2020 Association of Catholic Publishers first place award in theology
The available literature on the new evangelization is wide-ranging and focused on issues of ecclesial renewal. In The Truth Will Make You Free, Fr. Robert Leavitt adopts a different approach to the subject. From Paul VI until Pope Francis, the nature and challenges of modern secularism have become a recurring factor in the agenda of the new evangelization, yet often without historical perspective and philosophical balance. Few popular works bother to examine in such depth and scope, as this book does, what the history, nature, and implications of the secular age are for revitalizing ministry in an age of optional belief. Written for the interested layperson, seminarian, theology student, and pastor, The Truth Will Make You Free is an indispensable catechism for rethinking our understanding of the secular world in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
Robert F. Leavitt, PSS, is a priest of the Society of St. Sulpice and of the Archdiocese of Hartford. From 1980 to 2007, he served as president-rector of St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland. Currently, he is the France-Merrick University Professor of Theology at St. Mary's.
“This book offers a thorough, insightful exploration of what is the greatest challenge facing the Catholic Church today. It’s well worth a read and should be pondered upon at length.”
The Australasian Catholic Record
"Although many other books discuss the secularism of our age, none of them examine secularism in the depth and scope that this book by Leavitt does. Of particular interest to professional theologians and students of the New Evangelization, the book can also be inspiring to all serious readers interested in the subject, which is so vital to the Church today."
Catholic Library World
"Why do so many people find it difficult to believe today? Why do some young people seem indifferent and even hostile to faith? How can we proclaim the gospel in a secular age? If you are asking questions such as these, read The Truth Will Make You Free. Fr. Robert Leavitt explains how our secular society came about and how a new evangelization might address it. This is a book we have needed for a long time."
Frank J. Matera, Professor Emeritus, The Catholic University of America
"Fr. Robert Leavitt has written an invaluable and indispensable book. The Truth Will Make You Free explores the development and goals of the `New Evangelization' in the face of the challenges of secularism and pluralism within our contemporary world. What is remarkable is the clarity of his exposition, his insights into diverse issues, and his advocacy for a constructive engagement of the church in proclaiming and living the Gospel today. If I had to recommend one book for students, seminarians, and priests, it would be this remarkable treatment."
Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School
"This book is the most in-depth and erudite treatment of secularization and the new evangelization available. Fr. Robert F. Leavitt displays an incredible depth and breadth of knowledge as he analyzes the current state of affairs in the world and the role the new evangelization can play in it. He takes his cue from Vatican II's call to discern the `signs of the times,' adds insights from the formidable Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, among others, and sets forth a comprehensive and perceptive analysis of religion in the secular age. Anyone concerned about the new evangelization—and why it is desperately needed—need look no further for a reliable guide."
Ronald D. Witherup, PSS, superior general of the Sulpicians and the author of Saint Paul and the New Evangelization
"Robert Leavitt's treatment of secularization and the Church's response in the form of the `new evangelization' is historically rich and descriptively nuanced."
Catholic Books Review
"Though clearly intended for seminarians and/or those in clergy formation programs, this book will be highly informative and useful for anybody who is involved in the work of evangelization in today's U.S. parishes or dioceses. While the text is very analytical, historically grounded, and does an effective job of synthesizing many sources and authors, it is never far from the pastoral objectives of the New Evangelization."
Pray Tell Blog
"This is an important book because it casts a light on the link between the history and nature of the modern secular age and the most pressing issue for the future of the Church—the new evangelization. The secular age is here a new opportunity for faith. Highly recommended for a clearer understanding of the challenges for Christianity in our contemporary world."
Massimo Faggioli, Professor of Historical Theology, Villanova University
"Robert Leavitt provides an in-depth presentation of the Catholic church's `missionary discipleship' by challenging its oft-stated rejection of the so-called secular world. Tracing major turning points in the history of Christian and cultural development, accompanied by analysis of philosophical traditions that recognize the healthy importance of `options,' he suggests that our secular age is a sign of the times. As such, it can be a vehicle, not an obstacle, to the `new evangelization,' the proclamation of the Gospel. Leavitt has given his contemporary Catholic readers every reason for joyful passion (thymos). This timely book shows us how this might be achieved."
Francis J. Moloney, SDB, Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
"Drawing on his own expertise as a theologian and theological educator, Robert Leavitt has tackled an important and complex topic—the church's response to `secularism.' After an initial burst of enthusiasm for engaging the world sparked by Vatican II, the church's leadership has tended to warn against the corrosive threat of secular values. Leavitt, however, argues that there have also been salutary effects from modern secularism, such as helping the church purify itself from its own fascination with secular power and prestige. An authentic evangelical spirit, driven by a passionate desire to give witness to the gospel, Leavitt argues, both challenges and learns from the values of the secular world. This is a book that requires careful thought on the part of the reader and one that can bring wisdom to religious and civic leaders who respect the role of religion as well as the requirements of living in a secular and pluralistic world."
Donald Senior, CP, President Emeritus, Catholic Theological Union