Practicing Catholic Paperback – 1 Jul 2010
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About the Author
James Carroll was raised in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. He served as a chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. A distinguished scholar-in-residence at Suffolk University, he is a columnist for the Boston Globe and a regular contributor to the Daily Beast.
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In two earlier autobiographical books, AN AMERICAN REQUIEM: GOD, MY FATHER, AND THE WAR THAT CAME BETWEEN US (1996) and HOUSE OF WAR: THE PENTAGON AND THE DISASTROUS RISE OF AMERICAN POWER (2006), James Carroll has detailed the basic outlines of his life. He left his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University to become a seminarian for the priesthood in the Paulist religious order. After he was ordained a priest in 1969, he served as chaplain at Boston University during protests against the Vietnam War, a war that he himself protested against, despite his father's prominent position in the military. However, the author subsequently became a formally and officially laicized former priest as well as a playwright, novelist, and columnist. In addition to publishing a number of novels, he has also published a detailed critique of the Roman Catholic Church's tragic mistreatment of Jews over the centuries, CONSTANTINE'S SWORD: THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS: A HISTORY (2001). Thus in various ways, Catholicism has been a central feature of James Carroll's life.
However, despite his published critique of the history of the Catholic Church, it's his choice to remain a practicing Catholic. However, after reading his book PRACTICING CATHOLIC, I cannot tell you why he remains a practicing Catholic -- or why he does not stop being a practicing Catholic.
In PRACTICING CATHOLIC, the author highlights his admiration for Pope John XXIII, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and the prolific theologian Hans Kung. Hans Kung was at one time stripped of his appointment of a Roman Catholic teaching post for being too liberal to suit the Vatican's far more conservative bent. Like Hans Kung, James Carroll is not pleased with the conservative bent of the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II. But in this book he accentuates the positive as much as he can.
Not surprisingly, he finds times in his life as a practicing Catholic and in the lives of other practicing Catholics to remember fondly and cherish and celebrate. It strikes me as appropriate to give credit where credit is due, as he does repeatedly throughout the book. Good for him. Wouldn't his life have been empty if he had no memories after all these years that he could fondly remember of himself as a practicing Catholic and of other practicing Catholics?