THE LAST PRIESTS IN AMERICA: Conversations with Remarklable Men by Tim Unsworth

THE LAST PRIESTS IN AMERICA: Conversations with Remarklable Men

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Interviews with 42 American Catholic priests who loosen their Roman collars and bare their souls. Unsworth (The Lambs of Libertyville, 1990) assembles an impressive cross-section of the priesthood: alcoholics, dissidents, gays, Latinos, academics, and blacks rub shoulders with the quintessential Irish working-class parish priest. Superstar Andrew Greeley takes a bow, as do Chicago's Joseph Cardinal Bernadin and powerhouse theologians Richard McBrien and John Tracy Ellis. From this vast chorus come three dominant notes: most priests love their jobs; most oppose mandatory celibacy; most put more faith in their parish laity than in the Vatican hierarchy (Greeley quips in this regard that ""Catholicism means 'here comes everybody' ""). Some reel off statistics on sexuality or church attendance; others offer memorable quotes (""a priest must be willing to let people take little chunks out of him""). Despite the low pay, not one grumbles about money. Here and there bitterness crops up (""I felt like a well-paid prostitute...people came only when they needed me""), but more typical is this exuberant send-off from an Ohio pastor: ""I love my priesthood...My retirement plan is eternal life."" The ""last priests in America""? Obviously not, but perhaps an endangered species--priestly vocations continue to decline--to which this volume serves as an unsystematic but sympathetic guide.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1991
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Crossroad/Continuum