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Book Rebel Bishop: Augustin Verot, Florida's Civil War Prelate (Florida Sand Dollar Books) by Michael Gannon (1997-03-23)


Rebel Bishop: Augustin Verot, Florida's Civil War Prelate (Florida Sand Dollar Books) by Michael Gannon (1997-03-23)

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  • Michael Gannon(Author)
  • University Press of Florida (1656)
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  • By Peter Zemelka on April 13, 2014

    Originally published in 1964, and reissued 1997 by the board of Regents of the State of Florida, Gannon's book documents how the first U.S. appointed bishop of Florida, Verot, mirrored the thoughts and aspirations of U.S. prelates- and how the U.S. Church differed from its contemporaries in Europe and Latin America. The U.S. bishops, for example, liked to promote democracy and the separation of church and state and promote dialogue with the Protestants.Hindsight, Verot's life and struggles reflect austerely with the struggles of Pope John Paul II over a hundred years later. In spite of that barrier imposed by time and place, there is an intersection not only over Galileo's absolution, but concern over keeping the Catholic Church relevant. (Bishop Verot wanted Vatican I Council to absolve Galileo from finding him guilty of heresy for saying that the earth was not the center of the universe-- which was an accepted truth at the time. Pope John Paul II reiterated in 1984 in a public contrition that the church was wrong to prosecute Galileo in the 16th Century.)Among ten critical years, (1860 - 1870) Verot mediated between the Confederate and Union generals; addressed the Negro question before and after the Civil War; addressed the common and public school crisis; and represented American interests at Vatican-I Council (1869 - 1870). Gannon wrote, "That in each of these categories, Verot was a prophetic figure--- a prototype who anticipated in a large or small degree, the Catholic liberal movement of the 1890s, the social concern that characterized American Catholicism after World War I, and for modernizing the Church with the Vatican-II Council (1962 - 1965)."Gannon wrote that the 1860s had been characterized around one or a group of men--a Bishop or an Archbishop. The Archbishops were Francis Patrick Kenrick (1851-1863) and Martin John Spalding (1864-1872) of Baltimore. Although these Archbishops were spokesmen for the U.S. hierarchy, they were not considered outspoken. These Archbishops did not seize the moment, but waivered from the views of the majority of their fellow bishops on for example the U.S. Church's position in the Civil War and on Papal Infallibility.Many history books about regional catholicity have failed to detail the external political influences in the U.S. and in Europe as detailed as Gannon provides. But Gannon too didn't write much about some of the territories outside of Florida were catholic missionaries might go if they didn't select Florida as their destination. (For example, before Spalding was Archbishop of Baltimore, he was the Bishop of Louisville. Louisville was an important northern most town south of the Mason Dixon.)(Please see my book review on PRESENCE AND POSSIBILITY: LOUISVILLE CATHOLICISM AND ITS CATHEDRAL by Clyde Crews.Per Gannon, the accolades about Bishop Verot include: that he took public stands on national political issues; at Vatican I Council Verot was prophetic and a vocal figure in urging the Church's recognition of the pragmatic character of the new American society, and of the need for adapting the presence of the church to the demands of an American Catholic liberal movement.It's important to know today, with the shortage of Priests, and or the change in the U.S. church from being a Euro-centric to a Latin-centric Church whether these current immigrant clergy still acclimate to the U.S. culture? Do these immigrant priests become U.S. citizens? It is always presumed, "Yes!"Then why do many pastors in the U.S. Church still show so much distain toward Technology? And, why is feedback from the U.S. pew discouraged? And, why can't the Laity participate in the selection of their own pastor, and bishop in the U.S.? Why can't the Laity be represented at the U.S. Bishop's Conference? Vatican Council-II redefined the Church as the entire "people of God" rather than just being a hierarchy of popes, bishops and priests.Finally, Bishop Verot's many experiences mirror in many ways Pope John Paul II's life in the 20th Century. As we celebrate Pope John Paul II's canonization this month, I nominate Bishop Verot for Sainthood too!

  • By Schmerguls on August 21, 2002

    This is a well-put-together biography of Augustin Verot, third Bishop of Savannah, Ga., and first Bishop of St. Augustine, Fla. The book shows Verot was a character, as the author says in the best sense of the word. One does not get the idea that he was episcopal timber from reading about his career as a teacher in Maryland, but from Apr 25, 1858, (when Archbishop Kenrick consecrated him as Vicar Apostolic of Florida) on, one cannot but be impressed with the self-sacrificing and devoted way he performed his arduous tasks. Putting up with what he did must have been what enabled him to play such a tough and outspoken role at the first Vatican Council, where, inter alia, he called for the rehabilitation of Galileo--which was finally accomplished during this pontificate. His discourses at the Council, which seem to have been quite numerous and frank, cannot have been very persuasive but contained a lot of common sense. One wonders how he could fail to be cowed by the scene, being, as he was, a very minor bishop from a poor diocese. It was during the Council that he was appointed Bishop of St. Augustine. This is great work on a great bishop.

  • By Kevin M. Derby on July 7, 2009

    Michael Gannon, the dean of Florida historians, produced yet another excellent work in "Rebel Bishop," a biography of Bishop Augustin Verot. Readers looking to know more about the histories of the Catholic Church, the South and Florida will enjoy this biography of an interesting man. Gannon traces Verot through France, Maryland, Georgia, Florida and even Vatican I in Rome. Digging through primary sources in a number of different languages, Gannon is able to show the many sides of Verot: educator, theologian, political commenter, defender of slavery, church administrator, recruiter of priests and nuns, and circuit rider. Verot had a very strong personality and Gannon shows how this lively man shaped a number of different parts of the world. While this is one of the best biographies on an American religious leader I have come across, I was surprised by how global the work was and how Gannon is just as good on clerical matters in Rome as he is in covering local matters in St. Augustine. Gannon may be one of the best Florida historians but, as this book shows, his ability and interests are not just confined to the Sunshine State.

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