Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Disturbing the Peace: A History of the Christian Family Movement, 1949-1974

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Disturbing the Peace: A History of the Christian Family Movement, 1949-1974

Article excerpt

Disturbing the Peace.' A History of the Christian Family Movement, 19491974. By Jeffrey M. Burns. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. 1999. Pp. vii, 296. Paperback.)

This interesting history of one of the lay movements in the postwar American Catholic Church provides another look into the world of Catholic Action. Burns describes how a generation of young married Catholic couples were inspired by the Cardijn method and the theology of the Mystical Body to change their neighborhoods and the world. Although Patrick and Patricia Crowley are known as Mr. and Mrs. CFM, Burns shows that the establishment of CFM was the result of a number of interested married couples who had been meeting in various cities from 1946 to 1949. In the summer of 1949, lay delegates and priests met at a retreat center outside Chicago for the three-day meeting that laid the groundwork for CFM. Burns also does a good job of providing the social and ecclesiastical context in which CFM was established and grew.

The author balances the story of the internal issues affecting the group and its rapid growth with the story of how CFM groups related to the wider world. National leaders regularly discussed an early tension within CFM between family development or social action. Burns describes how this internal question shaped the issues, which CFM addressed in subsequent decades.

Because CFM " ... perceived themselves to be an avant-garde with a mission to bring the American church into the modern world" (p. 4), the issues of race, gender and sexuality, ecumenical relations, and the implementation of Vatican Council H became the topics of very lively discussion. The four chapters of the book that deal with these themes provide the most interesting reading. The contribution that the Crowleys made to the Papal Birth Control Commission and their subsequent opposition to Humanae Vitae is a minor episode of the book, since Robert McClory already has told that story. …

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