Recommended Reading
Icons & Iconoclasts

Foster Heights Books 2010

Christopher Meade was ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Hartford archdiocese in 1998. He served in various parishes in Connecticut, where he performed numerous ministerial functions in diverse urban and suburban settings until his resignation in 2007. His ministry included the celebration of the sacred liturgy in English, Latin and Spanish, evangelization through preaching, service to the sick in hospitals and convalescent homes, spiritual counseling to the dying, managing parish staff, education of children and adolescents in Catholic schools, and the education of adults through parish programs. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut, Master of Arts from Holy Apostles Seminary and a Master of Divinity from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary.

After completing his studies at the University of Connecticut and before entering seminary, Meade worked with disabled adults in residential and vocational settings. He also worked with troubled teens in a juvenile residential school.

Since 2007 he served in the insurance and investment industry. He dedicated the year 2009 to writing and publishing Icons & Iconoclasts. He lives in Connecticut.

How did the book come about? “A friend who serves as a Catholic priest in Connecticut asked [Meade] this question recently. Over the previous couple of years we had drifted apart as our lives went in different directions. He was surprised when I mentioned that I had written a book about the Church from my perspective as a resigned priest. It is an excellent question, and one that I would like to address. I attribute the genesis of the book to four factors: to God's grace; the worldwide sexual abuse scandal; to a very personal desire to communicate directly to my beloved former parishioners; and to the hope that the Catholic Church will play a more vibrant role in our contemporary world. Permit me to explain.

This is the spiritual part of how the book came to be. The sacraments of baptism and priesthood opened a door that allowed God's grace to enter into the depths of my soul. As a priest, I was privileged to share that grace with others when I baptized children, celebrated mass, heard confessions and administered the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick when certain individuals were close to death. These sacraments empower each person to discover creative and dynamic ways to testify to their faith in Christ. I believe that the primal grace of baptism informed my desire to write Icons & Iconoclasts and to persevere with this project until completion.

This particular book would have never come about had it not been for the worldwide crisis in the Catholic Church generated by the sexual abuse scandal. At first I thought that opportunistic lawyers and journalists were exaggerating the issue of sexual abuse by celibate priests and unfairly attacking bishops. Since 2002, when the depth of the problem dramatically manifested itself in the Boston archdiocese, I gradually adopted a different perspective on the scandal. I concluded that the scandal pointed to systemic and global dysfunctions in the institutional Church. In good conscience, I could no longer blame aggressive lawyers and journalists for the failures of the Church. They shined an important light upon difficult issues and I felt called to bring greater clarity to that topic from my perspective as a resigned priest.

I also felt compelled to tell my story to my former parishioners. I experienced wonderful love, support and warmth from the people I served in various parishes. Some of my former parishioners told me directly they were disappointed and confused when they heard that I had resigned from my work as a priest. At times I was at a loss to explain succinctly and coherently to them the reasons for my decision. I left, in part, because I no longer believed the discipline of mandatory celibacy delivered the spiritual vitality that it promised, neither for me personally nor the Church as a whole. More importantly, I was disturbed by the secrecy and denial infecting the Church and the apparent unwillingness of bishops to make substantial changes to the institution. This book gives me an opportunity to share that part of my story with people who touched me by their love for Christ and the Church.

Finally, I brought a sense of hope to the project. Since I was a child growing up in the south end of Hartford, Connecticut, I have been enriched by the Catholic faith. My home parish of Saint Lawrence launched me into the dynamic and interconnected world of Catholic culture. I have been privileged with education and experience of the global Church that I am grateful for. There are great singular moments when I met figures like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. Just as great are the tens of thousands of other experiences with people in Connecticut, across the United States, in Mexico and in Europe where I have encountered the dynamism of Catholic life. I hope that this book helps to amplify that dynamism.”