The Changing Face of the Priesthood

The Changing Face of the Priesthood
A Reflection on the Priest's Crisis of Soul
Donald B. Cozzens
The Liturgical Press, $14.95, 148 pp.

Donald B. Cozzens has published one of the most honest and thoughtful reflections on the state of the Roman Catholic priesthood in the United States that have appeared so far. Cozzens is president-rector and professor of pastoral theology at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Cleveland. Although brief, The Changing Face of the Priesthood distills over thirty years of the author’s experience as a priest, college teacher, spiritual director for priests, vicar for clergy and religious, and administrator and superior of a seminary community.

The most serious problem facing us today in arriving at a more adequate understanding of the priesthood, theologically and practically, is a widespread inhibition of speech within the Catholic community. For various reasons, to the great detriment of the church, its credibility, and its mission, too many have felt reluctant or unable to say what they see and what they think. Cozzens’s most important virtue is his courage to say what his experience has taught him. For this alone, his book deserves a wide and respectful readership.

Cozzens sets aside, for the most part, exegetical and systematic theological questions, as well as the subject of priests in religious orders and congregations. He wants to make a contribution primarily from the perspectives of psychology and pastoral theology, and he is thinking here mainly about diocesan priests. Within...

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About the Author

Robert J. Egan, SJ, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, teaches theology and spirituality at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.