When Richard A. McCormick's The Critical Calling was first
published, Andrew M. Greeley commented that "in years to come
scholars will look back on Father McCormick's work and say, 'This
was a man who knew what he was talking about!'" In this reissue,
with a new foreword by Lisa Sowle Cahill, both first-time readers
and those opening the pages for a return visit with an honored
friend will find Greeley's characterization remains valid.
Father McCormick begins The Critical Calling with his
personal affirmation of the work of Vatican II: "I believe the
Council was a work of the Spirit-desperately needed, divinely
inspired, devotedly and doggedly carried through." Yet, he stresses
this was no uncritical endorsement of everything the Council did
and said. Part One includes a discussion of fundamental moral
theology that looks at the relationship between the church
hierarchy and individual moral decision making and several chapters
addressing issues precipitated by actions involving Cardinal Josef
Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Part Two focuses on practical and
pastoral questions that touch on contemporary concerns ranging from
abortion to AIDS, divorce, homosexuality, and teenage sexuality.
Cahill suggests that "those who lived through the tumultuous 1960s
and '70s" as well as "those who came to maturity after the Council"
will find this book to be an accurate and evocative reflection of
the passions that imbued all those early debates and a helpful
explanation why those passions ran so high. All readers will
benefit from the wise insights into the controversies of that era
and the more recent struggles, challenges, and debates that
confront today's church.
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