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Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning Hardcover – September 9, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Sheer star power should draw a broad range of readers to this volume of 37 interviews, in which Catholics from diverse fields reflect on their church. Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, invited luminaries from politics, entertainment, media and the church itself to talk about their Catholic origins, current beliefs and what they would do if they could be pope for a year. Writer Anna Quindlen would ordain women and lift the ban on artificial birth control. Comedian Bill Maher, who confesses to hating religion, would end the church, while Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, D.C., would resign right away and get a good guy in there. Other interviewees include Cokie Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Allouisa May Thames, Thomas Monaghan and Douglas Brinkley. In the preface, Kennedy adds her own views, explaining why she remains a Catholic despite differences with the church on issues like abortion and homosexuality. The collection makes for interesting reading, though at times the interviews, which consist wholly of the subjects' responses, seem disjointed and rambling without the context of questions. (Sept.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."
What does it mean to be Catholic in today’s society? Is there a necessary disconnect between traditional Catholicism and contemporary reality? What role, if any, does faith play in spirituality? Catholics who have asked themselves similar questions and curious non-Catholics will be interested in the comments of 37 prominent Americans collected by the author, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. She explores what it means to be Catholic via a series of interviews with public figures with roots in the Catholic Church. Included among those tapped by Kennedy to interpret their faith are Anna Quindlen, Bill O’Reilly, Cokie Roberts, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Sheen, Bill Maher, and Frank McCourt. The diversity of responses, from both staunch believers and lapsed Catholics, reflects the ambivalence that many American Catholics attempt to come to terms with as they grapple with both institutional and spiritual issues. --Margaret Flanagan
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Many of the prominent people interviewed in it have left the Church, or have a complicated relationship to the teaching of the Church on any number of social issues.
Consequently, some people will be put off -- or feel put-down -- by the title, "Being Catholic Now." How can you be Catholic if you've left the Church, or don't accept its moral teaching? Who are these people to speak for the faithful? One could argue that they have the least sense of all of what it means to be Catholic now.
I won't attempt to answer that question, but I thought the book was deep, and that the people interviewed spoke honestly and thoughtfully.
For many, it was the social teaching of the Church and the moral education of their Catholic schooling that started them on a path of activism, but also of questioning that, ironically, led them away from their faith, or led them to have a complicated relationship with it.
Others, such as Cardinal McCarrick, followed the same path but found it led them into the Church rather than out of it.
Maybe some people don't want to hear anything about that, and fair enough: they should skip the book.
But I think it tells a story many others will recognize. And it gives voice to something many Catholics know well: how so many people still see the Church's imprint on their lives even though their faith has taken a radically different (and according to some people, wrong) turn.
It shows how, in some sense, they are still Catholic and probably always will be.
I found it always thoughtful and often very moving.
As a Catholic priest - not within the Roman Church - within the framework of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion - it is important for this type of publication to be heard. From the varied viewpoints it would appear that some of the authors would find a welcome home at one of our representations of what it means to be a Catholic/Christian in 2009.
Our doors are open to all; no one is denied that the Table. Our clergy is male, female, married, single, gay, straight as are our parish members.
This honesty makes one truly walk, as Francis of Assisi would say as
"instruments of peace".
Fr. Joe Spina, OSF
The authors do not speak with one voice. There are devout Catholics, Sunday morning mass Catholics (when they can make it), fallen away Catholics who still have a soft spot for the faith. There are men who have been abused by the religious (either sexually or as punishment) and men and women, especially women, who remember the love and devotion of their nuns and priests. Many simply are bitter towards the hierarchy of the church because of its inflexability on contraception and abortion i.e., denying sacrements to individuals who support abortion
While many of the authors are famous, they are all accomplished and successful if unknown to the public. Some have stayed in the faith and continue to find it a major part of their lives. Some seem to have deep seated issues with the Church keeping them away from Mass and even denying they are still Catholics. For others who are no longer in the pews it was simply a matter of the church losing its relevance. Really are you going to denounce contraception in this day and age and think you are not going to be thought a bit loony? But they still remember those incensed filled days when the priest's back was all they saw for most of the Mass and I think that some of them wish those days could return. As is oft repeated in this book, "Once A Catholic, Always a Catholic."
"Being Cathloc Now" is highly recommended.