The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever

The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever

by Mark S. Massa
     
 

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The Second Vatican Council enacted the most sweeping changes the Catholic Church had seen in centuries. In readable and compelling prose, Mark S. Massa tells the story of the culture war these changes ignited in the United States—a war that is still being waged today. The first stirrings of upheaval took place in the pews, where changes to the mass were felt

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Overview

The Second Vatican Council enacted the most sweeping changes the Catholic Church had seen in centuries. In readable and compelling prose, Mark S. Massa tells the story of the culture war these changes ignited in the United States—a war that is still being waged today. The first stirrings of upheaval took place in the pews, where changes to the mass were felt immediately and viscerally by the faithful. Suddenly, one Sunday, the mass as they had always known it was very different, and so was the Church they had believed was timeless and unchanging. Skirmishes quickly broke out over the proper way to worship, with "liberals" welcoming change, "conservatives" resisting it. Soon, Catholics found themselves bitterly divided over everything from birth control to the authority of the Church itself. As he narrates these turbulent events, Massa takes us beyond the "liberal/conservative" stereotypes, offering new insights into the last fifty years of American Catholicism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This latest effort to digest the impact of the Second Vatican Council on Catholicism attempts to show that significant change did occur in the church in a way that is permanent and thus unlikely to be undone. Massa, professor of theology at New York's Jesuit-run Fordham University, dismisses the view ascribed to the late Pope John Paul II that Vatican II changed nothing essential in the belief and practice of the church. To say this, the author claims, is tantamount to trying to put the "genie back into the bottle." He defends his position by citing the changes in worship that were introduced and, for the most part, warmly welcomed by Catholics, touching off a revolution that he says was felt in the widespread rejection of the message of Humanae Vitae, the 1968 papal encyclical on birth control, and in reforms in religious communities, and also in social activism on the part of Catholics. Although by no means a comprehensive examination, Massa's work is thoughtful and will be of special interest to students of Vatican II and the 1960s social revolution. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Massa goes in-depth on the aftermath of Vatican II in this country. This is absolutely essential reading if you want to understand the turmoil and turbulence that occurred in the American Church in the late 1960s."—U.S. Catholic

"With his characteristic clarity and verve, Mark Massa provides a balanced and badly needed analysis of 'the Catholic sixties.' He tells a gripping story of that fateful decade by seeing the great issues revealed through the lenses of specific incidents and personages. He is thus able to hold our attention and, most important, dispel the comforting myth that the issues were frivolous, without merit, and not worthy of revisiting today."

—Rev. John O'Malley, S.J., author of What Happened at Vatican II

"Mark Massa brilliantly identifies historical consciousness as the acid that dissolved the old Catholic certainties. He is equally convincing in demonstrating that the story of Catholicism since Vatican II is an example of the law of unintended consequences. There was no conspiracy of left or right; just an unexpected combination of internal Catholic stresses and a volatile situation in the United States of the sixties and seventies."

—Patrick N. Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, Emory University

"That the history Massa recounts is so recent makes his book even more remarkable. He has produced a credible description of the forest while most of us are still busy scrutinizing individual trees. And that he has done so with such grace and humor will win Massa more admirers, not only among scholars but also among the coveted and elusive 'general readers.'"

—America Magazine

"Massa offers a keen, captivating study of the Vatican II era and its influence on American Catholicism... Recommended." — Choice

"This is a good read, beautifully written, for those who want to understand what happened in that decade." — Conscience Magazine

"The American Catholic Revolution is an engaging, accessible, and astute appraisal of twentieth century Catholicism that makes the convincing case for a Catholic tradition defined by change." —Catholic Library World

"This is absolutely essential reading if you want to understand the turmoil and turbulaence that occured in the American Church in the Late 1960's."—Ken Trainor, One Man's Guide to Reading on Vatican II

"Massa makes his argument is very readable prose and with many historical facts...."—James F. Garneau, Mount Olive College

"Well-written, accessible, and consistently interesting." — Worship Magazine

Library Journal
Jesuit historian Massa (dean, Sch. of Theology & Ministry, Boston Coll; Anti-Catholicism in America) examines several events of the 1960s that transformed the Catholic Church. Using a history-of-ideas approach, he shows that these events did not come out of the blue, but can be seen as the culmination of a process that had been going on for some time. Treating liturgical renewal, the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI on birth control and Charles Curran's dissent to it, the Catholic antiwar movement, and unintended consequences of Vatican II, including its effect on women's religious communities, Massa shows that the conservative/liberal dichotomy is not a helpful way to view this period and illustrates this by considering the writings of Jesuit Avery Dulles. VERDICT Readers looking for a consideration of popular American Catholicism covering a wider time period should consider James O'Toole'sThe Faithful. Massa's book is a finely tuned analysis of a critical period in the history of the Catholic Church in America that goes beyond the received wisdom, written in a style accessible to the general reader.—Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199734122
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/16/2010
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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