Empowering the People of God

9780823254002: Hardback
Release Date: 1st November 2013

9780823254026: PDF
Release Date: 1st November 2013

Dimensions: 152.4 x 228.6

Number of Pages: 408

Series Catholic Practice in North America

Fordham University Press

Empowering the People of God

Catholic Action before and after Vatican II

A collection of essays tracing the development of selected Catholic lay apostolates in the decades before and after the Second Vatican Council. Contributors demonstrate how Catholic Action that functioned as an auxiliary of the American bishops gave way to groups more inclined to challenge episcopal authority during the 1960s and 1970s.
Hardback / £58.00
PDF / £65.00

The early 1960s were a heady time for Catholic laypeople. Pope Pius XII’s assurance “You do not belong to the Church. You are the Church” emboldened the laity to challenge Church authority in ways previously considered unthinkable. Empowering the People of God offers a fresh look at the Catholic laity and its relationship with the hierarchy in the period immediately preceding the Second Vatican Council and in the turbulent era that followed. This collection of essays explores a diverse assortment of manifestations of Catholic action, ranging from genteel reform to radical activism, and an equally wide variety of locales, apostolates, and movements.

Jeremy Bonner is an independent scholar currently based in Sheffield, England. He is the author of Called Out of Darkness into Marvelous Light: A History of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, 1750– 2006 (Wipf and Stock, 2009) and The Road to Renewal: Victor Joseph Reed and Oklahoma Catholicism, 1905–1971 (Catholic University of America Press, 2008) and the editor of a forthcoming retrospective on the impact of the Kikuyu Crisis of 1913 on the Church of England. He has published scholarly articles on Mormon and Anglican history and taught American history at Robert Morris University, Duquesne University, and the University
of Sheffield.

Christopher D. Denny is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John’s University in New York City, teaching courses in Church history and Christian historical theology from the patristic era to the contemporary period. He is the coeditor, with Christopher McMahon,
of Finding Salvation in Christ: Essays on Christology and Soteriology in Honor of William P. Loewe (Pickwick, 2011). Other recent publications include an essay on John Courtney Murray in Vatican II: Forty Years Later (Orbis, 2006) and articles in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Logos, Communio, and Horizons. The recipient of best- article awards from the Catholic Press Association and the College Theology Society, Denny is a former regional director and board member of the American Academy of Religion.

Mary Beth Fraser Connolly, currently the assistant director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, is an adjunct in history at Valparaiso University. She has taught American, women’s, and religious history at universities in New Hampshire and Indiana. She has also worked as the historian for the Sisters of Mercy Chicago Regional Community, writing their community’s history.

Empowering the People of God is a major contribution to the "lived history" of Vatican II for the American Catholics. Catholics changed and the changes made a difference for the country as well as the Church. These thoroughly researched essays demonstrate that lay empowerment was taking place before the Council. The Council persuaded lay leaders that "the shaping of the Church's future was in their hands". How they handled those rising expectations is then the theme of six well chosen case studies. Anyone who wants to understand American Catholics must consider the history provided by this excellent book.

—David O'Brien
Professor Emeritus, College of the Holy Cross, and Distingusihged Visiting Professor at Large, University of Dayton

I think a broad audience will enjoy this book about the practice of Catholic Action in America. It deals with Pope Pius Xl's call for the laity to engage in "Catholic Action" by assisting the clergy in carrying out the Vatican's definition of the Church's worldly mission, including its commitment to social justice. Millions of the faithful responded to this call, dutifully in he 1930s and 1940s and zealously after mid-century. The introduction to the book deftly contextualizes both periods of Catholic Action, and the essays explore the diversity of the activists reactions to this opportunity. Briefly put, the activists before mid-century conformed to the Pope's charge without challenging the Vatican's authority to define their options. But after 1950, in the new age of cultural individualism in American society and its institutions, the activists opted for the maximum feasible participation of the laity in the definition and implementation of the mission of the Church, a phenomenon that yielded todays' tripartite struggle, laic and clerical , among conservatives, liberals, and moderates for ascendancy in America's largest and perhaps its most quintessentially urban branch of Christianity.

—Zane Miller
Charles Phelps Taft Professor of History Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, and co-editor, The Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy Series

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
Oregon State University