from once again playing a meaningful role in society. Specifically, Good Catholic Girls argues that it is high time the Church stops silencing women and starts embracing their role as "equals". Of course, this is to be done on progressive terms.

Although I reject both assumptions, the book contains some value because it offers for examination a variety of arguments in their favor. This allows us to ask, charitably, how much can be said in favor of the drastic changes which Bonavoglia and her compatriots insist that the Church undertake.
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Format: Hardcover
In "Good Catholic Girls: How Women are Leading the Fight to Change the Church,"

Angela Bonavoglia provides profiles of many different women who are pushing to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Each of these women has her own agenda, her own "cause." None of them came to the decision to challenge the Church lightly. Rather, circumstances demanded it and they responded. Bonavoglia herself is one of the women pushing for change and this book is her contribution to that effort. She acknowledges that there are many Catholic women who see things differently and who support a "vision that maintains the Church's status quo." She states that "they are spirited and devoted, too. But they don't represent the future I want to see for the Church."

Bonavoglia provides a useful service in bringing a female face to the recent sex abuse scandal in the Church. While the media has focused primarily on the abuse of young boys, there are also many girls and women who have been taken advantage of by priests in power. In some cases, the abuse extended into the confessional, with women who worked up the courage to share their experience of abuse being told that *their* sins are forgiven! Obviously, there is no room for such abuse in the Church. Bonavoglia rightly condemns those in hte hierarchy who refused to take reports of abuse seriously and instead simply moved offenders from parish to parish. She makes the interesting contention that if women had a role in the hierarchy, they wouldn't have allowed this to happen - they would have protected the children.

Bonavoglia celebrates the work feminist theologians have contributed to the field. They have" reenvisioned God as not necessarily male or female, but male or female or neither.
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