James Carroll (born January 22, 1943, Chicago, Illinois, United States) is an American author, historian, and journalist. A Roman Catholic reformer, he has written extensively about his experiences in the seminary and as a priest, and has published, besides novels, books on religion and history.
Carroll was born in Chicago, the second of five sons of late Air Force General Joseph Carroll (DIA), and his wife Mary. At the time, his father was a Special Agent of the FBI, which he remained until being seconded to, and later commissioned by, the US Air Force as an Intelligence Officer in 1948. After this, Carroll was raised in the Washington, D.C. area and in Germany. He was educated at Washington's Priory School (now St. Anselm's Abbey School) and at an American high school, the H. H. Arnold, in Wiesbaden, Germany. He attended Georgetown University before entering St. Paul's College, the Paulist Fathers' seminary, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. Carroll served as Catholic chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974. During that time, he studied poetry with George Starbuck and published books on religious subjects and a book of poems. He was also a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter (1972–1975) and was named Best Columnist by the Catholic Press Association. For his writing on religion and politics he received the first Thomas Merton Award from Pittsburgh's Thomas Merton Center in 1972.
Carroll left the priesthood in 1974 to become a writer, and, in the same year, was a playwright-in-residence at the Berkshire Theater Festival. On May 20, 2013 he received the honorary Doctor of Letters from Lehigh University in Bethlehem Pennsylvania..
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