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Liturgical Press

Reforming the Church

Global Perspectives

Edited by Declan Marmion and Salvador Ryan; Epilogue by Kristin Colberg

Reforming the Church SEE INSIDE
Reforming the Church

ISBN: 9780814668641, 6864

Details: 208 pgs, 6 x 9 x 3/8
Publication Date: 08/15/2023
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Some are calling the synod on synodality “the greatest consultation effort in human history” and for good reason. It is no small task to listen to the world’s 1.36 billion Catholics, especially when many Catholics have felt marginalized or unwelcome. Taking a cue from this ongoing synodal process, the experts gathered for Reforming the Church: Global Perspectives place the broader issues relating to church reform in their historical context, while exploring themes that have ongoing relevance to the universal church. Topics include ecclesial transfiguration and the episcopacy, clerical sex abuse, globalization of the church, and the theology of synodality. A number of chapters address issues of more local, or culturally-specific, significance, in this way mirroring the results of synodal consultations conducted worldwide.

What emerges is a reflection on the theme of reform within the church: what it has meant in the past, what it means for us now, and what it might mean in the future.

Contributors include:

  • Christopher M. Bellitto
  • Shaun Blanchard
  • Agnès Desmazières
  • Massimo Faggioli
  • Francis Gonsalves, SJ
  • Julia Knop
  • Bishop Vincent Long, OFMConv
  • Rafael Luciani
  • Declan Marmion
  • Ethna Regan
  • Pedro Trigo, SJ

Declan Marmion is professor of systematic theology at St. Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland, and a former dean of the theology faculty. In 2019 he published (with Salvador Ryan and Michael Mullaney) Models of Priestly Formation: Assessing the Past, Reflecting on the Present and Imagining the Future with Liturgical Press. He is the editor of Irish Theological Quarterly.

Salvador Ryan is professor of ecclesiastical history at St Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland, and has published widely on various aspects of the history of popular belief from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. In 2019 he published (with Declan Marmion and Michael Mullaney) Models of Priestly Formation: Assessing the Past, Reflecting on the Present and Imagining the Future with Liturgical Press.  He is the reviews editor of Irish Theological Quarterly and a member of the editorial advisory board for British Catholic History.

ISBN: 9780814668641, 6864

Details: 208 pgs, 6 x 9 x 3/8
Publication Date: 08/15/2023


"This is a fine collection of essays by experts in ecclesiology and pastoral theology, and is a true gift for the church as we journey together in the synod on synodality. Experts from around the world explain the barriers to systemic reform and the call to deep listening, attunement to the Holy Spirit, and accompaniment required of the faithful in this time of renewal. Readers will encounter honest and pragmatic analysis of complex and conflict-ridden questions. The authors’ suggestions for dialogue and discernment take seriously the contributions of lay people, especially women, to the ongoing work of the church now and in the future. A must read for pastors, theologians, and all who are participating in the global synod."
Emily Reimer-Barry, PhD, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego

"These essays are part of 'mutual listening' that Pope Francis wants to characterize the 2023 - 2024 synodal process. But it is more than that. For the first time in centuries Catholics are calling for reform—it is a theme in the air we breathe. This is more than 'renewal' or some 'updating' procedures: we are talking of reform which means admitting we have problems, have made serious mistakes in past centuries, and now we must look the problems in the eye. These eleven essays—each expert and from a different perspective and from across the globe—are a snapshot of our problems; and a guide to what we must confront if the synodal process is to be more than fine words."
Thomas O'Loughlin, Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology, The University of Nottingham

"In Reforming the Church, Declan Marmion and Salvador Ryan present a miniature 'synod on synodality,' with clear voices from Australia, Europe, India, South America, and the United States, each presenting a different perspective on the processes and the facts of synodality—past, present, and future. The work is invaluable for the ongoing work of fruitful change in the Church."
Phyllis Zagano, PhD, Hofstra University, New York

