The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American Catholicism

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9780060587208: The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American Catholicism

Rather than chronicling the well-reported sexual abuse scandal or advocating a particular reform agenda, David Gibson shows how the crisis in the church is unleashing forces that will change American Catholicism forever.

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Religion journalist David Gibson delivers a controversial state of the union address for the Catholic Church. Although his writing style is journalistic, heavily infused with quotes from big-name sources in the Church, Gibson is not an objective reporter. He clearly believes that the current crisis is not about a lack of faith in God—but, rather, a breakdown of trust in the Church's leadership. Of course, an obvious source of this breakdown is the leadership's failures to stop, prevent, or even publicly acknowledge the fact that Church personnel were sexually abusing children and young people. But he also believes that the ensuing crisis of 2002 was a kind of "perfect storm" where powerful forces of tension that "have been bearing down on Catholicism for decades" converged into an inventible, stormy clash.

Gibson is most controversial when portraying a seemingly indifferent and arrogant Church leadership that is reticent to hold itself accountable to its constituents. Ultimately, he stands most closely beside the diverse and devout lay people of the Church—-seeing them as the instigators of vast and necessary reforms. Historically, change in the Catholic Church has come from the bottom up. But in earlier times that change was kick-started by its influential religious orders of monks and nuns as well as individual champions, such as Teresa of Avila and Hildegarde von Bingen. Nowadays, "with the numbers of nuns and brothers falling even faster than the priests," it is up to the laity to create the revolution from below, according to Gibson. He sees this laity leadership rising out of a movement that is in already in place in America, where the laity now read the Scriptures at Mass, distribute the Host to congregants, teach Catechism classes to the next generation and serve as chaplains in nursing homes and college campuses. While it's too soon after the storm to completely assess the damage or predict the course of the future--Gibson is certainly offering a conversation that this crisis-battered community needs to have. --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

David Gibson is an award-winning religion writer and a committed lay Catholic. He writes about Catholicism for various newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Bo

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