Goodbye Father
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Goodbye Father : The Celibate Male Priesthood and the Future of the Catholic Church

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In the last half-century, the number of Catholic priests has plummeted by 40% while the number of Catholics has skyrocketed, up 65%. The specter of a faith defined by full pews and empty altars hangs heavy over the church. The root cause of this priest shortage is the church's insistence on mandatory celibacy. Given the potential recruitment advantages of abandoning the celibacy requirement, why, Richard A. Schoenherr asks, is the conservative Catholic coalition-headed by the pope-so adamantly opposed to a married clergy? The answer, he argues, is that accepting married priests would be but the first step toward ordaining women and thus forever altering the demographics of a resolutely male religious order. Yet Schoenherr believes that such change is not only necessary but unavoidable if the church is to thrive. The church's current stop-gap approach of enlisting laypeople to perform all but the central element of the mass only further serves to undermine the power of the celibate priesthood. Perhaps most importantly, doctrinal changes, a growing pluralism in the church, and the feminist movement among nuns and laywomen are exerting a growing influence on Catholicism. Concluding that the collapse of celibate exclusivity is all but inevitable, Goodbye Father presents an urgent and compelling portrait of the future of organized Catholicism.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 139.7 x 226.1 x 15.2mm | 385.56g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1 line illus.
  • 0195175751
  • 9780195175752

Review quote

"Richard Schoenherr tackles one of the most important questions facing today's Catholic Church: How much longer will the Church be able to maintain a priesthood that is exclusively celibate and male? Part heartfelt theology, part hard-nosed sociology, part hopeful manifesto, this book's answer will please some and dismay others, but no one interested in the future of the Church should ignore it."-Mark Chaves, author of Ordaining Women "Goodbye Father is a timely book. It builds on Richard Schoenherr's 1993 study of the declining numbers of the Roman Catholic priesthood, Full Pews and Empty Altars. It takes that book the second step with an analysis of the sociological and structural patterns that either promote or impede a transformation in the Catholic Church toward a new model of priesthood that can include women and married men. For Schoenherr only such a transformation can really respond to the present crisis of the priesthood." - Rosemary RadfordRuether, author of Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology "Goodbye Father is Richard Schoenherr's masterpiece, and a remarkable last will and testament that bears light into the contemporary discussion of celibacy for priests, scattering the darkness so that we may pause, lower our defenses, and begin to grasp the complexity of this issue and its relationship to institutional Catholicism. This book is as calm, steady, and courageous as Richard Schoenherr himself was as it strikes off the chains of our preconceptions, freeing us to learn from a master teacher. This book is indispensable, a great gift to this very moment in which this searching light scans every dimension of the subject without raising the heat."-Eugene Kennedy, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago; author of The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality "Richard Schoenherr was a first-rate social scientist with a first-rate grasp of the inner workings of the Catholic Church and especially its priesthood. In Goodbye Father, Schoenherr has left us a rich and lasting gift which illuminates many of the issues that continue to challenge and vex the Church. Its wisdom and insights mark a clear path toward their eventual resolution."-Richard P. McBrien, Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame; author of Catholicism and Lives of the Saints "[Goodbye Father] concerns much more than an argument about who should be ordained; his significant scholarly reflection on the interplay between religion and modern society deserve serious study....Exceptional is Schoenherr's analysis of the social conditions that are changing the face of Roman Catholicism and virtually every dimension of ministry."-America "This book will bring rich rewards to all who delve into its pages and ensures that Richard Schoenherr will be remembered as one of the truly prophetic social scientists of the study of the priesthood."-National Catholic Reporter "As convincing in its analysis as [Full Pews, Empty Altars] was in its statistics."-Garry Wills, The New York Times Book Reviewshow more

About Richard A. Schoenherr

The late Richard A. Schoenherr was a member of the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. David Yamane is Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame.show more

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