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Priests: A Calling In Crisis Paperback – 12 Jul 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition edition (12 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226306453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226306452
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,584,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Greeley's summary is sobering.... His agenda of sorting out the social meaning of the priesthood in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis may be the kind of rough talk that will wake up some readers and empower others.... It's worth listening to what he has to say." - Father Paul Philibert, National Catholic Reporter; "I cannot imagine a more thorough critique of the stereotypes clouding intelligent discussion of the Roman Catholic priesthood - or a more unsparing assessment of the priesthood's real problems. As blunt as ever, Father Greeley backs his strong views with the best available data. The future of American Catholicism depends on its will-ingness to confront findings like these." - Peter Steinfels, author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America; "Greeley draws upon the tools of his trade to challenge some stereotypes of the priesthood today, particularly in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis of 2002.... This slim but opinionated volume should be required reading for students and reporters who are willing to look past sensational headlines to the more complex and nuanced picture beyond." - Publishers Weekly"

About the Author

A prolific author of fiction and nonfiction, Andrew M. Greeley is on the staff of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and professor of social science at the University of Arizona. His nonfiction books include Confessions of a Parish Priest, Religious Change in America, The Catholic Imagination, and The Catholic Revolution.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Ramos on 7 Oct 2007
Format: Hardcover
Most books and articles I have read written about this subject have been very subjective and not based on any real samples. Here, Professor Greeley does a thorough analysis of the problems as seen from the religious and the laity point of views. An empirical studies if you will. And he includes Christian Pastors within this study.

Though his research shows that most clergy are not in touch with the desires and complaints of their parishioners. The problems, including the sexual abuse scandal, do not appear to have their basis in celibacy nor in the sexual orientation of the clergy. They mainly seem to stem from the clergy not actually listening to their parishioners. For if they were, they may here what their flock feels it is missing. And then address these problems, whether they are real or just perceived.

He also shows that the so-called celibacy issue is not a concern on why a Priest leaves his vocation. Nor does it have any impact on the scandal. He actually shows that most Priests are happy and well adjusted in their profession. The numbers come in right on par with the married Protestant Clergy. Priest leave the field for the same reason anyone else leaves theirs, they do not feel they are in the correct job and do not enjoy the duties. I agree with the author when he says, we should thank these mean for the time they shared with us and let them leave unhindered. For who would want a Pastor who does not wish to be there?

And he feels the current crisis in the number of Priest has more to do with lack of recruitment. It seems that though most Priests are happy in their jobs and enjoy their work. They feel that their peers must be having a hard time coping with celibacy, even though they are not. So they do not want to recruit anyone into a job the recruit may find lonely. In my opinion this makes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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By Patricia Daymond on 19 Feb 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an exercise which would benefit from a 10 yearly repetition. The account in this book although applying to the US still has truths for the UK and many of the issues are matters which may well be addressed in the new Papacy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Well written, carefully argued book 7 Dec 2004
By . - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I should first say that this is the first and only book I've ever read by Greeley. Secondly I should say that I am not a sociologist, but I am university-educated (and currently in a doctoral program in theology). This is not only a very well written book (and therefore a pleasure to read), it is also a very methodologically sound sociological investigation of Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. The sort of banal assessment of the Roman Catholic priesthood reflected for example in the previous review of N. Ravitch ("Priests appear to be less educated, less intellectually curious, less conscientious, and less emphathetic than their parishioners have come to expect"; "all his [Greeley's] statistics don't really amount to a hill of beans"; "he [Greeley] underplays the role of celibacy in the sexual abuse scandal" etc.) are challenged by Greeley, who instead offers a picture shaped not by conventional wisdom, prejudice or anecdotal guesswork, but on studies interpreteted through a rigorous and critical sociological method. Greeley's data come from three sources: the study of an institute at the University of Chicago of which he was the head, and two Los Angeles Times studies. Each of these data sets are critically interpreted. For example, the first study was conducted in the 1970s and so it's not presumed that it necessarily reflects the current situation of American priests. The two LA Times studies were conducted around the time the sexual abuse scandals broke and shortly thereafter, and although Greeley says that by the inclusion of several thousand priests (both religious and diocesan, and from geographically diverse areas) the Times did far better than any other current studies, he himself would have wanted a larger sample. Nevertheless, these studies are not fundamentally flawed, and Greeley is very willing to work within imaginable margins of error so as not to skew the conclusions.

