This important collection of articles by 31 members of the "Fellowship of Catholic Scholars" represents the best in Catholic thought and a fitting response to the major intellectual challenges confronting the Church in the turbulent post-conciliar period. As the well-known editors of this volume note:
"Since the Council, the world has witnessed many rather strenuous efforts, both theoretical and practical, and both inside and outside the Catholic Church, to downgrade the relevance of Catholic doctrine generally and, especially, to obscure or deny that what the Church's God-given Magisterium declares to be authentic Catholic doctrine is indeed such".
They also point out that:
"the Catholic intellect cannot be truly Catholic if it is divorced from the faith - i.e., if it separates itself from what the Magisterium of the Church declares to be of faith".
Drs. May and Whithead declare that "the rejection of truths so courageously proclaimed in 'Humanae Vitae' proved to be a catastrophe for the Church and the world" (p. xviii). These 31 collected papers are remarkable for their intellectual vigor and solid refutation of errors subverting both natural and supernatural truths safeguarded by the Church's Magisterium.
Dr. Germain Grisez and Msgr. William Smith provide brilliant essays on intrinsically evil acts, conscience, and the alleged "right to dissent." Msgr. George A. Kelly's remarkable study, "The Bitter Pill the Catholic Community Swallowed", traces the history of Planned Parenthood's contraceptive ideology and its inroads into the Church in the late '50s and early '60s. Other outstanding authors write on an array of various important issues, including:
- cultural relativism;
- aberrations in modern psychology;
- issues of sexuality;
- various aspects of the thought of Pope John Paul II;
- issues in Scripture and catechesis;
- the proper understanding of freedom and a helpful analysis of particular aspects of the relationship between Catholic universities, secular institutions, and the Magisterium;
- the correct understanding of Vatican II's use of the word "subsist" as it pertains to the one true Church of Jesus Christ;
- themes of desacralization, deconstructionism, and existentialism in literature;
- the tension between science and religion;
- and the influence exerted by "the Catholic left" in bureaucracy, in learned societies, in journals, and in Catholic colleges and universities.
These 31 authors offer readers an intellectual feast! They witness to the continued vitality of Catholic intellectual life in a period when the Church has been seriously wounded by "widespread dissent" and the harm it has done not only to the faithful but also "to the bishops' own authority" (p. xx). The contribution of these members of the "Fellowship of Catholic Scholars" to this volume constitutes a message of hope for the future of Catholic scholarship in our country. They have responded well to the Apostle Peter's call to "always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (I Pet. 3:15).
Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P., makes an interesting observation:
"Pope John XXIII mocked 'the prophets of gloom and doom' when he called for Vatican II. Many today wonder whether they may have been right and the saintly pope wrong. I am convinced, however, that his was the authentic Christian spirit of hope. The upheavals in the Church produced by the Council simply reveal that the Church was not as healthy as it seemed".
Drs. May and Whitehead are to be commended for making these wonderful essays available to a wider audience. I highly recommend "Battle for the Catholic Mind" to our readers. It is a real pity - if not an outright scandal - that during that dramatic period in the Church's life, 1978-95, the services of these brilliant scholars and defenders of orthodoxy should have been so little utilized by the Church in America.