LAWS OF HEAVEN: Catholic Activists Today by Michael Gallagher

LAWS OF HEAVEN: Catholic Activists Today

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The impassioned, sometimes holy, sometimes holier-than-thou world of Catholic political activists. Catholic moral theology has in recent years evolved a quasi-revolutionary ethical stance known as the ""seamless garment."" Based on the principle that all life is sacred, this ethic is uncompromisingly anti-war, anti-capital punishment, and anti-abortion--a viewpoint that puts its adherents into frequent conflict with federal laws. Thus these portraits of men and women who, with few exceptions, have spent much time in prison in pursuit of religious ideals. Former Jesuit seminarian Gallagher, a free-lance journalist and translator of Japanese novels, has done considerable legwork and assembled a striking gallery of protestors. Some, like old-time pacifist Gordon Zahn, seem granite monuments of moral integrity; others, like anti-abortion activist Joan Andrews, have the intensity of Joan of Arc. The brothers Berrigan are familiar faces, joined here by lesser-known Pentagon-baiters like Marcia Timmel and Paul Magnus. ""Rebel priest"" Bob Begin applauds John Paul II's call for a postcapitalist, postsocialist economic system; others heap contempt on the Vatican hierarchy. Archbishops, nuns, stockbrokers, homemakers add to the mix, which is memorable for its moral rectitude. At times, though, righteousness becomes self-righteousness, not least in Gallagher's sarcastic, sometimes ad hominem attacks on the media and on Catholic thinkers with whom he disagrees. A thumbtack on the chair seat for moral equivocators, whatever their faith.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1992
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin