Book Review: Practicing Catholic by James Carroll

Readers will either love this book [Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  385 pages. Hardback.  April 2009. etex ISBN 978-0-618-67018-5.  $28.00] or hate it.  Very few will be in the middle.  James Carroll, a former Catholic priest, who is the author of Constantine’s Sword (2001) has written another book that is very critical of the Catholic Church.

He criticizes the Church’s teachings on abortion, gay marriage, papal infallibility, birth control, male-only priesthood, celibate clergy, and other issues.  He criticizes Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for upholding the Catholic Church’s teachings.  He brings up the old issue of Pope Benedict’s service in the German army during World War II.  He is critical of him of being involved in silencing and suppressing controversial theologians while Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II.  He also criticizes Pope Pius XII’s supposed “silence” of not speaking out more against the Nazis during World War II.

This book is meant to be an autobiography of sorts that includes his criticisms of the Catholic Church over the years of his life.  He rightly criticizes those bishops and others who covered up the clergy sexual abuse scandals.  Carroll says he is a practicing Catholic and is criticizing the Church from within.

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  • James Carroll is one of those who, as Rabbi David G. Dalin says, criticizes Pope Pius XII, not based on facts but rather because he thinks associating the Church with the NSDAP is the best way to discredit Her doctrines on human sexuality.