ELECTING OUR BISHOPS: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders, by Joseph F. O’Callaghan.
Rowman & Littlefield. 208 pp. $21.95.
Reviewed by JOHN F. FINK, veteran
Catholic journalist and author.
POPE CELESTINE I wrote in the fifth
century: “The one who is to be head
over all should be elected by all. No
one should be made a bishop over the
unwilling.” I lost count of the number
of times Joseph O’Callaghan repeated
that quotation in his book Electing Our
This is an appeal for equality among
members of the Church and for the
democratic election of bishops. According
to O’Callaghan, a professor emeritus
in the department of history at
Fordham University, that’s the way
it was done in the early Church, and
should be done today.
The book grew out of the
Church’s sex-abuse scandal
and the role bishops played
in it. Some of the Catholics
in the Archdiocese of Boston
formed Voice of the Faithful.
One of its goals was to shape
structural change in the
Church. O’Callaghan says
that was the spur that set
him on the research path
that produced this book.
The first 130 pages are,
therefore, an excellent and thorough
history of the way bishops were chosen—from the time Matthias was
selected by the apostles to replace Judas
to the present time. At the beginning of
the Church, the faithful elected their
bishops. As the Church grew, though,
and became entangled with the Roman
emperors, elections gradually gave way
For much of the Church’s history,
emperors and kings controlled episcopal
appointments. Bishops were chosen
from the nobility. The Avignon papacy
and the Great Schism, when there were
two and then three popes, presented
their own problems. This was followed
by conciliarism when the power of the
papacy was curtailed, but not for long.
The papacy became more powerful in
the years leading to the Protestant
The Roman Pontifical of 1485
emphasized obedience to the pope as
the prime requisite for a bishop. The
Code of Canon Law in 1917 stated the
papal right to appoint all bishops. The
documents of the Second Vatican
Council affirmed that right.
O’Callaghan includes a section on
the Church in the United States, including
the fact that our first bishop, John
Carroll, was elected by the clergy.
From page 130 till the end of the
book, O’Callaghan pleads for reverting
to the election of bishops by the
clergy and laity. He quotes
proposals made by the
Canon Law Society of
America in 1971 and 1973,
as well as two proposals
from Voice of the Faithful.
He quotes Jesuit Father
Thomas Reese and Father
Andrew Greeley, among
others, on the desirability
that many more dioceses
be created, more than one
in our large cities, so the bishops will
know their flock and they will know
him. Under his proposals, there would
be no transfers of bishops from one
diocese to another to prevent careerism
among bishops. This would be reverting
to an earlier time when it was considered
that a bishop was married to his
diocese and transfers were forbidden.
This reviewer believes that discontinuing
transfers of good bishops to
larger dioceses would hurt the possibility
of the cream rising to the top.
Could cardinals never be appointed
from bishops of small dioceses? Would
Cardinal James Gibbons or Cardinal
Joseph Bernardin have been able to
make their contributions to the Church
in the United States and to the universal
Church if they had to remain in
the small dioceses in which they were
I also must ask why we should think
that the laity could choose better bishops.
How many laypeople get to know
most of the priests of a diocese well
enough to judge who would make the
best bishops? Would we really want to
see campaigns in favor of candidates for
bishop, as O’Callaghan suggests? He
also suggests term limits of eight years,
after which the bishop would become
an adviser to the next bishop.
Frankly, I see no practical way that
the hierarchy would accept proposals
for the election of bishops. To those
who would like to see such elections,
don’t hold your breath.
You can order ELECTING OUR BISHOPS: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders from St.
BEYOND THE BIOGRAPHY OF JESUS: The Journey of Quadratos, Book I, by Alexander J. Shaia. Cold Tree
Press. 173 pp. $22.95, hardcover;
Reviewed by HILARION KISTNER, O.F.M.,
who studied Scripture at The Catholic University
of America in Washington, D.C.,
and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in
Rome. He edits Sunday Homily Helps for St. Anthony Messenger Press.
ALEXANDER SHAIA is an educator,
psychotherapist, liturgist, writer and
professional speaker. The author
also lectures and conducts workshops
and retreats. In his books (there will
be a Book II), he hopes to show that
the Gospels are the map of our never-ending
spiritual journey. He sees
them as mirrors of the way we grow
He also claims that for the first thousand
years the Church used a three-year
cycle of readings similar to what
we have today. Somehow, the Church
abandoned that system in the Middle
Ages and opted for the one-year cycle
familiar to older Catholics.
But in fact, my research
and consultation with a
liturgist assure me that the
three-year cycle was fashioned
only after Vatican II.
According to Shaia, in
Matthew we find the beginning
of our spiritual
journey. We experience the
loss of something familiar.
Though we are afraid, we
decide to move forward
into the unknown.
