Catholics For Choice Conscience VOL. XXXV—NO. 1 2014 : Page 50

Bookshelf Believing in Russia: Religious Policy after Communism Geraldine Fagan (Routledge 2013, 291 pp) Geraldine Fagan, a Russian news correspondent specializing in religious policy, draws back the curtain on the surprisingly varied spiritual landscape after the fall of Communism. One of the misconceptions she corrects is the idea that Russia has ever been monolithically Orthodox. Russia has always had its Buddhists, Jews and various Christian groups, and the Orthodox church has long struggled with its dissenting sect of Old Believers. Nevertheless, while the Orthodox church is a force to be reckoned with in modern Russia both culturally and politically, Fagan disputes the usual portrayal of Vladimir Putin as an emblem of orthodoxy, pointing to many statements exposing his distance from the religious establishment. Since around 1997, Russia has witnessed a wave of persecutions affecting non-Orthodox churches, some of which were unable to meet the legal requirements for official registration, while others were subjected to arbitrary local laws preventing freedom of association. Still, conservative Orthodox forces wish religious strictures had gone further. The author signals several areas to watch in Russia’s religious future, including the importance of media campaigns, such as the ones that coined the terms “spiritual security” and “traditional religion” for a crusade equating non-Orthodox with anti-Russian and the possible rise in extremist forms of Islam. Sex + Faith: Talking with Your Child from Birth to Adolescence Kate Ott (Westminster John Knox Press 2013, 164 pp.) Written by a theologian with a background in both sexual ethics and youth education, Sex + Faith is a resource designed to help parents talk and listen to their children about sexuality within a Christian framework. One of the most important messages is that parents cannot be effective teachers without themselves remaining open to learning—either from their children or from the world their sons and daughters are growing up in. The author provides Bible verses that help frame the sample conversations and questionnaires, and the book’s practical demonstration of an accepting yet structuring parental presence is especially helpful. Ott’s even-handedness about sexual orientation and emphasis on the importance of service are other strong suits. the Mother of God, as well as concern for the poor. A significant majority of Catholics indicate that their Catholic identity is a “very important part” of who they are. A majority of Catholics indicate t hat it is personally ver y meaningful to them that Catholics can disagree with doctrine—yet remain loyal to the church. For instance, only 19 percent of Catholics believe that church leaders have the final say on the morality of abortion, and a mere 10 percent believe the hierarchy has the final say on contraception. There is strong majority agreement on the desire of the laity to participate in key decisions that impact their parish communities. In addition, there is a shared perception by a strong majority of Catholics that the pedophilia scan-dals have compromised the political and pastoral legitimacy of the bishops. Finally, a majority of those Catholics who have left the church agree that their primary reason for leaving was a divergence with teachings on human sexuality and marriage. D ’ANT ONIO R ECOGNIZES THE My Journey from Silence to Solidarity Roy Bourgeois; edited by Margaret Knapke (fxBear 2 nd edition 2013, 46 pp) Fr. Roy Bourgeois has consistently called for women to be admitted into the priesthood. Because of this stance, he was told by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 to recant and stop speaking publicly on the issue. When he continued his advocacy, Bourgeois was expelled from the Maryknoll community in 2012. This booklet traces the development of his ideas related to women’s involvement in the church. It includes copies of the documents with which he was notified of his dismissal and subsequent statements he has made expressing his unshaken belief that “the ordination of women in the Catholic church is inevitable, because it is rooted in love, justice and equality.” (continued on page 52) 50 CONSCIENC E serious implications of his data, but he omits a strong rallying call in response to these findings. I fear that the absence of such a call diminishes the challenges that are before us and weakens the potential impact of this important work. However, even if a call for action were issued, it is unclear to whom it would be addressed. Historically, the Catholic directive is to look to our hierarchy to lead. However, the US hierarchy sits fat and happy and is unlikely to move in a new direction. The arrival of Pope Francis may have signaled a new presentation, but it remains to be seen if his recent enunci-ation of the word “gay” and his stated desire for a theology of women are an actual acknowledgement of the need to revise current doctrine on gender and human sexuality. This leads to the logical conclusion that the inspiration to change should be

Bookshelf

Believing in Russia: Religious Policy after Communism

Geraldine Fagan (Routledge 2013, 291 pp)

Geraldine Fagan, a Russian news correspondent specializing in religious policy, draws back the curtain on the surprisingly varied spiritual landscape after the fall of Communism. One of the misconceptions she corrects is the idea that Russia has ever been monolithically Orthodox. Russia has always had its Buddhists, Jews and various Christian groups, and the Orthodox church has long struggled with its dissenting sect of Old Believers.Nevertheless, while the Orthodox church is a force to be reckoned with in modern Russia both culturally and politically, Fagan disputes the usual portrayal of Vladimir Putin as an emblem of orthodoxy, pointing to many statements exposing his distance from the religious establishment.

Since around 1997, Russia has witnessed a wave of persecutions affecting non-Orthodox churches, some of which were unable to meet the legal requirements for official registration, while others were subjected to arbitrary local laws preventing freedom of association. Still, conservative Orthodox forces wish religious strictures had gone further. The author signals several areas to watch in Russia’s religious future, including the importance of media campaigns, such as the ones that coined the terms “spiritual security” and “traditional religion” for a crusade equating non- Orthodox with anti-Russian and the possible rise in extremist forms of Islam.

