A CATHOLIC SPEAKS HIS MIND: on America's Religious Conflict by Thomas Sugrue

A CATHOLIC SPEAKS HIS MIND: on America's Religious Conflict

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Adding more fuel to the fires of controversy over the position of Catholicism in American life, this little book is likely to be angrily denounced by Catholics and gleefully praised by Protestants. Both reactions will issue out of a superficial and mistaken interpretation of the basic thesis of the book. However, the ordinary reader will not get beyond the fact that a practising Catholic of real standing in the literary world openly and sharply criticizes the drive of the Catholic Church for social and political power in America. The author not only opposes the appointment of an ambassador to the Vatican, but the whole concept of the temporal power of the Pope, and especially every effort of the Catholic Church through its hierarchy to enhance the position of the Church in the social, cultural and political life of the nation. These are the attention-getting points of the book. But much more basic is Sugrue's denunciation of divisive sectarianism as unnecessary and unchristian. He insists that it is in the inner world of the spirit where man meets God that the Christian faith should be operative for man's redemption. In this realm a totalitarian government is necessary. But in the outer world of relationships of man to man he regards the attempt of the Catholic Church to extend a totalitarian control over social, cultural, economic and political affairs as unwise and unchristian. In taking this position he asserts the long disused right of the Catholic to criticize his own Church. However, Protestants should be slow to rejoice over the thesis of this book, for it would undoubtedly lead the author to as devastating an attack upon the Protestant drives for power were he not confining himself to a discussion of the policies of his own Church. Catholics, Protestants and Jews might at least get together in the social welfare field and so make a beginning at overcoming sectarianism. This is a book for which there is sure to be a lively demand. It packs a wallop.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1952
Publisher: Harper