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The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church Hardcover – November 10, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Image; 1 edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520386
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

There hasn’t been much revolutionizing in the Catholic Church since Vatican II. In fact, recent years have witnessed a semi-resurgence of conservative movements both within and outside the confines of the church hierarchy. Veteran Vatican analyst and journalist Allen, however, outlines a set of trends he believes will truly transform the church as we know it. Individual chapters that are devoted to examining these trends in detail include a world church, Evangelical Catholicism, Islam, the new demography, expanding lay roles, the biotech revolution, globalization, ecology, multipolarism, and Pentecostalism. Separately, these trends have little impact; together, they point to the possibility of a radically different future for the Catholic Church. Allen provides reasonable food for thought in this intriguing must-read for all church watchers. --Margaret Flanagan

About the Author

JOHN L. ALLEN, Jr., is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNBN and National Public Radio. He is the author of Conclave, All the Pope’s Men, and Opus Dei, and writes the weekly Internet column, “The Word from Rome.” He lives in New York City and Rome.

Customer Reviews

Very well documented text.
Jonas V. Soto
This book is of the highest quality, the finest I've read in years.
Wu Wei
I recommend it for thoughtful reading.
John A. Lutts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By saintmaur on July 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It seems a sad commentary on the reading habits of contemporary Catholics that this important and informed book on the future of the Church has only seven reviews. John Allen is one of the most readable, well-informed, and well-placed (the National Catholic Reporter's man in Rome) observers of Catholicism today. Although he may be fairly placed in the more liberal camp, this book is surely no liberal rant (pace reviewer `bundasthedog', who does not appear to have gotten much beyond the first page or so...it's usually considered crucial to have read a book one reviews.) Indeed one of the many suggestive conclusions Allen reaches is that the terms `liberal' and `conservative' will have much different and more complex nuances in the coming `global Church' of the 21st century.

In fact, many of Allen's predictions should give a good deal of comfort to classic Catholic conservatives: there will be, he predicts, no women priests; dogma will become both more conservative and more central to Catholic life; the papacy will retain much of its current perquisites and importance, though it will likely become less "Roman".

There are also trends that will give heart to classic Catholic liberals: the role of women and the laity will continue to increase; concern for social and economic justice will move to the forefront of Catholic ethics; the Western domination of Catholic culture will diminish greatly. That is nothing more than to say that the Catholic Church will change much as the world that it finds itself in changes. Allen balances this view, however, with a conviction that Catholic `identity' will sharpen itself ever more clearly against `the world'.
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68 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Happy Mom on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book so thoroughly covers the main issues facing the Catolic church, I will be forever changed in the way I view our world and my faith. Like many Americans, I thought the issues that are "hot" here are hot everywhere in the Church. This is not the case. There are very real, very different concerns depending on where you live. For example, did you know there are 1 priest to every 1,300 Catholics in the US, but it's more like 1 to 8,000 in South America? Wow. If you already knew that you may pat yourself on the back; but I would still bet there is some issue in this book you don't know as much about as you thought.

Things addressed in the book include: globalization, pentecostalism, lay roles, and ecology to name a few I particularly enjoyed learning about. If your "issue" is not listed he even explains why in the last chapter. However, if you read the book chances are good you will find it woven through several chapters. The style of writing is easy to follow, thought provoking, and filled with statistics and sources.

As a Catholic born post-Vatican II, I learned a lot from this book. The author doesn't come across as ultra-conservative which would have turned me off. Neither does he seem ultra-liberal which would have left me wondering how much he really has his finger on the pulse of the church. It seems like he's in the middle like me.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By William F. Foster on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his characteristic meticulous researching, John Allen has come to visualize a future Roman Catholic church. He sees this vision shaped by ten trends, which he has sensed by multi-national, multilevel discussions with lay and clerics ranging from the lay parishioner to cardinals of the Church. The vision he sets forth will surprise American catholics who have not been monitoring the development of the church in Africa, South America, and India. He sees the emergence of a church whose epicenter shifts southward, and sets forth what he thinks this will entail. Consider a black African Pope or an Asian one. His ten trends include social change also: new views towards celibacy, liberalization of some aspects of the church and a shift toward conservatism in others. He includes his take on the evolution of the role of women in the Church. In a short review, it is difficult to detail the wealth of lore in this 450 page book, but I would invirte readers to join him in his journey and enter into the discussion of this very original and enlightening look into the future of the Catholic Church.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jonathon Spurlock on January 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am truly amazed that more people haven't reviewed this book. In a word - it's an amazing book, especially for those who appreciate analysis. John Allen is one of the ultimate insiders in the Catholic Church. Allen is the Catholic reporter and analyst for CNN and NPR. He is also the most credible, universally respected writer for the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper for Catholic fossils. I greatly appreciate Allen's weekly blogs. His books are balanced, objective, and in a word, outstanding. However, I would really have to say that this book is his best. His identification and explanation of the 10 trends of the future is very well-substantiated. In particular, I especially valued his section on Islam. I learned so much from reading this assessment. John Allen - keep up the good work!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. Haigerty on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have any interest in the Roman Catholic Church, this book should be on your "to read" list. John Allen uses his extensive journalistic experience covering the Church to share with us ten "mega-trends" facing Roman Catholics well into the 21st century. As an American Catholic who works in a Catholic midwestern parish, I appreciated John's global perspective that opened my eyes to more than just issues that I or my neighbors in the U.S. face (witchcraft? polygamy? Yup!). It truly does give one a catholic, i.e. universal perspective, and I think a reliable if not infallible one, since John has so many connections all over the world. When you can get three Cardinals from three different continents to read your book before publication, that's saying something.

This is a well researched book divided into 10 trends. While these 10 chapters were quite interesting and informative, his summary chapter at the end, which I read after the introduction - something he suggests - was a great beginning before plowing through the body of the book. I also enjoyed the chapter on "Trends That Aren't" where he talks about why he chose what he did and shares many topics that didn't make the cut and why. It's funny that someone suggested that one of the most important issues facing the global church is "Clown Masses." For real. It was suggested (I'm sure Pope Benedict loses sleep over Clown Masses. On second thought, maybe he does). The author wisely didn't devote a chapter to it. I enjoyed his consideration of more serious topics and his reasoning as to why they didn't make the cut as well.

Speaking as a lowly Dir.
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More About the Author

JOHN L. ALLEN, Jr., is the Associate Editor for Crux, a web site covering the Catholic Church, and the Boston Globe. He also serves as senior Vatican analyst for CNN and is a popular speaker on Catholic affairs. He's published nine books and divides his year between Rome and his home in Denver, Colorado.
Find Crux at: www.cruxnow.com

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The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church
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