At The Storm Center Of A Changing American Catholic Church
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John O'Connor's first four years as the Archbishop of N.Y.C. have often engulfed him in contention and controversy. He says he is in awe of the city he serves, and his wonder is bound to increase with the publication of this remarkable biography by one of the town's most staunchly liberal Jewish writers. Hentoff (Does Anybody Give a Damn?, 1977; Boston Boy, 1986; etc.), a regular contributor to the Village Voice, spent two years with the Cardinal. When he introduces himself at their first interview as a member of the "Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists," we know his evident respect and steadily growing admiration for O'Connor do not come automatically. Hentoff chronicles O'Connor's career from his days as a parish priest in Philadelphia through his long military service--an experience that later earned him the reputation as the "Genghis Khan" of the 1981 bishops' committee on nuclear disarmament. O'Connor has created headline's in New York from the day he arrived--scolding Jewish leaders for their attacks on him after his trip to the Middle East, arguing with Catholics Cuomo and Ferraro about their stands on abortion, angering homosexuals with his opposition to New York's Gay Rights Bill; Hentoff examines in depth the Cardinal's consistent position as theologically orthodox and socially liberal. O'Connor emerges here as a strong, compassionate, and deeply searching man who is at the center of the anguishing issues facing American Catholics today, deeply disturbed by the centrifugal forces at play in the wake of Vatican II. Hentoff quotes one observer who feels that O'Connor "has a good shot at being the first American Pope." Mean-while, Hentoffs brilliant and engrossing portrait will surprise many liberal Catholics--and provoke many others into a reassessment of the man and his message.
Pub Date: July 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0684189445
Page count: 330pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1988


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