Cover image for The liberation of the laity : in search of an accountable church
The liberation of the laity : in search of an accountable church
Lakeland, Paul, 1946-
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Publication Information:
New York : Continuum, 2003.

Physical Description:
viii, 311 pages ; 24 cm
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BX1920 .L37 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The present crisis in the American Catholic Church stems from a two-fold source- lay people are powerless while the bishops are accountable to no one but the pope and the curia. While the number of lay people exercising ministries in the church has grown enormously over the past thirty years (largely due to the shortage of priests), there has been little or no theological reflection till now on the genuine role of the laity. It is only from such reflection that structural reform of the church will come.

It discusses the importance of secularity, the need for a lay liberation theology, and the centrality of the struggles against global capitalism in the mission of the church. It ends with a chapter envisioning dramatic changes in ministry and governing structures, in which accountability will be central, servant leaders will include women and married people, and both ecclesiastical careerism and the College of Cardinals will be history.

Author Notes

Paul Lakeland is professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Fairfield University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Lakeland (chair, religious studies, Fairfield Univ.) presents a well-argued and balanced take on the place and prospects of the Catholic laity and the future structures of the Catholic Church. The first of the book's two sections, which deals with "how we got to where we are," offers a narrative of the thought and contributions of a number of ultramontane theologians of the mid-20th century, particularly Yves Congar, whose work helped the church face modernity in Vatican Council II. Part 2 concentrates on the Catholic laity and the balance between the secular and the sacred, which both lay Catholics and the Church itself must acquire as the church and its members address postmodernism. In the book's final chapter, Lakeland presents a compelling argument for a postmodern church whose structure is more spirit-led than priest-led and whose ministries are performed by bishops or "servant-leaders" (who may be men or women, celibate or married, priests or nonpriests) and by laity. Recommended for seminary and college libraries and for public libraries with a strong religion circulation.-David I. Fulton, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is a work of theological analysis and advocacy focused on the nature of the Roman Catholic Church today. Lakeland (Fairfield Univ.) draws on a broad range of scholarly sources--historical and contemporary, Catholic, Protestant, and secular--to mount his attack on the forces within today's Catholic Church that have worked toward the reversal of the dramatic gains of Vatican II in the 1960s. His central point is that an institutional model similar to that used by multinational secular corporations has supplanted a biblical understanding of the nature of the Church, the priesthood, and the episcopacy, and that as a result the laity has been disempowered and an ecclesiastical careerism has replaced "servant leadership" as the main force driving Church leadership. He builds on the theology of Yves Congar and others to call for a new concept of leadership that will overcome issues of celibacy and gender and also avoid such crises as the one recently focused on child abuse by clergy. This work is learned, generally fair-minded, and accessible to a broad readership. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. P. W. Williams Miami University

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. 1
Introduction: The Idea of the Laityp. 7
Part 1 How We Got to Where We Are
Chapter 1. The Road to Vatican IIp. 17
Laity: The Decadence of an Ideap. 17
Modernism versus Neoscholasticismp. 19
The "New Theology"p. 23
The Beginnings of a Theology of the Laityp. 44
From Humani Generis to Vatican IIp. 47
Chapter 2. The Achievement of Yves Congarp. 49
Laypeople in the Churchp. 52
Stress Points in Congar's Thoughtp. 62
Congar and the Concept of "Ministries"p. 70
The Radicalism of Congar's Ecclesiologyp. 75
Chapter 3. Collegiality, Coresponsibility, and the Councilp. 78
The Council and the Laityp. 79
Suenens and the Councilp. 82
The Council Documentsp. 87
Evaluating the Work of the Councilp. 101
Schillebeeckx and the Need for Theological Reflectionp. 107
In Conclusionp. 109
Chapter 4. Theology and the Laity since Vatican IIp. 111
From the Runaway Church to Restorationp. 113
The Roman Synod of 1987p. 120
Christifideles Laicip. 125
Meanwhile, in America ...p. 131
The Theological Debate on the Laityp. 135
Part 2 Where We Go from Here
Chapter 5. Secularityp. 149
What Is "the Secular"?p. 149
Resources for a Theology of Secular Realityp. 158
The Secularity of the Churchp. 171
A Lay Spirituality of Secularityp. 177
A Note on Ordained Ministryp. 184
Chapter 6. The Liberation of the Laity, the Liberation of the Churchp. 186
The Crisis of Leadership in the Church Todayp. 188
The Liberation of the Laityp. 192
A Note on Lay Theologiansp. 205
How Democratic Should the Church Become?p. 207
Rescuing the Churchp. 215
Chapter 7. Mission in the (Post) Modern Worldp. 220
Communion Ecclesiology and Vatican IIp. 220
Reading the Signs of the Timesp. 227
The Church in Face of Modernityp. 235
The Mission of the Church Today: Combating the Anti-Humanp. 242
Laypeople and the Mission of the Churchp. 255
Chapter 8. An Accountable Churchp. 257
Does the Church Have a Future?p. 259
Beyond Vatican IIp. 262
The Structures of the Churchp. 266
The End of the Laity?p. 282
Notesp. 286
Indexp. 303