My New Book Is Out!

September 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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Well, my new book, Sister Trouble: The Vatican, the Bishops, and the Nuns, came out on Saturday. It’s available for sale on;  an eBook version will also be available there in a week or so.

And just to whet your appetite, here’s the description. Y’all come!

In April of 2012 the Vatican issued a harsh “doctrinal assessment” of the largest organization of Catholic sisters in the U.S., the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The “assessment” was the culmination of a three-year investigation. Simultaneously, the Vatican had been conducting a visitation of 340 active (non-cloistered) congregations of U.S sisters. What do these developments mean?

This is the question Catholic scholar and activist Marian Ronan sets out to answer in Sister Trouble: The Vatican, the Bishops, and the Nuns, her galvanizing collection of articles about the investigations, the doctrinal assessment, and the issues that connect them.

In the first section of Sister Trouble, Ronan chronicles the conflict from the 2009 launch of the investigations to the 2012 actions of bishops appointed to oversee the Leadership Conference. She also examines the condemnation of Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s book, the link between the sisters’ support for the Affordable Care Act and the Vatican crackdown, and the dispute over the ultimate meaning of the Second Vatican Council that underlies the conflict. The articles sizzle with Ronan’s distinctive and sometimes acerbic humor.

Readers curious about the Vatican crackdown will learn a good deal from this first section of Sister Trouble. But the talk that comprises the second section provides much-needed context for understanding the conflict. Here the author examines in particular the treatment of dedicated celibate women throughout church history and the threat they have always posed to the supposedly absolute gender boundaries with which male leaders justify their domination of the church.

Finally, in the concluding section, Ronan makes clear her reasons for undertaking Sister Trouble—because she cares so deeply about Catholic sisters. In the first article, she uses a statue of Joan of Arc to trace a genealogy from one U.S. Catholic sister to another and finally to herself. Then she draws on Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain to explore how the sisters shaped the lives and characters of generations of Catholic women. And in the final essay, Ronan steps beyond the current conflict to bid farewell to three recently deceased sisters whose lives of commitment profoundly influenced her own.

As theologian Tania Oldenhage has written, Sister Trouble is an “urgent, clear-sighted and deeply moving account” of the conflict between the Vatican and the nuns. It’s also a testimony to the legacy of Catholic sisters throughout the ages.

American Catholicism 50% Off

April 3, 2013 at 9:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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A friend of mine recently published a book, and she’s doing a great job of marketing it–calling libraries, giving talks, getting people like me to review it.

Myself, I am terrible at marketing. It feels so pushy asking people to pay attention to my book, and by extension, me. This is precisely why I write–to avoid having to do such things.

But I am trying to emulate my friend. So here’s the deal: during the month of April, my book, Tracing the Sign of the Cross: Sexuality, Mourning, and the Future of American Catholicism, is on sale for 50% off. And since you read my blog, you know you’re interested in what I write about–in this case, the sex/gender conflicts within US Catholicism and how we might move beyond them. The book traces these conflicts and their possible resolution through fiction, memoirs, and essays by a number of  noted U.S. Catholic writers, including James Carroll, the novelist Mary Gordon, and the gay Latino essayist Richard Rodriguez.

Regarding my book, Philip Jenkins of Penn State writes, Tracing the Sign of the Cross “is a genuinely  pathbreaking book, offering an innovative interpretation of the worldview of contemporary American Catholics…offering valuable insight into the agendas, conscious or otherwise, of so many of those engaged in the culture wars that have raged within American Catholicism in recent decades.”

To read more about it, you can click on the Columbia University Press webpage, and to order it for $22.50 instead of $45.00, use the coupon code SALE when you check out.

There’s also an interview I did about the book in 2009 on the Columbia University Press webpage.

Happy reading.

Holy Father, Please Condemn My Book!

June 7, 2012 at 9:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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You have perhaps heard that Sister Margaret Farley’s book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, shot up the Amazon bestseller list after being condemned by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on June 2.

I am amused to report that I just checked Just Love on Amazon and discovered that it is temporarily out of stock, though you can order a copy for future shipment. I imagine Farley’s publisher, Continuum, is having copies printed like crazy at this very minute. In the interim, you may be interested in the dozens of quotes from enthusiastic reviews on the Amazon Just Love web page.

Oh please, Holy Father! Oh please, Cardinal Levada! Condemn Tracing the Sign of the Cross!! Sister Farley’s book was published in 2006, so maybe you haven’t gotten to mine yet. But when you do, please condemn it, I beg you!

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