Saturday, August 8, 2015


Catholics by Brian Moore, 107 pages

In the near future, the Fourth Vatican Council has declared the Mass to be merely symbolic and abolished personal confession.  In this atmosphere, a monastery off the coast of Ireland where the Mass is still said in Latin and private confession still practiced - for pastoral reasons - becomes a center of pilgrimage and media attention.  To forestall an ecumenical disaster that threatens to derail talks with the Buddhists, the Vatican dispatches a liberal American priest to squelch dissent at the monastery.  Father Kinsella must confront a cadre of true believers among the monks, as well as deal with the abbot, a man tormented by his own doubts and torn between personal judgement and the authority to which he has sworn obedience.

Catholics is a novella loaded with thick, gooey ambiguity, which is entirely appropriate given its time and theme.  First published in 1972, a mere seven years after the end of the Second Vatican Council, the novel asks what many Catholics and non-Catholics are still asking - whether the painful changes called for by the Council marked the beginning of a renewal of the Church, or the beginning of an end in which the Gates of Hell prevail at last.

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