Synopses & Reviews
A clear-eyed and personal examination of the Catholic faith, its leaders, and its complicated history by National Book Award-winner James Carroll
James Carroll turns to the notion of practice—both as a way to learn and a means of improvement—as a lens for this thoughtful and frank look at what it means to be Catholic. He acknowledges the slow and steady transformation of the Church from its darker, medieval roots to a more pluralist and inclusive institution, charting along the way stories of powerful Catholic leaders (Pope John XXIII, Thomas Merton, John F. Kennedy) and historical milestones like Vatican II. These individuals and events represent progress for Carroll, a former priest, and as he considers the new meaning of belief in a world that is increasingly as secular as it is fundamentalist, he shows why the world needs a Church that is committed to faith and renewal.
"Carroll, a former Catholic priest who wrote of his conflict with his father over the Vietnam War in An American Requiem, revisits and expands on that tension in this spiritual memoir infused with church history. Here, Carroll traces his life as a son of the Catholic Church, showing how he and the church changed as he moved from boyhood into adulthood. Ordained a priest in 1968, the year Humanae Vitae, the controversial encyclical on contraception, was released, Carroll discovered by 1974 that he could no longer keep his vow of obedience if it meant heeding teachings with which he disagreed. Leaving the priesthood freed him to pursue more fully his life as a writer, but also to be the kind of Catholic he believes the reformers of his church envisioned in the Second Vatican Council of 1962 1965. Although he laments what he calls the more recent 'conservative reaction' to the council, he remains Catholic. Readers who, like Carroll, remain Catholic but wrestle with their church's positions on moral issues will most appreciate his story." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From a National Book Award-winning and bestselling author, James Carroll's examination and explaination of why he is till a practicing catholic, set against the history of the Catholic Church in America and the sometimes glorious, sometimes discouraging actions of its leaders.
Practicing Catholic is a personal history of the American Catholic Church during James Carrolls lifetime. It traces the transformation of a medieval institution suspicious of American ideas of freedom and democracy into a church that has begun to embrace basic American principles of pluralism and respect for conscience. The book tells the story of heroes (Pope John xxiii, Thomas Merton, Cardinal Richard Cushing, William Sloane Coffin), and great events (Vatican ii, the Kennedys, the end of the Cold War). Considering the new meaning of belief in a secular world, it stands against the fundamentalisms of “neo-athetists” as well as of born again Christians. The book shows how and why the world needs a renewed, rational, vital Catholic Church. All of this is centered in the life-long journey of its author, who embraced the priesthood in his youth, but who finds in the writing life a renewal of religious belief. For James Carroll faith is a practice-- like all practice, it aims at getting better.
About the Author
was raised in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. He served as a chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. A distinguished scholar-
in-residence at Suffolk University, he is a columnist for the Boston Globe and a
regular contributor to the Daily Beast.
His critically admired books include Practicing Catholic, the National Book Award-winning An American Requiem, House of War, which won the first PEN/Galbraith Award, and the New York Times bestseller Constantines Sword, now an acclaimed documentary.