"Far from ultimatums from impatient reformers, the essays in Reforming the Church: Global Perspectives promote thoughtful consideration on how the entire people of God together can become 'actors of discernment.' In going out to the peripheries, by genuinely listening to one another’s stories with 'a hermeneutic of compassion,' Declan Marmion and Salvador Ryan have chosen a trajectory of synodal paths that not only enlarge our tent, but create space for true communion, participation, and a solid foundation for carrying out Christ’s mission for the future."
Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM, Boston College

"Significant church reform is the unfulfilled promise of Vatican II. Pope Francis has now taken up this promise by setting the Church on a synodal path of listening and genuine dialogue. This collection of papers, from theologians and scholars around the world, provides an excellent roadmap for the range of issues needing attention: the role of women; clericalism; the sexual abuse crisis; and so on. May their voices bear fruit in the reforms the Church so urgently needs."
Neil Ormerod, Honorary Professor, Alphacrucis University College, Sydney, Australia

"The eminent authors of these essays together offer a substantial contribution to the theology of ecclesial reform, here in the key of 'synodality'. From multiple perspectives, such as the length of the Catholic tradition or present crises in the church, we are given a refreshing challenge for change. Envisaging the church primarily as all the People of God, this vision for reform demands a listening especially to those on 'the peripheries' and an enabling for mission through participation of all in the church’s sacramental and teaching life, as well as its governance. This book will be widely welcomed."
Rev Dr Ormond Rush, Australian Catholic University

"'Synodality' and 'reform' go together seamlessly. Both terms hold out a vision of a community receptive to the diverse voices and gifts of all the baptized. As ever, translating vision into everyday realities is a challenging task, one that requires resources as well as creativity. Reforming the Church provides resources—historical, theological, and pastoral—to stimulate and support creativity. The chapters of Reforming the Church, drawn from academic research and experiences across the global church, will nourish the mission of the pilgrim community."
Richard Lennan, Professor of Systematic Theology, Boston College—School of Theology and Ministry

"In this compelling collection, issued as Catholics celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Vatican II and prepare for an upcoming synod on synodality, theologians around the world take up key issues that must be addressed in order to advance needed reform in the church. Crafted for a wide audience, these insightful essays will benefit seasoned theologians, pastoral agents, lay and ordained in the church and in society, as well as students who are trying to find their ways during a contentious age."
Bradford E. Hinze, Fordham University

“This terrific collection of essays foregrounds the current synod on synodality but is not confined to it, offering us keys to understanding the synod against the broad backdrop of church reform. Scholarly yet vivid, Reforming the Church is just what is needed right now: insights and reflections that allow the ordinary faithful to grasp the most important Catholic event since Vatican II.”
Austen Ivereigh, DPhil, author, journalist, and fellow in contemporary church history at Campion Hall, University of Oxford

“As the universal church enters a new moment of synodality, Reforming the Church is an essential resource for anybody interested in the historical, theological, and ecclesial contexts of church reform past and present. These essays, written by expert contributors from around the globe, provide insight, challenge, and inspiration for those eager to embrace Pope Francis’s call to become ‘experts in the art of encounter’ and cooperators with the Holy Spirit in living our baptismal call to be a pilgrim people journeying together. Whether you are a theological expert, a pastoral minister, a university student, or just somebody interested in learning more about synodality, there is something in this book for everyone!”
Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Professor of Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Theology, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana

"During ten years of a groundbreaking papacy, Pope Francis has made an enormous wager: betting that his legacy and the very future of the Catholic Church will be found in creating a new, globe-spanning process for the Synod of Bishops. Declan Marmion and Salvador Ryan's Reforming the Church is an essential primer to understand the reasons for that wager, and the stakes at play. It is an incredibly valuable resource as the 2023 synod assembly opens in Rome."
Joshua J. McElwee, News editor, National Catholic Reporter

"It is a must-read for pastors and pastoral workers responsible for guiding the next set of consultations on the synodal path."
Catholic Books Review

"Reforming the Church brings together a satisfying range of perspectives on what is a key subject of relevance for the church in the modern world.