Catholics wondering when their church will rise from scandal’s ashes can take heart. The change they desire is already present and growing like the gospel mustard seed. The roots of this movement are scattered but taking hold.
This is the hopeful message of Diarmuid O’Murchu’s Adult Faith. This straight-talk volume takes its place among a body of wisdom literature emerging from spiritual guides at the forefront of this growth spurt, including Joan Chittister, Richard Rohr, and Ronald Rolheiser, to mention a few. Discerning Catholics are invited to reimagine the Good News and actively cocreate a spirituality and theology suitable for 21st-century evangelization.
With razor-sharp clarity, O’Murchu presents not only a vision of what must come but a chronicle of the Spirit-led movement already underway. He identifies three concurrent approaches to faith in today’s Catholic experience: "conventional inherited wisdom" (controlled by a patriarchal, male-dominated institution), "embedded codependency" (passive enablers of the gatekeepers), and "adult empowerment" (openness to new ecclesial and universal realities through adult understanding and wisdom).
Adult Faith may evoke a mixture of reactions, depending on the reader: anger and fear among those who currently hold power; discomfort and denial among their enablers; reenergized hope among disaffected believers who long for church-wide spiritual and theological adulthood.
Lest anyone criticize O’Murchu as bent on tearing down the church, he dismisses neither the relevance of the hierarchy nor the millions of clerical and lay Catholics who support the inherited structure. Rather, he challenges his brothers and sisters to recognize that the renewed, post-scandal church they hope for is in the making. Adult Faith is a major and welcome contribution to the spreading wisdom revival within Roman Catholicism.
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Copyright (c) 2011 by Alfred J. Garrotto
This article appeared in the May 2011 issue of U.S. Catholic magazine (Vol. 76, No. 5, page 43).