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Posted April 7, 2010

Book: The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America
Author: James M. O’Toole
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2010. Pp. 376

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

A new age of the church in America has begun, and what form that church will take, what combination of old and new, will be up to its people to decide. As they do, history offers a standard against which to measure the many possible futures. Expressions of faith that are two thousand years old are essential and permanent; practices that are only two hundred years old may be something less than that. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes,: as Thomas Jefferson (hardly sympathetic to Catholicism or to any other organized religion) wrote in th Declaration of Independence, and his political insight might just as readily be applied to churches. Still, knowing their own history is important for American Catholics no less than knowing their own family story.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The twenty-first century will see American Catholics continue their ambivalent relationship to the papacy. The pattern of lay people as simultaneously loyal and independent was firmly in place by the time of the sexual abuse scandal, and it was further exaggerated by tghe events of that crisis. As with their insistence on staying in the church despite all that had happened, they would give up neither their attachment to the pope nor their willingness sometimes to chart a course different from his. The enduring tension was particularly evident in three areas: the accountability of the hierarchy, expressed in the way the bishops involved in the scandal had been chosen for office; the nature of Catholic colleges and universities; the emergence of a group of younger priests who were often more conservative than their parishioners.

Table of Contents:

1. The priestless church

2. The church in the democratic republic

3. The immigrant church

4. The church of Catholic action

5. The church of Vatican II

6. The church in the twenty-first century