In Search of an American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension. By Jay P. Dolan. Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $28.00.
Has America been good for Catholicism? The recent clerical sexual-abuse scandals have given this question a new urgency. In response to episcopal arrogance and dereliction, many American Catholics—inspired by the best of both Catholic theology and American democracy—have called for greater lay participation and hierarchical accountability. On the other hand, the Colombian cardinal who heads the Vatican’s office for clergy has blamed American “pansexuality and sexual licentiousness” for fueling the crisis. Some Catholics contend that American journalism and law, through their aggressiveness, have contributed to a frenzy of anti-Catholicism, while still others thank—however qualifiedly—these institutions for exposing the scandals.
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