The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church / Edition 1

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Best Theology Book 2004 - Catholic Press Assocation

The present crisis in the American Catholic Church stems from a two-fold source: lay people are powerless while the bishops are accountable to no one but the pope and the curia. While the number of lay people exercising ministries in the church has grown enormously over the past thirty years (largely due to the shortage of priests), there has been little or no theological reflection till now on the genuine role of the laity. It is only from such reflection that structural reform of the church will come.

The first half of The Liberation of the Laity concentrates on the fortunes of the laity, theologically speaking, between Vatican I (1870) and Vatican II (1962-65). It examines the growth of the "new theology" in France in the 1940s and 1950s and shows how in the work of one of its leading practitioners, Yves Congar, much of the vision of the laity expressed at Vatican II was anticipated.

Seeing the years after the council as decades of missed opportunities to recognize the role of the laity, the book then turns to a series of constructive proposals for the liberation of the laity, and thus the liberation of the church. It discusses the importance of "secularity," the need for a "lay liberation theology," and the centrality of the struggles against global capitalism in the mission of the church.

It ends with a chapter envisioning dramatic changes in ministry and governing structures, in which accountability will be central, "servant leaders" will include women and married people, and both ecclesiastical careerism and the College of Cardinals will be history.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lakeland (chair, religious studies, Fairfield Univ.) presents a well-argued and balanced take on the place and prospects of the Catholic laity and the future structures of the Catholic Church. The first of the book's two sections, which deals with "how we got to where we are," offers a narrative of the thought and contributions of a number of ultramontane theologians of the mid-20th century, particularly Yves Congar, whose work helped the church face modernity in Vatican Council II. Part 2 concentrates on the Catholic laity and the balance between the secular and the sacred, which both lay Catholics and the Church itself must acquire as the church and its members address postmodernism. In the book's final chapter, Lakeland presents a compelling argument for a postmodern church whose structure is more spirit-led than priest-led and whose ministries are performed by bishops or "servant-leaders" (who may be men or women, celibate or married, priests or nonpriests) and by laity. Recommended for seminary and college libraries and for public libraries with a strong religion circulation.-David I. Fulton, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826416360
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 5/19/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Lakeland holds the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. He is the author of five books, on women's ordination, Hegel, liberation theology, and the intersections of theology with critical theory and postmodern cultural theory.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1
Introduction: The Idea of the Laity 7
1 The Road to Vatican II 17
Laity: The Decadence of an Idea 17
Modernism versus Neoscholasticism 19
The "New Theology" 23
The Beginnings of a Theology of the Laity 44
From Humani Generis to Vatican II 47
2 The Achievement of Yves Congar 49
Laypeople in the Church 52
Stress Points in Congar's Thought 62
Congar and the Concept of "Ministries" 70
The Radicalism of Congar's Ecclesiology 75
3 Collegiality, Coresponsibility, and the Council 78
The Council and the Laity 79
Suenens and the Council 82
The Council Documents 87
Evaluating the Work of the Council 101
Schillebeeckx and the Need for Theological Reflection 107
In Conclusion 109
4 Theology and the Laity since Vatican II 111
From the Runaway Church to Restoration 113
The Roman Synod of 1987 120
Christifideles Laici 125
Meanwhile, in America ... 131
The Theological Debate on the Laity 135
5 Secularity 149
What Is "the Secular"? 149
Resources for a Theology of Secular Reality 158
The Secularity of the Church 171
A Lay Spirituality of Secularity 177
A Note on Ordained Ministry 184
6 The Liberation of the Laity, the Liberation of the Church 186
The Crisis of Leadership in the Church Today 188
The Liberation of the Laity 192
A Note on Lay Theologians 205
How Democratic Should the Church Become? 207
Rescuing the Church 215
7 Mission in the (Post) Modern World 220
Communion Ecclesiology and Vatican II 220
Reading the Signs of the Times 227
The Church in Face of Modernity 235
The Mission of the Church Today: Combating the Anti-Human 242
Laypeople and the Mission of the Church 255
8 An Accountable Church 257
Does the Church Have a Future? 259
Beyond Vatican II 262
The Structures of the Church 266
The End of the Laity? 282
Notes 286
Index 303
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