In Mark, we find ourselves bewildered,
anxious, beset by conflict. In
John, something new takes place. There
is an epiphany. We discover that we
must simply be. In Luke, we enter a
time of gradual maturation. The new
becomes familiar. We learn its lessons.
We strengthen relationships in family
and community. We grow through all
these phases by reflection, prayer, discernment
In his Acknowledgments, Shaia lists
a number of people who have found
his presentation helpful and inspiring.
Some have paid tribute to his work.
For example, Lawrence Greenberg,
M.D., writes: “As a Jew and psychiatrist,
I find Dr. Shaia’s work to be a
comprehensive understanding of the
Gospels, and a useful template for psychological
It is clear that the author reads the
Gospels from a particular viewpoint—as we all do. He is looking for a spiritual
journey and he finds it. No doubt,
many will find it helpful.
It seems to this reviewer that we can
find this entire journey in each Gospel.
Each Gospel presents moments of
bewilderment and conflict. In each one
we experience epiphany as Jesus reveals
himself in unexpected ways. Each one
can help us improve relationships. In
fact, each Gospel offers much more.
For some reason, the author is fascinated
by the word he coined, quadratos.
The word refers to the fourfold witness
of the Gospels, as well as the four stages
of the spiritual life. I suspect many
readers will tire of seeing that word
throughout the book.
It also seems that the author makes
too much of the possible provenance of
each Gospel. Furthermore,
Shaia describes the various
communities for whom the
Gospels were written as if
they are simply different
Jewish communities, except
that they believe in Jesus.
If we take Paul’s epistles
and the Acts of the Apostles
seriously, the Christian
communities were more
conscious of being distinct
from Judaism than Shaia
Certainly, for example, there is good
reason to see Matthew’s community as
composed of both Jews and gentiles
who believed in Jesus.
It seems peculiar to use Messiahians as a designation for Christians. While
there certainly were Jews in the early
communities and they would have
used Messiah, Greek quickly took over.
Very early in Antioch, the followers of
Jesus were called Christians (Acts 11:26).
Besides, all the Gospels have come to us
in the Greek language.
Here and there we might quibble
with the use of words and disagree with
some interpretations. The one that
astounded this reviewer was Shaia calling
the 10 Greek cities the Decalogue
instead of Decapolis.
No doubt, this book contains
insights that people will appreciate.
Some have found it helpful to their
spiritual life. It does provide a rather
unique approach to the four Gospels,
but I do not see it as the answer to the
quest for sound Gospel spirituality.
You can order BEYOND THE BIOGRAPHY OF JESUS: The Journey of Quadratos, Book I from St. Francis Bookshop.
HOLYLAND USA: A Catholic Ride Through America's Evangelical Landscape, by Peter Feuerherd. Crossroad
Publishing Company. 192 pp. $16.95.
Reviewed by MARK M. WILKINS, a
teacher of theology at St. Xavier High
School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
IF YOU ARE BRAVE enough to raise
religious topics in gatherings of family,
friends or co-workers, expecting to get
more than a superficial response (or
awkward silence) to your inquiry, then
you are part of the changing landscape
of our culture and times.
Discussing religious views can still
be quite divisive. Yet there
are signs that dialogue is
going on and changing the
While some Catholics
and Evangelicals may sometimes
trade derogatory comments
about each other,
other Evangelicals and
Catholics are learning from
each other. Peter Feuerherd
has written a book that
explores how America’s two
largest religious groups are
changing the religious and cultural
Numbers alone would show the significance
of Evangelicals and Catholics.
The latter number 28 million, while
the former claim 60 million adherents.
These two groups often turn up in
debates about the Church and state
relationship or prominently in religious
scandals of all kinds.
Until recently, both groups tended to
keep their distance from one another
and from the others’ practices. Evangelical
Protestants and Roman
Catholics have disliked one another
since the colonial period. The focus of
one group was downplayed by the
other. Bible study was for the “holy
rollers” who were saved, while liturgy
and passion plays were for the papists.
That is changing.
Part of this change is taking place
in the political arena. Politically conservative
Catholics and Evangelicals
have found common ground in opposition
to abortion on demand and gay
marriage. At the same time, other Evangelicals
and Catholics are finding common
ground in arguing for increased
funding for AIDS programs in Africa
and for grassroots efforts fighting
poverty, hunger and racism. It’s hard to
condemn the folks who share your passions.
These political alliances have often
led those involved to talk about their
reading of Scripture, their prayer life
and the person of Jesus the Lord and
Savior. This is ecumenism from the bottom
up. This has been abetted by many
Catholics rediscovering the Bible after
Vatican II and some becoming involved
in the charismatic movement in the
1970s. Evangelicals are also
being drawn to a common
lectionary and liturgical cycle,
as well as to the vital
role of the Blessed Mother in
the life of the early Church.
