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September 10, 2007

American Catholics Todayby William V. D’Antonio, James D. Davidson, Dean R. Hoge and Mary L. Gautier

Rowman & Littlefield 214p, $65 (hardcover ed.), $24.95 (paperback ed.)

The face of the Catholic Church in America has changed--and will likely continue changing--in the wake of Vatican II, historic events, scandals, a new papacy and an increasingly pro-active laity. Based on almost two decades of Gallup surveys (from 1987 to 2005), American Catholics Today has been uniformly hailed as the most definitive study, a most important book, revealing and must-reading. And deservedly so.

About the authors: William DAntonio is a fellow of the Life Cycle Institute, Catholic University of America; James Davidson is professor of theology at Purdue University; Dean Hoge is a fellow of the Life Cycle Institute, C.U.A.; and Mary Gautier is senior research associate and research associate professor at CARA, Georgetown University.

Their study explores the views of the Catholic laity on a range of important questions, suggesting that an increasing number of Catholics-while not abandoning their faith-are making their own decisions regarding faith practice. Disaffection with church leadership and the institutional church are the forces propelling them. Among the subject areas covered are Catholic identity, trends and variations regarding the sacraments, authority, and religion and politics. The data, views and comments expressed will find much resonance among readers just as they will challenge pastoral leaders.

In his review essay in the August 13-20 issue of America, Andrew M. Greeley writes in part: "The Catholic respondents knew in each of these studies what is absolutely essential in their religion--Jesus risen, the poor, Mary and the sacraments. After a couple of thousand years of turbulent history, they still get it spot on The faithful are convinced of what is totally important. [The] key stories and symbols are enormous and indeed invincible resources for the churchs work of evangelization, and they are there for the taking, if only we can realize that religion starts with image and story and not theological dicta and rules."

We recommend American Catholics Today to anyone who wants to know what Catholics are really thinking!

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