Philip F. Lawler
Phil is the editor of, which brings you daily news headlines from a Catholic perspective. He is the author of The Faithful Departed, a history of the Church in Boston and the scandal of the abuse of children by priests.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Faithful Departed: Review by Amy Welborn

May 5, 2008 by Amy Welborn

First of all, this has got to be one of the best book titles, ever.

Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, has written an account of the Catholic Church in Boston that focuses on the collapse of visible Catholic life in the area as well as the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

For those who have been following the Boston scandals since 2002 (or even before, with the Porter case, which was not Boston, but in the area, and reflective of the culture), there is not a whole lot new here. Some, but a great deal of the book is dedicated in detailing those particular cases. In this respect, Lawler provides a useful primer for those who don’t know the awful details and a helpful reminder for those who do.

But in another respect, Lawler does something more. He reaches back through the history of Catholicism in Boston and tries to understand exactly how and when bishops in this area lost their nerve. When and why did they start accomodating with political culture, in particular, that held so many goals in opposition to Church teaching?

If you’re interested in the answer to the question, let Lawler take you on the guided tour. It’s illuminating. Some of it might be familiar territory, but others - such as the Church’s role in the bussing wars of the 1970’s - ordering area Catholic schools to put a cap on enrollment so they couldn’t be used by parents avoiding bussing - was new to me.

To read the rest go to Amy's blog here.

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