Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Kirche Und Katholizimus Seit 1945. Band 4: Die Britischen Inseln Und Nord-Amerika

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Kirche Und Katholizimus Seit 1945. Band 4: Die Britischen Inseln Und Nord-Amerika

Article excerpt

Kirche und Katholizimus seit 1945. Band 4: Die britischen Inseln und Nord-amerika. Edited by Erwin Gatz. (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh. 2002. Pp. 150. euro22.80.)

In four chapters of unequal length this modest but well produced book informs German-speaking readers about the Church and Catholicism since 1945 in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. The presentations, well translated from English (save for a glitch regarding the length of Father Robert Drinan's United States congressional terms), are uniformly clear and well written. They are introduced, as one expects in a scholarly German work, by extensive bibliographies, and supported by ample footnotes.

The Irish Jesuit Oliver P. Rafferty describes the situation of Catholics in Great Britain. No longer a small despised minority, British Catholics today, thanks in good part to the leadership of the late Cardinal Hume, are "more alive, less alien, and more integrated into society than at any previous time in history." Despite a steep decline in religious practice, the number of Catholics who still practice their faith is far higher than that of all other Christians combined. Though this would qualify them to exert their influence on various levels, "English Catholics remain reluctant, because of their history, to assume a leading role in society."

Rafferty's chapter on Ireland deals separately with the Church in the Republic and in Northern Ireland. Despite clergy sexual abuse scandals, the materialism engendered by unprecedented economic prosperity, and widespread rejection of the Church's teaching about sexual morality, "the Irish remain a deeply religious people. . . . Sixty-three percent of Irish Catholics are still at Mass on Sunday, a higher percentage than even in Poland."

Jean-Claude Petit writes about the Church in Quebec. All-powerful as late as the 1960's, the Church's only remaining trace of its former power and glory is the large number of imposing church buildings and other institutions with their ugly silver-painted roofs. Petit cites evidence, however, that Quebec Catholics are starting to develop "a new self-understanding, and fresh credibility."

Roberto Perrin portrays the Church in English-speaking Canada. Once a small minority alienated from the overwhelming Protestant culture, Canada's Catholics are now a multi-cultural community and the largest religious body in the country. …

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