Authorized by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, this series treats the history of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Each volume is written or edited by a respected Catholic histori an, and all are quite readable. They are also critical; those seeking a pious ac count will be disappointed. In Patterns of Episcopal Leadership, several eminent Catholic historians dis cuss key figures among the American bishops, beginning with John Carroll, consecrated bishop of Baltimore in 1789. While treating Church history in a tradi tional way, i.e., concentrating on the epis copacy, this book takes a critical ap proach, something unheard of even in the more recent past. One illustration will suf fice: Edward R. Kantowicz sees as per haps true A.E.P. Wall's assertion that Cardinal Cody was an agnostic interested only in the material, institutional aspect of the Church. There is certainly no hagiog raphy here. In Living Stones, Chinnici traces the development of American Catholic spiri tuality, considering it in connection with the American situation generally. He con nects the type of spiritual life popular at a given time (as exemplified by its most prominent ecclesiastical personages) with the prevailing political and economic situ ation--an approach that succeeds admira bly. Thus, different experiences--that of immigrants, for instance--are shown to produce distinctive spiritualities. In Catholic Intellectual Life in Ameri ca, Reher studies the intellectual leader ship of the American Catholic Church over the last 200 years. After examining John Carroll's attempts to bring intellec tual respectability to American Catholi cism, Reher considers Orestes Brownson and Isaac Hecker, who probably did more than anyone to forge the identity of 19th- century Catholic intellectual life. She also considers the development of the Catholic University of America and the thought of Gustave Weigel, a Jesuit who did signifi cant work in reconciling Roman Catholic thought and American democracy. Liptak's Immigrants and Their Church shows us immigrants trying to become Americans. She points out that the Irish, resisted by nativist Protestants, in turn re sisted the immigrants who followed. While not ignoring the anti-Catholic prej udice that was widespread in America, Liptak concentrates more on the relation ship among immigrant Catholics of differ ent nationalities. While the animosity be tween the Irish and the Germans is rightly placed at center stage, the Italians, Poles, and French Canadians are also considered. Reher ends with some reflections on the future of black and Hispanic Catholicism. Holding that after two centuries the Catholic Church in America still does not have a clear understanding of its public role, O'Brien (history, Holy Cross Coll.) examines the interaction between the Church and society at large. He considers in turn "Republican Catholicism," "Im migrant Catholicism," "Liberal Catholi cism," "Reform Catholicism," "Social Catholicism," and finally "American Ca tholicism." O'Brien sees Catholics' histo ry in America as a struggle to balance their loyalties to Church and State. While not entirely neglected in the pre ceding volumes, women do not receive the coverage their role in American Cath olic history warrants. American Catholic Women redresses the balance by offering essays on women religious as well as lay women. Topics covered include the Cath olic home, women in the convent, and women in the labor force. Women are dealt with as individuals and as members of organizations, such as the Sisters of Mercy. As befits the solid treatment of fered by the entire series, this volume ends with a balanced treatment of the im pact of feminism on Catholic women.
- Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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