Publisher : New City Press (NY)
People on the lookout for the trends in the Catholic Church will be very happy to discover Brendan Leahy’s Ecclesial Movements and Communities. The birth and development of the ecclesial movements has been a topic of much discussion over the past 50 years. Leahy presents the movements as examples of the Church’s charismatic dimension, a principle which Pope John Paul II described as ‘co-essential’ with the hierarchical-institutional dimension. His overview of their rise and development captures the unique qualities of Charismatic Renewal, Communion and Liberation, Cursillo, Focolare, L’Arche, Legion of Mary, the Neocatechumenal Way, Regnum Christi, Sant’Egidio, and others.
Leahy offers an insightful overview of the rise and spread of the movements and describes several ways of seeing what it is that makes them ‘co-essential’ in the Church. Capturing the ecclesial maturity that exists in many of the movements today, he addresses many specific questions, like:
• how the movements express and/or renew charisms
• how the movements fit in the context of Apostolic Succession (including the role of priests)
• movements and the parish
• canonical challenges
The Holy Spirit is sort of the Harry Houdini of divinity, forever busting loose in seemingly impossible ways. In the Catholic Church, the “new movements” are the most remarkable recent example – an unplanned and dynamic form of life that’s erupted in an age when secularization, scandal, and the weight of history is often a recipe for decline. Fr. Brendan Leahy provides a concise yet theologically profound reading of this great escape act by the Spirit, one that’s especially commendable for being neither cynical nor overly romantic.
John L. Allen Jr.
Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and
author of The Future Church (Doubleday, 2009)