SUENENS: A Portrait by Elizabeth Hamilton

SUENENS: A Portrait

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An admirer's portrait of the progressive Belgian Cardinal, an unflinching and embattled advocate of liberal ecclesiastical causes--nuns' liberation, ecumenism, married diaconate, episcopal collegiality, easing of priestly celibacy, the charismatic movement, the primacy of love in marriage--and a guiding force for reform at the Second Vatican Council. Hamilton, an English writer who's written lives of Theresa of Avila and Charles de Foucauld, is very much a religious enthusiast; she furnishes a leisurely, often rambling, biography that is sometimes undiscriminating in its pursuit of detail: hardly a scrap of her research has been left on the cutting room floor. Her perspective borders on idolatry, and for all its ardor, the study remains more impressionistic than incisive. As Hamilton chronicles the Cardinal's travels, her interviews with him, his writings and sermons, his extensive role at Vatican II, the carping of conservative critics, and his steadfastness under attack, Suenens becomes a very familiar acquaintance, but it seems especially difficult to lift the mask of propriety shielding the lives of religious leaders.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday