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This volume of the publisher's ""History of Religion Series"" is not, in a strict sense, a history of Roman Catholicism. Rather, it is an attempt--and a very brave one--to explain that Church as it is today, and to show how it developed into what it is. A very ambitious aim for a small book; but Father McKenzie manages at least to sketch out the general lines of the structure of institutional Catholicism, to explain clearly its methods of worship (particularly in their sacramental and parasacramental aspects), to present, without polemics, the beliefs of the Church, and to describe the day-to-day operations of the Catholic Church in education, in the parish unit, etc. It is interesting to note that McKenzie writes as a cool and even detached observer, but not so much so that he is able to resist an occasional jab at one or another sacred cow. He is always careful to distinguish, however, between the Church as he thinks it should be and the Church as it actually is--a distinction which very often escapes contemporary Catholic writers. Overall, Father McKenzie, as usual, manages to do what he set out to do: he presents a clear explanation, in abbreviated form, of what the Catholic Church is. As such, the book will at least stimulate the appetite, if not entirely satisfy the curiosity, of the intelligent general reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1969
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston