VOWS OF SILENCE: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. Free Press. 353 pp. $26.
Reviewed by PAT McCLOSKEY, O.F.M., editor of this publication. Between 1986 and 1992 he served as director of communications at the international headquarters in Rome of the Order of Friars Minor.
THIS BOOK focuses on Father Thomas Doyle, O.P., (a canon lawyer who in 1985 urged this country’s Roman Catholic bishops to deal more proactively with the clergy sex-abuse crisis) and on Father Marcial Maciel (founder in 1941 of the Legionaries of Christ, an international religious community of priests and brothers).
Doyle was an Air Force chaplain from 1986 until this year when he was forcibly retired in a dispute with the Military Archdiocese U.S.A. (not related to sexual abuse). Maciel still heads the Legionaries of Christ, despite allegations of sexual abuse by at least six former members of that group.
The authors have written extensively about these men—Jason Berry about Father Thomas Doyle since the mid-1980s (after Berry wrote a 1984 series in the National Catholic Reporter about clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and elsewhere) and Gerald Renner about Father Marcial Maciel for the Hartford Courant newspaper, starting in 1996. Each co-author has written about the other priest. Berry’s initial NCR series resulted in Lead Us Not Into Temptation, a 1992 book about the national scope of this crisis. Berry and Renner have clearly done their homework.
Berry and Renner describe themselves as “products of Catholic families and schooling, with benevolent memories of priests and nuns as mentors, and priests we count as friends. Neither of us was abused, sexually or otherwise.” Both are graduates of Georgetown University; Renner worked for the U.S. bishops’ press office from 1965 to 1967.
From 1981 until 1986, Doyle worked in Washington, D.C., for the pope’s representative, Apostolic Delegate Pio Laghi. In 1985, he, Father Michael Peterson (director of St. Luke Institute in Suitland, Maryland) and Ray Mouton (a Louisiana lawyer who worked with sexual abuse cases in the Diocese of Lafayette) wrote “The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner,” a 92-page report that was never presented to all the bishops. In executive session at Collegeville, Minnesota, in June 1985, they did discuss sexual abuse by clergy.
This volume has two diagrams about the international and diocesan structure of the Catholic Church, a four-page glossary of terms, 24 pages of endnotes, six pages of acknowledgments to people who helped the authors and an 11-page index.
This volume’s title is presumably inspired by the “oath” or “vow” that cardinals take to protect the Church from scandal. The vow’s wording is never given.
There are some minor problems in an otherwise carefully researched book. The authors fail to connect the March 1989 meeting of U.S. archbishops with the pope and curia officials with the previous year’s ad limina visits. Was Francisco Franco really interested in restoring the monarchy? Pius IX did not summon Vatican I after the 1870 takeover of Rome by Italian nationalists.
You can order VOWS OF SILENCE: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II from St. Francis Bookshop.
THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE , by Diane C. Ealy. Alpha Books. 337 pp. $18.95.
Reviewed by WILLIAM DROEL, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Parish in Palos Hills, Illinois, and the author of Full-Time Christians (Twenty-Third Publications).
DURING THE INDUSTRIAL ERA, few people found meaning explicitly through their work. The Friday paycheck was reward enough. In recent years, however, many workers expect the job to deliver intangibles like camaraderie, satisfaction, personal development and more. In fact, there’s been such a change in the nature of work that a popular series like “The Complete Idiot’s Guide” can add Spirituality in the Workplace to its titles.
C. Diane Ealy’s book is part of the mushrooming spirituality-in-business movement, an eclectic mix of management techniques, “soul committees,” employee meetings on “core values,” publications, seminars, New Age themes, pop-psychology jargon and standard notions from the Puritan work ethic.
The movement is so large that the Spirit of Health Institute in California has published a spirituality-in-business directory that lists hundreds of consultants, training programs, videos and much more.
In 27 chapters Ealy, following the engaging “Idiot’s Guide” format, intersperses text with “spirit terms,” “spirit cautions” and “spirit tips.” Some of her suggestions, especially in the five chapters dealing with unemployment, are useful.
Ealy’s premise, however, is different from a Catholic spirituality of work. Ealy defines spirituality in opposition to religion. To her, “spirituality is a highly subjective inner experience,” crafted by each individual, unencumbered by the tradition or community of one’s religion. Thus, each individual is responsible for finding or neglecting the spiritual potential of one’s job without the community’s input.
Ealy is not entirely oblivious to the wider culture of work and the economy. She rightly notes that a workplace would be more humane if everyone “read this book and applied [its] suggestions and techniques.”
But Ealy is not too concerned with a company’s prevailing norms or with economic institutions. Whereas a Catholic spirituality of work focuses on policies, Ealy attends to attitudes and techniques.
