Why does the Catholic Church take a politically conservative stance on some issues, such as abortion and birth control, while on others, such as social programmes and nuclear policy, it resembles the Left? Why do some Catholic groups reject the legitimacy of Church hierarchy and yet choose to remain within it? To explain these apparent contradictions, Gene Burns examines the origins of contemporary diversity and conflict in the Catholic Church, also illuminating the processes of ideological change. Drawing on interviews and archival research, Burns follows the development of ideological trends that are obviously at odds with the traditional values of Catholicism. For example, several American bishops have become outspoken critics of the government, and many American nuns became committed feminists in advance of most American women. With insights into the American Catholic Church, the modern papacy, and the Latin American Church, "The Frontiers of Catholicism" is as much a political study of ideological dynamics as it is an institutional study of religious change.