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Book: Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church
Author: Donald Cozzens
The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN pp. 199

Excerpt from Introduction:

"What are we afraid of?"

The question was put to me by a U.S. archbishop. It was, of course, rhetorical. He knew we Christians really have nothing to be afraid of if we place our faith and hope in the gospel, in the promise of Jesus Christ to be with his disciples to the end of time.

On another level, the question is anything but rhetorical. There appears to be a great deal that many Christians, and especially church leaders, are quite literally afraid of. This book is an attempt to answer the question, "What are we afraid of?" and to address the deeper questions, "Why are we afraid?" Why is the institutional church so defensive?" Why is it so controlling?" How is it that a church that is the bearer of the Word and the champion of the oppressed can maintain unholy silences while denying that obvious pastoral and ecclesial problems, indeed crises, even exist?

"We are, in church and in society, in big trouble," writes the renowned scripture scholar, Walter Brueggemann. Few, if any, would question his judgement. In the pages that follow we will examine some of the issues and concerns that are both symptoms and causes of the present crisis and especially the denial, itself a symptom and cause which exacerbates the church's "big trouble."

Excerpt from Book:

Failure to engage in honest, unbridled, and respectful dialogue can only deepen the present crisis engulfing the church. Efforts to enforce silence or to limit speech, we should know by now, prove ineffectual and even counter-productive. The fear that motivates such efforts, I believe, reveals a lack of faith in Christ's promise that the Spirit would be with us until the end of time. Some of us Christians, I fear, have come to put our faith in the institution rather than in the gospel it serves. To the extent that we have done so, we have committed small, invisible acts of petty idolatry that, like rushing water over rocks, have worn away the integrity and credibility of church leaders and the liberating power of Jesus' message.

Without healthy dialogue, the denial and "church spins" marking the first years of the present century will continue to threaten the integrity and credibility of our bishops and the very mission of the church. It is Chapter time to replace fear with confidence and control with trust. It is time for a holy silence and sacred listening. Above all, it is time for courageous, honest speech a time to tell the truth in love.

Table of Contents:

Part One: Masks of Denial
Chapter 1: Sacred Silence
Chapter 2: Forms of Denial

Part Two

Chapter 3: Sacred Oaths, Sacred Promises
Chapter 4: Voices of Women
Chapter 5: Religious Life and the Priesthood
Chapter 6: Abuse of Our Children
Chapter 7: Clerical Culture
Chapter 8: Gay Men in the Priesthood
Chapter 9: Ministry and Leadership

Part Three: Beyond Denial

Chapter 10: Sacred Silence, Sacred Speech