Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church

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In January 2002, investigative reporting at the Boston Globe set off a wave of revelations regarding child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and the transferring of abusive priests from parish to parish. Public allegations against clergy reached unprecedented levels; one Bishop would later refer to the period as ''our 9/11.'' Reeling from a growing awareness of abuse within their Church, a small group of Catholics gathered after Mass in the basement of a parish in Wellesley, Massachusetts to mourn and react. They began to mobilize around supporting victims of abuse, supporting non-abusive priests, and advocating for structural change in the Catholic Church so that abuse would no longer occur. Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) built a movement by harnessing the faith and fury of a nation of Catholics shocked by reports of abuse and institutional complicity. Some 30,000 around the United States formally joined the VOTF movement to reform the Catholic Church.
Faithful Revolution offers an in-depth look at the development of Voice of the Faithful and their struggle to challenge Church leaders, advocate for internal change, and be accepted as legitimately Catholic while doing so. In a study based on three years of field observation and interviews with VOTF founders, leaders, and participants in settings throughout the U.S., Bruce shows the contested nature of a religious movement operating within a bounded institutional space. Guided by the stories of individual participants, this book brings to light the intense identity negotiations that accompany a challenge to one's own religion. Faithful Revolution offers a meaningful and accessible way to learn about Catholic identity, intra-institutional social movements, and the complexity of institutional structures.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Tricia Colleen Bruce's new book could not come at a better time. Faithful Revolution makes a significant contribution to the study of social movements." —Mobilization

"What [Bruce] does especially well, and is evidenced throughout her book, is tease out the analytical nuances derived from her deft framing of VOTF as an 'intrainstitutional social movement.' this fine book provides an excellent model for the very sort of scholarship required to tell that currently unfolding story with rigor and verve" —Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"Drawing on participant observations, interviews, and discourse analysis, the book's theoretical contributions (related to social movement studies) never outweigh its attentiveness to the voices of the people. With the help of Bruce's insightful explanation of the structural dilemmas of existence in the 'church that can and cannot change,' future studies can deepen our understanding of the sensory, emotional, familial, and relational fabric of life as a VOTF Catholic. This book is an excellent choice for upper-level Catholic Studies course and for graduate seminars on social movements and/or post-Vatican II Catholicism." —American Catholic Studies

"Faithful Revolution brings to light the intense identity negotiations that accompany a challenge to one's own religion and offers a meaningful way to learn about Catholic identity, intrainstitutional social movements, and the complexity of institutional structures."—ASA Sociology of Religion Section Newsletter

"Faithful Revolution provides an excellent introduction to a road map for that journey."—Catholic4Change

"...The book is a successful contribution to scholarship."—CHOICE

"Few things have rocked the American Church more than the clergy sexual abuse scandals of recent years. Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), a grassroots group committed to holding the church accountable, emerged as a result. Tricia Bruce shows with empirical depth and theoretical nuance the potential power and the institutional challenges facing such efforts. There are lessons here for students of American Catholicism, religious organizations, and social movements." —-Rhys H. Williams, Director, McNamara Center for the Social Study of Religion, Loyola University Chicago

"This important contribution to social movement studies reveals the strengths and limits of intrainstitutional social movements, where obedience to authority of the bishops is a given, and places the study of religious movements within the broader context of intrainstitutional social movements. The book is rich in first-hand accounts from the movement's founders and active members."—William V. D'Antonio, co-author of Voices of the Faithful: Loyal Catholics Striving for Change

"Through her deft use of discourse analysis, interview, and participant observation methods, Tricia Colleen Bruce tells the story of Voice of the Faithful—an example of what she calls an 'intrainstitutional social movement'—in great depth. As if this were not enough, she also broadens her account by explaining how institutional context shapes activists' strategies, collective identities and, ultimately, their chances of being successful. This is a very thoughtful analysis."—-Jerome P. Baggett, author of Sense of the Faithful: How American Catholics Live Their Faith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195385847
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/16/2011
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Maryville College

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Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter One: The Beginning Chapter Two: Banned Chapter Three: Supporting Survivors Chapter Four: Moving Beyond Abuse Chapter Five: Collective Memories Chapter Six: On Being Catholic Chapter Seven: The Salience of Culture Chapter Eight: A Bounded Repertoire Chapter Nine: Social Movements, Institutions, and Religion Conclusion Appendix: Methodology Notes Works Cited

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