The difference in approaches comes through clearly in Ealy’s chapters on “unfair treatment.” Any examples of unfairness, according to Ealy, are mostly subjective. The solution, then, is a better attitude, on the part of both the boss and the worker.
She never mentions the labor movement, departments of human resources, employee handbooks or wage-and-hour laws—much less the absolute principles of justice preserved, among other places, in religious traditions.
Here’s an abbreviated index of terms that would appear in a Catholic book about work but are missing from Ealy’s book: business ethics, capitalism, child labor, collective bargaining, Genesis, globalization, holiness, just wage, professional associations, right to organize, sin, social justice, solidarity, unions, virtue, vocation.
All of this is not to criticize Ealy unfairly for not writing a book she didn’t intend to write. It must be stated, however, that the whole individualistic approach of the spirituality-in-business movement is, from a Catholic perspective, incomplete.
You can order THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SPIRITUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE from
St. Francis Bookshop.
CONSUMING FAITH: Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy,
by Tom Beaudoin. Sheed & Ward. 121 pp. $19.95.
Reviewed by MICHAEL J. DALEY, a writer and teacher at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He recently co-edited (with William Madges) Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories, available through Twenty-Third Publications.
RECENTLY, MY WIFE came home from shopping and proceeded to show me what she’d purchased. With a smile on her face, she held up a T-shirt for our daughter and asked, “Guess how much?” Taking the bait, I said, “$2.50?” “Nope,” she replied, “lower.” Amazed at her shopping prowess, I halved my offer. Shaking her head, she said, “Wrong. I got it for 80 cents!”
Mind you, this was no garage-sale bargain, but a brand-new product purchased from a major retailer. At this point all I could do was laugh and say, “Something is wrong with the world.”
Since that episode, I have been struck by two things: One, the exchange between my wife and me was far more serious than I was willing to admit; and two, getting something for the best price may not be the best thing.
So it was with a little discomfort that I began to read Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy, by Tom Beaudoin, visiting assistant professor of theology at Boston College in Massachusetts.
Thankfully, Beaudoin avoids any moralizing or guilt trips in the book by admitting his own struggles and inconsistencies connecting his faith with his purchases. “Many young adults,” he writes, “live with the feeling that someone somewhere may be suffering because of the way that their coffee, shoes, clothes or computers are produced, but many in the middle class are too busy, tired or already have enough of their own ‘issues,’ as they say, to even begin to do anything about it. I was one of them.”
Beaudoin’s fog was lifted upon reading the book No Logo, by Naomi Klein. In it he was struck by Klein’s assertion of the power of the brand or logo. We now live in a culture where products take on personalities. The reason many people purchase them is not quality but the identity they suggest—power, youth, prestige.
There is a downside to this identification with brands, though. “Our relative trust in logos,” Beaudoin suggests, “is overwhelmingly evident in America’s refusal to ask critical questions about where our branded products come from, who produced them and how they were produced.”
In response, Beaudoin challenges the reader to unmask the brands. In his own search, he met “every imaginable firewall, evasion and euphemism” when he inquired into various companies’ labor practices. Yet he sees this as his responsibility not only as a consumer, but also especially as a person of faith.
In the process, we are forced to ask what gives meaning and value to our purchasing of goods. It should be our spirituality—the way we relate to God and one another. Through our use and/or misuse of economic goods we are stating who we are and what we believe. Beaudoin calls this an economic spirituality.
From this analysis flows a new and unfamiliar title for Jesus, “God’s Economist.” Yet anyone who has read the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) and the story of judgment in Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 25) should not really be that surprised.
One image that informs the book and provides a foundation for an economic spirituality is that of the body of Christ. Countering some understandings of the image that allow Christians to separate themselves from the larger world, Beaudoin says that “when Christians claim to be part of the ‘body of Christ,’ they must admit the importance of the world’s well-being for the well-being of the body of Christ.”
In an age of increasing globalization, where a purchase puts one in contact with people from China to El Salvador (a truly catholic experience), Consuming Faith calls us to a greater sense of awareness and responsibility as to what we buy and consume.
You can order CONSUMING FAITH: Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy from St.
GROWING OLD IN CHRIST, edited by Stanley Hauerwas, Carole Bailey Stoneking, Keith G. Meador and David Cloutier. Wm. B. Eerdmans. 32 pp. $24.
Reviewed by PASTOR DONNA SCHAPER, of Coral Gables Congregational Church in Coral Gables, Florida. She is the author of Sacred Speech: A Practical Guide for Keeping Spirit in Your Speech (Skylight Paths Publishing Company).
WE ALL HAVE OPINIONS about growing old, but few have a Christian perspective. Here a team of Christian thinkers from various fields explores how aging has been seen in Scripture, in the early Church, in the Middle Ages and in contemporary life.
