About this book
THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC church is a remarkable institu tion. Its people worship in numbers that dwarf figures from elsewhere. It has one of the most vibrant of Cath olic school systems, perhaps the most vibrant. It is by and large an obedient church, some would say docile controversies of recent years notwithstanding. It is a church characterized by great loyalty to the pope and by unstinting financial generosity to Rome. Still, the Ameri can church is a church in transition. There has been ero sion in areas of church life. Yet more is likely. The vii viii PREFACE American Catholic church, in sum, is a ready-made sub ject for analysis and study. When this book project on American Catholicism was first broached, no particular time urgency seemed to be involved. In recent years, nuns and priests had ex ited the religious life by the thousands, and their ranks were not being refilled. Many seminaries and convents had been closed for lack of need, then sold off to meet the financial imperatives of the respective religious com munities. The administration of Catholic hospitals in several cities had been turned over to lay boards, and a few Catholic colleges had shut their gates. A number of Catholic publications had disappeared from view, and in many Catholic parishes, focuses shifted, often to ac tivities of apostolic inconsequence, as emphases drained away from diocesan schools, very many of which had closed for good.
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