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The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A Reflections on the Priest's Crisis of Soul Hardcover – Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press (Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814627544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814627549
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.9 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,358,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The Changing Face of the Priesthood is a remarkable survey of the state of American Catholic clergy today. Donald Cozzens, the president-rector of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Cleveland, combines personal reflection and analysis of empirical data in this brief but wide-ranging book. To explain the shrinking of clerical ranks that has occurred in recent decades, Cozzens tells a familiar story:
As the vision of the [Second Vatican Council] became ever clearer, the cultic, pre-conciliar model of priesthood entered into a creative balance with the servant-leader model. The clear identity, the unquestioned status, the exalted privilege--features that helped priests deal with the sacrifices and crosses inherent to their vocation--began to blur
. With astonishing candour, Cozzens also zeroes in on some of the more provocative issues among clergy; his discussions of celibacy, homosexuality and sexual abuse of children are particularly insightful. Each of these discussions is driven by the author's fascination with the way that priests since Vatican II have "haltingly acknowledged a need, linked to the very soul of their spirituality, for authentic, human intimacy". This is a smart and loving way of understanding some of the biggest problems of the priesthood. And readers who learn to emulate this book's clear-eyed compassion will gain great advantage in that never-ending process of helping to heal the Church. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


It is Cozzens' love for the priesthood that motivates the book. He speaks warmly of the majority of priests in whom he finds great hope.National Catholic Reporter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Even in our secular, postmodern culture, the collar and black suit can still rustle memories of the gentle cheerfulness and soothing presence long associated with parish priests. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Paperback
This is the fruit of twenty years;' reflection on priesthood, harnessing the insights of psychology. When the author entered his seminary for the first time, he was entering into a four hundred years' heritage. But Vatican Two changed all that. Gone are the days of the heroic priest, portrayed in films by the likes of Bing Crosby, who knows everyone by name, bails thieves from jail, breaks up fights etc. Many now see them more like the incompetent and absurd Father Ted or his randy, alcoholic colleague.

In the past, quoting 'Daniel Pilarczyk: He was highly educated and wise, and had unquestioned authority in every facet of the parish. It did not matter much if he could not preach very well. The really important thing was that he could celebrate Mass. The specifics of his personal life were shrouded in mystery. He seemed happy, and he seemed to live better than most of the parishioners. . . . To be a priest was the highest life a boy could aspire to. It meant being a real Christian, it meant being called to serve Christ and his church, it meant being respected and revered almost as Christ himself.'

