Roman Catholics: Renewing the Brotherhoods

A brother is not a father in the Roman Catholic Church—and establishing the distinction perennially bothers the brothers. Currently meeting in Rome to stress their identity and work toward reform, Vatican Council style, are general chapters of two of these little-understood congregations: the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and the Christian Brothers of Ireland.

Even some reasonably well-educated Catholics still think of brothers vaguely as "male nuns," California's little old wine makers, or as spoiled priests who didn't quite make the grade, visually because of not knowing enough Latin. Brothers are laymen who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, live...

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