(A title like that begs the obvious question - reclaim Catholicism...from whom? And for whom?)
There is a new book out, entitled Reclaiming Catholicism (Orbis Books) and edited by my friend and former colleague at Boston College, Thomas Groome, chair of its Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, and by Michael Daley, religion teacher at St. Xavier High in Cincinnati.
Perhaps the book will help younger Catholics to better understand and appreciate Catholicism’s roots in the pre-Vatican II era, and older Catholics to recall the spiritual assets that contributed to their own religious formation.Individual books, however, usually have limited impact, and I suspect that Reclaiming Catholicism will be no exception.
Nevertheless, one hopes that younger and older Catholics alike will find something of value in this one.
A sampling of the contributors and their entries yields such a hope: “Studying the Bible, Then and Now,” by Sr. Diane Bergant, C.S.A.; “The Humbling of the Priesthood,” by Fr. Donald Cozzens; “The Pre-Vatican II Church and Women,” by Susan Ross; and “Sin: ‘Don’t Lose All That Old-Time Catholic Guilt,’” by Fr. Charles Curran.
Boy, what a line-up of contributors. "...one hopes that younger and older Catholics alike will find something of value..."? Yeah - Book, meet birdcage.
Most people are familiar with Curran - one of the head honchos of dissident priests who stirred up rejection of Humanae Vitae back in the day - and Cozzens is fairly well-known for his less-than orthodox views on the priesthood (being a priest himself makes that rather ironic).
I hadn't heard of Bergant or Ross. Here's a little snippet of each after a quick Google search (emphases mine):
Sister Dianne Bergant, C.S.A., a professor of biblical studies at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago, has been named the 2009-10 Rev. Robert J. Randall Distinguished Professor in Christian Culture at Providence College.
Sister Bergant, who is the sixth scholar to be appointed Randall Chair, will offer two lectures—one focusing on women in the church and the second on the relationship between the Bible and ecology—during the academic year. In addition, she will teach a course on Biblical Methods during the fall semester. In the spring, she will lead a course that investigates the relationship between the Bible and contemporary issues such as eco-justice, gender, class, and economics.
Dr. Susan A. Ross, received her B.A. in 1972 from Manhattanville College in New York ... At Loyola, Dr. Ross became a full professor in the theology department in 2002 and the director of the Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, Center for Women and Leadership in 2006. In addition to teaching classes in the graduate and undergraduate theology programs, Dr. Ross also teaches in the Women’s Studies Program, the Institute of Pastoral Studies, and the Catholic Studies Program. Dr. Ross has published numerous articles, chapters, and book reviews regarding theology, particularly on topics that include women and the Eucharist, embodiment, feminist theology, and feminist ethics. She also published Extravagant Affections: A Feminist Sacramental Theology in 1998 and For the Beauty of the Earth: Women, Sacramentality, and Justice in 2006 and co-edited Broken and Whole: Essays on Religion and the Body with Maureen A. Tilley in 1995. Dr. Ross’ expertise in feminist theology has been recognized throughout the theology profession as she has been invited to present lectures and presentations at numerous institutions, conferences, and workshops.
There are other contributors as well - McBrien admits that he has two essays in the book. What surprised me was to see Archbishop Fulton Sheen as a contributor - he's probably rolling over in his grave as I write this.
But for the rest - it's like a convention of the Legion of Doom - all the bad guys in one place. Seems to me that this collection of essays ought to be named "Restructuring Catholicism", or "Essays On A New Faith That We're Going To Call Catholicism, Whether You Agree With Us Or Not". It'd be so much nicer if these folks would just believe in the Catholic faith rather than seek to undermine and reshape it.
The rest of McBrien's piece goes on to assert that the problems in the Church today are due to the actions of divisive bishops and a poor degree of leadership at the episcopal level. Ho hum same-o same-o. That's oversimplifying the issue by quite a bit, because he neglected to include the actions of heretical theologians, dissenting theology professors and crack-pot collections of essays not worth the paper they're printed on.
I bet that's not in the book.