Cover image for To change the church : Pope Francis and the future of Catholicism
To change the church : Pope Francis and the future of Catholicism
Douthat, Ross Gregory, 1979- author.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Physical Description:
xvii, 234 pages ; 24 cm
The "New York Times" columnist assesses the efforts of Pope Francis to change the Roman Catholic Church, discussing how Francis' willingness to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion threatens to divide the Church.

"From a New York Times columnist and a practicing Catholic comes a provocative argument about Pope Francis's stewardship of the Catholic Church--and what his reign portends for the world. Many people, secular as well as Catholic, see Pope Francis in heroic terms: one part humble leader, one part superpope using his authority to address global crises from climate change and the fate of refugees to the scourge of global poverty. But at the same time, Francis has divided his church by seeking changes, especially around marriage, sexuality and divorce, that many Catholics believe are impossible and betrayals not only of church teaching but of the words of Jesus Christ himself. So his pontificate to date has been a roaring success, a media phenomenon ... and also a great gamble that's pushed papal authority to its breaking point, threatening not only rebellion but schism. Plumbing an array of historical, theological, and cultural arguments, Douthat cuts to the heart of the debate over the future of Catholicism and shows how the major debate Francis has opened--over communion for the divorced and remarried--is much more distinctive than other controversies within the church: how it promises or threatens (depending on your point of view) to separate the church from its own deep past; how it divides Catholicism along geographical and cultural lines (pitting Germans against Poles, Europeans against Africans and North Americans); and how it cuts to the heart of the larger argument over how Christianity should respond to modernity itself. He also describes the medieval-seeming intrigues and conflicts that Francis's quest to change the church has set in motion--the behind-the-scenes Vatican plots and counterplots, the battles between bishops and cardinals, and the open conflicts between conservative Catholics crying 'heresy!' and the pope himself. Ultimately, Douthat sees the Francis era as both a crucial experiment for Catholicism and a hinge moment in the history of the West. As the liberal order teeters amid populist surges, mass migration, and reawakened extremism, Francis enjoys a unique authority, transcending partisanship and faction. The question is whether he's using that authority wisely, to offer a fully Christian alternative to the status quo, or whether he's unwisely trying to reconcile the church to a modern world that's exhausted and corrupt. The answer will determine not only whether he ends up as a hero or a tragic figure for Catholics, but also whether he's a hero or a failure for the world."--Dust jacket.
The prisoner of the Vatican -- Three stories about Vatican II -- A pope abdicates -- The Bergoglio surprise -- The Francis agenda -- The marriage problem -- To change the church -- His Holiness declines to comment -- Athanasians and Arians -- Jansenists and Jesuits -- The Francis legacy.
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