Governance, Accountability, and the Future of the Catholic Church

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9780826415776: Governance, Accountability, and the Future of the Catholic Church

In March 2003 leading historians, theologians, journalists, social scientists, and foundation executives met together at the St. Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale University to examine the current crisis facing the Catholic Church. The conference was a first in the Center's history and indicative of the size and scope of a crisis unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, namely, the revelations of sexual abuse by priests and the hierarchy's complicity. The aim of the conference was to heal and strengthen the church through a deeper understanding of governance, leadership, and the roles of the laity and clergy. The findings and recommendations of this important conference are published here for the first time.

Contributors include: John Beal, Francis Butler, Francine Cardman, Marcia Colish, Donald Cozzens, Gerald Fogarty, James Heft, Gerard Mannion, John McGreevy, Francis Oakley, Peter Phan, Thomas Reese, Bruce Russett, Peter Steinfels, Brian Tierney, and Donald W. Wuerl.

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About the Author:

Francis Oakely is Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas Emeritus at Williams College and President Emeritus of the College. He is also President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies. He has held appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, at the National Humanities Center, and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. During the 1900-2000 academic year, he was the Sir Isaiah Berlin Visiting Professor in the History of Ideas at Oxford University. In 200l he gave the Merle Curti Lectures in intellectual history at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, and in 2002 the Gilson Lecture at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. His most recent book, The Conciliarist Tradition: Constitutionalism in the Catholic Church, 1300-1870 (Oxford UP, 2003) won the Roland H. Bainton History Prize of the Sixteenth-Century Society. Among his other books are Omnipotence, Covenant, and Order, Politics and Eternity, and The Western Church in the Later Middle AgesIn March 2003 leading historians, theologians, journalists, social scientists, and foundation executives met together at the St. Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale University to examine the current crisis facing the Catholic Church. The conference was a first in the Center's history and indicative of the size and scope of a crisis unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, namely, the revelations of sexual abuse by priests and the hierarchy's complicity. The aim of the conference was to heal and strengthen the church through a deeper understanding of governance, leadership, and the roles of the laity and clergy. The findings and recommendations of this important conference are published here for the first time. Contributors include: John Beal, Francis Butler, Francine Cardman, Marcia Colish, Donald Cozzens, Gerald Fogarty, James Heft, Gerard Mannion, John McGreevy, Francis Oakley, Peter Phan, Thomas Reese, Bruce Russett, Peter Steinfels, Brian Tierney, and Donald W. Wuerl.Francis Oakley is Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas and President Emeritus of Williams College and interim president of the American Council of Learned Societies. He is the author of numerous books including Politics and Eternity: Studies in the History of Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought.Bruce Russett is Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Yale, Director of United Nations Studies at Yale, and past president of the International Studies Association and of the Peace Studies Society (International). He was principal advisor to the U.S. bishops in writing their 1983 "peace pastoral, " The Challenge of Peace.

Review:

“This book, which contains the proceedings of a conference sponsored by "Yale’s Catholic Center in March 2003, is an excellent series of essays touching key areas related to the current crisis in the church such as canon law, theology and history....The essays are hopeful, sharing the conviction that the church has the resources to engage in a process of reform. They are also challenging because they lay out the demands of reform. The hierarchy must give up dogmatic thinking, used as deus ex machina, and face history. The laity and the lower clergy must develop the knowledge to enable them to claim the rights that are historically theirs and compel accountability.” —Anthony J. Pogorelc, Catholic Books Review

“Margaret O’Brien Steinfels has pointed out that the sexual abuse scandal so troubling the Catholic Church is more than a crisis about sexual abuse; it is an ecclesiological crisis. The crisis has generated various initiatives on the part of concerned Catholics....The present book, edited by Francis Oakley and Bruce Russett, represents another response, this time by the Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University. It collects the papers given at the chapel and the Yale Law School during a...conference in March 2003, which had a size and scope unprecedented in the chapel’s history. Oakley is the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas and president emeritus of Williams College; Russett is Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Yale. “The outstanding group of 16 Catholic historians, theologians, journalists, social scientists and executives who gathered for the conference were asked to examine the roots of the crisis and to propose solutions that would be in keeping with the rich history of the Catholic tradition....Each contribution make fascination reading....The historical, political and practical analysis of the contributors is extremely helpful, though I would like to have seen more of the theological. The church may exercise authority in a top-down way, but theologically it is an interdependent communio of pastors and faithful, even if this is not reflected in its structures. Still, Governance, Accountability, and the Future of the Catholic Church forced me to revise my own thinking. It convinced me that renewal means more than simply renewing the way authority is exercised; it must also involve the reform of structures that will provide for greater accountability and a system of checks and balances now almost entirely lacking...“This is an important book. After reading it, the old line ‘the church is not a democracy’ does not sound quite so final.” —Thomas P. Raush, America (Thomas P. Rausch America: The National Catholic Weekly)

"A bishop, several priests and lay people delivered these essays or conference papers before an audience at Yale University in March 2003 under the theme of the present title. Their lectures come at one of the most urgent moments in the history of the church in America and will be helpful to anyone interested in its welfare...The book prompts serious reflection on structural problems that cause a kind of ecclesial pleurisy. Steps toward a remedial plan have been taken at the national and diocesan levels, but the task is far from finished. The diocesan synod is useful, but the daily work of coordinating offices for pastoral planning, lay review boards, finance councils, and canonical services continues. A handbook for these accomplishments has yet to be written." —Patrick J. Hayes, The Jurist, Vol. 67:2, 2007:2 (Patrick J. Hayes)

“A bishop, several priests and lay people delivered these essays or conference papers before an audience at Yale University in March 2003 under the theme of the present title. Their lectures come at one of the most urgent moments in the history of the church in America and will be helpful to anyone interested in its welfare...The book prompts serious reflection on structural problems that cause a kind of ecclesial pleurisy. Steps toward a remedial plan have been taken at the national and diocesan levels, but the task is far from finished. The diocesan synod is useful, but the daily work of coordinating offices for pastoral planning, lay review boards, finance councils, and canonical services continues. A handbook for these accomplishments has yet to be written.” —Patrick J. Hayes, The Jurist, Vol. 67:2, 2007:2 (Sanford Lakoff)

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