by Peter Manseau

There is a generational passing going on in the American Catholic Church, as anyone who attends meetings of Voice of the Faithful or Call to Action or Corpus can testify. For the most part, the members are the grizzled veterans of the Vietnam era and before, who came to adulthood in the church around the time of Vatican II, some a little before, some a little after. While the statistics may not be available, it would be a fair wager that many if not most spent some time in the seminary or the convent, even if the majority of them did not proceed to ordination or solemn profession in their religious congregations. A good sprinkling are ex-nuns and resigned priests. These are the people who celebrated the work of Vatican II, who traveled to hear the young Hans Küng and later wrote to protest against his silencing, who mourned Humanae vitae and celebrated Populorum progressio. They honed their skills in demonstrations and campaigning during Vietnam and Watergate, and put them to work in Boston in 2002 in response to the sexual-abuse crisis, winning a victory that, like those earlier events, could never extinguish the damage that had been done, nor cure the people’s psyche. Today they continue to fight for a more progressive future for the Catholic Church, though as they look around them for younger faces at their meetings, they must wonder if it is a losing battle.

Peter Manseau’s story of his parents’ lives is...

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About the Author

Paul Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley, SJ, Professor of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University.