Among the most interesting contributions made in this book are the careful assessment of the percentage of homosexual priests, the discussion of the level of happiness among priests with their chosen profession, and the implications of celibacy for priests (i.e. the myths that clerical celibacy has something to do with why men leave the priesthood or with the sexual abuse by some priests). The only reason I give the book four and not five stars is that at the very end, after his outstanding sociological study, Greeley moves briefly into the realm of theology. I found myself less satisfied with some of his suggestions in this portion of the book. I would certainly not say that Greeley "should stick to writing novels" -- though I might say that instead of including this final bit in which he records his theological musings, he might have done better to have "stuck to sociology" -- a field in which this book shows him to be an exceedingly competent practitioner.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A SOBER AND REASONABLE ASSESSMENT OF THE STATISTICS 4 Sep 2009
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Andrew Greeley is not only a priest, and a bestselling author, but he is a noteworthy sociologist, particularly about matters concerning the Catholic Church (via the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago).

Why does Greeley feel the Catholic priesthood is in "crisis"? Well, he says that "In 1965 there were 58,000 priests; now there are 45,000 ... In 1965 there were 49,000 seminarians. The number has fallen to 4,700... The Jesuits counted 3,500 seminarians; now they have only 389." 25% of priests resign from the priesthood; however, rejects the suggestion that "celebacy drove them out of the priesthood" as unsupported by the data. Perhaps 20% of priests have a homosexual orientation. However, he also notes that "most priests are hetereosexual and ... most homosexual priests appear to be celibate."

One troubling fact that Greeley notes: "Priests tell me that they simply will not try to recruit young men into a group where morale is so low and where there is so much dissatisfaction unless and until the Church changes the celibacy rule." When vocations are already drastically "down" from previous decades, this does not bode well for the future of the Catholic priesthood.

Greeley's final chapter, however, is his "Policy Implications." A representative statement is, "The leadership in the Vatican ... must involve the appoinment of bishops who are in touch with their priests and laypeople, who know what's happening, and who can inspire confidence in the faithful."

He concludes with the statement, "Clergy from all levels from the pope down to the lowliest parish curate must be quiet and listen. And listen. And listen."
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A real look at the Crisis of Priests 28 April 2006
By M. A. Ramos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Most books and articles I have read written about this subject have been very subjective and not based on any real samples. Here, Professor Greeley does a thorough analysis of the problems as seen from the religious and the laity point of views. An empirical studies if you will. And he includes Christian Pastors within this study.

Though his research shows that most clergy are not in touch with the desires and complaints of their parishioners. The problems, including the sexual abuse scandal, do not appear to have their basis in celibacy nor in the sexual orientation of the clergy. They mainly seem to stem from the clergy not actually listening to their parishioners. For if they were, they may here what their flock feels it is missing. And then address these problems, whether they are real or just perceived.

He also shows that the so-called celibacy issue is not a concern on why a Priest leaves his vocation. Nor does it have any impact on the scandal. He actually shows that most Priests are happy and well adjusted in their profession. The numbers come in right on par with the married Protestant Clergy. Priest leave the field for the same reason anyone else leaves theirs, they do not feel they are in the correct job and do not enjoy the duties. I agree with the author when he says, we should thank these mean for the time they shared with us and let them leave unhindered. For who would want a Pastor who does not wish to be there?

And he feels the current crisis in the number of Priest has more to do with lack of recruitment. It seems that though most Priests are happy in their jobs and enjoy their work. They feel that their peers must be having a hard time coping with celibacy, even though they are not. So they do not want to recruit anyone into a job the recruit may find lonely. In my opinion this makes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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