Now: James Bacik identified a number of major shifts that occurred after the council: "from pedestal to participation; from classical preacher to contemporary mystagogue; from the lone ranger style to collaborative ministry; from a monastic spirituality to a secular spirituality; from saving souls to liberating people."
And: Rausch observes that the demise of the sacral model of priesthood and the substitution of the word "presider" for "priest" in reference to eucharistic leadership has contributed to a loss of identity for many priests. . . .
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Format: Hardcover
Cozzens wrote: "The very face of the priesthood - the external cues and customs, the internal hallmarks of identity and function - seemed to be changing..." (P. ix). I read this book seeking these "internal hallmarks" and found them most clearly expressed in Part I. In Part I Cozzens defines his topic for reflection, that is, the human transformation necessary for a priest of Jesus Christ, and then he turns his attention to external cues and customs current in the U. S. Catholic Church. Only after reading Cozzens' book (twice) did I read the customer reviews on the Amazon US site. To my mind, the reviews written by DelMonico, irisharsh, Merryman and Zee grasped the deeper significance of Cozzens' book for the spiritual life. This is, in fact, primarily a book on the deeper concept of spirituality, not a book on the sociological or psychological insights of the spiritual life. The enduring value of this book is that Part I touches on the human psyche and pneuma and effectively introduces the principle of "gratia praesupponit naturam" (grace builds on nature). In this context, I found it helpful to read Cozzens' book in light of James Forsyth's (1997) work, "Faith and Human Transformation: A Dialogue Between Psychology and Theology", which thoroughly elaborates Aquinas's second principle "gratia perficit naturam" (grace perfects nature). Cozzens' book is about the Catholic Church in the United States which provides the sociological and psychological context for his external cues. However, to my mind, the book's fundamental concern is the appropriate understanding of spirituality of the part of the individual seeking to discern the internal hallmarks of Christian identity.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 May 2001
Format: Paperback
This book by Cozzens does not give a good picture of the overall state of seminaries in the Church today. It might have been a little more timely had it been printed in the 80's but he fails to see, probably because of his views are confined to his personal experiences and don't go beyond his own nose, that seminarians today are of a different breed and tend to be much better orientated and embrace celibacy as a gift from God rather than a sacrifice or curse mandated by the Church. Please, don't believe everything you read.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 April 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a very timely and honest book, and every churchgoer in Britain, whether Catholic or not, should read it too, as it sheds light on important issues. Cozzens' analysis of the types of men who enter the priesthood is uncannily accurate and may shed some light on how the non church-going public views the Catholic Church today. In particular, this book is brave enough to hint at the problem of sexual abuse of children by unmarried men, whether celibate or 'openly gay'. This is an extremely serious issue that I've seen brushed under the carpet too much even in so-called thinking Christian circles, in a misguided attempt not to hurt adults; this book is balanced in its approach to both adults and children involved. The fact is that this is one of the major reasons why most people do not trust the hierarchical churches in the western world anymore. A male-only clergy is going to attract paedophiles who prey on large numbers of young boys and recruit them to form more sex-rings. The same is true in the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. It is often such men who are most opposed to the ordination of women. Neither the 'left' nor the 'right' of the theological spectrums of the Churches will find this comfortable, but this is the case. A pity that Cozzens did not tackle the structure of Roman Catholic dogmatic theology, which does not help when attempting a theological critique of this problem. So-called 'liberal catholic' theologians have been known to see male group sex as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity, and to see the close relation between God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ as an incestuous one. It is time for a thorough investigation of not only Roman Catholic ecclesiastical structures of authority, but of all Roman Catholic dogmatic theology and the true locus of its authority.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 37 reviews
103 of 114 people found the following review helpful
Candid about the problems, hopeful about solutions 25 April 2000
By D. W WISELY - Published on
Format: Paperback
Father Cozzens is highly qualified to write this book. He has a doctorate in psychology and decades of experience as a priest, vicar of clergy, and seminary rector. What he has given us is a courageous and unblinking analysis of the crises of the American priesthood. The tone is consistently respectful and by no means is this to be understood as an attack on the Church. He never engages in hopelessness and hand-wringing or in bitter critique of the hierarchy. Each presentation of the problems facing the priesthood (the identify confusion, psychological/developmental problems, sexual misconduct) is accompanied by hopeful commentary on how to address these problems. Every priest, every bishop, and every serious Catholic should read this fine book.
97 of 112 people found the following review helpful
An Honest, Intellectual Insight into the Priesthood 29 Mar. 2000
By Melissa A. Hopkins - Published on
Format: Paperback
Father Donald Cozzens' book is an extremely honest and intellectual insight into today's priesthood. He shows much courage in opening doors that many are afriad of even in this day and age. It encourages all to be openminded and reflective and to not be afraid of honest discussions. This book should be read by all Catholics for it not only shows us the realities of our Church but also mirrors a wonderful way to view ourselves as laity and married persons.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
An Honest Look At Problems Too Long Avoided 21 Feb. 2001
By Peter Fennessy - Published on
Format: Paperback
There are many problems facing the Catholic priesthood today - one could speak of a crisis. Silence and denial are the usual clerical responses to the issues. Donald Cozzens has taken the road of speaking out honestly. That will be resented by many and seen as betrayal by some. But Cozzens clearly loves the priesthood and the priests who at great cost to themselves have done and will continue to do enormous good. As a former diocesan and seminary administrator, a counselor, priest, and teacher of pastoral theology and psychology, one who has been reflecting for the last twenty years on the challenges facing the modern priest, he deserves to be heard. The real hope for the future rests on facing the challenges and issues squarely, and on taking an unblinking look at what threatens the integrity and mission of priests today. His topics include priestly identity, integrity, celibacy and intimacy, psychological complexes, maturity, preaching, homosexuality, pedophilia, and a hopeful look toward the future. The press has focused on the sexual issues, but the need for personal integrity is perhaps more basic. It was undoubtedly a painful book to write and can be painful book to read, but ultimately its honesty about the issues and its affirmation of the priesthood give hope. His adapting of Freud's Oedipal Complex to analyze priestly psychology may be his most original contribution but the one to which particular objection will probably be made. This is a well written and important book for anyone concerned with the future of the Catholic clergy.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A Prophetic Word for Today 16 July 2000
By J SWENCKI - Published on
Format: Paperback
How unfortunate it is that the institutional Church insists on placing new wine (the aggiornamento of Vatican II) into old wineskins (structures of power and control). The skins will burst and everything --wine and skins-- will be lost. Father Cozzens' book identifies the "old wineskins" of today's institutional Church and points to where the seams are starting to come apart: formation of priests, the exercise of authority and the crisis of credibility. The many priests (and others) who can attest to this book's veracity and insights make this book a work which must be taken very seriously, discussed and responded to in concrete ways.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful and definitely not just for priests 14 July 2000
By Ashley K Merryman - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a member of the laity, I highly recommend this book to clergy and laity alike.
We've all seen the priest shortage, aging priests, etc. statistics. But what we haven't seen is how these (and other) issues are emotionally, psychically, and spiritually already impacting the clergy -- and how these issues will impact the clergy of tomorrow. And that is exactly what Fr. Cozzens does in this thoughtful and thought-provoking book.
And he hasn't limited his analysis to a religious setting; he places all of this in the context of a modern American society. Which we must do, since the diocesean priest is exactly that: thrust in the middle of our everchanging, often chaotic, secular society.
But I think the real surprise of this book was that in Fr. Cozzens' analysis of the priestly search for identity, struggles with spirituality and faith had such resonance with me, personally. I expected to be enlightened about the priesthood. What I didn't expect was to be enlightened about myself. Which indeed I was.
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