Earthly Mission The Catholic Church and World Development Robert Calderisi

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
05 Apr 2016
ISBN:
9780300205428
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
288 pages: 235 x 156mm

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A lively investigation of the Catholic Church and its controversial social mission in the developing world

With 1.2 billion members, the Catholic Church is the world’s largest organization and perhaps its most controversial. The Church’s obstinacy on matters like clerical celibacy, the role of women, birth control, and the child abuse scandal has alienated many Catholics, especially in the West. Yet in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Church is highly esteemed for its support of education, health, and social justice. In this deeply informed book, Robert Calderisi unravels the paradoxes of the Catholic Church’s role in the developing world over the past 60 years.
Has the Catholic Church on balance been a force for good? Calderisi weighs the Church’s various missteps and poor decisions against its positive contributions, looking back as far as the Spanish Conquest in Latin America and the arrival of missionaries in Africa and Asia. He also looks forward, highlighting difficult issues that threaten to disrupt the Church's future social role. The author’s answer to the question he poses will fascinate Catholic and non-Catholic readers alike, providing a wealth of insights into international affairs, development economics, humanitarian concerns, history, and theology.


Robert Calderisi, a former World Bank director concerned with issues of international development, lectures widely on Africa, development, and foreign aid. He lives in Montreal.

"‘I do not believe’, wrote Bertrand Russell, a man famous for his hostility to all religion, ‘there is a single saint in the whole calendar whose saintship is due to work of public utility’. In Earthly Mission, Robert Calderisi sets out to prove him wrong . . . Calderisi’s credentials for such a task are impeccable. Much of what Calderisi describes is indeed admirable, and his decision to focus on individuals within the Catholic Church – nuns and missionaries as well as popes and cardinals – makes for lively reading.”—Caroline Moorehead, Literary Review


“Few will approach his [Calderisi’s] book with an open mind. The faithful will find his candid assessment of the church’s transgressions unsettling. Its critics will find his praise of its mission similarly discomforting. Both can learn, though, from his work.”—The Economist


“Just how much of a force for good it [the church] is . . .has never really been quantified. But one Canadian economist and former employee of the World Bank has given it his best shot. Robert Calderisi’s book Earthly Mission has brought the perspective of a professional international development specialist to bear on the question for the general reader. It’s an audit of the Church’s work, credit and debit. It’s rather bracing to read a critique of the Church from the perspective of a market capitalist, rather than that of the aid lobbies.”—Melanie McDonagh, Catholic Herald


“The reason this book is so stimulating is Robert Calderisi’s research over five continents and his conversations with laity, with priests, bishops and with the highest officials in the Vatican itself. He offers a cogent analysis of both the present and future trends in development.”—Ed Standhaft, Methodist Recorder


“Robert Calderisi presents a wide-ranging and comprehensive overview of the Church’s charitable and development work, but he is also refreshingly honest and critical where he feels the Church has not been true to itself.”—Lesley-Anne Knight, The Tablet


"[As] a picture of the Catholic Church in development this book will be hard to beat and to this reviewer, who worked alongside Catholic missionaries in a developing country for 17 years, its judgements appear substantially accurate.”—Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper


"A wide-ranging survey with many touching stories of the work the Catholic Church has achieved in the developing world: much good, some bad . . . A levelheaded work by an author determined to hold the church to its humanitarian ideals."—Kirkus Reviews