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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Faithful Departed!

For official purposes, The Faithful Departed was published one year ago today. After a year, and now into its second printing, I'm happy to report that my book is still selling well, still having an impact.
In one of the earliest reviews (appearing even before the official publication date), the late Father Richard John Neuhaus offered a few friendly criticisms but concluded with the generous observation:
The Faithful Departed is the best book-length treatment of the sex abuse crisis, its origins and larger implications, published to date.

Writing for Inside Catholic, John Zmirak went much further, calling it…
…the most important work about the Church to appear in the last two decades…

Not everyone has enjoyed the book. In Religion and Liberty, Kevin Schmiesing pinpointed the reason:
American Catholics and their bishops have not yet learned the lesson, Lawler thinks, and the evidence is with him.

Exactly. Even at this late date, all too many Catholic leaders would prefer not to confront the tough issues. The Faithful Departed has been quietly taken down from the shelves in many Catholic bookstores, presumably after calls from local chancery offices. In one less quiet episode, my speaking appearance at the Catholic University bookstore was cancelled.
Still the word is getting out. My calendar still shows several speaking dates that remain from the burst of invitations that came after the book's publication. (And there's room for more; if you have a group that might be interested, please let me know!) More and more Catholics-- and sympathetic non-Catholics-- realize that while it's sometimes painful to combat an infection, it's deadly to let the infection spread. As George Weigel put it:
Many Catholics understandably want to put the Long Lent of 2002 behind us. No one should do so without reading The Faithful Departed.


PHG said...

I received The Faithful Departed for Christmas. I'm about halfway through it now, and I'm irate and depressed about the state of the American Catholic Church. My wife and I are both Catholic converts who joined the Church as adults. I'll be honest, if I wasn't convinced, to the core of my soul, that the Catholic Church is the one true Church instituted by Christ while He was on Earth, the sordid affair you relay in your excellent book would be enough to convince me to leave the Church. As it is, I'm angry and motivated to do everything I can as a layman to work to bring the Church back to where it should be.

Thank you very much for writing this book. I knew the problems we face as faithful Catholics are formidable. I didn't know how formidable they are. Your book does all of us a great service. said...

I'm a fan of your book, every word.
Very confirming. On another note...
Hey what's with the controversy with
The Remnant crowd? I figured you'd be on board with the 'failure of V2' sentiment. I find it very convincing. I too am a Bostonian and find myself and family at the Latin Mass as my only logical orthodox option in 'neo-catholic' Boston.
Stephen Walsh