Particularly helpful to people who are fearful of memory loss or stroke or other serious problems is the chapter on “Worship, the Eucharist, Baptism and Aging.” It argues for a life that is lived deeply and sacramentally, no matter how debilitated we become.
The authors also address many timely issues, including the medicalization of aging and the history of aging within Christendom. Why is history timely? Because it gives us a marvelous perspective on what is going on now.
If you are a person living in fear instead of hope as you age, this book is for you. If you are taking care of an elderly person, this book will also help you by expanding your hope and your perspective.
You might also be interested in three other books on aging:
• One Foot in Heaven: Growing Older and Living to the Full, by Michael Hare-Duke (Pilgrim Press), has an interesting approach to reviewing one’s life in later years.
• Creating a Spiritual Retirement: A Guide to the Unseen Possibilities in Our Lives, by Molly Srode (Skylight Paths Publishing), offers help to those who “only have one-quarter of a tank of gas left.”
• Spirituality and Religion: A Handbook, edited by James W. Ellor, Melvin A. Kimble, Susan H. McFadden and James J. Seeber (Fortress Press), an updated collection of essays similar to Growing Old in Christ, has a helpful essay on developing a spiritual response to Alzheimer’s.
Why are so many books coming out about later life? Because a lot of people are aging. These books help us age well and make a graceful exit.
You can order GROWING OLD IN CHRIST from St. Francis Bookshop.
THE PRIESTLY SINS, by Andrew M. Greeley. Forge Books. 304 pp. $24.95.
Reviewed by BARBARA SONNENBERG, a retired public librarian currently serving on the St. Anthony Messenger Press Advisory Board.
THAT GADFLY, that thorn in the side of the American Catholic hierarchy, Andrew Greeley, has published another novel certain to stir the waters of dissension within the Church. The Priestly Sins deals with child molestation. The topic is not sensationalized, but the book may well prove shocking for its outright attack on the hierarchy’s mishandling of the problem.
Father Greeley is an eminently respected sociologist who since 1962 has been the senior study director of the National Opinion Research Center, which annually issues a report of religious trends among Americans. He has produced myriad articles and books in this area, as well as more than 100 fictional works ranging from religious novels to mysteries to science fiction.
Although he holds a professorship at the University of Arizona, he has been quoted in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series as saying: “I am not a novelist or a sociologist or a writer or any of those things, not primarily, not essentially, not in the core of my being. I’m a priest who happens to do these other things as a way of being a priest.”
Greeley is an extraordinary storyteller, although his plots may be based on familiar current events placed in his hometown Chicago setting. Even some characters in this novel will be familiar to readers of his earlier works: Bishop “Blackie” Ryan from his mystery series; the prototypical love interest—Irish, beautiful, feisty, intelligent and sexy—“The Megans.” The naïve young priest-protagonist here, however, is not Irish but of Russian-German descent, and the nurturing relationship between the woman and the priest is sustained long enough to deepen and mature.
Father Herman Hugo Hoffman, newly ordained after an outstanding seminary experience, witnesses an assistant priest raping a young man and goes to the authorities. Self-described as “bumpkin, peasant, hayseed,” he writes: “As I reread these notes in my journal, I realize again what a young idiot I was. I had prepared a checklist of presumed vices I would knock off one by one in the months before I went to the seminary. If I conquered all these ‘sinful dispositions,’ God would be pleased with me (moderately) and would love me and help me to be a good priest. I would understand much later that God already loved me more powerfully than any human love and was pleased with me the way I was. My challenge as a priest would be pretty much the same as the challenge to any Christian, accepting God’s forgiving love and responding to it by forgiving others. Implacable forgiveness manifesting itself through flawed human forgiveness.”
He fully expects his crime report to be believed and action taken against Father Lyon. Instead, the archdiocese takes action to cover up Lyon’s crime and prove that his accuser is the homosexual.
Father Hoffman finds support from mystical sources like his great-grandmother, who appears “blinking in and out” of view, awe-inspiring dancing stars, and such valuable friends on earth as psychiatrist Liam Shannon who assures him: “...there are all kinds of abusers, Huey, and they have one thing in common, arrested sexual development, whether they’re gay or straight. You shouldn’t ordain them, and you shouldn’t re-assign them to parishes. That’s what it’s all about. I see a lot of clergy in my work, one way or another. You guys have no monopoly on it. Married clergy or heterosexual-only clergy won’t solve the problem at all, no matter what the media think.”
I must warn the reader that the author uses the novel to advocate some of his other premises: Sex between married partners is meant to be enjoyed with enthusiasm; priests should remain celibate; the laity should have a role in selecting bishops. If any or all of these premises appear too radical to allow you to enjoy the story line, be forewarned that this title is not for you. In keeping with the first premise, there are some mildly graphic love scenes.
You can order THE PRIESTLY SINS from St. Francis Bookshop.