Father Richard John
Neuhaus, an ordained Roman
Catholic priest and former
Lutheran pastor, has
worked with former White
House figure Chuck Colson.
They are trying to bring
Catholics and Evangelicals
together in transforming American culture
to reflect the moral values of both
This, however, is not always warmly
received by the leadership of the respective
groups. Some see it as a sign that
they are melting into the cultural
milieu and have lost their way.
Both Evangelical and Catholic leaders
often use language that indicates
that the speaker’s group is either the
one, true Church or the one, true way
to being saved through Jesus as Lord
and Savior. Then the other group is, at
best, a pale imitation or, at worst, on
the path to hell.
Another reason for this
change, Feuerherd notes, is
the increasing number of
interreligious marriages and
the movement of Catholics
into Evangelical churches,
and vice versa. Feuerherd
interviews several people
who are crossing the divide
as part of their own journey
He also includes stories
from his time as an editor
with the American Bible Society, which
influenced his thinking on this topic.
The certitudes proclaimed by those he
worked with began to wear on him in
the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the
Twin Towers, a few blocks from the
Bible Society’s headquarters. He found
that Catholics have more of a sense of
mystery and a capacity for mourning.
That insight grounded him in the aftermath
of the catastrophe.
As U.S. presidential candidates of all
stripes claim religious grounding in the
run-up to the 2008 elections, the reflections
of writers like Peter Feuerherd
can help make sense of the claims and
counterclaims. He shows that prejudice
and stereotyping abound in both
camps, but that is overwhelmingly
dwarfed by the people of goodwill who
find that the message and ministry of
Jesus provide common ground for all
who claim to be Christian.
This readable and accessible book
will spark further reflection.
You can order HOLYLAND USA: A Catholic Ride Through America's Evangelical Landscape from St.
CLUNY: In Search of God's Lost Empire, by Edwin Mullins. BlueBridge. 245 pp. $24.95.
Reviewed by PAT McCLOSKEY, O.F.M.,
editor of this publication. He is a lifelong
student of history, especially Church history.
THE 10TH-CENTURY foundation of
the Abbey of Cluny in the Burgundy
region of France and the rapid expansion
of its basic principle—freedom
from local civil and religious authorities—are two of the brightest moments
in an otherwise very dark century for
the Catholic Church. “For more than
two centuries Cluny was the
spiritual heart of Christianity,”
Within 250 years, it had
created a network of 10,000
monks in 1,500 monasteries
across Europe, all adhering
to the same basic principle
of being directly under the
successor of St. Peter through
membership in the Cluny
family. Zealous abbots regularly
visited these houses,
rekindling the fervor of the
monks and their leaders.
If we add to this the fact that several abbots of Cluny were more influential
spiritual leaders than contemporary
popes and that for 500 years Cluny
had the world’s largest church (580 feet
in length), here is clearly an institution
whose story is worth telling.
In this fascinating account, Edwin
Mullins draws on his background as
an Oxford-educated writer, journalist
and filmmaker who has also published
many books on the visual arts and
In time, Cluny became famous for
several things, including its manuscript
illuminations and its dedication to
music. All Souls Day was first celebrated
here about 1130.
The richer the monasteries in the
Cluny family became, the more difficult
it was to remain independent of
bishops and local civil leaders. In 1528
the monks gave the king of France the
right to choose their abbot.
Cardinals Richelieu and
Mazarin were appointed
absentee abbots in the
During the religious
wars in the mid-1500s, the
monastery suffered greatly,
losing much of its library.
Cluny was suppressed in
1790. Eight years later, it
was sold to three men who
spent 20 years dismantling
it for building materials.
Cluny was, in many ways, a victim
of its success because its organizational
structure could not keep up with its
The founding of the Cistercian
monks in the late 11th century developed
a better way of strengthening
monastic interdependence. Each Cistercian
house belongs to one of that
family’s four branches, each headed by
an abbot who could be deposed if abbots
heading the other three branches
consider that necessary. Cistercian accountability
is horizontal as well as vertical.
This fine volume has a map of
Cluny’s houses, a diagram of the main
monastery and 34 illustrations by Nicki
Averill and Debbie Thorne. Many readers
will appreciate the five-page Index
and the three-page Bibliography.
You can order CLUNY: In Search of God's Lost Empire from St. Francis Bookshop.
"YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES": Saints, Prophets, and Martyrs, by
John Dear. Icons by William Hart
McNichols. Orbis Books. 162 pp. $20.
