Over the past decade Rome has been marked with sharp, and often unwarranted, criticism of the Church in the United States and American Catholic life. But very few of the critics have taken the time to talk, systematically, with a wide range of U.S. Catholics to understand their concerns. True Confessions is unique for its frank and in-depth interviews with 103 bishops, clergy, religious, and lay men and women from various backgrounds over a 17-month period, December 2020 through May 2022.
The wide-ranging subject matter includes the unseen challenges of life as a bishop; the pressures and satisfactions of the priesthood, the diaconate, and the consecrated life; the structural and leadership ingredients of diocesan success and failure; fallout from the Church' sex-abuse scandals; problems in Catholic universities; attitudes toward the Vatican; the role of Catholics in the academy and the secular culture; the witness of parents who have children with special needs; and the testimony of immigrant Americans as they assess their new homeland.
Finally, the book presents the reasons why so many U.S. Catholics, despite today's challenges, continue to love the Church and cherish their faith with joy and energy.
"Only someone with the vast experience of the author, a layman who has spent most of his working life in clerical circles, could have produced this remarkable portrait of the state of the Church in America today. Francis X. Maier brings us face-to-face with the challenges and opportunities, the strengths and weaknesses, the frustration and hopes of clergy and laity alike in a time of profound cultural change. True Confessions is a real gift for all the faithful seeking to discern a path forward."
— Mary Ann Glendon, Emerita Professor, Harvard Law School; former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See; Author, In The Courts of Three Popes
"This invaluable book is comprised of precisely designed interviews with a diverse array of people who've labored long in the heat of the day for our Lord. Their responses are unflinchingly candid but never scandalous."
— Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame; Author, Religious Liberty in the American Republic and Unquiet Americans: U. S Catholics, Moral Truth, and the Preservation of Civil Liberties
"Francis X. Maier has brought together authentic voices of those striving to live the Catholic faith. Together, they rise above mere chatter to become a genuine conversation that reveals a deep love for the Church, a sorrow for her sufferings, and a frustration with her leadership. The book provides wise and at times sharp insight into where we are, how we got here, and—most importantly—how to make our way forward."
— Very Rev. Paul D. Scalia, Episcopal Vicar for Clergy, Diocese of Arlington
"These interviews offer a compelling warrant for hope for the Church's future in the United States."
— John Cavadini, Professor of Theology and Director, McGrath Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame
"A unique, invaluable picture of the current Church landscape in the United States. Anyone wanting an accurate understanding of American Catholic life and its realities today needs to read it."
— R.R. Reno, Editor, First Things; Author, Return of the Strong Gods and Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society
"True Confessions is unfiltered evidence of how deeply the author loves the Church—and of how much American Catholics, from varied backgrounds and perspectives, do as well."
— Michael R. Heinlein, Author, Glorifying Christ: The Life of Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I.
"A striking portrait of the vitality of U.S. Catholic life, enriched by the observations of one of the Church's most insightful commentators."
— George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, Ethics and Public Policy Center
"The voices captured in these pages, from bishops to everyday people in the pews, are both remarkably frank and often sobering. They're also profoundly hopeful."
— Thomas W. Smith, Dean of Arts and Sciences, The Catholic University of America
"If you're looking for an immensely readable, insightful, and reliable assessment of the current state and future prospects of the Catholic Church in the United States, True Confessions is the book for you."
— Russell Shaw, Author, Revitalizing Catholicism in the United States and Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity