Cover image for Toward a new Catholic Church : the promise of reform
Toward a new Catholic Church : the promise of reform
Carroll, James, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
Physical Description:
130 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"A Mariner book."
Corporate Subject:
Format :


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Material Type
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BX1751.3 .C37 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Elaborating on 'A Call for Vatican III' in his best-selling book Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, James Carroll proposes a clear agenda for reform to help concerned Catholics understand the most essential issues facing their Church. He moves beyond current events to suggest new ways for Catholics to approach Scripture, Jesus, and power, and he looks at the daunting challenges facing the Church in a world of diverse beliefs and contentious religious fervor.His case for democracy within the Church illustrates why lay people have already initiated change. Carroll shows that all Catholics -- parishioners, priests, bishops, men and women -- have an equal stake in the Church's future.

Author Notes

James Carroll is the author of nine novels & the memoir "An American Requiem," which won the National Book Award. His essays on culture & politics appear weekly in the "Boston Globe." He wrote "Constantine's Sword" while on fellowships at Harvard University. Before becoming a writer, Carroll was a Catholic priest. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Taking advantage of the recent priests-and-sex crisis, Carroll polishes the conclusion of his history of Catholic anti-Semitism, Constantine's Sword (2001), into his latest anthem of dissent. Carroll shares his core complaint--that the church is institutionally corrupt--with the dean of progressive carpers, Garry Wills (see Why I Am a Catholic [BKL Je 1&15 02]). He has a reform agenda, however, consisting of five proposals: expand the faithful's biblical literacy in sophistication and depth; purge the church's political pretensions and behavior; reformulate Christology to emphasize Jesus as revelator rather than savior; run the church democratically; and repent of anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, and other ills by admitting the church has sinned. Often far from limpidly expressed, Carroll's argument also seems, in light of what Philip Jenkins' Next Christendom [BKL Ap 1 02] depicts as Catholicism's future, awfully Euro-American-centric. His insistence on downplaying the Cross, in particular, ignores how Christ's Passion empowers embattled, poor Third World Christians. George Weigel's Courage to Be Catholic [BKL S 1 02] advances more likely changes. An important statement, nevertheless. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this reconstituted version of his call to Catholic reform at the end of Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, Carroll seizes the moment of Catholicism's sexual-abuse crisis to present his ideas afresh. His agenda for change is emblematic of the one touted by progressive reform groups throughout the church in America and Europe. Carroll, a former priest who was in the seminary during the landmark Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, proposes a "Vatican III," suggesting it could even be held in a place like Boston, the epicenter of the current scandal. He presents five areas of reform dealing with scripture, the ecclesiastical power structure, teachings about Jesus Christ, democracy and institutional repentance. Among other things, Carroll would like to see the church develop a more sophisticated relationship with its scriptures, loosen its power structures to permit more lay involvement, repeal papal infallibility and de-emphasize the traditional Christian teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation so as to engender greater respect for other religions. The latter springs from Carroll's deep concerns about the church's long history of anti-Semitism, and it is a constant, somewhat overused, theme as he expands on his vision for a new Catholic Church. Readers who support the kinds of changes Carroll is seeking will be drawn to his latest work, but some orthodox Catholics may find his ideas disturbing. (Sept. 19) Forecast: National Book Award winner Carroll had a mega-hit with Constantine's Sword, a weighty tome that received critical raves. This less ambitious title will be successful, but the fall shelves are already crowded with Catholic titles, including standouts by Garry Wills and George Weigel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1 What Is to Be Done?p. 1
2 The Broad Relevance of Catholic Reformp. 20
3 Reform Proposal 1: A New Biblical Literacyp. 44
4 Reform Proposal 2: The Church and Powerp. 61
5 Reform Proposal 3: A New Christologyp. 72
6 Reform Proposal 4: The Holiness of Democracyp. 89
7 Reform Proposal 5: Repentancep. 105
Notesp. 117