In the past thirty years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have made headlines with their statements on nuclear disarmament and economic justice, their struggles to address sexual abuse by clergy, and their defense of refugees and immigrants. Despite many similarities, the nearly two hundred U.S. bishops are a diverse mix of varying backgrounds and opinions. The last research-based book to study the bishops of the United States came out in 1989, since which time the Church has gone from Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI to Pope Francis and undergone dramatic shifts. Catholic Bishops in the United States: Church Leadership in the Third Millennium presents the results of a 2016 survey conducted by the Center of Applied Research for the Apostolate. It reveals the U.S. bishops' individual experiences, their day-to-day activities, their challenges and satisfactions as Church leaders, and their strategies for managing their dioceses and speaking out on public issues. The bishops' leadership has been tested by changes including the movement of Catholics from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West, the arrival of huge numbers of Catholic immigrants, and the ongoing decline in the number of priests and sisters serving the Catholic community. This book provides a much-needed up-to-date and comprehensive view of who the U.S. bishops of today are, where they are from, and how they are leading the Church in the United States in the era of Pope Francis.
This look at the U.S. Episcopacy, conducted by four eminent scholars, is unprecedented in its detail and couldn't be more timely. U.S. Catholic Bishops today are under more scrutiny than ever, and this marvelous combination of survey and interview data puts flesh and bones on these men and enhances our understanding of who they are and what is expected of them, both by their flock and by themselves. --Charles E. Zech, co-author of Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century The serious scholarly work performed by CARA researchers is always of enormous help to anyone interested in the church, and therefore it comes as no surprise to me that they are the first ones to write a comprehensive book about U.S. bishops today. There are many books about nuns and priests, laity and parishes, but we greatly needed this groundbreaking study to help us understand the leaders of our Church, who are among the most prominent and yet the least known Catholics. Where do they come from, what is their education, how do they spend their day, what are the challenges they face both spiritually and administratively? This very accessible yet profound study offers a unique insight into the very human dimensions of the men who are our bishops. --Father James Martin, S.J., editor-at-large of America magazine This book makes an enormous and much-needed contribution to the field of church management, including personnel, attitudes, beliefs, activities and lifestyle of bishops. The material presented is extraordinarily noteworthy and thought-provoking. Given all the serious problems the church has faced in recent years and the varying responses of bishops, the content will attract many readers. Catholic Bishops in the United States provides an enlightening and evenhanded presentation of facts interwoven with necessary and valuable commentary. --Katarina Schuth, Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion (Emerita), University of St. Thomas