Catholic World News News Feature
A personal message from Phil Lawler November 05, 2005
Ordinarily when I write to CWN readers, I stick to business: commenting on the news, or pointing out new features on the CWN site. I value my privacy, so I don't often talk about my private life.
But now I'm writing about a personal matter, because frankly I could use your help.
As you probably know, I recently resigned as editor of Catholic World Report. I didn't leave because I was unhappy there; quite the contrary, I loved the work. And although it was a challenge to handle that monthly magazine and the daily deadlines for the Catholic World News site, I wasn't complaining about my workload, either.
I left the magazine because I felt compelled to take on a new project: a task that I feel sure will be the most important work of my career. And now I'm asking for your help with that project.
In my lifetime I have witnessed the disintegration of a Catholic culture in Boston. I don't mean only the sex-abuse scandal, although that's certainly a key chapter of this history. I mean the collapse of a way of life. Once the faith was a dominant force in everyday life; now the Church is an object of scorn. Once lawmakers were fearful of incurring opposition from the hierarchy; now opportunistic politicians attack Catholic teaching to gain public favor. Once new parishes were being opened; now old parishes are being closed. It's no coincidence that Massachusetts— on paper, one of the most heavily Catholic states in the Union— is now the only US state that gives same-sex unions the full legal status of marriages.
I believe that I can explain how and why this has happened. And I believe that in doing so, I can perform a great service to the Church— not just in Boston, but throughout the US, because the same trends that caused the debacle in Boston are evident everywhere in this country.
So I've begun work on a book about the catastrophic decline of Catholic influence in the Boston area. It's a sad story, but a story that should be told. And it's also a cautionary tale: a dramatic example of what can happen when Catholic leaders promote the faith as a social and political institution, rather than an evangelical, missionary body. What happened in Boston could happen— is already happening!— all around the country. I hope and pray that by writing this book, I'll be doing my best to reverse that trend.
I've spoken with friends and colleagues in the publishing business, and they agree that this book can have a real impact. It's a dramatic story, which could and should find a wide audience. And I hope this message has made one thing very clear: I'm totally dedicated to this project; I'm going to put all my talent and energy into this book.
Now here's my problem: I'm not independently wealthy, and my revenue from the CWN site is not enough to sustain a large family. So I'm asking for help now, to support my family and my work until this book is published.
I've already lined up one very important source of support. The Faith and Reason Institute , in Washington, DC, has appointed me as a "Research Fellow" for the next year, while I'm writing this book. If you make a contribution to the Faith and Reason Institute, earmarked for this project, your contributions can be tax-deductible.
Can you help?
If you are a CWN subscriber, and we already have your credit-card information, you can make a tax-deductible contribution by that means. Just send an email message, telling us how much you'd like to give. (Please do not send credit-card information by email; it's not secure.) Or you can send a check, payable to the "Faith and Reason Institute," to me at PO Box 1608, South Lancaster, MA 01561.
For any contribution you can make, large or small, you'll have my sincere gratitude.
There's just one more request I want to make, and it's an important one: Whether or not you're able to help with a financial contribution now, could I ask your prayers for the success of this venture? That's the most important support I could have.
With many thanks for your generous help,