American Catholics | June 15, 2013

D’Antonio, William V. & others. American Catholics in Transition. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 192p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442219915. $80; pap. ISBN 9781442219922. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781442219939. $26.99. REL

D’Antonio (sociology, Catholic Univ. of America), Michele Dillon (sociology, Univ. of New Hampshire), and Mary Gautier (Ctr. for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown Univ.) report on 25 years of surveys (1987–2011) of American Catholics that the authors undertook at six-year intervals. D’Antonio and colleagues have reported cumulatively on these surveys previously (e.g., American Catholics Today in 2007). They begin here with a description of the surveys over the years. Since the first one, Catholics have remained at about 25 percent of the country’s population, but this is because of the influx of Hispanic immigrants. At the same time, 16 million to 20 million people born Catholic no longer identify as such. Faith in the fundamentals has remained strong, but the view of the church’s moral authority has changed, and women are less committed to the church. VERDICT A well-written study that makes no judgments but does interpret the data to give a telling portrait of the state of the Catholic Church in America, this volume will appeal to those who like to be given the facts and come to their own conclusions. Peter McDonough’s The Catholic Labyrinth , reviewed below, offers a more detailed (and opinionated) study of both conservative and liberal U.S. Catholic organizations seeking change in the church. —Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ

McDonough, Peter. The Catholic Labyrinth: Power, Apathy, and a Passion for Reform in the American Church. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2013. 352p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199751181. $29.95. REL

Writing from what may be seen as a liberal perspective, McDonough (political science, emeritus, Arizona State Univ.; Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits) provides a strong survey of current lay movements in the American Catholic Church, offering a detailed look at a fractured landscape—cultural, political, and economic. He studies organizations, conservative and liberal, that are seeking change, including the Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, Voice of the Faithful, and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). He offers clear treatments of the issues of church and state, sexual norms and church teaching, immigration, and the administration of church-related activities, as seen by these groups. Unlike William D’Antonio et al.’s American Catholics in Transition (reviewed above), a generally unbiased report of the most recent of five surveys of American Catholics, ­McDonough does make judgments, his major one being that many of the church’s problems could be solved if it allowed a married clergy. VERDICT With an especially good summary and critique of conservative doctrine, while trumpeting liberal Catholicism, McDonough’s work will appeal to anyone interested in American Catholic history or the state of the church. —Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