The Vatican. The Inquisition. Contraception. Celibacy. Apparitions and miracles. Plots and scandals. The Catholic Church is seldom out of the news. But what do its one billion adherents really believe, and how do they put their beliefs into practice in worship, the family, and society? This down-to-earth account goes back to the early Christian creeds to uncover the roots of modern Catholic thinking. It avoids getting bogged down in theological technicalities, and throws light on aspects of the Church's institutional structure and liturgical practice that even Catholics can find baffling: why go to confession? How are people made saints? What is 'infallible' about the Pope? Topics addressed include: * scripture and tradition * sacraments and prayer * popular piety * personal and social morality * reform, mission, and interreligious dialogue Lawrence Cunningham, a theologian, prize-winning writer and university teacher, provides an overview of Catholicism today which will be indispensable for undergraduates and lay study groups.
Lawrence S. Cunningham is John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. His scholarly interests are in the area of systematic theology and culture, Christian spirituality, and the history of Christian spirituality. His most recent book is A Brief History of Saints. He has edited or written sixteen other books and is co-editor of the academic monograph series 'Studies in Theology and Spirituality'.
Preface; 1. The many meanings of Catholicism; 2. Roman Catholicism; 3. Being Catholic: some typologies; 4. Catholicism in time and place; 5. The rule of faith; 6. Catholic worship; 7. Catholic spirituality; 8. The missionary character of Catholicism; 9. Catholic reformation(s); 10. The moral life; 11. The contemporary Catholic Church; 12. Reading Catholicism: a bibliography; Index.