THE RECOVERING CATHOLIC by Joanne H. Meehl

THE RECOVERING CATHOLIC

Personal Journeys of Women Who Left the Church
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An interesting and largely rewarding volume that discusses the relationship between women and the Roman Catholic Church. Meehl, who left the Catholic Church, calls herself a recovering Catholic. For years she struggled with the church in which she was raised, often bored in the highly liturgical mass and alienated by the church's attitude toward women. But she remained faithful until an epiphany in the Grand Canyon told her that there could be more to religious experience. Finally, she joined a Unitarian congregation and became interested in the experiences of other women who had chosen to leave Catholicism. This volume presents the fruit of some 80 responses to a questionnaire she developed on the topic, supplemented by interviews. She lets the women (whose anonymity she protects but who come from a broad cross section of society) speak largely in their own words. She finds a remarkable constancy in their stories--in the way they reacted to a church that elevates Mary to the status of Holy Mother but refuses to ordain women. These are accounts of shame and guilt, mixed with much anger, at a denomination that claims to want them but, they feel, makes very little place for them (``If you think women in the church have it bad, remember, there is one group lower: nonpersons often referred to as `the good sisters,' '' says one angry bride of Christ). The church's stance on birth control and abortion plays an important part in the study--both as a reason for dissent and as an indication of the denomination's views of women. Mistreatment by nuns and clerics in both church and school is also a recurring theme. A sense of trauma and betrayal sounds on almost every page. All of this is powerful but somewhat undercut by the lack of voices and attitudes of women who choose to remain Catholic. Meant as a support mechanism for women who leave the church, the volume also provides an intriguing glimpse into their thoughts.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-87975-927-5
Page count: 283pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994




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