Bishop John McCarthy's book, Off the Cuff & Over the Collar: Common Sense Catholicism is an enticing concoction of Tuesdays with Morrie blended with Catholicism 101, topped with an added twist of Irish wit and decades of experience as a Roman Catholic priest.
In over fifty bite-sized pieces, McCarthy clearly defines the Church's position and as always, openly voices his opinions- including where they begin to diverge from recent years' public stance of the Vatican. He addresses a variety of topics such as the infallibility of the Pope, abortion, divorce, saints, sacraments, bullying and teasing, nuns, Jews and Protestants. McCarthy tackles the shortage of priests, celibacy, homosexuality, birth control, the role of women in the Church, death and dying, and even heaven and hell, skillfully balancing the serious nature of these issues with his relaxed conversational tone and humor.
Bishop John McCarthy speaks from the depth of his heart and faith, reaching out not only to currently practicing Catholics, but also to the millions of fallen away Catholics- the hurt, the disenfranchised, the indifferent, the divorced, the homosexual, the questioning agnostic, the liberals and the conservatives- even the self-professed "recovered Catholics". McCarthy fully embraces the wonderful Apostolic Church that was envisioned in Vatican II, and stands ready to "throw open those magnificent doors to the heart of the Catholic Church, and invite you in with love and joy."
Bishop McCarthy is buoyantly optimistic that the Church- though she moves slowly and deliberately- is ready for change, especially under the leadership of the Pope Francis, to whom this book is dedicated. The new pope's immediate focus on simplification and service suggest indeed, a very common sense Catholicism.
All profits from this book will benefit one of Bishop McCarthy's favorite charities: Saint Louise House... "empowering women with children to overcome homelessness."
Sister Sharon Groetsch, D.C., says: "Bishop McCarthy's book is a wonderful response to a pressing need for ordinary Catholics (and the "Catholic-curious") to bring simple, direct insights to the lay-public. Moreover, it's fun! The Bishop's style is conversational, clear, and well-laced with Irish humor. This is a quick and easy read, and a perfect pairing with your morning coffee."
Rabbi Alan R. Freedman, Temple Beth Shalom, says: "In an age when religion is increasingly coming under attack, John McCarthy has come forth with a book that is a resounding treatise on the virtues of a life of faith . While addressed to a primarily Catholic audience, Bishop McCarthy provides observations and lessons on life that apply to all people of faith. His lifelong concern for all people is reflected in every page, particularly in his consistent admonition to avoid bringing pain to others. There is a life lesson on every page of this book, and I encourage anyone seeking to live a better and more meaningful life to share in its words. The good Bishop has done it again!"
Rev. Larry Covington, Pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church, says: "Required reading for all current and former Catholics, and especially for seminarians and anyone engaged in the ministry! Here lies no pontification of a prelate long ensconced in a purple silk bureaucracy, but practical words for the common Joe. McCarthy's common sense observations reflect his life as a provocative and sometimes controversial church leader who is, above all, a man who takes the task of being a good shepherd to heart."
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About the Author
Pope John Paul II appointed John McCarthy the Bishop of Austin, Texas, in 1985, where he served for fifteen years until his retirement from that office. During his tenure, explosive growth in central Texas included enormous growth within the diocese, adding over twenty new parishes (which brought the total to around 125.) In addition to his local commitments, Bishop McCarthy remained very active in the National Bishops' Catholic Conference, but his principle interest was relief services in the "Third World." Bishop McCarthy is best known for his inclusive, ecumenical approach, his humor, and his consistent focus on service. McCarthy was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1956, and his vocation has included not only serving as a parish priest, but also extensive work in the Catholic Social Action Department, which sparked his life-long passion for social ministries.
As a pastor, McCarthy was concerned by the fact that while every parish had organized programs on worship and education, they did not necessarily gave anything structured to address local social needs-and he has always believed that the nature of the parish is to make "Jesus present at this particular place, in this particular time." McCarthy likes to break down the work of Jesus into three categories-worship, teaching and the lessening of pain. Therefore he considers a parish to be incomplete if it did not have a defined, structured and funded social component. McCarthy carried this belief forward throughout his ministry.
The Bishops of Texas asked for him to be released from his local parish to lead the Texas Catholic Conference (TCC), where for seven years he coordinated the activities of the 11 dioceses in Texas, making the TCC the largest state conference in the nation.
McCarthy was then appointed by Pope John Paul II to be the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Houston and Galveston, where he spent the next seven years. His special interests remained in the world of ecumenism, communications and the development of social ministry in the approximately 150 parishes in the diocese.
Since becoming the "Bishop Emeritus," McCarthy has continued to maintain a consistently overflowing calendar- leading retreats, hosting charity events, offering lectures, celebrating masses, and writing his daily blog. He is always looking out for the "little guy" and focuses his life on "the lessening of pain."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is full of common sense on how to live life whether you are a Catholic or not. It is written with the collected wisdom of a man who has spent his life in service to mankind.