Updated. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s new book, To Change The Church: Pope Francis And The Future of Catholicism … is an urgent, compelling work of popular religious journalism. Douthat reads the signs of these anxious times with acute clarity and far-seeing vision. This book is must reading for every Christian who cares about the fate of the West and the future of global Christianity.
Rod Dreher: Let’s start with an easy one: What is the thesis of your book?
Ross Douthat: That Pope Francis, through complex maneuvers, is trying to liberalize Roman Catholicism’s approach to morality and modern life in something like the fashion that progressive Catholics have hoped for, secular observers have expected, and conservatives have insisted is impossible ever since the Second Vatican Council. That his project, and the resistance he has met from bishops and cardinals and theologians, has pitched the church into a theological crisis that will be remembered and studied alongside Jesuit-Jansenist debates and Arian-Athanasian battles. That the pope himself has taken a great gamble, one that is likely to make him remembered as either a genius or a near-heretic, and either way to leave the church profoundly changed…
Rod Dreher: I kept thinking as I read “To Change The Church” about how few Catholics seem to understand what’s really at stake in what on the surface looks like a merely pastoral move by Pope Francis. One of your reviewers, the Cambridge scholar Richard Rex, says that the Roman church is facing its worst crisis since the Reformation. Yet the sense of crisis seems to be limited to a relatively small number of engaged traditionalists. What are the rest of the world’s Catholics not seeing?
— Archdiocese of Washington Cancels Youth Rally, Mass for Life Held at March for Life Events.