The drive for aggiornamento (i.e., renewal or updating) within the Catholic intellectual community is now so great that it has moved beyond the original desire for mere changes in the existing forms and doctrines; Catholics are now busy demanding fundamental changes in the doctrine and organization of the church. The questioning spirit is not merely a Dutch proclivity. Spectrum of Catholic Attitudes shows that among Catholic laymen questions are now being asked such as, “Who is God? How does he speak to man? What is his Church? How are the people of God to be lead?” The sacraments, worship, ritual, structure of the Church, priesthood and most everything else are now open to honest questioning. Spectrum of Catholic Attitudes provides an interesting sample of lay Catholic opinion of these and other questions. The book avoids specialized and technical jargon and therefore can be understood by readers who might find the usual responses of Catholic theologians rather difficult to follow.
In a useful “introduction,” the editor, Robert Campbell, stresses the magnitude of recent changes in Catholic opinion in contemporary America. He reports that the one thing Catholic intellectuals fear most is the conservative label, for once one is branded a conservative neither invitations to lecture nor opportunities to contribute to symposiums will come. Likewise, a conservative may find it difficult to find a publisher for his books and articles, and he may not be recommended for a full professorship. Campbell describes in detail what he calls the “liberaler-than-thou” gamesmanship now taking place among her Catholic intellectuals: In this game “the most devastating ploy is to tag your opponent a conservative. Of course ultra-conservative, or by extension, Birchite, is even worse.” Once labeled he loses credibility in many circles “and his contract as a teacher is in danger of nonrenewal for ‘failure to maintain professional standards.'”