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232Nothing to Hide, Secrecy, Communication and Communion in the Catholic Church

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  • Ana Braga-Henebry
    May 28, 2008
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      Title: Nothing to Hide Secrecy, Communication and Communion in the
      Catholic Church
      Author: Russell Shaw
      Publisher: Ignatius Press
      Date Published: April 2008
      ISBN: 9781586172
      Price: $13.95
      Amazon link:
      Product Description
      Shaw, widely known Catholic writer, speaker and former communications
      director for the U S Bishops, discusses the abuse of secrecy in the
      Church, the scandals it has caused and the serious problem of mistrust
      that exists in the credibility of the Church. Not concerned with the
      legitimate secrecy that is necessary to protect confidentiality and
      people’s reputations, Shaw is rather concerned here with the stifling,
      deadening misuse of secrecy that has done immense harm to communion
      and community in the Church in America.
      Shaw shows the secrecy issue is a theological as well as practical
      problem that raises such questions as: What kind of Church do we want
      our Church to be, open or closed? What kind of Church should it be?
      And how much secrecy is compatible with having such a Church? As Pope
      Benedict XVI has stated, “The consequence is clear: we cannot
      communicate with the Lord if we do not communicate with one another.”
      The Church is a communion, not a political democracy, and thus
      openness and accountability are even more crucial for the life of the
      Church than they are in a democracy. In a talk he gave many years
      before he became the current Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had this
      to say about the reality of ecclesial communion: “Fellowship in the
      Body of Christ and receiving the Body of Christ means fellowship with
      one another. This of its very nature includes mutual acceptance,
      giving and receiving on both sides, and readiness to share one’s goods
      . . . In this sense, the social question is given quite a central
      place in the theological heart of the concept of communion.”
      This is a beautiful vision of the Church. Shaw’s aim in his book is to
      make a contribution to realizing this vision in the concrete
      circumstances of the present day, by helping to end the culture of
      secrecy, especially within American Catholicism, and replacing the
      destructive culture with an open, accountable community of faith.
      "Throughout his career, Russell Shaw has served admirably Mother
      Church through his balanced, reasonable, informed, accessible, and
      forthright writings. Understanding that there are legitimate
      applications for the use of secrecy in both everyday religious life
      and secular society, he now addresses the unfortunate and long
      standing consequences of unnecessary secrecy and the lack of open and
      effective communication within the Catholic Church. Inhibiting the
      promotion of truth, knowledge, and accountability and increasing the
      chances of corruption, the author notes how unnecessary secrecy in the
      Church also weakens community/"communio;" maintains a second class
      status for the laity, furthers its "clericalization" and lessens its
      influence in worldly affairs; creates suspicion both internally and in
      the outside world; and impedes the speedy and effective just
      resolution of any number of crises affecting the religious institution
      today, most conspicuously, the recent sexual scandal. Let's hope the
      Bishops and other Church insiders recognize this important message of
      reform on the part of someone so committed to the Catholic faith.
      - Joseph A. Varacalli, author, The Catholic Experience in America
      Russell Shaw has long been a unique -- and uniquely valuable -- voice
      in American Catholicism. He was for many years the US Bishops'
      official spokesman, and he has the perspective and insights of an
      "insider". But Shaw is not an apologist for the hierarchy. He is at
      once a devout and loyal (and orthodox) member of the faithful, and a
      sharp critic of the cult of secrecy which so many bishops have
      cultivated. In this sobering but much-needed book, Shaw shows how some
      shepherds abused secrecy, and in doing so compounded the sex
      misconduct crisis with a broader crisis of trust in clerical
      leadership. But this is not a book about sex-abuse. It is rather about
      what it means to be the Church, about the collaboration of the
      non-ordained faithful in carrying out the Church's mission, and about
      how secrecy prevents the communication which is necessary to that
      collaboration. Shaw fully recognizes that the Catholic Church is no
      democracy and that confidentiality -- up to a point -- is essential to
      the Church's business. That is why this book is a measured yet cogent
      treatment of one of the great problem's facing the American Church today.
      - Professor Gerard Bradley, University of Notre Dame
      "Russell Shaw makes a persuasive case that it is time, at long last,
      to implement the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the rights
      and responsibilities of the laity in the life of the Church. His call
      deserves the support also of clerics who recognize the unhappy
      consequences of clericalism."
      - Rev. Richard John Neuhaus , editor in chief, First Things
      "As the premier Catholic communications professional in the United
      States, Russ Shaw is a longtime critic of clericalism, excessive
      secrecy, 'happy talk' and spin control in Catholic culture. He's also
      an articulate and engaging writer with an unparalleled record of
      service to the Church. Nothing to Hide is a provocative, important
      book that explores the boundary between appropriate confidentiality in
      the Church, and the kind of secrecy that cripples Christian community
      life. It's a must-read."
      +Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver