Ecclesial Movements and Communities

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Ecclesial Movements and Communities

Origins, Significance and Issues
Page Count
200 pages
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    About the book

    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

    This is a well researched and written examination of bodies within the Church which are regarded by many with suspicion - often based on ignorance.

    GoodBookStall review

    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)

    This publication by Brendan Leahy is an excellent introduction to the rise and functioning of these new communities, particularly in the Catholic Church. The work does not provide any detailed treatment of any one community, but rather offers a more global and general overview of the phenomenon, from both a practical and theological standpoint … The work is the result of serious research, thoroughly understood and presented with clarity. The new ecclesial communities are viewed from many perspectives – theological, historical and pastoral – and a crisp articulation is provided of their place in the Church at the present time. [It also has] a fine bibliography and extensive index.

    Anthony Draper
    All Hallows College, Dublin in The Furrow

    This modest book is clear, helpful, and informative, offering a useful survey of the rise of a variety of new ecclesial movements … Part One traces their development since the second half of the last century, both in relation to Vatican II, and particularly in the past twenty-five years. Part Two relates them to the Council’s injunctions, to its rediscovery of charisms in the church, to the Papacy itself, to evangelization, and to Mary the mother of Jesus. It becomes very clear then, on what basis Rome endorses or criticizes the movements … Part Three raises further controversial questions. Leahy deals with a range of objections in a brief and reasoned fashion … The book concludes with a helpful bibliography which includes a lot of articles otherwise rather difficult to find. This is a good reference book and helpful for anyone attempting to understand the purpose and thrust of Pope Benedict’s ‘New Evangelization’.

    Anthony J. Gittins, CSSp
    Catholic Library World

    The value of Brendan Leahy’s Ecclesial Movements and Communities is that it surveys the major theological and ecclesiological questions raised by the movements without getting lost in the fog of their idiosyncrasies … Leahy doesn’t begin by presuming the movements are in need of justification or defense. Instead, his point of departure is the firm belief that they represent the latest instance of Catholicism’s capacity to generate new life just when the Church appears to be running out of gas … Ecclesial Movements and Communities hits the ‘reset button’ on perceptions. Leahy does not take his cues on the movements from pop culture, the tribal politics of our time, or the complaints of embittered ex-members. Instead, he applies the frame of Catholic teaching and tradition, and in that light he sees the movements not primarily as a puzzle needing to be solved, but rather as a gift to be welcomed. That shift in perspective does not answer all the questions one might ask, but it does seem like the basis of eventually getting the answers right

    John Allen, Jr.

    First Things

    About the author

    Most Rev. Brendan Leahy is Bishop of Limerick, Ireland. Formerly professor of Systematic Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, he is a von Balthasar scholar and an ecumenist and has authored articles and books on interreligious dialogue, issues facing the Church in the 21st century, the life and teachings of Pope John Paul II, renewal in the Church, charisms, and the priesthood.

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