Goodbye Father: The Celibate Male Priesthood and the Future of the Catholic Church

Paperback | August 18, 2004

byRichard A. SchoenherrEditorDavid YamaneForeword byDean R. Hoge

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In the last half-century, the number of Catholic priests has plummeted by 40% while the number of Catholics has skyrocketed, up 65%. The specter of a faith defined by full pews and empty altars hangs heavy over the church. The root cause of this priest shortage is the church's insistence on mandatory celibacy. Given the potential recruitment advantages of abandoning the celibacy requirement, why, Richard A. Schoenherr asks, is the conservative Catholic coalition--headed by the pope--so adamantly opposed to a marriedclergy? The answer, he argues, is that accepting married priests would be but the first step toward ordaining women and thus forever altering the demographics of a resolutely male religious order. Yet Schoenherr believes that such change is not only necessary but unavoidable if the church is to thrive. The church's current stop-gap approach of enlisting laypeople to perform all but the central element of the mass only further serves to undermine the power of the celibate priesthood. Perhapsmost importantly, doctrinal changes, a growing pluralism in the church, and the feminist movement among nuns and laywomen are exerting a growing influence on Catholicism. Concluding that the collapse of celibate exclusivity is all but inevitable, Goodbye Father presents an urgent and compelling portrait of the future of organized Catholicism.

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In the last half-century, the number of Catholic priests has plummeted by 40% while the number of Catholics has skyrocketed, up 65%. The specter of a faith defined by full pews and empty altars hangs heavy over the church. The root cause of this priest shortage is the church's insistence on mandatory celibacy. Given the potential recru...

The late Richard A. Schoenherr was a member of the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. David Yamane is Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 5.59 × 8.9 × 0.91 inPublished:August 18, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195175751

ISBN - 13:9780195175752

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionPart I Celibacy, Patriarchy, and the Priest Shortage1 Celibate Exclusivity Is the Issue2 Compulsory Celibacy and the Priest ShortagePart II Social Change in Organized Religion3 Toward a Theory of Social Change in Organized Religion4 The Transpersonal Paradigm5 The Special Character of Organized Religion6 Forces for Change in Catholic MinistryPart III Conflict and Paradox7 Unity and Diversity8 Immanence and Transcendence9 Hierarchy and HierophanyPart IV Coalitions in the Catholic Church10 Bureaucratic Counterinsurgency in Catholic History11 Priestly Coalition12 Prophetic CoalitionPart V Continuity and Change13 The Collapse of Celibate Exclusivity14 Goodbye Father

Editorial Reviews

"Richard Schoenherr tackles one of the most important questions facing today's Catholic Church: How much longer will the Church be able to maintain a priesthood that is exclusively celibate and male? Part heartfelt theology, part hard-nosed sociology, part hopeful manifesto, this book'sanswer will please some and dismay others, but no one interested in the future of the Church should ignore it."--Mark Chaves, author of Ordaining Women