Confusion in the Pews
How We Can Make Our Church Catholic Again One Parish at a Time, by Cecilia H. Martin, ISBN: -0-75969-730-2 Price: $15.50 Phone orders: 1-888-280-7715 Online ordering: http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/9923
In the preface to Cecilia Martin’s book, Fr. John Ollivier paraphrases G. K. Chesterton saying, “so many today do not know what they are doing because they do not know what they are undoing.” Confusion in the Pews describes the systematic undoing of the Catholic faith in the United States after Vatican II. Martin begins with problems in her own Diocese of St. Augustine, FL which led to the founding of The Catholic Advocate, a samizdat underground newspaper. She moves from there to shine light on scandals around the country, some high profile, others less known. It’s a horror story detailing the ruin of churches; liturgical malpractice; promotion of homosexuality; destruction of innocence through sex-ed; advancement of heresy, the new age, and feminism; etc. The book isn’t just a tale of woe, however, but the story of Catholics who fought back. In telling it Martin revisits Vatican II, promotes Catholic education through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law, and gives specific examples of strategies used to fight and win local battles. Martin names names, but makes it clear we are all to blame. “We, who have been given the gift of faith are guilty of one of the worst scandals of all; we run away while Jesus agonizes on the cross.” And she asks, “Isn’t it time we changed that.”
The last third of the book is essentially a warriors’ guide to smart fighting. In line with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity (starting with those immediately responsible) she outlines how to address problems at the parish level. Her procedure: identify the abuse, evaluate the situation, approach the authorities, and resolve the situation. If no satisfaction is achieved at that level she tells how to move up the ladder to the diocese and ultimately the Vatican. The book includes a supplement containing addresses for some of the responsible congregations in Rome.
The book lacks an index for quick reference and could use more careful editing to ensure consistent name spellings, etc., but these are minor faults. Confusion in the Pews is a useful book, both for those who want to know how we got into this mess, but also for Catholic activists who want to help us get out of it. We recommend it.