Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church

Overview

Bearer of the Word and champion of the oppressed, the church nevertheless displays a puzzling propensity to denial and silence when faced with realities that threaten her centuries-old structure. In Sacred Silence, Donald Cozzens probes the conscious and unconscious dynamics that sustain the church's culture of silence and points the church in the direction of candor and honest dialogue. What are we afraid of?" The question was put to me by a U.S. archbishop. It was, of course, rhetorical. He knew we Christians ...
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Overview

Bearer of the Word and champion of the oppressed, the church nevertheless displays a puzzling propensity to denial and silence when faced with realities that threaten her centuries-old structure. In Sacred Silence, Donald Cozzens probes the conscious and unconscious dynamics that sustain the church's culture of silence and points the church in the direction of candor and honest dialogue. What are we afraid of?" The question was put to me by a U.S. archbishop. It was, of course, rhetorical. He knew we Christians really have nothing to be afraid of if we place our faith and hope in the gospel, in the promise of Jesus Christ to be with his disciples to the end of time. On another level, the question is anything but rhetorical. There appears to be a great deal that many Christians, and especially church leaders, are quite literally afraid of. This book is an attempt to answer the question, "What are we afraid of?" and to address the deeper questions, "Why are we afraid?" "Why is the institutional church so defensive?" "Why is it so controlling?" How is it that a church that is the bearer of the Word and the champion of the oppressed can maintain unholy silences while denying that obvious pastoral and ecclesial problems, indeed crises, even exist? In the present climate the laity sense what many church authorities are reluctant to acknowledge -- that the present troubles go well beyond the priest abuse debacle. Underneath the mushrooming scandals and the painful polarization shaking the confidence of the faithful, a church stands at the brink of destabilization. How could it be otherwise? A still feudal church struggles to meet the modern world as the modern world merges with post-modern currents of thought that threaten religious belief as we know it. We may not have reason to be afraid, but we have abundant reason to be anxious. And as history makes clear, where anxiety dwells, imagination shrivels, denial thrives, and control becomes obsessive. An anxious church
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What People Are Saying

Dean R. Hoge
Father Cozzens’ earlier book The Changing Face of the Priesthood evoked criticism from many persons that he had violated the secrets of the Church. Now Cozzens responds. He demonstrates that the Church has too much secrecy for the sake of its own credibility and moral authority. The culture of the Church has long honored loyalty, deference, and silence, and the result has been disastrous. We need a brave ‘redemptive honesty’ if we are to move toward a healthier, holier Church. Cozzens is a man of faith who dares to say what needs to be said. This book is the next step in a debate which the Catholic community urgently needs.
— Professor, The Catholic University of America
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814627792
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 1
Introduction 5
Pt. 1 Masks of Denial
Ch. 1 Sacred Silence 11
Ch. 2 Forms of Denial 26
Pt. 2 Faces of Denial
Ch. 3 Sacred Oaths, Sacred Promises 37
Ch. 4 Voices of Women 49
Ch. 5 Religious Life and the Priesthood 65
Ch. 6 Abuse of Our Children 89
Ch. 7 Clerical Culture 112
Ch. 8 Gay Men in the Priesthood 124
Ch. 9 Ministry and Leadership 140
Pt. 3 Beyond Denial
Ch. 10 Sacred Silence, Sacred Speech 157
Notes 173
Index 193
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2002

    Cozzens: The Voice of Sanity and Reason

    Cozzens brings sanity and reason to the sensitive issues facing the church today. He espouses free and open dialogue, qualities the church often sees as threats to doctrine.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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