The Underground Church

Nonviolent Resistance to the Vatican Empire


Since the 1970s, liberal American Catholics have sustained a Reform Movement to counteract the conservative drift of the Vatican and to preserve and expand on the reforms of Vatican II. This book draws on a range of theory to analyze and interpret this movement, which is intent on creating a model of church, that examples Vatican II's open, receptive attitude toward the modern world. In response to backlash from church officials, the movement has increasingly abandoned effort to reform Roman Catholicism from within, and has moved in a sectarian direction by creating independent worship communities. The movement faces a precarious future due to its rapidly aging membership and the unstable nature of its newly-formed communities.
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Biographical Note

Kathleen Kautzer, Ph.D. (1988) in Social Policy, Brandeis University, is Associate Professor of Sociology at Regis College in Weston, MA. Her publications cover social and religious movements and labor unions.

Review Quote

"This is an excellent study based on an extensive field work, representing in a very accurate and unbiased way the reality of the Catholic Reform Movement in USA." – Lluis Oviedo, in: Catholic Books Review "This study will be of historic importance for future research. As if this were not enough to recommend it, the study also has an exceptional literary quality and a fine methodological even-handedness." – Matthew Del Nevo, in: Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review 74/1, pp. 136-137

Table of contents

Series Editor’s Preface Foreword by Ed Stevens Preface Abbreviations of Catholic Reform Groups Introduction PART I: BURNED OUT, BUMMED OUT, AND THROWN OUT: PROGRESSIVE REFORMERS BEGIN THEIR WILDERNESS JOURNEY 1. Sower of Mustard Seeds: Call to Action 2. Rebuilding the Temple: Voice of the Faithful 3. Leaving Egypt: DignityUSA, Corps of Reserve Priests United for Service, Catholic Organizations for Renewal 4. Catholic Feminists Confront Goliath: Women’s Ordination Conference, Women’s Ordination Worldwide, Women-Church Convergence, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, Catholics for a Free Choice 5. Toward a New City of God PART II: TESTING THE WATERS AND PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES 6. Prophets without Honor: Vatican II Pastors Are Disappearing 7. What, Therefore, Belongs to Caesar? Marginal Communities PART III: NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND 8. The Catacombs Revisited: Underground Catholic Faith Communities 9. Something New Under the Sun? Underground Parishes- Conclusion APPENDICES Appendix A: Comparative Data on Vatican II Reform Organizations Appendix B: Field Research References Index


The book should appeal to scholars in the field of religious movements, peace studies, and Catholic theology, as well as the persons who are involved in the liberal Reform Movement.