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Book Review on Ethical Dilemmas: The Priesthood Crisis in the Catholic Church

by Dennis Doverspike on March 17, 2009

in Books,Ethics

Recently, I received a notice that the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus had declared bankruptcy. As someone who attended Jesuit schools for 8 years, this news saddened me, especially when combined with the parish closings in Northeast Ohio.

In that context, I would recommend a 2000 book by Donald B. Cozzens entitled “The Changing Face of the Priesthood.” Fr. Cozzens has a background in counseling, psychology, and pastoral theology. He also has many years of experience with seminarians.

Fr. Cozzens provides an excellent and in-depth look at the challenges faced by the priesthood. This is a deeply personal and psychological reflection. It could also be viewed from the standpoint of how an institution attempts to handle the human resource challenges presented by a major crisis.

If there are any disappointments, it is that Cozzens offers no real solutions and the book is based on dated psychological theories. In addition, there is more attention paid to the failures in the trenches than to the role of leadership. Nevertheless, the book serves as a tremendously insightful look into the question of spiritual and ethical lapses in the priestly profession.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rayy March 19, 2009 at 8:44 am

Glad that you see through this–the most glaring and infuriating failures were in the heirarchy–denying the problem, shuffling priests around, trying to put the blame on a “homosexual element” within the priesthood, terrorizing the victims with hardball lawyers. Really, the root cause is the patriarchal and authoritarian structure of the “catholic” church.

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