Polarization Among American Catholics

Happy to see my article, “Why are we at each others’ throats? Healing polarization in our church” in this morning’s National Catholic Reporter. Polarization is getting worse in our society and it is affecting US Catholics. The article provides data on this as well as steps for your congregation or diocese to help heal the fissures that polarization has caused. Here is a pull quote:

We need to grow charity in ourselves, in our parishes and in our world. Charity will help to rebuild the personal and social trust that has slowly eroded.

Hopefully we can start to realize we’re all in this together and remember James Joyce’s words in Finnegan’s Wake: Here comes everybody.

Postsecular Catholicism

1Dr. Michele Dillon of the University of New Hampshire had her Postsecular Catholicism: Relevance and Renewal come out earlier this year. I was invited to critique this at the Association for the Sociology of religion in Philadelphia this August and found it was a brilliant read. I cannot say enough good things about the book and recommend it for anyone asking serious questions about Catholicism’s impact on American society. Especially pertinent now is her chapter on the Synod on the Family; the issues she raises–particularly gender–are gaining attention at the current synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment.

I also reviewed it for America. An excerpt reads, “Dillon’s familiarity with both a postsecular landscape and her fluency in Catholic concerns and interests allow her to cogently illustrate the overlap between Catholicism and the broader social world as well as the tensions that are inherent to a postsecular Catholicism.” We’ll be reading it in my Ministering to American Catholics course later this semester; I can’t wait to hear the great discussion it will generate!

2017 Study on Catholic Campus Ministers

Campus Ministry Report CoverHappy Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman, patron of Catholic Campus Ministry in the United States. In honor of this, the USCCB has just released a report on the state of Catholic campus ministry in the United States. The respondents include over half of the 1,911 identified campus ministers, providing very robust findings.

I, along with principal investigator Dr. Brian Starks of Kennesaw State University, co-authored this report and we’ll be presenting the findings to the USCCB this November.

My thanks to all the ministers who participated in the survey. I also appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped look for the themes within the data and shared these with practitioners, bishops and others at the 2017 symposium at the University of Notre Dame.

Caring for Creation

1The Way of St. Francis is a publication of the Franciscans of the Santa Barbara Province. I have authored a piece for their current issue entitled “Caring for Creation: Franciscan strategies for solutions.” Found on pages 14-15 and 24, this is a short article that examines climate change from a perspective of justice and the Franciscan tradition.

The whole issue, in fact, is devoted to creation; I hope you enjoy it!

The Joy of Love

1Paulist Press just released a book on the pastoral application of Amoris Laetitia. Edited by Thomas P. Rausch, SJ and Roberto Dell’Oro, Pope Francis on the Joy of Love: Theological and Pastoral Reflections on Amoris Laetitia is an insightful and practical book for parishes and dioceses looking to bring The Joy of Love into their marriage and family ministries. I am very happy to have contributed a chapter to this book: “Preparing Couples for Marriage.”

The description of the book on Paulist’s website reads: Pope Francis’s document, Amoris Laetitia, is first and foremost a pastoral message aimed at transforming parish culture. Through this document, the pope calls parishes to consider seriously their practice of hospitality and how they reach out to people in their communities.

Given this consideration, this book examines the pastoral dimension of the document—examining practical aspects of implementation, singling out issues each parish may need to flesh out—and provides end-of-chapter pastoral questions to guide parish communities in responding to this call.

Young Adult Catholics

1The book is out!

In exploring thirteen subpopulations of young adult Catholics (e.g., Catholic undergraduates, Black Catholics), readers will gain a strong sense of where Catholic young adults, in all their diversity, are today. Each section is introduced by a social scientist who offers the bigger picture; contributors here are Jerome P. Baggett, Jeffrey M. Burns, Tricia C. Bruce, Stephen M. Cherry, John Coleman, S.J., Maureen K. Day, Michele Dillon, Mark Erdosy, Mary Gautier, Kathleen Garces-Foley, Mary Ellen Konieczny, Hosffman Ospino, Tia M. Pratt, Brian Starks, and Jeana Visel, O.S.B. This is followed by 2-6 “experiential” contributors, that is, young adults who are a part of that subgroup. Each section concludes with discussion questions to help the reader think through how they might better understand or minister to that group.

It is selling well! It hit #2 on Paulist’s bestsellers list and, after over a month, still ranks very high. My deep thanks to all the contributors for a fantastic and thorough collection; may it serve the readers well!