The Laity and Governance of the Catholic Church
By first providing compelling historical precedents of the roles and status of the laity as it functioned during the first millennium, Common Calling compares and contrasts those to the place of the laity today. It is this crossroad—between the past and the possible future of the Catholic Church—where the distinguished contributors to this volume gather in the hope and expectation of change. They examine the distinction between laity and clergy in regard to the power of church governance, and explore the theological interpretation of clergy-laity relations and governance in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. They look at how church officials interpret the role of the laity today and address the weaknesses in that model. Finally, they speak clearly in outlining the ways governance may be improved, and how—by emphasizing dialogue, participation, gender equality, and loyalty—the role of the laity can be enhanced.
Speaking as active believers and academic specialists, all of the contributors assert that the church must evolve in the 21st century. They represent a variety of disciplines, including systematic theology, sacramental theology, canon law, political science, moral theology, pastoral theology, and management. The book also includes an essay by James Post, cofounder of the Catholic lay movement Voice of the Faithful, the organization that was in part responsible for the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law. Common Calling looks to a future of transparency in the Catholic Church that, with an invested laity, will help to prevent any further abuse—especially the abuse of power.
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"Common Calling will spark critical discussion among academics and church personnel who seek a fuller examination of church policies and an honest vesting of laypeople in pastoral life. By elaborating specific steps toward structural change, the book's authors furnish both solid historical precedents and constructive proposals for building a pastoral future that belongs to all the baptized members of the Church."—Theological Studies
"Editor Stephen Pope says Common Calling will play a helpful role if it contributes some insights of value for the ongoing conversation about the renewal of ecclesial governance. I judge it quite successful and I commend Boston College and Georgetown University Press for bringing it to us. These essays could be appreciated by capable undergraduate and graduate students, and many others. The scholarship, candor and concern of the contributors is quite compelling."—Horizons
"The reports of clerical sexual abuse that rocked the Catholic Church in 2002 raised troubling questions: How did this happen? Why did the abuse go on so long? What will be done about it? At least one answer has emerged: The church is not well governed. In Common Calling, we are offered some solutions. Theologians, historians, scripture scholars, and canon lawyers draw on the Church's own rich tradition to remind bishops and lay people alike that we can do better. The means are at hand for a system of governance that draws on early Christian practices as well as the tested methods of modern organizations. This is an important effort to set things right. Read it."—Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, author of American Catholics and Civic Engagement
"This extraordinary collection of essays responds to the current church crisis with scholarly yet generally accessible knowledge and wisdom. It incorporates urgently needed insights from multiple disciplines into a coherent whole. All co-believers who think about and are concerned with roles in the church will find their horizons expanded. The writers in this volume provide hope for a future that is anchored in a sometimes surprising past, and nourishment for imaginative faithfulness within a living tradition."—Margaret A. Farley, Gilbert Stark Professor of Christian Ethics, Yale University Divinity School
"This is an indispensable tool in the church's task of finding a way beyond our current leadership crisis. Recognizing that the key to moving forward lies with the laity, the book is challenging, trenchant and to the point. The erudition and focus of the contributors, historians and theologians alike, proves once again that in a situation where ideological polarization is all too evident, there is no substitute for the facts."—Paul Lakeland, author of The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church
"Troubled by the failures of American Catholic bishops to respond appropriately to priests' sexual abuse of minors, the fourteen authors of these essays draw deeply from various sources of theology and church history to promote meaningful lay participation in the governance of the church. Common Calling is an urgent appeal to restore much neglected ways of sharing responsibility."—Michael A. Fahey ,SJ, Emmett Doerr Professor of Theology, Marquette University and editor of Theological Studies
"Perhaps there is a modest silver lining to the cloud that has hovered over the American Catholic church since the Boston Globe published the first of what would become a tidal wave of investigative reports on clerical sexual abuse and the malfeasance of ecclesiastical leadership. If so it would be that the revelations of ecclesiastical misconduct have led to a widespread call for a greater accountability on the part of church leadership. This collection of essays responds admirably to that call by allowing world-renowned scholars to offer insight into the crisis, its causes, and potential remedies. This volume is an indispensable resource for coming to an adequate understanding of the crisis of leadership in the church today and the reforms this crisis demands."—Richard R. Gaillardetz, Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Toledo
"Theologians, historians, scripture scholars, and canon lawyers draw on the Church's own rich tradition to remind bishops and lay people alike that we can do better. The means are at hand for a system of governance that draws on early Christian practices as well as the tested methods of modern organizations. This is an important effort to set things right. Read it."—Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, author of American Catholics and Civic Engagement
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