This book by Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is a collection of interviews from various prominent Americans – all of whom are or were Catholics - on their views on Catholicism. The political spectrum of those interviewed ranges from the right to the extreme left, and even to those who have left the Catholic Church. To this reviewer most lean to the left, a few are moderates, and and a small representation are on the right. Of course, labels are generalizations and can be subjective.
Some of the issues discussed in Being Catholic Now include abortion, education, the sexual abuse scandal, ordination of women to the priesthood, social justice, various ministries, theology, birth control, Vatican II, the hierarchy, service, politics, and many other issues. Most of the interviewees seem to be pro-choice on abortion and pro-birth control. Many say they identify themselves as Catholics but do not support certain teachings of the Church on such matters. Some express their anger over the sexual abuse scandal; some were actual victims, while others voice their disappointment like many other American Catholics have. Some say that the clergy need to be more concerned about social justice and serving the people than about clerical ambition.
Many express appreciation for the religious sisters and others who have helped them in their education or lives. Several talk about their home lives where the Catholic faith played an important part - the celebration of certain feasts like Christmas and Easter, praying the rosary, and doing other devotions.
Others tell stories of mean, unhappy religious sisters and clergy, some of whom were sexual or physical abusers. Many tell how faith inspires their present daily life to do good in the world through their work and lives. Several reveal what they would do if they were pope. The stories span a wide range of experiences and hopes; some of the stories are very sad, others full of hope and joy.
Kennedy provides a photo of each interviewee with some key facts about them. The interviews vary in length, with most coming in at four or five pages and all fascinating in their own ways. Many of the people interviewed seem to speak from the heart, making this a great collection of peoples’ ideas and thoughts on the Catholic Church in America, highly recommended to those interested in the opinions of prominent (and not-so-prominent) present and former Catholics on the Church.
Kerry Kennedy established the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in 1988. A graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School, she is the co-author of Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders who are Changing our World (2000) and other books as well as having been involved in human rights documentaries and exhibits.