Church, Faith, Future [ePub Ebook]   Book Reviews

Church, Faith, Future; What We Face, What Can We Do.
by Father Louis J. Cameli
Afterword by Cardinal Blaise J. Cupich.
Liturgical Press, 2017, 104,pp.
Reviewed by John T, Pawlikowski, O.S.M.

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This short volume begins with two pastoral experiences on the part of Cameli, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The first was his visit to the leper colony in Hawaii founded by St. Damian where he was struck by the reality of compassion as the core of Catholic faith. The second was his tenure as pastor in a Chicago parish where he witnessed a variety of commitments to Catholic belief and practice.

Cameli believes the contemporary church needs to acknowledge that it will continue to function in an increasingly secular culture (which he does not regard as all bad) and it will also face a diminishing membership as upcoming generations no longer see the importance of institutional religious involvement. The church can respond to these realities in three possible ways. The first is simply to do nothing and mourn the decline. The second is more proactive, intentionally planning to adjust to the inevitable reduction in membership. The final option is the development of a plan of evangelization what will result in a new hopeful spirit through an in-depth process of personal and institutional renewal. In his Afterword Cardinal Cupich details how the Archdiocese of Chicago is currently trying to implement Cameliís third option. Through its multiyear ďRenew My ChurchĒ program currently in its beginning stages.

Cameli organizes his text around four main questions: (1) What can we expect?; (2) Are there unexpected possibilities?; (3) What can we do?; (4) What ought we do?. He would be the first to admit that he does not have complete answers to all these questions. But he is convinced the church must undergo a comprehensive renewal that will result in a newly energized Catholic community, particularly within the laity, which has recognized its commitment to the person on Jesus and not merely to a set of dogmas and rules.

This book is an excellent discussion starter for anyone committed to church renewal today. Itís clear and appealing style renders it suitable for theological schools, university classes and adult discussion groups. Its only missing dimension is the necessary commitment to an ecumenical and interreligious context for such a renewal of Catholicism.

This review will also appear in the December 2017 issue of the CATHOLIC LIBRARY WORLD published by the Catholic Library Association.