Re: James Carroll

James Carroll is a National Book Award winner, the author of nine novels, and a regular columnist for the Boston Globe. His record of antiwar activities, status as a laicized priest, and his sharp sense of regret over the failure of church reform have made him a public spokesman for a kind of Catholicism that many liberal American Catholics celebrate. I’m sure that readers will find much of interest in John Spalding’s interview with Carroll that appears on page 12; I certainly did.

As that interview was being edited for publication, Carroll’s lengthy essay "The Silence" appeared in the New Yorker (April 7). In it, Carroll argues that papal claims of infallibility and Catholicism’s insistence "upon the primacy of Jesus as a means of salvation" were the root causes of the Holocaust and that these are emerging as the sources of the "tragedy" of John Paul II’s papacy. To publish Spalding’s interview while remaining silent about "The Silence" would be, I think, irresponsible.

Carroll’s essay is certainly artful; he knows how to set a scene and insinuate a connection among such things as anachronistic Vatican pageantry, the church’s historical sins, and...

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About the Author

Paul Baumann is the editor of Commonweal.