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The Catholic Challenge: A Question of Conscience, by Thomas W. Rezanka

Why is the Catholic Church losing its popularity? What troubles are riddled through-out the church? Is there hope for God’s first church to find its way back into public favor despite the shame and disgrace of the recent child molestation discoveries?

In his frank and blunt confrontation directed at the priests, the author tells all. Rezanka talks openly about both the internal problems of the Catholic Church, as well as the external problems. He approaches the topics of married priests and mandatory celibacy, abortion, and political tampering with a loud voice and clear answers.

In Chapter V: A Plan of Action, Rezanka compares the church to that of a corporation with the Pope in Rome sitting as its Chief Executive Officer, and the Bishops like Senior Vice Presidents. Rezanka explains “ It is because of this and the lack of lay oversight that one man may within his own Diocese overrule advisors, take inappropriate actions and interfere with the work of Christ, if he so chooses.” It is for this reason that there is a growing frustration within the church and a view that the church is uncaring, unsympathetic, and unaccountable.

His proposed solutions to today’s internal grumbling inside the Catholic church suggest: laity become shareholders in the church; celibacy must not be mandatory; more accountability and responsiveness to parishioners and new church members; better trained staff in the parish office and rectory in ways of civility, encouragement, hope, and charity.

The Catholic Challenge is a call to all within the church to work together to improve participation, increase adult education and meaningfulness of faith, and thus strengthen the church by drawing upon the talents of each member.

The running and operation of the church in Chapter VII: Stewardship, draws our attention to the topic of donations. Is money the root of all evil? Rezanka answers this question by referring to the Ten Commandments, which when summed up, state, “do not be selfish”. Stewardship is the offering of our time, talent, and treasure to the Church and others, but so often the donations fall severely short of the operating costs. The Catholic Challenge reaches out to all Catholics, and to all other denominations, in hope and prayer that the differences can be mended, that the troubles on the inside of the Church can be rectified, and that all Christians will re-unite with the first Church.

The Catholic Challenge addresses issues that are presently making coverage in major newspapers, and in general the book was poor. At times it came across as a published “rant”, especially Chapter VIII: Catholic Social Conscience, which spanned 46 pages of Presidential bashing. I liked the cover art of the book and the binding is very good, but I didn’t see the need for having four Prefaces. The very large print is distracting at first, and that is probably a minor issue. The book lacked organization in thought and form and finding the nugget of truth in it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The Catholic Challenge: A Question of Conscience
Thomas W. Rezanka
ISBN: 0-9762100-0;
Published by Better World Together Publishing Co., Palm Harbor, Florida, 2004

(c) Cindy DeJager 2005

Cindy DeJager is a freelance writer living in Calgary, AB Canada. For more information about her book review service or articles email dejagerc@telus.net

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