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General News    H4'ed 2/20/21

Massimo Faggioli on President Joe Biden, Pope Francis, and Catholicism Today (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) February 20, 2021: The church historian and theologian Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University (born in 1970 in Italy; Ph.D. in church history and theology, University of Turin, 2002; moved to the United States in the summer of 2008) has published an accessible new 160-page book that should interest non-Catholics as well as Catholics: Joe Biden and Catholicism in the United States, translated from the Italian by Barry Hudock (New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications/ Bayard Faith Resources, 2021; orig. Italian ed., 2021).

Because Faggioli set out to explain Joe Biden and American Catholicism to Italians in his new book, his new book should turn out to be accessible to non-Catholics as well as Catholics in the United States and elsewhere in the English-speaking world today, provided, of course, that they are interested in learning more about Roman Catholic Church history.

Faggioli's previous books include the following six books in English (in chronological order):

(1) Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning (New York: Paulist Press, 2012).

(2) John XXIII: The Medicine of Mercy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014).

(3) A Council for the Global Church: Receiving Vatican II in History (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015).

(4) Pope Francis: Tradition in Transition (New York: Paulist Press, 2015).

(5) Catholicism and Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Century (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017).

(6) The Liminal Papacy of Pope Francis: Moving Toward Global Catholiciy (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2020).

In addition, Faggioli is the editor of The Legacy of Vatican II (New York: Paulist Press, 2015) and the co-editor with Barbara E. Wall of Pope Francis: A Voice for Mercy, Justice, Love, and Care of the Earth (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019).

Vatican II is shorthand for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church, which was summoned into existence by Pope John XXIII. At the time, the official documents promulgated by Vatican II were heralded in the United States and elsewhere as welcome signs of landmark progress in the Roman Catholic Church.

Now, for recent English translations of key Vatican II documents, see the book Vatican II: The Essential Texts, edited by Norman Tanner, S.J. (New York: Image, 2012). Each document has a Latin tag-name as well as a formal title. For example, the landmark document known by the Latin tag-name as Nostra Aetate is also known by the formal name as Declaration on the Church's Relation to Non-Christian Religions, translated here by Leo Arnold, S.J. (pages 323-328). Similarly, the document that the American Jesuit John Courtney Murray helped craft is known by the Latin tag-name Dignitatis Humanae and also by the formal name Declaration on Religious Freedom, translated here by John Coventry, S.J. (pages 304-318).

However, in more recent times (hard to date precisely), a virulent anti-Vatican II spirit has become manifest in certain Roman Catholic circles, especially in the United States, as Faggioli explains in detail throughout his new 160-page 2021 book. We should note here that the contemporary American Catholics today who like to nostalgically imagine the idealized pre-Vatican II Church in the 1950s and earlier also tend to align themselves with Trump's nostalgic MAGA campaign about an imaginary idealized American past in the 1950s and earlier.

Now, Pope Francis is widely known for his 2015 eco-encyclical. And President Biden plans to undertake various measures to counter climate change.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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