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A People Adrift

A People Adrift

The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America

In this widely acclaimed book that will long remain an indispensable work on American religion and the Catholic Church, one of its most influential laymen in the United States says that the Roman Catholic Church in America must either reform profoundly or lapse into irreversible decline.
In addition to providing a spiritual identity for over 60 million Americans, the church is the nation's largest nongovernmental provider of education and social services, as well as the largest not-for-profit provider of health care. But even before the recent revelations about sex abuse by priests, American Catholicism was already heading for a major crisis, with its traditional leadership depleted by the decline in religious vocations and paralyzed by "theological gridlock."
Catholicism in the United States confronts hard choices among contrasting visions for the future, choices with huge implications for American life. Analyzing these choices in ways that escape all the familiar labels of conservative or liberal, Steinfels points to the directions the church must take to survive.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743261449 | 
  • September 2004
List Price $26.99
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Read an Excerpt


Today the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is on the verge of either an irreversible decline or a thoroughgoing transformation.

A few years ago, that proposition might have seemed melodramatic, typical journalistic sensationalism. Then, in the first half of 2002, the church was hit with a gale of revelations about sexual molestation of minors by priests, and as the winds of scandal continued to howl and howl, it seemed that no statement about the Catholic Church was too melodramatic or exaggerated to get a serious hearing. My own analysis of the sex scandal, somewhat different from the standard... see more

About the Author

Peter Steinfels
Photo Credit:

Peter Steinfels

Peter Steinfels, former co-director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture, is a university professor at Fordham. He was religion columnist for The New York Times and editor of Commonweal. Steinfels is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America (Simon & Schuster, 2003). He lives in New York City.




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