Empowering the People of God: Catholic Action Before and After Vatican II

Empowering the People of God: Catholic Action Before and After Vatican II

Hardback Catholic Practice in North America

Edited by Jeremy Bonner, Edited by Mary Beth Fraser Connolly, Edited by Christopher Denny

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  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 408 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 230mm x 34mm | 620g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0823254003
  • ISBN 13: 9780823254002
  • Illustrations note: black & white halftones
  • Sales rank: 1,407,488

Product description

Bolstered by a wave of immigration in the early twentieth century, a polyglot American Catholic Church struggled to forge a secure subculture in a society that regarded Catholics with suspicion. In the decades that separated the Roaring Twenties from Vatican II, Catholic Action inspired laypeople to participate in the work of the Church's hierarchy. In endeavors that ranged from religious education and liturgical renewal to labor activism and immigrant outreach, this movement permitted the Church to maintain its distinctiveness while simultaneously engaging with the wider American culture. In the aftermath of the Second World War, however, a new generation of Catholics increasingly chafed against the hierarchical ideal of Catholic Action and found in the Second Vatican Council's definition of the Church as the "People of God" a blueprint for more autonomous lay apostolates. For laypeople- and laywomen especially- the call to democratize church structures at parochial, diocesan, and national levels in the years immediately following Vatican II, led to an increasing detachment from the structures of hierarchy and authority that had commanded almost universal submission during the 1930s and 1940s. The resulting apostolates were all too often defined as much by their defiance of authority as by their supposed commitment to the "Spirit of Vatican II." Empowering the People of God: Catholic Action before and after Vatican II has been written to provide readers with an appreciation of how American Catholics at the grassroots experienced the evolving pattern of social and religious activism. Contributors use archival research to describe and interpret an array of lay movements across the United States during the middle decades of the twentieth century. In its profiles of Catholic apostolates in New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and San Francisco, this collection of essays explores the fate of a diverse array of groups, including recent immigrants and middle-class college women. Empowering the People of God demonstrates the pattern both of historical continuity and transformation within the contemporary Catholic Church in America.

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Author information

Jeremy Bonner is an independent scholar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mary Beth Fraser Connolly is the Assistant Director of the Lilly Fellows Program and Assistant Adjunct in History at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana. Her research interests include the history of American women and religion, with a particular interest in American Catholic women religious. Christopher D. Denny is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John's University in New York City.

Review quote

"Empowering the People of God gives a nuanced, complicated, insightful portrait of Catholic Action as a spectrum rather than a monolith. The volume is timely, not just for historians of American Catholicism, but also for those seeing to understand the deeper backstory to the contesting definitions of authority in the Church in the present moment."-Amy L. Koehlinger, Florida State University

Table of contents

Contents Acknowledgements List of Contributors Introduction: Jeffrey Burns Part One: Catholic Action 1. Catholic Action in the Archdiocese of New York: The Case of the Catholic Club of New York City (Patrick J. Hayes) 2. The Liturgical Movement and Catholic Action: Women Living the Liturgical Life in the Lay Apostolate (Katharine E. Harmon) 3. "The Priesthood of the Layman": Catholic Action in the Archdiocese of San Francisco (William Issel) 4. From Participation to Community: John Courtney Murray's American Justification for Catholic Action (Christopher Denny) 5. Azzione Cattolica in an American Setting: The Society of Saint Charles-Scalabrinians and Catholic Action (Mary Elizabeth Brown) Part Two: The People of God 6. Relevant Transformations: The Young Women of the Extension Lay Volunteers, 1961-1971 (Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello) 7. Reaching Out to the People of God: The Implications of Renewal for the Sisters of Mercy in Parish Schools (Mary Beth Fraser Connolly) 8. "This is Our Challenge! We will Pursue It": The National Council of Catholic Women, the Feminist Movement, and the Second Vatican Council, 1960-1975 (Mary Henold) 9. Who Will Guard the Guardians? Church Government and the Ecclesiology of the People of God, 1965-1969 (Jeremy Bonner) 10. Empowering the People of God: John Cardinal Dearden's Church of Tomorrow (Samuel J. Thomas) 11. Christian Unity, Lay Authority, and the People of God: The Community of Christ Our Brother in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, 1967-1969 (Andrew Moore)