Tested in Every Way

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Tested in Every Way

The Catholic Priesthood in Today's Church

Christopher Ruddy convenes a host of ecclesial and theological voices to address the difficulties confronting the American Catholic priesthood—from the clerical sex abuse scandal to internal cultural and theological divisions to decreased numbers—with clarity and hope.

In Tested in Every Way, Ruddy shares the insights gleaned at the “Priests in the Church” conference organized by the Catholic Common Ground Initiative. The book covers topics that emerged at this important gathering including conversion, forgiveness, lay ministry, generational differences, cultural literacy, the priest as icon, and celibacy, and interweaves conference presentations with other theologically relevant points of view.

The ensuing discussion presents a balanced perspective that moves beyond current paralyzing impasses towards an authentic renewal of the priestly vocation.


The Priest: One "Set Apart" and "Like Us"

Chapter One
The Cultural and Ecclesial Contexts of Catholic Priesthood Today

Chapter Two
The Priest in Relation to Christ

Chapter Three
The Priest as Presbyter

Chapter Four
The Priest as Pastor and Person

The Priest: "Tested in Every Way"


Conference Participants

Reviews and endorsements

Tested in Every Way justifies—in every way—the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s conviction that Catholics can find firm and common ground if only they will listen to each other. Christopher Ruddy’s harmonizing of a wide range of voices, themes, and concerns about the Catholic priesthood is exemplary in its depth and bracing in its clarity. Anyone who fears for the future of the church and its priests will find in these pages much to think about, much to celebrate—and much to do.”
Kenneth L. Woodward, contributing editor, Newsweek

“Like listening to an unusually frank conversation among respected scholars, experienced priests, and thoughtful theologians, Tested in Every Way brings together a wide variety of voices on the state of the contemporary priesthood. Christopher Ruddy works a small miracle in gathering disparate viewpoints, considering their respective merits, weighing the hard facts, and connecting it all with Scripture and church tradition, to provide a remarkably engaging study of the Catholic priest today. This new study is essential reading for anyone with a stake in the future of the Catholic Church.”
James Martin, S.J., author of My Life with the Saints


“Christopher Ruddy’s wisely provocative, nonideological, and thoughtful reflection on the state of the Catholic priesthood in the United States today is a must-read for anyone interested in the formation of Catholic clergy, in what works (or doesn’t) in lay–priestly relationships, or in understanding the dynamics of a Catholic parish. Ruddy skillfully sets up a lively three-way conversation between the participants of the Common Ground Initiative’s 1996 meeting on the priesthood, the reader, and his own (well-informed) opinions. This is required reading both for parish priests and for parish reading groups concerned with making their religious communities healthier and wiser.”
Mark S. Massa, S.J., Karl Rahner Professor of Theology; codirector, The Curran Center for American Catholic Studies


Tested in Every Way brings together a veritable cornucopia of voices, rich in intelligence and experience, about the Roman Catholic priesthood. Christopher Ruddy has done us all a service in fashioning these voices into a book which is lively and interesting.”
Howard P. Bleichner, S.S., author of View from the Altar


“Christopher Ruddy’s Tested in Every Way embodies the true spirit of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative. With keen insight and great generosity, Ruddy reports on the 2003 Common Ground conference on ‘The Priest in the Church’ and gently draws the reader into a candid conversation about the state of the ordained priesthood today. Ruddy’s own conclusions push past old debates toward a profoundly relational and Christ-centered vision. The book is a welcome call for the ‘fresh eyes and changed hearts’ needed to overcome present divisions and imagine future renewal in the ministerial life of the church.”
Edward P. Hahnenberg, author of Ministries: A Relational Approach


“The need for competent and committed Catholic clergy is forcefully brought to light by Christopher Ruddy’s book. Even in the age of the laity, there is no substitute for the spiritual leadership of priests and bishops.”
Msgr. Charles Murphy, author of Belonging to God


“Chronicling a major conference of highly qualified speakers, Christopher Ruddy gives a lucid account of the challenges that Catholic priests face in our day. Bringing many different voices into a constructive conversation, the book significantly enriches the body of Catholic literature on priestly ministry.”
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.


“This book gives us the pleasure and privilege of listening into the conversation of the participants of the conference, ‘The Priest in the Church.’ One is caught up into a dialogue that is realistic, truthful, and loving and in which people are unafraid to face all the tough questions around the future of the priesthood. It is a hopeful book which carries one beyond the usual polarities of ‘left’ and ‘right’ towards a vision of the Church and priesthood in which we may all be at home. Christopher Ruddy manages both to let a whole variety of voices speak, and also offer a highly intelligent analysis and commentary that helps us both to see the challenges and also glimpse a way forward. We finish with a vision of the priesthood, focused on the Eucharist that respects both the uniqueness of this vocation and its deep rootedness in the community of the people of God.”
Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., former master general of the Dominican Order and author of What Is the Point of Being a Christian?


“This is an invaluable book for those uneasy regarding the state of clergy–laity relationships in the Catholic Church. Christopher Ruddy expertly distills the wisdom of scholars and the real-life experiences of pastoral workers, as well as church documents and scripture, so that priests and lay people can better understand one another. Ruddy is uncanny in identifying the contours of the priesthood’s current crisis. If his recommendations for an authentic priestly renewal are not heeded, it will be a serious tragedy and missed opportunity for grace.”
Paul Stanosz, author of The Struggle for Celibacy

Paperback / 192 pages
Dimensions: 5 3/8 x 8 1/4