"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, April 26, 2019

Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Catholic Blurbers

Given their role in the on-going sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, I rather expect that most bishops, if they still perform a nightly examen after Compline, count it as a good day if they have managed to stay out of the headlines. Bishops are not generally known for sticking their mitred heads above parapets even in the most placid of circumstances. But today more than ever they say and do as little as possible to clean up the mess they have both created and presided over, giving clear evidence that whatever courage they might once have had has deserted almost the entire lot of them.

One noble and admirable exception to that is Bishop John Michael Botean, the only Romanian Catholic bishop on this continent. His courage was hugely on display in 2003 when he openly and fiercely opposed the Iraq War in a way that no other Christian leader on this continent did. His opposition was of course based on clear Catholic teaching, and has only been vindicated in view of the disasters which befell that country, and the wider region, in the last sixteen years, not least the virtual disappearance of one of the oldest indigenous Christian populations in the world.

I first met him at the Orientale Lumen conference in 2011, and shortly afterwards at a lecture I was invited to give in his cathedral in Canton, OH. In 2015 he came to the conference on the life and work of Dorothy Day that Lance Richey and I, with many others, put on at the University of Saint Francis. We edited and published the proceedings as Dorothy Day and the Church: Past, Present, and Future.

As I was wondering if any bishops would read, let alone endorse, my Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power (Angelico Press, 2019), his name immediately leapt to the top of the list of possible candidates. Even amidst his very heavy schedule and many burdens, he made time to read my book and then write an extremely gracious blurb about it:

“Not since reading John L. McKenzie’s Authority in the Church have I found myself so moved to challenge the quotidian assumptions regarding episcopal authority that have so easily worked their way into my own ministry. The sexual abuse crisis in the Church today is in many ways the result of the religiously-endorsed exercise of dominative power. The present work cannot be overlooked without the risk of perpetuating the same dynamic. We need not agree with every one of DeVille’s analyses or prescriptions—and I do not—to find in this book a roadmap toward recovery. His vision is at once forward-thinking and eminently traditional. Without a doubt this is a book that can raise quite a stir. And I hope it will. It deserves serious, prayerful reading.” —MOST REV. JOHN MICHAEL BOTEAN, Romanian Catholic Bishop of Canton, OH

The other person I sent the book to is the Archpriest Lawrence Cross of Melbourne, whom I have been working with on the question of married priests (he is himself a widower), and also on the advancement of the Russian Catholic Church throughout the world after a period of absolutely shameful neglect by Rome.

He has told me how valuable he found the vision I attempted to sketch out in my Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy, so I felt reasonably confident that he would be interested in Everything Hidden Shall be Revealed, as indeed he was when he sent us the following blurb:

“Searing and fearless, Adam DeVille humanizes the meaning of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and calls for a radical reconfiguration of the exercise of power. The demythologizing of clerics is beyond urgent, as is the rejection of church-distorting papal idolatry—both requiring retrieval of the best models of the Christian East, where the conciliar nature of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions has long recognized that authoritarian clerical oversight is a threat to the fundamental nature of the Church. Professor DeVille’s vision will frighten many a hierarch, because only a Church in which bishops, clergy, and laity share authority (in equal-but-different relationships) can rescue Catholicism from cultural and spiritual shipwreck.” —RT. REV. ARCHPRIEST LAWRENCE CROSS, St. Kilda East, Melbourne, Australia.

Cross and Botean are of course Eastern Catholics, so I wanted to make sure that Latin Catholics also gave me their views on what I wrote. Here, naturally, the challenges I posed were going to be a bigger hurdle than for those of us in the East to imagine. And that is, fairly enough, represented in the blurbs received from Russell Shaw, whose Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church I read with great profit when it first emerged in 2008. I remember clearly thinking that year that Shaw's book was very courageous. I did not expect a sometime officer of the American episcopal conference to be that outspoken, but he was. So I thought perhaps he might be interested in my book, and he was, saying of it:
In Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed, Adam DeVille has written a book with something for everybody to hate and something to incline everybody (or almost everybody) to nod and say, ‘Yes, that’s exactly right.’ Either way, readers with open minds and generous hearts will find this a provocative, helpful contribution to the badly needed debate about reform in the Church at a moment when reform is so urgently needed.” —RUSSELL SHAW, former Secretary for Public Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference; author of Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion inthe Catholic Church
Another Latin Catholic, writing in a similar fashion about my book, is Christopher Ruddy of the Catholic University of America. He has written an important and useful book on Jean-Marie Roger Tillard, whom I have long found very profitable and insightful, and drew on in both my books for important ecclesiological insights. Ruddy's comment in some ways echoes Shaw's:

“Intelligent and provocative, this book is written out of a deep love for the Church. One needn’t agree with DeVille on every point to profit from his perceptive analysis of the present ecclesial situation and from his proposals for reform.” —CHRISTOPHER J. RUDDY, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Catholic University of America and author of The Local Church: Tillard and the Future of Catholic Ecclesiology and Tested in Every Way: The Catholic Priesthood in Today's Church.

Finally, returning Eastward, special mention goes to Michael Martin, who played several invaluable roles behind the scenes in getting the book into print. I have previously interviewed him on here about his work in sophiology, The Submerged Reality. About my book he was very generous in saying:

“In this timely, courageous, and, certainly, controversial book, theologian Adam DeVille examines the current (and seemingly perpetual) crisis in the Church and the culture and assumptions that allowed it to take root and flourish. Deploying exceptional knowledge of Church history and awareness of ecclesial structures both inside and outside the Catholic Church, DeVille deconstructs the ruling idols of the Catholic imaginary and cuts to the core of the rampant pathologies haunting the ecclesial psyche. Along the way he exposes the all too often warped and anachronistic practices that have contributed to Catholicism’s current predicament. Turning to Freud, DeVille follows the import of Christ’s directive to ‘call no man father’ (Matt. 23:9), then offers alternative structures that would steady the bark of the Church, broaching even the possibility not only of a married priesthood, but of married bishops. In Everything Hidden ShallBe Revealed, Adam DeVille summons the necessary courage to face this fateful moment with brutal honesty, but not without hope.” —MICHAEL MARTIN, author of Transfiguration: Notes Toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything.

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