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Book details
  • Genre:RELIGION
  • SubGenre:Christianity / Catholic
  • Language:English
  • Pages:274
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098387587

What Happened to the Roman Catholic Church? What Now?

An Institutional and Personal Memoir

by Gabriel Moran

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 This book What Happened to the Roman Catholic Church? What Now? is an ambitious attempt to do two things: i) Describe what happened to the church, especially in the years between 1950 and 1975. The problems that arose in that period caused a spit in the church around issues that are still evident. 2) Propose a realistic first step toward a very different structure of the church. The proposal is for a church that is similar to the earliest form of the church when joined with today's culture and technology. A worldwide organization of small communities was impossible in the first century but can now be imagined.

The genre of the book is unusual. It is a memoir of the author's experience of the church from World War II until the present. The author's anecdotes  try to illuminate what was happening in the institution.


What Happened to the Roman Catholic Church? What Now? is a radical criticism of the Roman Catholic Church combined with some radical suggestions for dealing with its problems. The book is rooted in the tradition of the Church that the author draws upon in a creative way. The first three chapters trace the history of the Roman Catholic Church from 1945 to the crucial period of the 1960s. The remaining nine chapters examine various issues that surfaced after the partial reforms of the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65, By the mid-1970s, the Church had become badly split and the rift has never been healed. Millions of Roman Catholic who were disappointed at the direction that the Church took have ceased to be practicing members. Many people are skeptical about the Church's future. A positive attitude toward the Church that Pope Francis has generated has been largely obscured by the clergy sex-abuse scandal. This problem requires some profound examination of the structure of the Church. The author proposes a way to retain the function of priesthood while eliminating a clerical class. The heart of the book is that the basis of the Church's teaching are two concepts, revelation and natural law, that are badly in need of historical and philosophical criticism. Revelation is seldom examined because of the widespread assumption that it was made clear at the Second Vatican Council. The author contends that the Council never faced the question of what divine revelation is, where it came from and the limitation of its meaning today. The Church's use of the concept of natural law needs much better historical and philosophical study than is provided by the Catholic writers on the subject. These two concepts are central to the official positions of the Roman Catholic Church on abortion, homosexuality and end-of-life issues that are discussed in the book. In proposing organizational changes, the author starts from descriptions of the earliest church. It was a group of men and women who shared a special meal, listened to stories and writings about their founder, and did works that served the physical and spiritual needs of people. The hallmark of the church was community but as the church spread quickly and attracted many converts the sense of community was difficult to retain. This book examines the nature of community before proposing how the Church could be a community of communities. The last chapter of the book describes a democratic form of the Church which was not possible for most of history but is now both possible and necessary.
About the author
Gabriel Moran is Professor Emeritus of Educational Philosophy at New York University where he taught for thirty-five years. He is the author of thirty books which cover a wide range of topics in education, religion, ethics and politics. All the books are concerned with finding language that help conversation about divisive issues. His books on the Roman Catholic Church began in 1963 and have continued to the present. He is best known for his writing on idea of religious education.
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