Reviewed by MICHAEL J. DALEY, a
teacher of theology at St. Xavier High
School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
GOING AGAINST the prevailing tide of
the modern age, the Church has always
proclaimed the importance and necessity
of community. As John Dear introduces
us to them in “You Will Be My
Witnesses”: Saints, Prophets, and Martyrs,
there is a rich treasury of persons
whom the Church offers to us as models
The book begins and ends with
Mary, the mother of Jesus and the first
disciple. In the first reflection and
accompanying icon, the Annunciation,
Dear writes, “We see her
as a witness of contemplative
in prayer, dwelling in
the peace of solitude,
attuned, listening to the
voice of God.”
The last one pictures
Mary as the Triumph of
the Sacred Heart. Here
again the theme of nonviolence
this time with a focus
on nuclear disarmament.
Through Mary, we can resist the culture
of death, which permeates our times.
In between, we see other ancient
witnesses of the faith, such as John
the Baptist, the face of nonviolent resistance
to imperial injustice; Mary
Magdalene, the first apostle and witness
to the Resurrection; and Maximilian,
the son of a Roman veteran whose
refusal to be drafted into the Roman
army cost him his life.
Given current events, it is good to be
reminded that “saints, prophets, and
martyrs” are found beyond the visible
boundaries of the Church. The reader
is introduced to Mansur al-Hallaj, a
Muslim who lived in the 12th century
in what is now Iraq. In his promotion
of God’s love for all, Dear remarks that
Hallaj is inviting us “into the heart of
the Gospel, to love our enemies.”
It should surprise no one, given
Dear’s standing as a Jesuit, that the
Society of Jesus figures prominently in
the book. The figures who emerge are
its founder, Ignatius of Loyola, then
Edmund Campion, Gerard Manley
Hopkins, Miguel Pro, Alberto Hurtado
and A.T. Thomas. Ignatius’s challenge
to all Christians is a stark one. “He
marked his conversion,” Dear emphasizes,
“by literally disarming. From that
moment on, he would be a nonviolent
soldier of Christ.”
Though from the very beginnings
of Christianity women have often been
marginalized and their contributions
obscured, female “saints, prophets, and
martyrs” have been steadfast in their
faith. Several of the women Dear
retrieves from the tradition include
Mary Dyer, a devout Quaker who stood
firm in the face of intolerant colonists
in the New World; Maria of Olonets, a
revered contemplative of the Russian
Orthodox Church; Thérèse of Lisieux,
a Doctor of the Church and pioneer-practitioner
of the “Little Way”; and
Dorothy Day, the cofounder of the
Catholic Worker Movement.
Like the women who preceded her,
Day is “questioning the way we love,
inviting us to join her Gospel experiment,
and summoning us to the holiness
of voluntary poverty and creative
nonviolence,” says Dear.
It goes without saying that the icons
which accompany each person are
alone worth the price of the book.
William Hart McNichols brings these
figures to life and allows them to
become opportunities for prayer. I especially
liked the icon of Franciscan
Mychal Judge, well-known because of
the World Trade Center bombings.
I strongly recommend this book of “saints, prophets, and martyrs.” I found
the reflections to be spiritually rewarding
and the icons to be artistically
You can order "YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES": Saints, Prophets, and Martyrs from St. Francis Bookshop.
MANNERS I. CARE, by David Bruce.
Illustrated by Joan M. Delehanty.
Child Life Books, LLC. 28 pp. $16.95.
Reviewed by SUSAN HINES-BRIGGER,
an assistant editor of this publication,
with a lot of help and input from her
older daughter Madison (eight) and son,
TEACHING KIDS GOOD MANNERS
continues to be a never-ending struggle
for parents. So any added help is more
than welcome—at least for this mom of
three. But thinking that perhaps hearing
it from someone other than Mom
and Dad might work better, I gave this
book to my daughter Maddie to read to
her younger brother, Alex.
And while the book is not very
lengthy at just 28 pages, the discussion
it provoked lasted much longer.
The book focuses on Jack Bantam, a
boy who feels like he “lives in time
out.” Enter Manners I. Care, a mentor
who helps Jack learn about the
benefits of good manners. He shows
Jack how similar he and the other
guests of Great Manners Hall are and
how Jack can make friends with them
by using his manners.
The catchy rhyme scheme of this
book makes it attractive to younger
kids, but the message is definitely
one parents will appreciate. I especially
liked the fact that the importance
of manners was reinforced for my
kids without my having to repeat it
Bruce wrote the book based on
experiences his own children encountered.
He believes, “We need to recast
the debate on children to provide parents
who have less time with more
compassionate tools to replace lectures
and lessons hard learned, so children
care more and listen to them. Then
everybody wins.” Amen, says this
Bruce is donating 100 percent of his
after-tax royalties from the book sales
to charities that help children.
You can order MANNERS I. CARE from St. Francis Bookshop.