The Faithful Departed
Philip F. Lawler
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Buy *The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture* by Philip F. Lawler online

The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture
Philip F. Lawler
Encounter Books
280 pages
February 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Philip Lawler presents the history of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, from its early days up to the present. Massachusetts was founded by Puritans, who did not like Roman Catholics and even enacted laws against them. As time went along more and more Catholics, many from Ireland, came to Massachusetts and raised their families there. The Puritan natives of Massachusetts discriminated against the Irish Catholics and treated them like dirt or worse. The Irish Catholics could only find low-paying jobs and lived in horrible conditions.

The tables were turned on the “natives” as the Irish Catholics gradually became the majority in Massachusetts. The Irish became involved in politics and other aspects of life; for many Irish, their religion was very important to them, which in turn made the Catholic Church quite powerful. Lawler tells one story of Archbishop O’Connell of Boston to show how powerful the Church became: A Catholic governor proposed a lottery to raise money for some project. Many Catholic legislators were for it, but this all changed when the Archbishop spoke out against it. The lottery was overwhelmingly defeated.

A later archbishop of Boston during the 1980s spoke out against something but was ignored by the Catholic electorate and politicians. When Boston’s Catholic population became the majority, it was a very conservative city. The Catholic Church was extremely powerful, but as time progressed this changed - especially after the Second Vatican Council. Lawler presents the case that the cardinal archbishops should have done more to oppose or stop liberal Catholic clerics and liberal Catholic politicians from openly opposing Church teachings. It has gotten so bad that so-called Catholic Massachusetts is now the most liberal state in the union. Many liberal Massachusetts Catholic politicians ignore Catholic teachings and still say they are Catholics in good standing with the Church, using phrases like, “I am personally against abortion, but…”

The cardinal archbishops of Boston could not keep their own houses in order, never mind correcting liberal Catholics. Lawler points out that the sexual abuse scandal in the Church extremely hurt the its credibility; he accuses the cardinal archbishops of covering up problems and moving abusive priests from parish to parish. Lawler also accuses the bishops of the greater U.S. as having done the same, or staying quiet when they learned of the sorts of things other bishops were doing. He submits that the bishops should have corrected each other instead of sweeping the problem under the carpet. He also says that psychological facilities for clergy and religious did not help the situation, because they would okay an abusive priest for ministry.

Lawler’s book is about the sexual abuse scandal that occurred not only in Boston but also in other dioceses, and it is also about the failure of the archbishops of Boston in correcting liberal Catholics. His book is a wake-up call as to what can happen if those who oppose Church teachings or authority, be they liberal or conservative, are allowed to promote their causes without Church authority speaking out against them.

Lawler is a conservative Catholic and a native of Boston who was an editor of the Boston Archdiocese’s newspaper, The Pilot. He was the editor of the international magazine Catholic World Report and is the current editor of the Internet magazine Catholic World News. His writings have appeared in many newspapers around the world. He is the author of five books on political and religious topics.

The Faithful Departed is an arresting examination of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and the history of the Archdiocese of Boston. A problem with this book is its many typos, missing words and added words. Aside from that, this book is recommended to those interested in Catholic Church history in the United States, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in the United States, and liberalism coming to power. This book may be opposed by some liberal Catholics, and some may become angry over the cover-up in the abuse scandal.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2008

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