The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis
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The New York Times–bestselling historian takes on a pressing question in modern religion: Will Pope Francis embrace change?
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas, offers a challenge to his church. Can he bring about significant change? Should he?
Garry Wills, the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, argues provocatively that, in fact, the history of the church throughout is a history of change. In this brilliant and incisive study, Wills describes the deep and serious changes that have taken place in the church or are in the process of occurring. These include the change from Latin, the growth and withering of the ecclesiastical monarchy, the abandonment of biblical literalism, the assertion and nonassertion of infallibility, and the erosion of church patriarchy. In such developments we see the living church adapting itself to new historical circumstances.
As Wills contends, it is only by examining the history of the church that we can understand Pope Francis’s and the church’s challenges today.
“A lively exercise in church history—history intended to orient us in the here and now. It is addressed not only to Catholics but to the entire church as ‘the People of God,’ . . . and to anyone else—practicing another religion or emphatically not—who is curious to learn how one of our foremost historians and public intellectuals understands his faith.” —The Chicago Tribune
me hungrily, unlike those they were too hesitant to touch. Even if they shy from me, I shall make them do it.11 It was said that a certain Germanicus did just that—pulled a slow animal on top of himself and forced it to eat him, astonishing the crowd with his hardihood.12 A woman in Pergamum, Agathonike, saw some martyrs being burnt alive in a fire and asked to join them, crying out, “This meal was made to be mine. I must eat such glorious fare.”13 Since Tertullian said “the blood of Christians
Rome (Annals XV 44.15).40 There seem to have been efforts by outsider groups to keep their own precarious Roman concessions by playing off one group against another—which, after all, was how the Crucifixion came about. The initiative for persecution did not come from any central Roman source until 250, when Decius proposed a kind of loyalty test for the empire—certificates (libelli) were issued to those who made a pro forma offering of grain or incense to the gods. This was imposed, Candida Moss
Jethro, who favored Moses’ mission to his people (Ex 3.18). 3. While tending Jethro’s flocks, Moses had the vision of a burning bush, from which God called him back to Egypt, where he could save the Israelites (Ex 3.2–17). Before Constantine’s battle for the West at the Milvian Bridge, he too had a burning vision, the shape of a cross in the sun, with a three-word text under it saying “Win with This”—En nika (VC 1.28–29).4 4. Constantine did not understand the message in the sun until Christ,
teaching. It bestowed The privilege of learning a language That is incontrovertibly dead And of carting a toy-box of hall-marked marmoreal phrases Around in his head.11 What Rush called such “smatterings” have nothing to do with real scholarship.12 Those who genuinely want to know and enjoy the classics can do that without imposing on others the labor of first indoctrination without any of the later enrichment. Of course, to get translations you must have a supply of learned people who know
Guitton, telling him: Any attenuation of the law would have the effect of calling morality into question and showing the fallibility of the church . . . The whole moral edifice would collapse, and with it the edifice of the faith.33 The authorities had painted themselves into a narrow corner, thinking the church’s teaching on sex was a revealed truth (though contraception is not in scripture). Actually, much of the moral authority of the Vatican was lost because Paul issued his encyclical