Memoirs & Memories

Cunneen, Joseph

362 LONG JOURNEY TO THE PRESENT MEMOIRS AND MEMORIES Gary MacEoin Twenty-Third Publications, $9.95,277 pp. Joseph Cunneen Gary MacEoin is a man who has achieved a world consciousness,...

...Gary MacEoin has written a powerfully prophetic book, full of insight for those seeking to read "the signs of the times" for church and society at the end of our century...
...MacEoin has traveled a long way from the tiny village of twenty houses in the west of Ireland where he grew up, but his memoir shows that he is still drawing on the strength and openness of his parents and the imaginative richness of everyday life in Sligo...
...The reader's only regret is that the author's life has been so full from the International Catholic Press Union to his work for the Sanctuary movement, from public relations for the Colombian coffee- growers' association to his total assault on U.S...
...MacEoin's account of his seminary years and of his Kafkaesque struggle with ecclesiastical authorities he was never given a reason for the action taken against him was the subject of an earlier book, Nothing is Quite Enough (1958), which ought to be reprinted in paperback and made required reading for seminarians and their superiors...
...His mother was acquainted with leaders of the nationalist revival...
...young people saw themselves as active participants in the struggle for Irish independence...
...It was a key decision, since it was there that his views on world order began to be formed...
...Although his religious superiors forced him to leave the seminary virtually penniless and without the degree that would have opened up employment possibilities in economically depressed Ireland, MacEoin managed to gain an advanced degree in Spanish, pass the bar, and establish himself as an editorial writer on the leading Irish daily in amazingly short order...
...Memoirs and Memories makes clear to what degree he shared the temporary wave of optimism regarding Latin America when President Kennedy announced the Alliance for Progress, the important clarification of his theological orientation brought about by his involvement with the periti during the heady days in Rome at the Second Vatican Council, and the significance of a round-the-world trip he took to see for himself that the planned structural oppression of Latin America was equally present on other continents...
...Although understandably bitter at the way the decision had been implemented, he did not destroy his spirit with anger, but determined to achieve independence from all powerful institutions in the future...
...The lessons in colonialism, racism, and class structure that he learned there were simply sharpened and deepened by decades of painful experience...
...Perhaps the reason why MacEoin can present his present convictions so firmly yet so mildly is that he came to them over a long period of time...
...For the full story, we'll need several more volumes...
...Joseph Cunneen Gary MacEoin is a man who has achieved a world consciousness, an understanding of Christianity large enough to include everything that he has lived through in an amazingly diversified and productive life...
...What comes through in his much briefer evocation of this experience here is the Christian maturity with which he responded to the injustice that had been done him...
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...Unlike some younger Catholics who leaped from a doctrinaire scholasticism to a romantic and equally doctrinaire Marxism, his positions have been hard-earned, thoroughly considered, carefully nuanced...
...His eighteenth book, Memoirs and Memories, a deceptively mild title for his account of how he came to his present convictions, helps us see what it is like to be a genuinely free man in church and society...
...A superior student, MacEoin entered a Redemptorist seminary at an early age and spent many years preparing for the priesthood...
...Internationally known as one of the premier Catholic journalists of our time John Cogley called MacEoin's account of Vatican II, What Happened in Rome?, the book on the Council he would like to have written the author has also been a key agent of a changed North American consciousness in regard to Latin America, an area he has worked in and reported on for over forty years...
...three weeks before the date fixed for ordination he was told by his Provincial that he would not be recommended to the bishop for ordination and would have to leave the order...
...He admits that his goal at the time was to achieve the worldly success for which his talents equipped him, since the religion he "had known, for all its highsounding rhetoric, had absorbed the values of the capitalist society in which it had functioned for several centuries...
...policy in Central America that he can't do full justice to the rich experiences and complex intellectual development that leave him, at the age of seventy-seven, the representative we most need (and won't get) at the forthcoming Synod on the Laity...
...The British controlled the class-ridden educational system and clericalism was pervasive, but his father encouraged diversified reading...
...In later life Mac Eoin could draw on his own experience to identify with those who were hungry all over the globe...
...What is most powerfully convincing in this present summing up of his intellectual and spiritual odyssey is the way he makes clear how gradually, reluctantly, he came to his fundamental conclusions that Latin America was left "with the sole option of some kind of socialist society," and that "the United States was using all means at its disposal to prevent the necessary changes, providing the military equipment and training to maintain order without justice...
...Nevertheless, he took his wife and fouryear-old son to the Caribbean in 1944 to accept the position as editor of a struggling daily newspaper in Trinidad...

Vol. 114 • June 1987 • No. 11


 
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