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222 LETI'ERS IN CANADA 1980 moins bien ii comprendre sur quoi ils se sont fondes pour decouper les extraits des textes retenus. Cest la, Ii mon avis, la faiblesse d'un outil si riche en documents de toutes sortes. nest difficile de saisir la portee de textes ainsi amputes d'une bonne partie de leur contenu, difficile de les expliquer ii des etudiants ou a des non-famillers puisque, tres souvent, les questions de depart qui ont servi Ii les produire n'y sont pas integrees, pas plus que les conclusions. Les lecteurs risquent souvent de faire fausse route dans leur reflexion s'ils se limitent Ii la lecture de ces seuls extraits. Cest pourquoi, pour trouver toute son efficacite, ce livre ne peut pas, Ii mon avis, etre utilise independamment, isoMment, d'une demarche d'ensemble surI'histoire du Quebec. Cette demarche peut sefaire dans un cours mais aussi par Ie biais d'un recours ad'autres sources permettant de recreer Ie contexte global de ces quatre decennies. Religion EMERO STIEGMAN Certain topics in religion can command our attention only when those who write about them have established their credentials. What has long been ardently discussed tends to become the banner or the target of complacent partisans and, to the same extent, both the boredom of the disengaged and the despair of that faith which seeks understanding and respects information. Papal power is such a topic. With appropriate suspicion we ask why the writer is interested in the subject. Have not both Roman Catholic descriptive accounts and opposing versions been routine exercisesin denominational apologetics? Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, a Universite de Montreal sociologist, is in an unusually strong position to draw a new quality of attention to his subject, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control over Lay Catholic Elites (University of California Press, xiv, 361, $16·95)· Vaillancourt, after three years as a student of sociology in Rome, obtained in 1966 over a hundred interviews with Catholic lay leaders in France. The following year, in order to study the composition of the delegates to the Third World Congress for the Lay Apostolate to be held in Rome, he developed a questionnaire. This was tested at the April 1967 Congress of the National Council of Catholic Men in Pittsburgh, refined, and translated from the English and French originals with the help of German and Spanish sociolOgists into these other two official languages of the World Congress later held in Rome. In 1972, as a journalist for Radio-Canada, the author accompanied Pope Paul VI during his trip around the world. With this kind of preparation he began a study, not only of relevant materials available in libraries, but also and especially of RELIGION 223 documentary materials obtamed from two Vatican agencies, the Permanent Committee for International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate and the Council on the Laity. This unusually extensive work matured finally under his PHD dissertation mentors at the University of California in Berkeley. One may presume that Vaillancourt has something to say. Dismiss all fears of the rewritten doctoral treatise! Papal Power is the composition of an experienced journalist. The data is organized into a smooth narrative, simple definitions are attentively supplied, and the documentation is judicious.Think, instead, of the chastening influence of a doctoral-dissertation committee supervisingso complex an undertaking as the analysis of Vatican control over the Catholic laity. The analysis of papal power cannot be grounded exclusively in theology, says Vaillancourt, or in the personality traits of the principal agents in any generation. What is needed is a 'mixture of historical, empirical, and theoretical perspectives,' with an emphasis on cultural and institutional factors, including political and socioeconomic aspects (p 281). Concretely, this means that the study of papal power must undertake, first, to retrace the history both of the papacy and of a lay movement; secondly, to gather data on contemporary Vatican-laity relationships; and thirdly, to offer a cultural and institutional analysis both of the contemporary papacy and of that part of the laity under consideration. The author, accordingly, divides his work into three parts. Vaillancourt's brief history of Christianity is not seminary fare. He is guided by scholars who, in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 222-238
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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