Eugene Kennedy has written a heartfelt, impassioned polemic against the Catholic Church's teachings on sexuality. For those who are already troubled by the Church's teachings, Kennedy's rhetorical flourish will seem insightful. For those who wish to think more deeply about the strengths and weaknesses of the Church's teachings, Kennedy offers little of substance. The Church needs to find a way to have an open and healing dialogue between those who accept the Church's teachings and those who do not. Unfortunately, Kennedy's book can only widen the gap between them... which is particularly unfortunate since the book's title suggests that the author recognizes how much we are in need of healing.
"The Unhealed Wound : The Church and Human Sexuality" by Eugene Kennedy is a very well written historical exposition and elegant human reflection on the Mystical Church vis-a-vis the Institutional Church. The Church of Mystery focuses on the celebration and sharing of one's special gifts to support the expansion of the "Good News" while the Institutional Church focuses on the control of its membership to preserve its organizational power structure.
This book is on the recommended reading list for the "Sex, Gender, and Spirituality" course in the Institue for Pastoral Studies, at Loyola University Chicago. According to the Mustard Seed Bookstore manager, it was the best book on the supplementary reading list. He was correct!
Beginning with the 1880's, Kennedy provides a brief but mesmerizing historical development of the American Church showing the tension between the intellectual and spiritual reflection on Jesus' mission and the dogmatic and curial sanctions placed on theologians. Did you know that "Fighting Father Duffy" was a Theology professor before he was a chaplain?
The purpose of Kennedy's book is certainly not to wallow in his leaving the priesthood. He just doesn't leave us in the muck and mire to sympathize with those who have been victimized by insensitive members of the hierarchy. His purpose is to focus on our mystical and spiritual gifts with which we have been graced. His invitation is to all hierarchy, clergy, religious and laity to listen to one another, to offer each other the gifts of the Spirit as St. Paul encourages us to do, and to implement those promtings wherever they take us. Kennedy suggests what some might consider 'revolutionary' options for healing our wounds, such as sharing responsibility and recognizing the Word of the Lord where we least expect it, not in dogma, but in each other.