Women, Cardinals, supporting the family

(As in "Eats Shoots and Leaves", the punctuation of the title is important.) Three books arrived the other day from Family Publications.

"Built on Love" is the joint autobiography of Valerie and Denis Riches, the Founders of Family and Youth Concern. I have known Valerie and Denis for many years. They both exemplify courtesy and good manners and it is extraordinary to think of the vitriol that these two kind people have suffered over the years. They both became Catholics in 1982 and continued their work with the support of their Catholic faith.

Sr Sara Butler wrote her book "The Catholic Priesthood and Women" largely at the request of seminarians. It will certainly find its way onto the bibliography for my course in Sacramental Theology. At 112 pages, it is a brief and well-structured summary of the Church's teaching, objections to that teaching, and the fundamental reasons for the teaching. Another excellent title from Hillenbrand Books.

Fr Nicholas Schofield (Roman Miscellany) and Fr Gerard Skinner have come up with a great idea in "The English Cardinals". This consists of short biographical sketches of all the English Cardinals from Robert Pullen (d.1146) to Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. In addition to the fine collection of colour plates, there are plenty of black and white illustrations within the text.

Criteria for inclusion are discussed in the introduction. Foreigners appointed to English sees are included but not if they were given non-episcopal benefices as a means of providing revenue. The elevation of some reputed "cardinals" is historically dubious elevations and they have been excluded, but those raised to the purple by the anti-pope "John XXIII" are given "the ecclesiological benefit of the doubt."

This book is a good example of the principle that Fr Orbe taught us in the Patristics seminar in Rome - a minore ad maius (from the lesser to the greater.) By focussing on a particular area of study: in this case English Cardinals, it is possible to learn a lot about a much wider field: in this case political and ecclesiastical history.

This book and "Built on Love" are both published by Family Publications itself. They are beautifully produced books, properly sewn and cased. Although this has meant that "The English Cardinals" sells for just short of £20, it is a fine addition to the shelves and justifiable as a source of reference.

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