Sex + Faith: Talking with Your Child from Birth to Adolescence

Kate Ott (Westminster John Knox Press 2013, 164 pp.)

Written by a theologian with a background in both sexual ethics and youth education, Sex + Faith is a resource designed to help parents talk and listen to their children about sexuality within a Christian framework. One of the most important messages is that parents cannot be effective teachers without themselves remaining open to learning—either from their children or from the world their sons and daughters are growing up in. The author provides Bible verses that help frame the sample conversations and questionnaires, and the book’s practical demonstration of an accepting yet structuring parental presence is especially helpful. Ott’s even-handedness about sexual orientation and emphasis on the importance of service are other strong suits.

My Journey from Silence to Solidarity

Roy Bourgeois; edited by Margaret Knapke (fxBear 2nd edition 2013, 46 pp)

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has consistently called for women to be admitted into the priesthood. Because of this stance, he was told by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 to recant and stop speaking publicly on the issue. When he continued his advocacy, Bourgeois was expelled from the Maryknoll community in 2012. This booklet traces the development of his ideas related to women’s involvement in the church. It includes copies of the documents with which he was notified of his dismissal and subsequent statements he has made expressing his unshaken belief that “the ordination of women in the Catholic church is inevitable, because it is rooted in love, justice and equality.”

All Good Books are Catholic Books: Print Culture, Censorship and Modernity in Twentieth-Century America

Una M. Cadegan, (Cornell University Press, 2013, 230 pp)

Between 1917 and 1966, the US Catholic community underwent transformations that found a mirror in the Catholic literary and artistic world. This specifically Catholic creative vision was forged at a time when the hierarchy maintained an Index of Prohibited Books, and when Catholic intellectual efforts were often not welcome in either secular or Catholic institutions of higher learning. Writers in this period were forging an American Catholic cultural aesthetic, one that was steeped in the theology and symbolism of tradition and provided a corrective to the sometimes inaccurate portrayal of Catholicism in America. The author evokes a time when authors—both lay and clergy—tackled the challenges of the modern world because “modernism ... was part of the air they breathed—officially to be avoided theologically and philosophically, but de facto something within their literary job description.”

Called to Serve: A History of Nuns in America

Margaret M. McGuinness (New York University Press, 2013, 266 pp)

Called to Serve is about women religious engaged in service to the community, beginning with the not-so-distant past in which all nuns were cloistered. Only in the mid-16th century did the Ursulines begin challenging the mandate that all nuns should keep to their convents. Once different orders of sisters began arriving in the Americas, they responded in distinct ways to the needs of their new locales, some concentrating on indigenous communities while others focused on recently arrived immigrants. Among many other attributes, these women provided a supply of cheap labor that helped build Catholic institutions, particularly schools in the years before Vatican II. The author doesn’t stop there, however, and goes on to examine the different paths nuns have taken in response to the social issues of today, from ministering in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to Sr. Margaret McBride’s sanctioning of a life-saving abortion, subsequent excommunication and reconciliation with the church.

Conscience and Calling: Ethical Reflections on Catholic Women’s Church Vocations

Anne E. Patrick (Bloomsbury, 2013, 197 pp.)

Sr. Anne E. Patrick has collected stories of women religious whose commitment to their consciences and vocations put them on a collision course with the institutional church. This is normal, the author says, asserting that “disputes and conflict have been some part of Christian life from the very beginning.” A frank look at the conflicts between religious men and women includes several emotional stories. One involved nuns who were forced to deny their conscience-based decisions, as during a 1982 incident in which officers from the Sisters of Mercy were forced to withdraw a letter they had submitted in support of offering tubal ligations in Mercy hospitals.Another story depicts a saga that took place in Key West in 1989. A priest had decided to eject the Sisters of the Holy Names from land that once belonged to the order but was taken over by the archdiocese. He was unmoved by protests, including one that involved a biplane flying along the coast with the message “Father, please keep the nuns.” If the ongoing dispute between the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its Vatican investigators can only end with one side falling in line with the other, why, Patrick asks, should sisters be the ones to change?

Test Tube Revolution: The Early History of IVF

John Leeton (Monash University Publishing, 2013, 90 pp.)

This slim volume tells the story of Australian scientist Carl Wood and his team’s breakthroughs in the field of in vitro fertilization during the 1970s and ’80s. While the first baby born through IVF in 1978 was thanks to British scientists’ ingenuity, there had been a parallel effort in Australia, led by Wood and other OB/GYNs who were responding to their infertile patients’ desire for children. The first Australian IVF child was delivered in 1980, and the story of how this achievement came to pass is the unifying thread of this collection of anecdotes and biographies of major Australian fertility researchers. The advances in IVF came despite funding problems, political conflicts in both academia and the government, and ethical and legal dilemmas. Leeton, one of the researchers on the project, captures the excitement in fertility science at a time when male infertility had no treatment, fallopian tube blockage could seldom be treated in women and there was no such thing as a sperm bank. One scientist was so excited, in fact, that he brought two sheep to stay in a hospital overnight for animal trials, not thinking of the noise that would disturb the human patients in the same wing. The author also compares Australian debates over embryo storage with similar battles in Europe and the US.

Read the full article at http://digital.graphcompubs.com/article/Bookshelf/1639889/198105/article.html.

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